26 Apr 2019
We're facing a climate emergency, the biggest threat we’ve ever seen to humanity’s very existence and to much of the natural world.
We still have time to act, and we know what the solutions look like. Yet our leaders are letting us down, funding oil and gas projects abroad and filling the skies with more planes. The solutions to climate breakdown are out there – but they don't look like this.
We want communities where children can play outside and breathe clean air; warm homes that don’t cost the earth to heat; access to nature wherever we live; better food that’s good for us; and greener jobs for everyone.
That’s why we’re calling on the UK government to urgently adopt our Climate Action Plan, outlined below, which will cut greenhouse gas emissions at the rapid pace informed by the latest science, and build a greener and fairer society for everyone.
Friends of the Earth is proud to be part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world. We believe in climate justice and that fighting climate breakdown isn’t solely about cutting domestic carbon emissions, but building a fairer and more just world in the process. We recognise that the UK - the birthplace of the industrial revolution - has been one of the biggest historical emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, and that our government has a responsibility to provide finance and support to those countries who have done least to cause climate breakdown but who are vulnerable to – and already dealing with – its sharpest impacts.
Therefore, in order to deal with the climate emergency, we call on the UK government to commit by end of 2020 to:
Invest in brilliant and cheap public transport, cycling and walking everywhere. New petrol and diesel cars shouldn’t even be for sale within the decade.
Start aiming for 100% clean energy from the wind, sun and sea. Electricity can’t come from dirty fuels anymore and fracking should be banned.
Fund a massive insulation scheme and shift to eco-friendly heating – this will end the misery of cold, expensive-to-heat homes.
4. Agriculture and land use
Double tree cover and let wildlife thrive – our land is too precious to be given over to intensive farming.
Incentivise the redesign of products and reshape how the economy works so that we extract, use and consume much less of the Earth’s resources.
6. International justice
Instead of funding fossil fuel projects overseas, the UK government must pay its fair share to support more vulnerable countries dealing with the impacts of climate breakdown.
Adopting this Climate Action Plan would put the UK on a path to net zero greenhouse gas emissions far sooner than the government plans, and is consistent with the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Vulnerable countries across the world would also benefit from increased finance from the UK to help them deal with climate breakdown they didn’t cause.
This Climate Action Plan will require significant state-led investment as well as taxation of polluting companies – with at least an extra £22 billion a year in additional UK government spending. Friends of the Earth’s “Making the polluter pay for the transition to net zero” (2019) speaks to the level of investment we believe is necessary and where we believe funds can be raised.
The economic benefits of this investment are clear, with the National Infrastructure Commission estimating for instance that for every £1 invested in energy efficiency, £3.20 is returned through increased GDP plus £1.27 in increased tax revenues.
The transition to a net zero economy outlined above must be a just one, protecting workers and communities. We must ensure no-one is left behind in that transition. People working in high carbon sectors should be redeployed or retrained with the fullest protections. Friends of the Earth are proud signatories of the Greener Jobs Alliance statement.
More detail informing the above solution areas can be found on our main website and in our 2018 briefing “A pathway to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions”.