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    Over the coming weeks we will be updating our websites and launching the next campaign on the road to make the Climate and Nature Bill law – 100 Days.

    With a new Government, a new Parliament, we are continuing to keep the pressure up for science-led, joined-up policy to tackle the Climate and Nature crises.

    Together we CAN!


The Beginning of the End of the Fossil Fuel Era?

As we start a new year and reflect on COP28, the future of global and UK climate policy has barely left the news. Marketed by many as the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era, COP28 marked the first global stocktake since the monumental Paris Agreement in 2015. However, focusing on the UK’s response reveals a different picture as, just last week, the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill (OPLB) passed second reading in the Commons.

This presents a stark contrast to the international consensus that it’s time to break our dependence on fossil fuels. As demonstrated by the EU last year, where CO² emissions from fossil fuels dropped to a 60 year low—while its economies tripled—it’s now economically viable. Whether for the sake of the climate, the impact on energy bills for lower-income families across the nations, the health of many young children in polluted cities, or economic growth, the urgency is clear.

The UK Government portrays its OPLB as a solution to reduce household bills and enhance energy security. However, as Chris Skidmore, Alok Sharma, and many NGOs have concluded, it will do little for our energy security or bills, and, instead, empower private companies to export more expensive, polluting fossil fuels to other nations. During Ed Milliband’s speech at the COP28 Outcomes Summit, Labour’s climate lead emphasised that climate change mitigation is no longer just the correct long-term economic strategy. In many cases, it’s now the best short-term strategy for economic growth. Saving the planet has become cheaper than destroying it. What we truly need is long-term, cross-party climate legislation that ends our reliance on fossil fuels, protects nature—ensures a fair transition to greener jobs—and locks our international commitments in law. All of which the Climate and Nature Bill offers. We do not need divisive legislation that prioritises major polluting companies over the population. We need the CAN Bill.

The passage of the OPLB, coupled with Rishi Sunak’s net zero u-turn, led to Chris Skimore’s resignation as a Conservative MP; a principled stand against backtracking on Britain’s climate commitments. The UK was once an international climate leader, enacting the Climate Change Act in 2008 and adding 2050 net zero targets in 2019, setting a solid standard for other nations. However, we now risk being left behind in the global green transition that offers countless benefits to those willing to prioritise its implementation. Studies from both Stamford University and Oxford University demonstrated that switching to 100% renewable energy, globally, is not only possible, but rapid decarbonisation of energy systems would also save (at least) $12 trillion.

Just last week, CAN Bill supporter and Lib Dem peer, Lord Russell, expressed deep concern over these recent policy shifts in Baroness Sheehan’s Lords debate on global heating. He argued that “the pointless decision to extract new North Sea oil will do nothing to provide us with energy security”, emphasising the need for the UK to return to being a world leader on climate action and calling for additional measures to counteract diluted efforts.  Importantly, Lord Russell asked the Minister what additional measures the Government will now take to reduce UK emissions in line with our proportionate share of the IPCC’s remaining global carbon budget (GCB), in order to give us the best chance of staying below the critical global heating limits in the Paris Agreement.

This is precisely what the CAN Bill is aiming to do—focusing policymakers’ and legislators’ minds on the UK’s fair share of the GCB. As Zero Hour champion, Dr Angela Mae Minas, explained in an article following the CAN Bill’s reintroduction in Parliament last year, “underpinned by fundamental principles that aim to rapidly cut emissions by ending fossil fuel production and import, the CAN Bill will set the UK on a track to limiting further warming. One of the key clauses in the Bill is centred on the UK using no more than its proportionate share of the global carbon budget. This sets a new climate target more aligned with meeting the Paris Agreement and considers cumulative and imported emissions such as international aviation and shipping, and manufacture of products abroad—often in lower income countries.”

We echo Lord Russell’s call for the UK Government to meet its international obligations by aligning its emissions reduction plans with the Paris Agreement. Yet, as a Westminster general election draws near, it’s essential for all political parties to demonstrate that their policies are aligned with the science—and the CAN Bill. Only by implementing a science-led approach—and by locking our global commitments into law—can the next Government deliver the laws we need to guarantee a livable future for current and future generations.

Over 2024, Zero Hour will elevate climate and nature to the forefront of political debate. To achieve this, we’ve created a new open letter campaign—The Nation Needs You—to communicate to all candidates that we, their voters, prioritise the environment; and expect them to do the same, if elected. To take part in this new action, look up your constituency and sign-up today. This will help put pressure on your local candidates to back the CAN Bill, and ensure that the new in-take of MPs will then make the CAN Bill a reality.

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