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Letter to Andrew Smith, MP


Your ref: TH/HAAS04001/01143280

20th March 2015

Rt Hon Andrew Smith MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Andrew

Labour Party policy on climate change

Thank you so much for your very full reply to our letter (from Jill Haas) about Labour policy on climate change. We recognise your commitment to tackling climate change and your support locally as well as nationally for policies that aim to deal with it.  We also welcome your support for ‘put (ting) environmental protection beyond politics’.

However we would like to clarify some points about the policy of the Labour Party. It is clear that you personally agree that we need to leave 80% of fossil fuels in the ground, but the promises by Ed Miliband which you listed only deal with restricting greenhouse gas emissions and do not mention the need to tackle the supply end of fossil fuels or mention the push to ‘keep them in the ground’ which is now widely spoken of  (including by the divestment movement). It does not make sense to try to cap emissions without also capping the supply of fossil fuels. If the fossil fuels are extracted they will be used, if not in Oxfordshire or the UK, then somewhere else in the world and the world will exceed its ‘carbon budget’. We hope very much that there will be a commitment in the Labour Party manifesto not to extract all possible UK sources of fossil fuels (eg by fracking) and to work towards an international agreement for a global cap on supply. If this is not in the manifesto, we hope that you will argue within the party for such a commitment. [1] Could you please clarify this for us?

Also could you please confirm that it is Labour Party policy to make an active attempt to work with other UK political parties to combat the threat of climate change?

Yours sincerely,

Mary Gill (Low-Carbon Headington)

[1] George Monbiot recently suggested (the Guardian article 10.3.15), a possible paragraph along the following lines which could be agreed at the Paris Climate Talks in December.

“Scientific assessments of the carbon contained in existing fossil fuel reserves suggest that full exploitation of these reserves is incompatible with the agreed target of no more than 2C of global warming. The unrestricted extraction of these reserves undermines attempts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. We will start negotiating a global budget for the extraction of fossil fuels from existing reserves, as well as a date for a moratorium on the exploration and development of new reserves. In line with the quantification of the fossil carbon that can be extracted without a high chance of exceeding 2C of global warming, we will develop a timetable for annual reductions towards that budget. We will develop mechanisms for allocating production within this budget and for enforcement and monitoring.”

This is the kind of statement we have in mind.


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