The UK government’s active support for fossil fuels and airport expansion is “beyond absurd”, Greta Thunberg has told MPs.
The 16-year-old Swedish student, who sparked a global youth-based movement when she began a “climate strike” outside Sweden’s parliament last year, gave a typically blunt speech. She told MPs: “This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind.”
Ken Cronin, chief executive, UK Onshore Oil and Gas
“The science should have the loudest voice in this conversation, which needs to go beyond just keeping fossil fuels in the ground. The climate impact of these fuels is primarily due to combustion, but there are many things that we use them for that do not involve this process, including the production of medicines, food and other vital life essentials. Even bicycles and home insulation are made using oil and gas.
Nick Mace, environmental manager, Cuadrilla
“Establishing a shale gas industry here in the UK is absolutely compatible with and indeed critical for reducing global carbon emissions and supporting the country’s energy needs as we move towards creating more renewable energy.
“At the moment, renewables simply cannot create anywhere near enough energy to meet UK demand and shale gas has a vital part to play in providing a domestic gas supply with a lower carbon footprint than importing it from across the world in ships.
Claire Perry MP, energy minister Government spokesperson
““As we transition to a low carbon economy there will continue to be a need for oil and gas, which are projected to provide around two-thirds of our total primary energy in 2035. Continuing to manage production whilst reducing our overall usage of fossil fuels is the best way to meet our climate targets in a sustainable way.”
Michael Gove MP, environment secretary
“As I listened to you I felt great admiration but also a sense of responsibility and guilt because I recognise I am of your parents’ generation. I recognise we have not done nearly enough to deal with the problem of climate change,” he said.
“Suddenly, thanks to the leadership of Greta and others, it has become inescapable that we have to act. Greta, your voice has been heard and we are all responsible for making sure that we listen and we respond and that we change.”
“Gas meets 40% of the UK’s primary energy requirements and heats 80% of British homes and it is clear from every forecast that we will continue to need gas as we transition to lower carbon alternatives. So the choice is where do we source that gas? It is better environmentally to utilise home grown gas rather than imported gas, even ignoring jobs, security and balance of payments.”
INEOS takes its responsibilities very seriously – to this generation and the next. It is essential for renewable technologies continue to be developed and brought on-line. In the meantime, people still need to heat their homes and cook their food. Gas is the cleanest fossil fuel, and UK gas has a lower carbon footprint compared to imports
Barry Gardiner MP, shadow energy minister
“Thousands of our schoolchildren are on climate strike: they know that we are not acting with the speed and seriousness that the climate emergency demands.”
William Hague MP
“It is time to recognise that these young activists are indeed focused on the right issue. The solutions presented by protestors in London or by Green parties around the world may be ill thought-out, but the analysis is now hard to gainsay. The film presented by Sir David Attenborough last week was compelling in its argument that there is perhaps only a decade left to avert the greatest threat Earth has faced in thousands of years.”
“Now the question is what to do about it, and unless conservatives around the world fully embrace the arguments for more urgent action they will find they are losing the support of a generation.”
“Conservatives around the globe should wake up – here at home but also American Republicans, Australian Liberals and German Christian Democrats – and listen to today’s 16 year-olds. They are becoming passionate about this issue, and they are right. But they need persuading that the answers will lie in excellence and freedom, not in command and control. That philosophy is not being offered to them at present.
“Providing it might well be the most important challenge on earth for the next leaders of the right.”
Ed Miliband MP
“If we do not act, people will say in the future, “You knew the facts, but you did not care enough.” We will be known as the generations with the knowledge of what was to come but without the will or imagination to prevent it. We will be condemned, and rightly so. The right response to rebellion on our streets is to produce a revolution in climate leadership, and the time for action is now.”
Caroline Lucas MP
“It’s time more MPs of all parties prioritised the pursuit of shared priorities over the constant quest for things to disagree about. That’s why I am a founding member of the More United MP Network, a new platform for MPs of all parties to work together in the national interest, no matter which party is in power. The aim is to go beyond compromises fudged together in the mushy middle ground of our politics. There is an opportunity here for MPs to do something more radical and explore bold policies that can unite seemingly distant parts of our political landscape.”
“Tackling urgent climate dangers is one of the stated priorities for the network this year and there are ample grounds to expect that MPs of all parties would be willing to consider policies like no more airport expansion and better ways to measure the success of the economy than the infinite growth that is consuming our finite natural resources. Their time has come.”
Layla Moran MP
“We must now seize the opportunity created by Greta. Politicians from all sides of the political divide must come together to tackle the biggest issue affecting not just the UK, but the world. First, the UK must declare a national climate emergency; local councils up and down the country are already doing so, but for the governments of the world to take note the UK must take the first step forward.