UK opposition leaders urge climate policy rethink

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn say evident dangers of climate change should prompt Number 10 to reverse green cuts

By Ed King in Paris 

The leaders of the UK’s two main opposition parties have told Climate Home they hope the Paris climate summit will encourage prime minister David Cameron to revisit a recent cull of green policies.

UK energy and climate chief Amber Rudd has been handed a key role at the UN talks, helping to mediate between almost 200 countries on global plans to boost greenhouse gas cuts before 2020.

But critics point to a government bonfire of support for the solar and wind sector, an end to plans for thousands of ultra-efficient houses and the cancellation of a $1 billion investment in carbon capture technology.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, on a one-day visit to Paris, said he wanted the UK to be at the “heart” of a proposed global climate deal, “not tagging on behind”.

“I hope she will be listening to the expert opinion around her which is saying we should be doing more to accept just electricity in the UK, more in promoting renewables rather than fossil fuels,” he said.

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Corbyn said the government should offer more finance to developing countries to help them invest in greener forms of energy and cope with future impacts like rising sea levels, floods and droughts.

In September, Rudd announced a 50% rise in UK funding for poorer nations of $8.8 billion up to 2021.

“I’d want the government to offer more because the rhetoric on environmental sustainability must be backed up with action,” Corbyn said.

“At the end of the day surely that amount of money is an investment for the whole future of the planet and the good of all of us.”

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped the talks would leave Rudd and Cameron “pausing for thought”.

“I wish he’d be a bit more persuasive with [chancellor] George Osborne,” she said, referring to the man blamed for orchestrating the swathe of policy changes.

“I’ve just come from a meeting with someone from Oceania, talking in very graphic, stark and compelling terms what it means to parts of the world like that if it doesn’t get its act together.

“Anyone who’s wavering at all needs to listen to some of that. We all have an obligation to do everything we possibly can.”

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