United For People, Climate And Nature

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Climate relay in Westminster

We gathered on Parliament Square on the eve of the General Election result and a Labour landslide victory for the finale of Running Out of Time. Hundreds joined the last stage of Britain’s biggest climate relay, running or walking from Potters Fields Park and across Westminster bridge; many reuniting with others who had participated elsewhere in the climate relay on its 2400km epic journey.

Collectively, we were delivering the message carried inside the relay baton from thousands across the nation about how much the public cares; a message championed by The Climate Coalition of over 100 organisations, 22 million strong; a shared message to all of our newly elected representatives in Parliament:

“We call on all political parties to commit to cutting emissions, restoring nature and helping those most affected by climate change. We are united for people, climate and nature – and we are running out of time.”

Congratulations to the Labour Party! The political landscape has shifted massively as a result of this General Election, but the cause remains the same. Indeed, political parties of every colour as well as our devolved administrations have all played leadership roles and united at various stages in the past.

It had been the Conservative Party in opposition under David Cameron that had backed the groundbreaking Climate Change Act in 2008 – arguing that climate action was more important than political divisions. A decade later, it was Theresa May who brought forward legislation to set a 2050 Net Zero national target for all greenhouse gases; a necessary, feasible and cost-effective commitment that inspired a strong response from business, industry and civic society. And under the SNP, the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2019 increased the ambition of Scotland’s emissions reduction targets to net zero by 2045.

It was the Liberal Democrats who created the Green Investment Bank, a centrepiece of the coalition government’s efforts to kickstart the green economy, that attracted billions of pounds of spending from private investors and banks into low-carbon, clean energy projects.

It took the Green Party to introduce the Climate and Nature Bill, the only proposed legislation before the UK Parliament that ensures a comprehensive and joined-up approach to the climate emergency and nature crisis, backed by over 150 parliamentarians representing all major political parties.

It was the Welsh government that enacted the Wellbeing for Future Generations (Wales) Act, its pioneering future generations legislation, highly praised by the United Nations, which requires all government policies made in Wales today to consider the impact on the generations of tomorrow – putting an end to unsustainable, short-term decision making.

From having no climate bills, it took the NI Assembly to pass Northern Ireland’s first Climate Change Bill in Spring 2022, signalling a major breakthrough in cross party and civil society cooperation.

We’re all in this together. The climate relay did not finish when we arrived at the Houses of Parliament from our starting point in the highlands of Scotland. There is no finish line but rather a continuous passing of the baton to more people around us. The Labour Party has been given an exciting mandate for big, positive change: there’s still much to do and no time to lose if we are to cut emissions, restore nature and help those most affected by the climate crisis.

Now is the time for our new government to recognise and embrace this opportunity; for us to face the future together and look forward to what a United Kingdom can and will achieve.

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