Tackling climate change – the biggest issue of our times Speech for UpRising

 Main.jpg

On 9 May, I spoke on a panel discussing climate change  and energy policy as part of UpRising's Environmental Leadership Programme, for future leaders on climate change. Below is the text from my speech: 

 

Thank you, my name is Ibrahim Dogus and I am the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Cities of London and Westminster.

I am delighted UpRising are hosting this event. You are showing as always the power of leadership. I’d like to thank your trustees, your co-founder Rushanara Ali,  and your new CEO Lucy Caldicott.

I can’t say I have the experience and knowledge of some of the experts on this panel.  

I came to the UK as a refugee in 1994. I learned to speak English. I waited on tables in Mayfair. I worked in restaurants. I worked hard, and now I run several restaurants and employ 60 people.

I am proud of where I am from.  I am British. I am Kurdish. And I am a Londoner. Like so many of you here tonight, I have multiple identities and am proud of each one. This is the nature of the globalised world and this global city.

So why do I care about this debate tonight. Why do I care about the environment? Why do I say climate change is the biggest issue of our times?

Simple – because I am a father. A citizen. A human being.

I breathe the same polluted air as every Londoner.

And unless we tackle climate change in this generation, we will destroy the lives of the next generation. My children’s generation. Your generation.

My great fear is that instead of moving forward, we are moving backwards. Donald Trump is no friend of the environment. Brexit will threaten the progress we’ve made. This is a crucial moment.

We were asked to speak for just a few minutes on three things we should do in the next Parliament to tackle climate change.

I welcome the 2015 Paris Agreement but there is a real concern this week that Trump will pull the US out of the deal. The climate change negotiators’ meeting in Bonn this week are telling us that American participation hangs in the balance.

So the first thing I would say is a priority is to secure international agreement to tackle climate change, building on the Paris Agreement, and including the EU, China, America and the newly emerging economies of the south and the east. And the UK, post-Brexit.

The centre-piece for this international effort is holding down the increase in global temperature to below 2 degrees centrigrade, by reducing greenhouse gasses, and enabling the world’s economies to move towards carbon-free production and manufacture.

Second, I want more action to support business. I run an organisation called Labour4SME – small and medium enterprises. Small and medium businesses have a role to play in tackling climate change, as much as major employers. There are thousands of potential jobs in clean energy.

Labour will set a UK target of 65% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, dramatically decarbonizing our energy system and aim towards zero-carbon electricity production.

That means we need a comprehensive industrial strategy and long-term investment from government to deliver over 300,000 new, high-quality jobs in renewables. Real support for businesses to experiment, invest and take risks.

Britain will aim to be the world’s leading producer of renewables technology, claiming its share of estimate $630bn market by 2030.

One thing business needs is access to finance. Labour will set up a National Investment Bank to help small businesses.

The Coalition Government set up a Green Investment Bank. But the Conservative Government has just privatised it. A short-term profit at the expense of the environment.

I look around this room, and I see the young people who will be working in the companies of the future which are carbon-free, which are developing the solar, wind, wave and tidal energy for the future.

Third, we need to help householders to be able to cut their energy usage and their energy bills.

That means breaking up the cartel of the big energy companies.

That means promoting the growth of over 200 ‘local energy companies’ within the next parliament; giving towns, cities and localities the powers they need to drive a UK clean energy revolution.

I want to see public, not-for-profit companies and co-ops the centrepiece of a new energy economics, so we should support the development of 1,000 community energy co-operatives, with rights to sell energy directly to the localities they serve, with regional development bank assistance for grid connection costs.

We need to build more houses. So when Labour starts its house-building programme, and lets councils build houses again, they will be energy efficient and environmentally-friendly. And existing home need proper insulation. The Coalition’s Green Deal was a massive failure, but we need a new and better way to insulate millions of homes.

We need to plant more trees. So over the course of the next Parliament we should empower councils, colleges, schools, businesses and communities to plant more trees to green our neighbourhoods and breathe oxygen into our air.

So these are three things:

  • secure international agreement between governments
  • boost green technology and allow every business – big or small -  to tackle climate change
  • empower households to use green energy and save costs.

There are some that say tackling climate change is a burden on business. That’s what UKIP say. But I say, tackling climate change is the greatest opportunity to refashion our industries, our trade, our international partnerships and our global economy.

We are a few days away from Labour’s manifesto launch, but we can expect to see some really radical and exciting policies on climate change. For example:

Labour will introduce a cap on energy price rises

We will insulate 4 million homes and launch a Homes Fit For Heroes initiative which will offer free home insulation for disabled veterans. 

We will introduce a new Clean Air Act including emissions zones for major towns and cities. 

We will ensure 60 per cent of our energy comes from low-carbon or renewable sources by 2030.

That means voters like you have a real choice on 8 June.

Finally let me say thank you for listening and I look forward to your contributions.

Tackling climate change is not just a moral imperative, it makes economic sense post-Brexit too.

We can lead the world in post-carbon technologies.

We have made a good start, but there is much further to travel.

Thank you.