Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was not a vote against climate change, nor was it a vote against the innovation key to fighting climate change, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres told an audience of business and policymakers at the annual Business & Climate summit in London today.
In her last speech as the head of UN’s climate change body the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Figueres said, “It’s absolutely clear that should article 50 be triggered, the UK would have to reconfigure trading relations with the EU … there’s going to be quite a bit of volatility and uncertainty for at least about two years.” But, she added, “there’s no reason to upset the apple cart on this,” she urged the UK to “stay calm and transform on.”
The second annual Business & Climate Change summit, convened by The Climate Group, focuses on businesses’ role in implementing the targets set out in the Paris climate agreement, the first legally binding commitment to curb carbon emissions to keep global temperature rises below 2C.
While organisers expressed concern that Britain’s political instability will distract from broader questions about climate action, Figueres told attendees that climate change action was now unstoppable and much bigger than the shorter term political instability we currently face. “The UK has a very important leadership on climate change and there is no reason to change that,” she said.
These were sentiments echoed by Paul Simpson, CEO of environmental data non-profit CDP. “Of course it’s a time of uncertainty but there is cross-party consensus on climate change in the UK that will continue to exist.”
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