Caroline Lucas: It’s time to kick fossil fuels out of UK politics

Divest Parliament campaign launced today


With 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record and a climate denier elected to the White House, the need for a stronger, more radical climate movement is more urgent then ever.

We know that to stop the worst of climate change, almost all of the known reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground. This means there can be no new coal mines.  No new oil pipelines.  No fracking.  Anywhere. It really is that simple.

Despite this fact, the fossil fuel industry continues to ignore the science. Whether it’s casting doubt on climate change or actively lobbying for taxpayer handouts to dirty energy, the fossil fuel industry is slowing down progress at a time when we need to be urgently speeding up. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, we will blow the 1.5 target created in Paris within three years without a step change in global action.

I continued to be inspired by the millions of people across the world challenging the power of the fossil fuel industry. From the ‘Water Protectors’ at Standing Rock who have dealt a huge blow to the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States, to the people, young and old, across the UK who are stopping fracking and new opencast coal mines.

The UK should be proud of its growing movement of people taking action on climate change, and it’s time we directed some of that energy towards those making decisions on our behalf in Westminster and elsewhere: we need to kick fossil fuel out of British politics.

There have long been close ties between between politicians and dirty energy, and more work needs to be done to uncover the exact nature of those links today. Organisations such as Influence Map and Spinwatch are leading the way on that.

In the meantime, we need a rigorous and detailed register of lobbyists — not the current weak system which provides no useful information and is totally unfit for purpose.

We need an end to the revolving doors in Whitehall that allow staff from dirty energy companies to move freely between the civil service and the private sector.

We need politicians and political parties to stop taking fossil fuel money, whether as direct donations or through gifts in kind.

And we need to shift our money out of dirty energy. In the UK alone, billions of pounds is invested in the fossil fuel industry through our pension funds, banks and public institutions.

That includes the MPs pension fund worth over £600m and the £14bn invested in fossil fuels through local authority pension funds. Over the last three years, over 500 institutions with investments totalling over $3.4 trillion have divested from fossil fuels.

Finally, we need to end the billions of pounds worth of fossil fuel subsidies. The UK has promised to phase these out by 2025, but has recently increased tax breaks to big oil and gas, and is giving fracking companies a free ride. We shouldn’t cut subsidies overnight, but we do need to create a long-term plan to help communities transition into a healthier, cleaner future.

To really stop the fossil fuel industry, we need you. As campaigners around the world are saying, ‘to change everything we need everyone’. We need the power of people, of movements and organisations, of churches, schools and community groups. And of individuals too.

As the government slips further away from meeting its climate targets and continues to fudge the maths of climate-busting runways; as the voices of the climate scepticism win positions of political power, casting doubt on indisputable science; and as the world moves ever closer to climate chaos, the need for us to speak with one voice on ending the power of fossil fuel companies has never been more important.

That’s why today I’m launching Fossil Free Politics — a campaign to kick fossil fuels out of our political system — and I very much hope you’ll join me.

Caroline Lucas MP is co-leader of the Green Party. Sign her Fossil Free Politics petition here.

See also: 2016 is the hottest year on record and Trump is about to be president – the UK must step up

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