Eco-hypocrisy? Cameron tells business to act on climate change... but scraps green agenda

Protesters demonstrate during a rally held the day before the start of the Paris Climate Change Summit, in London, Britain November 29, 2015. © Suzanne Plunkett
Prime Minister David Cameron will urge business to tackle climate change when he meets world leaders in Paris, claiming it is too big for governments to fight alone. However, his government has been accused of betraying Britain’s green agenda.

The PM has also called on rich countries to give more aid to poorer nations in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More than 50 world leaders gathered in the French capital on Monday morning for the start of long-awaited negotiations on reaching a globally binding agreement to halt global temperatures rising to dangerous levels.

Over 50,000 people attended a march in London on Sunday calling on leaders to make a transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy. London’s protest was one of 2,500 climate demonstrations that took place around the globe.

Cameron is expected to lay out Britain’s position at the Paris talks by urging business to tackle pollution levels, arguing the problem is too big for governments acting alone.

The issue of climate change is too large for governments alone to deal with. That is why business and private donors must play an active role in shaping our response to climate change, and enabling trillions of dollars of investment in clean technology,” he will say.

I want the deal in Paris to outline the role that businesses should play. We need to give businesses long-term certainty for investment.

In the UK, the PM was criticized ahead of the Paris talks for leaving the UK’s green credentials in tatters after abandoning subsidies for renewable energy and scrapping support for Britain’s carbon capture scheme.

Energy expert Professor Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University said Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to axe funding for carbon storage last week was the final act to undermine Britain’s negotiating status in Paris.

The geologist told the Guardian that Osborne’s action was “a betrayal.

Several energy firms include Royal Dutch Shell and South of Scotland Electricity had invested more than £100 million developing technology for the use at two carbon storage projects in Scotland and Yorkshire.

Among the lessons from this disastrous reputation failure, and time-wasting and money-wasting failure, must be that energy policy and infrastructure delivery is too important to be left to short-term politicians,” he said.

Within months of announcing an end to solar energy subsidies, the government agreed to support the construction of a nuclear power plant in Somerset by Chinese and French energy companies.

Cameron will also call rich countries to step up aid to developing nations in a bid to “improve climate resilience.”

Tens of thousands of people marched through more than 2,500 cities and towns around the world on Sunday urging politicians to shift to clean energy.

This is the biggest climate march in British history with over 50,000 people marching today in London and thousands more in other cities across Britain. Our footsteps are echoing around the world alongside hundreds of thousands [who] have taken to the streets calling for a transition to 100-percent clean energy,” said Avaaz campaign director Alex Wilks.

Organizers say 20,000 people also marched through Rome and Madrid, and over 5,000 people flocked to City Hall in New York.

In Paris, where demonstrations were banned by authorities after the November 13 attacks, activists laid out 20,000 shoes in the Place de la Republique to symbolize absent marchers on the eve of the climate change summit.

However, there was some unrest in the French capital and riot police used tear gas to disperse around 200 protesters, some of them masked, who responded by hurling rocks.