Caroline Lucas: UNFCCC still has major role in tackling climate change

By Tierney Smith

The UNFCCC still has a role to play in creating a binding legal and political climate change deal to follow on from the Kyoto Protocol, Caroline Lucas tells RTCC.

Speaking ahead of COP17 the Green Party Leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion said there is “no getting away” from the fact we need a binding legal and political agreement going forward.

As the UK’s only Green MP, Caroline Lucas offers a unqiue perspective in a Parliament of 650 members. Since the 2010 election she has made a name for herself as a campaigner on issues including the envrionment and social justice.

She told RTCC she understands criticisms of the international negotiation process – particularly after the disastrous Copenhagen conference in 2009, but argues there is no alternative for achieveing the deep cuts in emissions needed.

“It is difficult and I understand why people might be casting around saying this isn’t working let’s look for another process. But ultimately what we need is that binding, political, legal agreement and there is no getting away from that.”

Lucas called on the UK government to show leadership at Durban and live up to David Cameron’s “Greenest Government Ever” pledge made after the May 2010 election.

The UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change, John Ashton told RTCC today that the UK delegation will push for a second commitment under the Kyoto Protocol – something Lucas endorses.

Caroline Lucas“We absolutely need to have a political commitment to the continuance of a second commitment period under Kyoto,” she said. “For all of it’s difficulties it is the one tool that we have that is a legal tool that has mandatory binding targets on developed countries and that is why it is so important that we have to make sure that there is some way of that going forward.”

Finance is set to be a key issue at Durban. At Cancun in 2010, developed countries pledged $100 billion a year by 2020 towards the Green Climate Fund to help developing nations adapt to the effects of climate change.

With COP17 starting next week it is still unclear who will provide this investment and whether it will be new funding over and above current international development aid pledges.

Proposals on the table include taxes on aviation and shipping and a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions.

Lucas said there needed to be a deep commitment from developed countries, both politically and financially, to show the developing world that they are ready and willing to tackle the problem.

“I am not surprised that [developing countries] have a degree of suspicion on whether or not the rich countries are serious about this agenda.

“We need to show – as a demonstration of political good faith if you like – that we are serious. That means serious climate finance on the table.

“It was good that there was a fund set up at the most recent meeting of the climate change parties but now what we need to do is to make sure that it is properly financed.”

The full interview will be avaliable on the RTCC website tomorrow.

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