Chairs from eight cross-party parliamentary groups hit out at ‘small minority’ of MPs opposed to the UK’s climate efforts
MPs and peers chairing eight cross-party parliamentary groups have promised to “continue to support and promote ambitious environmental leadership in Parliament” in response to small pockets of resistance to the UK’s net zero target that have emerged within the ranks of the Conservative Party.
In a joint open letter published in The Guardian today, parliamentary group chairs from the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, and the Green Party stressed that achieving the UK’s statutory climate commitments and net zero emissions by 2050 was “in the national interest”.
The letter, which has been signed by eight chairs of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) on various environmental issues, argues that while “there are different approaches to net zero, we all support the goal” and that “delaying action will cost the country more”.
It also points to strong support for decarbonisation among the vast majority of MPs and the wider British public, and stresses that Parliamentarians who are not fully behind the net zero transition are “a small minority”.
Those signing the letter include Conservative MP Anthony Browne, chair of the Environment APPG; Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, who chairs the Sustainable Finance APPG; Climate Change APPG chair and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas; and Labour MP Alex Sobel, chair of the Net Zero APPG.
Others signatories include: Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake, who chairs the APPG on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency; Conservative MP Peter Aldous, chair of the Intelligent Energy APPG; Labour MP Geraint Davies, chair of the Clean Air APPG; and crossbench peer Helene Hayman, co-chair of Peers for the Planet.
“Our groups are supported by hundreds of parliamentarians, from all major parties, representing the full geography of the UK,” the letter states. “We recognise that all our 2019 election manifestos committed to net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. We recognise the environment is now a top concern of the British public. And we recognise the spiralling climate crisis and the urgent need to transition to a more sustainable economy.”
With energy bills skyrocketing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, largely due to volatile global energy markets and record high fossil gas prices, a small group of Tory MPs and media commentators have attempted to lay the blame on environmental policies, despite widespread evidence to the contrary.
In recent weeks some Tory backbenchers – who have set up the so-called Net Zero Scrutiny Group in Parliament – have also called on the government to rethink the UK’s net zero plans, the delivery of which they argue would be too costly for many households currently struggling with the cost of living crisis.
The government, however, has remained steadfast in its support for net zero. On Wednesday it announced plans to hold more frequent auctions for renewable energy subsidy contracts every year in a bid to ramp up clean energy capacity and thereby help reduce the UK’s reliance on gas.
“We are hitting the accelerator on domestic electricity production to boost energy security, attract private investment and create jobs in our industrial heartlands,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Wednesday. “The more clean, cheap and secure power we generate at home, the less exposed we will be to expensive gas prices set by international markets.”