The SDLP Leader, who has tabled radical legislation at Westminster that would bring forward the date by which the British Government is required to achieve net-zero emissions, called on political leaders to approach the climate emergency with the same urgency and resolve that the Covid-19 pandemic has generated.
The Derry MP said: “The IPCC report confirms our worst fears about the pace of the climate crisis. Without radical intervention to reduce emissions, we will reach catastrophic tipping points within the next thirty years. Climate volatility will become the new normal, sea levels will rise threatening coastal communities and displacing huge numbers in the global south. This is a warning siren for those who still need it – our world is in crisis and the debate about the cause is over. We need to approach this emergency with the same urgency and resolve that the Covid-19 pandemic has generated.
“This is the defining global challenge of this, and the next, generation. The report authors are clear that we need to reduce emissions by an order of 50% and reach net zero urgently to have any chance of halting global temperature increases. And even then, our ocean levels will still rise and we will continue to feel the effects of warming to this point.
“There is no community that will be isolated from this crisis. In Northern Ireland alone over the last year we have seen more forest fires and flooding threatening lives and livelihoods. We all have a duty to act, but the real difference will be made by governments and large corporations.”
Mr Eastwood said his Climate Change and Green Jobs Bill at Westminster will require the Secretary of State to report on proposals for a Green Corporate Levy on large companies to generate new revenue to be spent on tackling the climate crisis. “Those with the broadest shoulders, the deepest pockets and the most responsibility for the crisis must be compelled to help us avert irreversible climate breakdown,” he said.
“The scientific evidence is incontrovertible. The responsibility now rests with political leaders to take the brave and radical action needed to protect our planet.”
Mr Eastwood’s Bill received its first reading in the House of Commons on June 16 and will receive its second on December 10. The Bill aims are: To place a duty on the Government to declare a climate emergency; To amend the Climate Change Act 2008 to bring forward the date by which the UK is required to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions; To place a duty on the Government to create and implement a strategy to achieve objectives related to climate change, including for the creation of environmentally-friendly jobs; To require the SoS to report to Parliament on proposals for increased taxation of large companies to generate revenue to be spent to further those objectives.