UK must stand strong with climate allies to defend Paris Agreement

Tuesday 6 June 2017
Paul McNamee Paul McNameeHead of politics020 7630

A group of the UK’s largest development and environment groups have today written to party leaders to express concern about the UK’s response to the US pulling out of the Paris agreement. The letter urges the next Prime Minister to sign up to the statement from the High Ambition Coalition group of nations reinforcing their ‘unshakable’ commitment to the agreement.[1] The UK played a key role in establishing the High Ambition Coalition during the Paris summit, but has yet to sign up to this latest defence of international climate action.[2]
The NGO letter, also calls on the next Prime Minister to use the G20 meeting in one month’s time to make it clear that the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated and that all major polluters should play their part in reducing the risks from climate change.  These steps will be necessary to “demonstrate that the UK remains a responsible global player with an independent voice on the world stage”.
Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate & energy policy at WWF, said:
“We’re seeing the impacts of climate change now - here and around the world.  So we need the UK to step up and lead the way on tackling climate change. From extreme weather in the UK, through loss of coral and other species, to unprecedented loss of Arctic sea ice; the US pulling out of Paris makes it harder for the world to pull together and tackle these problems, whilst there’s still time.
“This is why we are calling on the next Government of the UK to step confidently back onto the world stage and stand with our global partners to forge ahead and press on with full implementation’ of the historic accord signed in Paris. This must start at the G20 in July.  It is what the public wants, it makes economic sense for the UK and it is what the world needs in order to safeguard the lives of future generations.”
Tom Viita, head of advocacy at Christian Aid said:
“Now is not time to backslide on our commitments. The world needs to stand strong against the Trump Administration. The UK can’t have it both ways on climate change – we are with Trump or the rest of the world. Other leaders will be wondering why the UK - a leading voice in convening the High Ambition Coalition that forged the Paris Agreement – was absent from their latest statement at this critical moment. The next Prime Minister must put this right and leave no doubt about our commitment to tackling climate change.”
The public letter, sent to all political parties, states:
“The UK has a proud record of international action on climate change, including introducing the ground-breaking Climate Change Act, and shaping the Paris agreement of 2015.  President Trump’s announcement that the US will withdraw from that agreement was rightly met with dismay from heads of states and governments around the world.  France, Germany and Italy, in particular, made it clear that they will reject any attempt to derail global efforts to tackle climate change. UK citizens overwhelmingly support the Paris agreement. Not taking the threat of climate change seriously puts our nation and its children's futures at risk and it ignores the lives of the world's poorest people who are already paying the price of inaction.  For UK businesses, there are large numbers of jobs & significant investments at stake.
While we acknowledge the UK government’s expression of disappointment at President Trump’s decision, the public expect their leaders to have a similar level of clarity and resolve on this issue as other heads of state and government. At the very least, the UK should immediately join the High Ambition Coalition of nations in pledging to ‘fight for the full implementation’ of the deal. The formation of this Coalition was a key success of the Paris negotiations, and one in which the UK played a significant role. 
The next UK Prime Minister – whoever that might be – must then use the G20 meeting taking place in less than five weeks, to make it clear that the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated and that all major polluters should play their part in reducing the risks from climate change.  These steps are necessary to demonstrate that the UK remains a responsible global player with an independent voice on the world stage.”
Signed by:
CAFOD                                                 Campaign for Better Transport                    CIWM                  
Christian Aid                                      ClientEarth                                                          cada     
E3G                                                       Friends of the Earth                                       Good Energy
Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru/Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
Friends of the Earth Scotland        Green Alliance                                                    Greenpeace       
Oxfam                                                  National Trust                                                   RSPB                                     
SCIAF                                                    Stop Climate Chaos Coalition                      Stop Climate Chaos Cymru
Sustain                                                 The Climate Coalition                                   Tearfund                            
The Church of Scotland                  The WI                                                                  Wildlife Trusts
WWT                                                     WWF                                                                     Unicef                                  
Paul McNamee, head of politics, Green Alliance          0207 630 4527
[1] The statement from the High Ambition Coalition can be found here:
[2] Read the joint statement to the UK's next prime minister