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bambos with climate coalition membersBambos Charalambous MP signs the letter to the prime minister. Also shown (l-r) Harfiyah Ball Haleem, Christine Allen Dench (and daughter), Tony Sheen

Bambos Charalambous MP has signed a letter to the prime minister urging her to commit to bringing the UK's greenhouse gas emissions down to "net zero" before 2050.

The Enfield Southgate MP signed the letter at a meeting with representatives of the Climate Coalition's local interfaith delegation, made up of Harfiyah Ball Haleem from the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), Tony Sheen of CAFOD, Bill Linton of Enfield Green Party and Christine Allen from Christian Aid.

The letter to the prime minister

Dear Prime Minister,

Net Zero Emissions

We are writing to you to welcome the announcement that the Government will ask the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for advice on a net zero emissions target, with the aim of bringing our greenhouse gas emissions reduction target in line with the Paris Agreement.

Given the existing advice from the CCC, the likely conclusion of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and that other countries have set net zero targets with dates between 2030 and 2050, including France, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and New Zealand, we believe this must be a target of net zero for greenhouse gases before 2050.

British ingenuity, from Isambard Kingdom Brunel to Dorothy Hodgkin, has kept the UK at the forefront of science and engineering for more than two hundred years. Setting ourselves the goal of net zero emissions will put us at the forefront of the race for investment in clean industries, creating jobs all around the UK and inspiring the next generation.

A net zero emissions target, fully implemented, will cut energy bills by improving the efficiency of our homes and businesses, it will get rid of the exhaust pipe emissions that pollute the air we breathe, and it will help to bring about the restoration of our natural habitats so they become stores of carbon, from forests to peatlands. We can have a greener Britain with cleaner air – and by making a clean break from harmful emissions, we’ll be sending a signal to our friends and allies around the world that Britain is shouldering our responsibility and leading the fight against climate change.

Thanks to the actions of Governments of many different parties, and the cross-party consensus that exists in the UK on the need to tackle climate change, since 1992 we have led the world in emissions reductions. We can continue in this proud tradition of leadership by becoming one of the first countries in the world to set a net zero target in law. A recent poll by Opinium shows that 64% of UK adults agree the UK should aim to cut its emissions to zero over the next few decades.

The Paris Agreement commits parties to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. In order to achieve this, we will support you in setting a before-2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, and hope that you will enshrine this in law within the lifetime of this Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Clarke MP, together with 112 MPs

The letter to the prime minister has so far been signed by 113 MPs from six different parties. The reference to "net zero" means greenhouse gas emissions will be cut to as close to zero as possible, and any remaining emissions will be soaked up from the atmosphere by, for example, planting more trees which absorb carbon dioxide gas from the air as they grow.

Commenting on the Climate Coalition's campaign, Bambos Charalambous said, “Climate change is the biggest long-term threat facing us and will hit the world’s poor the hardest. We need to call on British ingenuity and innovation to help find solutions to reduce our emissions and for the UK to play its part in the world, cleaning our air by cutting emissions to zero, restoring our natural habitats and valued places and in so doing storing carbon emissions from the air.”

The local Climate Coalition activists responded by expressing their delight that their MP has signed the letter. "Here in Enfield Southgate climate change is becoming an increasingly visible, tangible and urgent problem, with our parks and gardens drying up in the current heatwave, so it's great to see that our local MP has added his name to support stronger climate targets." They presented him with a personal cooling humidifier (typically, made in China) to remind him of their meeting and of the urgency of getting British industry to invest in manufacturing better quality, cleaner technology to cope with the effects of changing climate conditions.

The UK leads the world’s developed countries in growing its economy the most while also cutting carbon emissions (which cause climate change) faster than any other G7 nation, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK. Other countries have already set net zero emissions targets with dates between 2030 and 2050, including France, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and New Zealand. Last year China, the world’s largest investor in clean energy, invested $132.6bn in technologies such as solar power.

The letter to the prime minister coincides with the 10th anniversary of the British Climate Change Act, which received cross-party support and has been hugely successful in driving cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and growth in new clean energy industries. Investment in the sectors that will allow us to transition smoothly to an economy powered by clean energy have brought jobs and opportunity to towns and cities across the UK and continue to do so.

Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, which Britain signed in 2015 alongside 194 other countries, the UK is committed to keeping a global rise in temperature to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. In order to stop temperatures rising further we have to stop adding more greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and move quickly to renewable energy generation.

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