CLIMATE Campaigners in Stratford are urging MP Nadhim Zahawi to help keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Following conversations around COP26, campaigners from Stratford Climate Action and Stratford Friends of the Earth met with Mr Zahawi to discuss their concerns over fossil fuel projects.
The groups’ main demand was that the government should legislate to prevent new fossil fuel infrastructure. They say there are at least 40 fossil fuel projects at some stage of planning in the UK. If all were approved, they would release 1.3billion tons CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents) into the atmosphere over their lifetime.
A report from the UN Environmental Program’s shows governments are still planning to produce more than double the fossil fuels in 2030 than the level compatible with net zero by 2050.
The group is also concerned over an increase in offshore fossil fuel production after a 2014 review led the government to cut taxes and provide further support for the industry.
Pupil Julia Zampronio Gurden told Mr Zahawi she and her peers felt this made it clear the government was not doing enough to meet the climate emergency.
Mr Zahawi replied that he thought not all 40 projects would happen, and that it was important not to threaten people’s livelihood by going too quickly.
The group argues the new projects should provide renewable opportunities.
Campaigners also raised the UK finance industry’s support for fossil fuels including some £12billion supplied by British banks in 2021 and the government’s recent pledge to support a controversial gas plant in Mozambique which would add between 3.3 and 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2e to the atmosphere.
Stratford Climate Action chair Stephen Norrie said: “We do not need see how the UK government can claim to be a climate leader when it is not leading on the most basic requirement of keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Fossil fuels are the main driver of climate breakdown, and the best information is that we do not need more of them to keep the lights on. The more we produce, the cheaper they become and the more they will be used.”
Pupil George Burch added: “The government’s plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions is dangerously lacking in ambition and scope, considering Britain’s historical responsibilities.
“The Conservative party has received £1.3million from fossil fuel interests since 2019.
“Under Nadhim Zahawi, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy met with fossil fuel interests nine times as much as they did with renewable interests from 2019 to 2021. Zahawi himself served as chief strategy officer for Gulf Keystone Petroleum until January 2018.
“So it’s no surprise the government is working in tandem with the greenwash strategy of the fossil fuel industry.”
Mr Zahawi has been contacted for a response.