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A letter to Liz Truss

Posted by admin on March 5, 2023

A letter from a South-West Norfolk constituent to Liz Truss, just before her short-lived tenure as Prime Minister:

Dear Elizabeth Truss

I’m writing to you as a constituent and a representative of Climate Hope Action In Norfolk (CHAIN). And as a mother and grandmother to a little girl, I am deeply concerned about the future.

By the time you read this you will probably be Prime Minister of this country. You are of course aware of the huge level of responsibility that goes with that but, though it seems seldom recognised, it is the climate crisis where that responsibility weighs heaviest.

The climate crisis is happening now and gathering a frightening pace, propelled more and more by multiple ‘feedback’ mechanisms such as wildfires. With this ever-increasing momentum, the longer we leave it the more difficult it will be to stop, the less effective our actions will be in stopping that momentum and the more radical our actions will need to be. We’ve got to the point now where every month matters. Further, every fraction of a degree could mean the difference in avoiding a catastrophic tipping point where the momentum becomes simply unstoppable.

It is no longer a relevant argument to suggest the pace of transformation to a zero carbon economy musn’t get ahead of public opinion. It’s clear that government needs to lead and not be constrained by its perception of public mood. And further, there is evidence to suggest that the public aren’t as adverse to radical action on this issue as one might think. For instance, most (including Conservative voters) support onshore wind despite the government’s hesitance.

Politicians have never treated the issue with the utmost seriousness it deserves and our concern is that, from your policy pronouncements so far, you show little or no sign of breaking from this clearly inadequate record. In fact, the expansion of North Sea gas production, the resumption of fracking and the scrapping of green levies would send us backwards.

Of all the ways in which we must address the climate crisis, the first and most important is to stop putting carbon into the atmosphere - that means keeping gas, oil and coal in the ground. Finding yet more sources of fossil fuels would destroy any hope of the UK being seen as a climate leader or being in a position to influence others to better behaviour.

Scrapping green levies will entrench our reliance on fossil fuels - the very cause of our current crisis. The levies help to pay for home insulation which, along with micro generation for homes, is key to addressing both climate and cost of living crises. Without this funding, clarity is needed on how even the existing (and scarcely adequate) level of support for home insulation would be paid for.

It’s clear that an expanded and rapid rollout of insulation needs to be part of a comprehensive national climate change plan. This would need to encompass almost every area of economic activity and the considerable level of investment needed from both the public and private sectors should not be under-estimated.

Government has a significant role to play, for instance, by intervening in the market to incentivise low carbon energy and energy-saving (through mechanisms such as carbon fee & dividend/climate income), helping low income countries preserve vital natural habitats, and supporting research to employ as many of our best scientific minds as possible. The UK can be a leader in this and realise the considerable economic opportunities. Savings can be made in ending subsidies for fossil fuels and putting a halt to all major road projects. Prioritising walking, cycling and public transport would reduce our vulnerability to the fluctuating price of oil. And, of course, insulation is an investment which can only reward.

And finally, your constituency is in an area of the country which is both low-lying and, relative to the rest of the UK, low in rainfall. This leaves it potentially at the sharp end of climate change’s impacts. You have increasing numbers of constituents who are all too aware of the dangers which face us and who will punish politicians at the ballot box for their failures to act. Many of us have children and grandchildren whose very well-being, and even potentially survival, depends on your political courage to seize the moment now and break the cycle of climate-failure before it’s too late. Please, for all our sakes, act with the boldness which this greatest of all issues and, increasingly, your voters demand.

In your response to this letter, please could you provide answers to the following questions:

  • Will you commit to, not only retaining green levies, but reducing fuel bills by rapidly expanding insulation and microgeneration for our homes?
  • Will you commit to issuing no new licenses for drilling North Sea oil and gas?
  • Will you confirm that you have no intention to allow the resumption of fracking?
  • Will you demonstrate that you have policies which will ensure our rapid transition to a zero carbon economy?

Thank you for your consideration of these matters

Yours sincerely

(name & address)
On behalf of
Climate Change Action In Norfolk (CHAIN)