UK Leadership Closes Ranks on Climate Change

UK Leadership Closes Ranks on Climate ChangeDavid Cameron (Conservative), Ed Miliband (Labor) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats)

In what I would call a beautiful move, leaders of the UK's three main political parties came together in a moment of unity - to say they are all on the same page when it comes to climate change.

David Cameron (Conservative), Ed Miliband (Labor) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) released a statement pledging to work together on climate change, regardless of which party wins the next election. 

The statement says:

"Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world today. It is not just a threat to the environment, but also to our national and global security, to poverty eradication and economic prosperity.

"Acting on climate change is also an opportunity for the UK to grow a stronger economy, which is more efficient and more resilient to the risks ahead. It is in our national interest to act and ensure others act with us.

2015 offers a unique opportunity to accelerate that opportunity, with countries pledging their contributions to action before the world comes together in Paris at the end of the year to reach an agreement on tackling climate change. It is vital that this agreement is a success, and the UK will play its part in ensuring an ambitious outcome.

That is why we pledge:

  • To seek a fair, strong, legally binding global climate deal which limits temperature rise to below 2C.
  • To work together across party lines to agree on carbon budgets in accordance with the UK's Climate Change Act.
  • To accelerate the transition to a competitive, energy efficient low carbon economy and to end the use of unabated coal for power generation."

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever says, "The importance of this pledge cannot be overstated. In this critical year, both the international climate change negotiations and the agreement of the sustainable development goals, this statement of cross-party recognition of the importance of climate action, as well as support for a legally binding global deal, sets a terrific example for other countries to investors."

Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens, concurs: "The low-carbon transition represents a major economic opportunity and this demonstration of cross-party support sends a clear message that the UK remains a good place for global companies to do low-carbon business."

The US could sure learn from this. The UK is telling stakeholders - such as utilities, businesses and investors - they can plan ahead, make investments, and be clear on the direction the country is going in. They can do so without wondering if and how policies will change with politics. 

They aren't saying they have all the answers about how to get there, but they are making a commitment to go in the same direction - toward a low-carbon economy.

This is one of the most deeply frustrating consequences of the deep, partisan divide in the US - our inability to make any progress and to join hands to move forward in a direction that benefits our country and the world. 

In the US, everything is a fight - no matter how small or large the issue is, and sorry, the responsibility lies squarely with far-right Republicans. They push their ideology to the limit - grandstanding until their last breath, with no ability to compromise.  In the case of climate change, their perspective is based on utter ignorance, buttressed by outright lies and misinformation from entrenched industries.  


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