Respected Harrogate green charity criticises town's MP for supporting Rishi Sunak's approach on climate change policies
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Until now, the non-partisan Zero Carbon Harrogate has been keen build good relations with all sides of the community and eager to avoid the least hint of politics.
Formed in 2016 to bring together residents from different backgrounds with different experiences to support the development of a thriving, low carbon, sustainable economy, the charity has collaborated with local authorities, businesses and politicians of all shades.
But, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s most recent statements on climate change, it now says is becoming alarmed by the lack of progress nationally on green issues and Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones’s support for the change of tack by the Government.
In a letter to the Harrogate Advertiser, Zero Carbon Harrogate said the charity had contacted Andrew Jones to press him on the situation.
Although Jemima Parker, chair of the charity, said it was pleased to receive a detailed response from Mr Jones, it adds it was not reassured by the details of that response.
"We wrote to Harrogate MP Andrew Jones to express our concerns and we were pleased to receive a detailed response,” she said.
"This, however, offered no reassurance as Mr Jones appears to fully support Mr Sunak’s change in climate policies.
"We do agree with him on the importance of international cooperation.
"However, we are sceptical about Mr Jones’ suggestion that other countries should follow the UK’s lead.”
The charity adds it is now “extremely perturbed” with what it said was the Prime Minister’s recent “U-turn” on a number of climate targets designed to aid the transition to net zero.
"The science is clear,” Zero Carbon Harrogate claims, “emissions cuts made this decade are the ones that will count the most and steer us away from the more catastrophic risks associated with global heating.
"Now is not the time to be watering down targets and pushing back deadlines.
"These recent policy changes will only stifle innovation and slow progress and have sent a very clear signal that the UK is no longer a credible climate leader.
“Our government should be championing innovation and promoting the UK’s ability to be global leaders in green technology.
"Aside from the environmental factors, which frankly should be reason enough, there are huge local economic gains to be had.
"By reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, we would be protected from the volatility in world energy markets.
“Here in Yorkshire, we face very real and urgent pressures as a result of climate change; increased food costs, danger to public health, risk of flooding, higher insurance premiums, immigration – to name a few.
"We urge other residents in the Harrogate area who are as concerned as we are about these latest policy changes to write to their MP; together we can make a difference."
Mr Jones has signalled his support for green policies on a regular basis via his website www.communitynews.network
Recent months have seen the Harrogate MP praise new funding by the Government for net zero tech projects and training in retro-fitting and insulation.
He posted: “From net zero tractors to cutting-edge battery projects, we’re taking decisive action to ensure we remain at the forefront of zero emission vehicle technology.”