A year ago the world had finally come to a consensus. People across the globe agreed there was a desperate need to tackle climate change. This was best symbolised by the Paris Agreement, an agreement to legally binding limits for global temperature rises by governments from the US, India, China and the EU.
In the UK, too, we were taking significant steps in our fight against climate change. The Liberal Democrats in Coalition tripled our renewable electricity, invested £500m in low emission vehicles, planted 1 million trees and set up the Green Investment Bank. These steps, along with huge investment from the private sector, meant that we had the fastest growing green economy in Europe.
However, all this progress is now in jeopardy. Since the Liberal Democrats left Government in 2015, the Conservatives have introduced a series of devastating measures for the environment. This includes cutting subsidies for solar and onshore wind, abandoning Zero Carbon Homes, announcing plans to sell off the Green Investment Bank, scrapping the £1 billion Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, reducing tax breaks for clean cars and allowing fracking under National Parks.
This has all been made worse by Brexit. The loss of the EU compliance frameworks means the Government will now have even less incentive to put money and resources into environmental protection.
Internationally, too, the fight against climate change is under threat. US President Trump has referred to climate change as a ‘hoax’ cooked up by the Chinese. This is more than just words. He has pledged to roll back major climate change regulations and it has been rumoured that one executive order will change America’s position on the Paris Agreement.
2016 was a year of yet another global warming milestone, as temperatures rose to the hottest on record for a third year in a row. We must make 2017 a milestone for different reasons. We must fight against climate change deniers like Trump and climate change ignorers like the Tories. The Liberal Democrats will take up this fight.