I became UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary in February 2012 – that makes me the longest serving Minister with this portfolio for 25 years. In this time, I have learnt one lesson above all else: you can only make real progress on climate change with political leadership and trust between all parties. That’s why the new joint climate change agreement between the leaders of the three major British political parties – Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats - is so important.
This cross-party agreement shows the strength of the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change. The British public, businesses and our European and international partners can now be in no doubt - May's election in the UK poses little threat to the UK continuing to be a leading voice on climate change and the transition to a prosperous low carbon economy.
I would like to pay particular tribute to the UK NGO community who have made this agreement possible. I fully support their ’For the Love of’ campaign both as a politician, a Minister and as a father - I do not want my kids growing up in a more dangerous and insecure world because my generation failed to act. Our NGOs are a formidable UK asset, boosting our reach internationally, strengthening our resolve politically and enhancing our capacity to deliver domestically.
And it has been quite a period of delivery: in Europe, securing the Europe-wide deal to reduce domestic emissions by at least 40% by 2030 and Emissions Trading System (ETS) reform; internationally, providing nearly £4bn of climate finance to help developing countries and ending export financing for coal power plants with the US; and in the UK, more than doubling renewable electricity generation and investment, defending the UK’s 4th Carbon Budget to halve emissions by 2027 and making the UK the world’s leading offshore wind market.
But while real progress has been made, there is a huge amount still to do. First, we must press forward in implementing the EU commitment to reduce domestic emissions by at least 40%, deliver further robust ETS reform, bring forward the EU’s formal climate pledge for Paris and prepare the options for how we might increase EU ambition in the context of a comprehensive global climate deal.
Second, we must use all the tools at our disposal to deliver the global climate agreement the world needs in Paris 2015. Political momentum is building with the US, China and India announcing their intention to seek an ambitious deal, and with the launch of a €10bn Green Climate Fund to help the poorest nations adapt to climate change. We must build on this momentum, reaching out at every level and through all our channels, to show the leadership, develop the trust and create the conditions to make Paris a real success.
Finally, this year, we must really get to grips with some of the biggest practical challenges to meeting our 2 degrees goal. Above all, this means addressing unabated coal power. The agreement between British political leaders to end unabated coal power in the UK is a positive step. But we now need to take an open, honest and pragmatic look at how, in Europe and beyond, we can address unabated coal globally if we are to meet our climate goals.