Climate change campaigners today accused ministers of risking an “unforgivable betrayal of future generations” in a letter to Theresa May in the wake of the Budget.
The CEOs of Greenpeace, 10:10 Climate Action and Global Witness and a string of MPs used the letter to call out “a generation of politicians who will not live to see the devastation that their policies will wreak on future generations”.
Chancellor Philip Hammond trumpeted schemes to boost tree-planting and tax plastic in his financial forecast on Monday, but has faced criticism for ignoring the “greatest threat of our time”.
The campaigners, which include Green MP Caroline Lucas and Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewis, lambast a “profoundly worrying lack of policy” on the environment and demand the government announce measures to cut carbon emissions immediately.
They also hit out at Hammond’s failure to reference climate change during his lengthy announcement in the House of Commons, adding the fuel duty freeze and mass road-building programme would in fact harm the environment.
It comes after a shocking report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned world leaders they have just 12 years to dramatically cut emissions and restrict global warming.
The campaigners say the government has kicked climate change policy “into the long grass of Brexit” and that this is “an abject failure to govern in the interests of the people you are elected to serve”.
The letter calls the Budget “a nadir for this government’s tainted climate record”, but says it it is not “too late to change course” calling for “urgent action” in the coming days, before adding: “Anything short of that would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations.”
It also says: “With fracking now proceeding, and continued tax breaks being handed out to fossil fuel firms, we believe it is now vital we call out failure from a generation of politicians who will not live to see the devastation that their policies will wreak on future generations.”
Hammond did say in the Budget that Britain’s future economy would be “low carbon and green” and, despite rumours it could be cut, maintained the UK’s top-up carbon tax at £18 per tonne of CO2 until April 2021.
He also handed £60m of investment to tree-planting projects and issued a “call for evidence” on a new business energy efficiency scheme designed to reduce bills and emissions for small businesses.
After the IPCC report was published, energy minister Claire Perry asked the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to review the UK’s current climate target – an 80% cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.
But charities say much more dramatic measures are needed.
The Letter In Full
On Monday, your Government presented its Budget, and in doing so revealed a profoundly worrying lack of policy changes to combat the greatest threat of our time: climate change. Not only did the Chancellor fail to mention climate change in his speech, but the policies he put forward - from subsidy to polluters via the fuel duty freeze to a mass road building programme - will increase the UK’s climate impact.
With fracking now proceeding, and continued tax breaks being handed out to fossil fuel firms, we believe it is now vital we call out failure from a generation of politicians who will not live to see the devastation that their policies will wreak on future generations.
The most recent IPCC report was very clear about what Governments need to urgently do - yet your Government has all but ignored its publication in this Budget. We should be very clear here about timescales. It’s almost too late already, so pushing policymaking into the long grass of Brexit at this stage represents an abject failure to govern in the interests of the people you are elected to serve.
We do not accept that individuals in the Government do not care about climate change, nor that it’s too late to change course. We simply state here and now that the Budget must be a nadir for this Government’s tainted climate record – and that urgent action in the coming days must be announced. Anything short of that would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations.
Caroline Lucas MP
Clive Lewis MP
Liz Saville-Roberts MP
Anna McMorrin MP
Alex Sobel MP
Tim Farron MP
Roger Godsiff MP
Gillian Caldwell, CEO, Global Witness
John Sauven, Director, Greenpeace
Hugo Tagholm, Director, Surfers Against Sewage
Guppi Bola, Director, Medact
Alice Bell, Director, 10:10 Climate Action