Wednesday 27 January 2021 / 4:59 PM Climate Change / Matthew Pennycook

Labour welcomes US action to tackle climate change and urges Prime Minister to reverse decisions making a mockery of his government’s claim to climate leadership

Labour has today urged the Prime Minister to stop undermining the UK Government’s climate change pledges and step up his game, as President Biden signs a suite of executive orders to tackle the climate emergency.

On his first day in office, Biden signed executive orders to re-join the Paris Agreement and cancel the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Today he is expected to sign more, including orders to pause new oil and gas drilling licences; and outline how the US government must accelerate climate adaptation measures.

Meanwhile UK Ministers have been consistently undermining their net zero promises. The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick recently decided to wave through plans for a new coal mine in Cumbria, which Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admitted created a “slight tension” with goals to clean up the economy.

Just yesterday, it was revealed the long-awaited Environment Bill would be delayed again – after first being launched in 2018.

Labour is highlighting that despite Boris Johnson’s overtures to President Biden on climate change, his actions speak louder than words:

• In June Boris Johnson approved a £1bn investment by UK Export Finance for a controversial gas pipeline in Mozambique.
• While the Government is consulting on ending the financing of overseas fossil fuel projects, 17 projects remain under active consideration for 2021 – and the Mozambique project is still going ahead.
• This month, the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick decided against calling in a planning application for a new coal mine in Cumbria.
• This week the Government announced that the Environment Bill, first launched in 2018, would be further delayed.
• Ministers have cut the international aid budget which will have a direct hit on the finances of those countries at the frontline of the climate crisis.

Matthew Pennycook MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Climate Change, said:

“President Biden has called climate change the number one issue facing humanity, and his administration is showcasing how a government that truly prioritises climate action responds to the emergency confronting the world from day one.

“The contrast with our own government is stark. There has been no shortage of lofty green rhetoric from Johnson but the true strength of the Government’s commitment to bold climate action is laid bare by the opening of the country’s first deep coal mine for three decades, the ongoing consideration of financing overseas fossil fuel projects, and delays to crucial environmental legislation.”