UK Youth Delegation Meet Climate Minister Nick Hurd Worried Urgency to Act is Fading

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In this guest post, UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) delegate and journalist Chloe Farand gives the inside story of the group’s meeting with UK climate change minister, Nick Hurd. This is an edited version of a blog post that appears on the UKYCC‘s website.

No-one expected miracles from the climate talks in Marrakesh but we were told this year’s COP would be one of action. Instead, it has been one of frustration with little progress being made.

On the same day that the UK became the 111th country to ratify the Paris Agreement, the UK Youth Climate Coalition was lucky to meet with climate change minister Nick Hurd for an informal chat about what matters to young people in the UK.

The talks in Marrakesh kick-started the process of implementing the Paris Agreement, which came into force earlier this year.

Young people from around the world – including the UK – came to Marrakesh to see countries starting to deliver on their promises to make the Paris deal a reality. But the sense of urgency, which gathered momentum in the French capital seems to have faded.

The most important thing about this COP is to send a very important message that we are acting and committed to implement the Paris Agreement,” Hurd said.

The message is clear and yet there are still too many uncertainties about when and how countries will start delivering on their pledges. Meanwhile the clock is ticking.   

In the UK, climate commitments and the reality on the ground are two different things and there are doubts as to how the country will meet its target of reducing emissions with generous tax breaks for the oil industry, support for fracking in Lancashire and subsidies for renewable energy being slashed.

Hurd responded that the UK’s was one of few countries with an “ambitious” legally-binding framework to reduce emissions that will enable the UK to do its fair share.  

On fracking, he said: “I don’t see fracking as a climate issue but as an energy security one, so I think it would be foolish not to try.”

This is a red line. Renewed investments in dirty energy in the UK is unacceptable at a time when climate experts are unanimous to say renewable energy makes more economic sense.

However, Hurd seemed to be listening when asked about enhancing youth participation both during the talks and throughout the year in the UK.

He was interested to hear about the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), which under the Paris Agreement demand countries to appoint someone to oversee education programmes about climate change and be a regular point of contact with youth.

Hurd’s team seems to have taken on board the need for the UK to appoint this person sooner rather than later. It was also encouraging that he agreed to meet us again at his London office.

The UKYCC delegation also met Scottish climate change minister Roseanna Cunningham earlier this week.

While countries are frustratingly slow to act, Cunningham urged devolved cities, regions and states to seize the opportunity and champion climate action. She particularly called on US states to do their bit to uphold their countries’ pledges.

The idea is simple and realistic and could open the door to a ray of light at a time, when one of the world’s top leaders will have to be convinced climate change is not a hoax.

UKYCC left Hurd with a list of demands that need to be implemented if the UK is going to do its part to curb global warming to 1.5°C:

  • A ban on fracking in the UK
  • Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies
  • Re-introducing renewable energy subsidies
  • Overturning the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow and opposing any further airport expansion.
  • Ratifying the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, also known as the Doha Amendment. As Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) only in start in 2020 pre-2020 ambitions must be urgently increased if we are to remain below 1.5C.
  • Put in place the adequate programmes to communicate the urgency of climate change to British citizens
  • Appoint an ACE focal point, whose role will be to set-up a network of climate change professional and ensure that awareness programmes are as effective and targeted as they can be.
  • Work towards producing a robust conflict of interest policy within the UNFCCC.
  • Go beyond the 2050 roadmap commitments to deliver finance for adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage for the UK to become a climate finance champion.
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Main image credit: UKYCC CCBY

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