Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse - who is contemplating a bid for the party leadership - writes to Boris Johnson as floods grip Britain.
Dear Prime Minister,
This week has been dominated by flooding. Every morning we have seen stories of lives being turned upside down by the relentless rainfall, roads becoming streams, and family homes being abandoned.
Despite your absence – your failure to visit any of the sites effected, your failure to convene a COBRA meeting to declare an emergency – I am certain you are aware of the ongoing crisis.
It would be easy for me to use this letter to ask you for more money for flood defences: to highlight exactly how the Tories have cut back funding. It would also be natural for me to start talking about Brexit, and the vital funding the EU provided to tackle flooding which has now been stopped. However, I would like to use this time to talk about a more fundamental challenge.
Our climate is changing. Estimates suggest that the UK will be subject to more and more extreme weather as the world heats up – making the flooding and heatwaves of recent years the new normal.
Whatever amount of money we pour into flood defences there is good chance that it simply will never be enough. And that is assuming we can limit global temperature rises to below 2 degrees Celsius, stopping irreversible environmental damage.
We need to act now in order to mitigate these changes. We cannot reverse what has been done but we can prevent further deterioration of our global climate. I am asking you to make the climate emergency a priority for your Government. COP26 is fast approaching, this conference gives the UK the chance to set a standard for the world to follow.
We cannot solve this challenge alone, but we can decide to lead the world in global climate action. So far, the planning for COP26 has been shambolic.
I am deeply concerned about your plan to achieve net-zero – action to tackle the climate emergency does not seem to be a priority for your government.
Across the UK communities are suffering. We must support them– finding the funds for repairs, housing for those who have nowhere to go, and making improving flood defences ensuring this does not happen again. This needs to be a national priority right now.
In the long run we must tackle the climate emergency. It will be all too easy to ignore this, saying it is a rare occurrence which we cannot prevent. But we cannot ignore it because it will happen again and again if we continue to delay global action on the climate emergency.
I am asking you to take climate action now. This means improving the energy efficiency of our homes, cancelling Heathrow expansion and increasing investment in renewable energy – and that’s just the start.
The longer we delay, the larger the crisis will eventually become, and the more communities will be devastated.
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency
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