Climate sceptic Tory MEPs will send us sleepwalking towards disaster

David Cameron’s pledge to spur the EU into taking tougher climate action was dealt a massive blow today when Tory MEPs helped kill off emissions cut proposals.

Martyn Williams is a senior parliamentary campaigner at Friends of the Earth

David Cameron’s pledge to spur the European Union into taking tougher climate action was dealt a massive blow today when Tory MEPs helped kill off a proposal that would have boosted the move to a low carbon future.

MEPs were asked to vote on a proposal to strengthen EU climate action by agreeing to unilaterally cut the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020. But the proposal was torpedoed when an amendment that severely watered it down – by making the 30 per cent target dependent on international climate action – was narrowly passed, with the support of 16 Tory MEPs.

Faced with a weak and worthless proposal the MEP who originally proposed the motion urged colleagues to reject the amended version, which they duly did. When he came to power last year David Cameron promised to lead the ‘greenest government ever’.

Action on climate change would be a priority – including a coalition agreement pledge to support an increase in the EU emission reduction target to 30 per cent by 2020. But since then the prime minister has remained largely silent on the issue.

He must do more to convince the nation and his party that the scientific consensus on the urgent need to slash emissions is overwhelming – and failure to act is playing fast and loose with our future.

He must do more to highlight the enormous economic benefits that developing a low carbon economy will bring. Hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created by developing the nation’s huge renewable energy potential and by cutting energy waste. This is why more than 70 of Europe’s leading firms lobbied in favour of a 30 per cent cut in EU emissions.

And he must do more to take real action on this issue.

Last week the Committee on Climate Change warned that the government was dragging its heels on meeting UK climate targets. Climate change is one of the biggest threats the planet faces. But unless the prime Minister – and our top politicians – start to show real leadership on this issue we’ll continue to sleep walk towards disaster.

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