The case for a net zero climate change target – Write to your MP

In my recent blog I urged people to write to their MPs and ask them in turn to write to Ed Miliband offering their support for his campaign (and sharing any response they get). If you are so inclined, here is a copy I drafted and sent:

Dear xxxx xxxx MP,

As one of your constituents, I am writing to ask you to add your support to Ed Miliband’s campaign to amend the 2015 Energy Bill to include a commitment to set a date by when the UK will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed fifth carbon budget’s 57% cut in emissions by 2032 was laid out before Paris by the CCC and has yet to be legislated on. In a letter last week to energy and climate change secretary, Amber Rudd, the CCC said that: “…the pledged contributions by the EU and others have not yet changed. On that basis we repeat our recommendation that the fifth carbon budget be legislated at 1,765 MtCO2.” This is very disappointing as we’re failing to increase our ambition in light of the Paris climate deal. Whilst we could take aim at the CCC for the advice given, as some campaigners have done, the fact of the matter is they are working to legislation that is now, quite frankly, out of date.

Ed Miliband wrote in the Guardian last November, even before the Paris summit had begun, conveying what the science was already telling us; that we would need to go further with our emissions targets to achieve net-zero emissions at some point in the second half of this century. The Paris Agreement has subsequently quite rightly acknowledged the very same thing.  

The net-zero emissions goal is crucial and already many cities and companies are adopting this goal. As Ed Miliband pointed out: “…the right step now would be for Britain to become the first major country to enshrine net zero emissions in law, with the date determined by advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change.” He went on to say that that this “would show our determination to face up to this existential challenge. It will provide an essential framework for business and government so that we make the right decisions now on key energy and infrastructure issues. And it will inspire the inventors, engineers and businesses that can deliver on this challenge.”

From Ed Miliband’s conversations with people across the House of Commons, including the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Caroline Lucas of the Greens and Conservatives such as Nick Hurd and Graham Stuart (chair of Globe, the international parliamentarians group on climate change), it is clear there is cross-party support. Does that include you?

Mr Miliband finished with this: “Paris must be the start of a journey of the whole world towards this goal. And far from this commitment holding Britain back, we can be a leader again on climate change. Leadership which does not mean harm to our economy, but will put us ahead in the race for the new jobs, businesses and advantages of this new world. I hope the government will support this initiative. We can build an alliance, put aside our party differences as we have before, and seize this moment.”

The Industrial Revolution that began in the North West of England ultimately transformed society into the fossil fuel dependent society we have become. It is right therefore that we also led the world in taking action to reduce emissions by becoming the first country to legislate for deep, long-term cuts (The 2008 Climate Change Act) and it is essential that we continue this leadership and remain on track by introducing updated legislation and making the right decision about the period to 2032, which the government now faces.  

As I am sure you are aware, the Energy Bill is currently passing through parliament. This Bill is a public bill presented to Parliament by the Government and passed its second reading on 18 January 2016 without a vote. Ed Miliband spoke during the Energy Bill debate, making the case for putting zero emissions into UK law. The next stage is committee stage when MPs consider the Bill line by line.

The Public Bill Committee is to conclude by Tuesday 9 February 2016 but it may finish earlier. Can you please write to Ed Miliband and the members of the committee to offer your support for his campaign and efforts to include an amendment to the Energy Bill. I would also be grateful if you would provide me with a copy of your letter and any response you get.

Looking back again at the history of the the first Climate Change Act, shortly after the 2005 general election, 412 of the 646 Members of Parliament signed an early day motion calling for a Climate Change Bill to be introduced. Only three other early day motions had ever been signed by more than 400 MPs. On 8 June 2008, following the Second Reading of the Bill, only five members of the House of Commons voted against it. I think this can be done, we just need to build the political will. Please can you add your political support to this important change in legislation.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email.

Yours Sincerely,


Full address including post code

Further Reading:


  • In January, a report was commissioned by Sandbag to explore why the UK, in the light of the Paris Agreement, could consider an additional ‘net zero emissions’ long-term goal.
  • Sandbag have also recently blogged about the inclusion of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) provisions, added to the Energy Bill in it’s initial passing through the Lords



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