I write in reply to the open letter to candidates in next week’s General Election by Richard and Victoria Gibson which sought to find out the views of the candidates and their parties prior to this week’s ballot.
I was delighted to read this open letter especially given that while I have been on Shetland I have been living approximately three feet, if not less, above sea level, so I don’t think it would be possible for me to be more focused on this issue as the effects of climate change starkly stare at me as I look out the window onto the sea at Hillswick… almost at window level.
I believe that climate change is one of the most serious and complex challenges we face and that we need concerted, immediate and sustained action to reduce carbon emissions and to avert the potentially serious environmental and economic consequences of climate change – both in the UK and in developing countries.
I also appreciate that the effects of climate change hit the poorest hardest and that eradicating global poverty will only be possible if we tackle climate change.
That is why I believe climate change should be a key priority for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the Millennium Development Goals later this year). I also believe that climate change needs to be at the centre of the next government’s foreign policy and integral to our development agenda.
I am pleased, therefore, that the last Labour shadow international development secretary, Mary Creagh, stated that climate change would be a development priority for a future Labour government.
I also believe that 2015 is an absolutely vital year for international development and climate change, with the Paris climate change conference due to take place and the new SDGs to be agreed.
The UN Framework Agreement that was agreed in Lima in December 2014 could be an important step toward progress at the Paris Conference but I would like further action to be taken, including to ensure that the needs of people in developing countries are included in any final agreement.
I hope it will be possible to reach the bold and ambitious international agreement that is so badly needed on climate change and that the UK in the form of a Labour government plays a leading role in this because we not only recognise the seriousness of this issue, but are prepared to address it’s effects.
I can assure you, that if more people were sitting where I am as I write this with the tide literally almost lapping the window frames, there would be fewer climate change deniers, and this most pressing of issues be given the due urgent attention it warrants.
Scottish Labour Candidate for Orkney and Shetland