The United Nations Climate Change Conference takes place this week in Paris. It is an opportunity for all nations to come together to agree to undertake the critical measures necessary to cut global carbon emissions.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has provided overwhelming and compelling scientific evidence that climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity and that it will have disastrous consequences if urgent action is not taken to cut our carbon emissions and invest in mitigation.
Without a global deal, we face catastrophic climate change, with global temperatures rising well over two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. This would have a devastating impact not only on our planet, but for the billions of lives it supports, with extremes in weather leading to drought, floods, and the political instability that causes large-scale and unplanned mass migration.
It is important that the UK takes a lead in these negotiations. However, we can only show leadership abroad if we are seen to be taking bold action at home. Under the last Labour Government, the UK was a world leader on climate change. We passed the 2008 Climate Change Act, and introduced support for clean energy. However, this progress has been reversed by the Government. The North East, with our engineering skills base and natural resources, is well-placed to maximise the economic opportunities of the low carbon era we are entering. We need a proper industrial strategy that harnesses that potential, which could bring jobs to Sunderland, and recognises the role regions such as ours can play to support a clean energy mix that includes renewables like offshore wind, nuclear power and carbon, capture and storage.
The Paris summit is the best chance we’ve ever had to secure a global deal. We must show we possess the political will to deliver such an agreement, in order to ensure we leave a world where future generations can live and prosper.