Category: Environment

Trade Bill

My Lords, I will speak in support of Amendment 40. As we deepen and strengthen our global trading relations, we cannot ignore our environmental commitments. I support this amendment because it means that our environmental obligations, as outlined by international law, cannot be undermined by future trade deals.

 

This must be a green Brexit. The Government’s election manifesto stated that they will not compromise on our high environmental protections in any future trade deals. Without this amendment, these are promises without actions. The international agreements laid out in this amendment are about not just environmental protection but our health and well-being, and are for the benefit of generations to come.

 

In the interests of time, I will outline only three of these international agreements. First, the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution has helped reduce pollution levels across borders and improve human health. As we have seen during lockdowns, the rapid decline in air pollution has had a positive impact on the health and well-being of people and nature in the UK and internationally. By honouring our commitment to this convention in this amendment, we can continue to protect the health of people and ensure that we do not undermine the improvements made as we recover from the pandemic and restart the economy.

 

Secondly, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is included in this amendment. It is about not just maritime jurisdiction but managing resources in a sustainable manner. The issue of fish stocks in UK fishing waters has been a prominent debate in Brexit. By continuing our commitment to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, we can ensure that the quality ?and productiveness of our fish stocks are maintained. It is essential for both our biodiversity and the long-term livelihood of our fishermen.

 

Thirdly, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is a key mechanism for monitoring greenhouse gas contributions and plays an important role in reducing emissions in the fight against the climate crisis. Global trade has an environmental footprint. For instance, 30% of carbon dioxide emissions are from freight transport. As we develop trading relations, we must ensure that we stay on the path to net zero emissions by 2050. This amendment means that we will continue to protect the environment in a way that does not restrict trade. It is an opportunity to make trade more sustainable by supporting investment in greener sectors and turning away from polluting industries to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

 

This amendment would also ensure that, within 12 months of making regulations or ratifying a trade agreement, a report assessing the impact of regulations on our environmental obligations is presented to Parliament. This is key in ensuring that we are held accountable and have fully considered the implications of any deal. If the UK is to be a leader in sustainability, this amendment must be supported. Without it, we lack a meaningful commitment to tackling the climate crisis.

 

The Government assure us that they are putting green at the heart of the coronavirus recovery. The Prime Minister has said that he wants the UK to be seen as a leading example in enabling a global green industrial revolution. Supporting this amendment would enable us to be an effective environmental leader, especially as we prepare to host COP 26 next year.

 

See the full debate on Hansard

 

Trade Bill

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on his appointment and excellent maiden speech. He brings a breadth of experience and expertise to your Lordships’ House.

I support this Bill, which, while being fundamentally about continuity, is also about redefining and strengthening our trading relationships across the world. Today, I am particularly interested in what this means for the emerging and frontier markets that are among our growing trading partners.

I have been actively involved in promoting trade and investment with other countries and have volunteered to deliver keynote speeches at multiple high-level ?conferences organised by DMA Invest in London, including with the Governments of Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea.

I have witnessed an appetite to do business with the United Kingdom on the part of overseas countries. Following my visit to Tajikistan last year, where I was a guest of our ambassador, we have begun organising the first Tajikistan summit for next year. We have a series of engagements with the Government of Nepal beginning with a great conference this month, and I would be pleased if my noble friend the Minister would accept my invitation to speak at it. We are also in discussion with two other embassies about the possibility of future events.

Over the past few years, the importance of economic co-operation and bilateral relations has become more prevalent. The UK is a leader in development and a powerhouse of trade and diplomacy. We have 280 overseas missions, including embassies and high commissions. On my visits overseas, I have seen how the DIT is increasingly geared to actively promote trade and deliver excellent training of people’s business skills.

Following the recent merger of DfID and the FCO, this Bill enables us to streamline our global strategy further, focusing in particular on how we can tackle the climate crisis, inequality and the pandemic collectively. This Bill will reflect our commitment to fair trade and improving access to markets for developing countries. We need to ensure that we have the correct tariffs to support the import of added-value products successfully and fairly.

In making it easier to do business, we cannot ignore our environmental commitments. We must promote green energy, the development of green technology and green skills. That is how we can inspire environmental incentives not just to maintain standards, but to improve them, and accelerate our environmentally friendly business activities in the UK and abroad. We have a great deal of knowledge and expertise on Islamic finance, and we must actively promote the industry overseas, which would result in mutual benefits. In this regard, I declare that I co-chair the APPG on Islamic finance.

In conclusion, the Trade Bill is about opportunity—the opportunity to achieve inclusive growth by building deeper partnerships with emerging markets, to strengthen our involvement internationally and to commit meaningfully to sustainability.

 

Link to full debate on Hansard.

Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers)

My Lords, I am pleased that, following an open discussion, the Government are putting forward the regulations, which I fully support. It is important for us to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment, which needs looking after, particularly the oceans and beaches. It is estimated that over 150 million tonnes of plastic is in the world’s oceans, and every year 1 million birds and over 100,000 ?sea mammals die from eating or getting tangled in plastic waste. Furthermore, it is estimated that the plastic in the oceans will increase threefold in the next 15 years. What steps are we taking to remove plastic waste and stop it from entering the oceans?

Pollution is indeed a global problem. How are we working with or supporting other countries in tackling the issues? Are we supporting any research to modify the ways we manufacture and consume the items that pollute? Are there any outreach and educational programmes to encourage the young to reduce plastic consumption and marine litter?

 

The following paragraph was included by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park:

My noble friends Lord Sheikh and Lady Hooper, and my near-neighbour, the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, all in different ways raised the international component of the issue that we are discussing. I emphasise that the UK has shown real global leadership.

Link to full debate on Hansard. 

Covid-19: Recovery Strategies

My Lords, the conditions created by the pandemic and the lockdown will probably result in this year representing the largest annual reduction in carbon emissions. The crisis and this result should, with the right approach, enable us to achieve reductions in our emissions to zero by 2050, stimulate the economy and create jobs. The crisis should be a springboard to achieving these objectives. It is anticipated that our GDP will fall by 12.8% and unemployment will be at about 7.3% by the end of 2020. My concern is that there will, in addition, be regional inequalities, which our Prime Minister is keen to level up. Therefore, it is important for us to take appropriate and immediate medium-term measures. During the pandemic, there was a need to spend, spend, spend. Now that we are coming out of the crisis, our motto must be to think green, to achieve growth and to create jobs. I commend the Prime Minister for his commitment to spending £2 billion investing in greener transport, including providing walking and cycling facilities.

We must all ensure that all the BAME communities are fairly treated in all aspects of the country, including the business sector, as part of our future strategy. This is a wake-up call for us to do so. What is the Government’s reaction to the two letters sent to the Prime Minister by 200 business leaders and the Committee on Climate Change, and how are the proposals being considered?

Link to full debate on Hansard. 

Istanbul Conference Speech

There are several environmental challenges facing the world today. These include climate change, energy conservation, intensive farming, land degradation, the depletion of the ozone layer and pollution. These problems have mainly occurred due to human behaviour and there will be adverse effects on our planet if we do not take immediate remedial action collectively to combat the situation.

 

I was the first Muslim to be appointed a member of the House of Lords by the Conservative Party. I am the Chairman of a number of organisations which include The Conservative Muslim Forum. I am very active in the House of Lords and speak regularly on a variety of subjects. I have said in the House of Lords and at a number of meetings that I am proud of my religion and promote the glorious side of our religion. I have in fact quoted the holy prophet (peace be upon him) and the holy Koran in the House of Lords which has not been done before. We have arranged for halal food to be served in the British Parliament and there is a prayer room in the House of Lords.

 

I am passionate about protecting the environment and this is the reason I am here in Istanbul. I strongly feel that we Muslims as the Ummah can play a vital role in looking after the planet and everything living in the world which Allah Subhana wataallah has richly provided us with.

 

In the United Kingdom, large steps have already been taken to try and address the problem of climate change.  In November 2008 the Climate Change Bill was passed and thus became part of the law of the country as the Climate Change Act. I actively supported the legislation when this was discussed in the House of Lords and spoke strongly in favour of it. The Climate Change Act passed in the United Kingdom is the world’s first long term legally binding framework to tackle the dangers of climate change. We in United Kingdom have set an example which I hope other countries in the world will follow.

 

One of the key provisions of the British Climate Change Act is to introduce legally binding targets for emissions.  It states that Greenhouse Gas emissions should be reduced by at least 80% by 2050 and CO2 emissions should be reduced by at least 26% by the year 2020.

 

We hope that discussions at the forthcoming Conference in Copenhagen are fruitful and agreements are reached which are accepted and followed by the international community.    

 

We can combat climate change by investing in the development of alternative energy resources. By looking at other methods of producing energy we will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and thus hopefully reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels.

 

We need to increase our level of investment, conduct research and undertake projects whereby energy is produced by different methods such as biofuels, solar power, wind power, hydropower and geothermals.

 

Biofuels are derived from recently living organisms such as plants and animal waste and the energy source is based on the carbon cycle. Biofuel industries are expanding in Europe, Asia and America.

 

Solar energy has an enormous amount of potential. The manufacture of solar cells has expanded dramatically in recent years but we are only harnessing a miniscule fraction of the available solar energy.  

 

Wind power is another form of renewable energy that we need to look into. The world definitely needs to take a serious look at the possibility of increasing this form of energy production worldwide.

 

Hydropower is the power that is derived from the force or energy of moving water. Even though it is commonly used there are more potential sites that can be developed to generate hydroelectricity.

 

Tidal power is the conversion of the energy of tides into other forms of power, mainly electricity. Again this is not widely used but has the potential for expanded use throughout the globe.

 

Geothermal energy is again another alternative energy source that is currently under-utilised. Geothermal power is extracted from heat stored in the earth. It roughly accounts for around 0.3% of the world’s electricity which shows that it can definitely be expanded upon.   

 

Nuclear energy is a form of energy production that is not renewable but is still a viable alternative to the burning of fossil fuels. In 2007, nuclear power provided 14% of the world’s electricity. The production of energy by nuclear power does however lead to controversy.

 

Carbon capture and storage is something that can be investigated further to try and reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions. It is a relatively new concept but it needs to be taken further.

 

We also need to promote carbon trading arrangements.

 

As Muslims we have a responsibility towards the preservation of the environment. The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) has said:

 

‘The Earth is green and beautiful and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it.’

 

This emphasises the fact that in Islam, the conservation of the environment is based on the principle that all of the individual components of the environment were created by God, and that all living things were created with different functions. Furthermore in Islam humans are expected to protect the environment since no other creature is able to perform this task. Humans are the only beings that Allah has entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the Earth.

 

In fact The Holy prophet (peace be upon him) instructed his armies not to harm women and children. He also instructed them not to harm animals, destroy crops or cut down trees. This highlights the fact that he realised the value of nature and the importance of the preservation of the environment.

 

Climate change is possibly the biggest threat to life on the planet, and some of the effects are likely to be felt in Muslim countries. For example there may be future water crises in the Middle East, flooding in Bangladesh, creation of deserts in sub-Sahara Africa, submergence of the Maldives and much more. All of this may lead to more wars and produce a large number of environmental refugees.

 

The Muslim 7 Year Action Plan (MY7AP) is a big step towards tackling the massive problem of climate change in the Muslim world. The mission is to “mobilise all the resources of the Islamic Ummah to contribute to the ongoing global efforts dealing with Climate Change based on a 7 Year Environmental Conservation Plan that reflects Islamic Principles and Values”. The MY7AP plays an important role to provide an Islamic vision in regard to climate change and discuss the environmental challenges facing the Muslim world. Not enough has been done in the Muslim world to try and combat climate change and the MY7AP is an important step in this regard.

 

The action plan is not a talking shop but concrete proposals will be implemented.

 

The establishment of the MACCA foundation is crucial to the success of the Muslim world’s battle against climate change. The MACCA foundation requires support from all Muslims, both official and non-official, if it is to be effective in its goal which is to work with the Muslim countries to advocate constitutional amendments to include environmental conservation amongst other things. We will hopefully see Muslim countries following the UK’s lead in committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The MACCA foundation will also develop an annual international prize for research related to environmental conservation and will organize media campaigns to increase public awareness. If successful, the MACCA foundation will be a great asset in the global fight against climate change.

 

I would like to commend MACCA on the promotion and establishment of the green Hajj.

 

We need to look at what we as individuals can do to reduce emissions. Climate change unites us all and each and every one of us will suffer if we allow runaway increases in our emissions to further damage an already ailing atmosphere. We all need to protect our forests and everything green. We can undertake home improvements to improve energy efficiency and get into the habit of undertaking a number of simple but common sense tasks which will reduce consumption of energy.    

 

We must remember the fact that as individuals we may not make a big difference to the world, but when all of our contributions are put together, it will result in a big difference being made.

 

Thank you.

Speech on Environment in Kuwait

 

At the outset I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the Kuwaiti government and the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs for organising this conference. I may add that I know His Excellency the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United Kingdom very well and see him from time to time.

 

I was the first Muslim to be appointed a member of the House of Lords by the Conservative Party. I am very active in the House of Lords and have spoken in the House of Lords on a variety of subjects. In fact over the last year I have spoken on 27 different subjects. I am passionate about the preservation of the environment and in fact when I was elevated to the House of Lords my maiden speech was on the environment and subsequently I have taken part in debates and discussions on climate change in the British parliament.

 

I was brought up in a multifaith and multicultural country where I learned to speak several languages and respect the views of other communities. I am a great believer in promoting interfaith and inter-racial dialogue whereby there is more understanding between people of different cultural and racial backgrounds. I have promoted this philosophy not only in the UK but in other countries which I have visited. It is important that people talk to each other to create better understanding and dispel misconceptions. I am a practising Muslim but I believe there are more similarities between people than differences and a lot can be achieved if there is constructive dialogue. I am therefore very pleased to see here today representatives from different parts of the world and from Japan. I have a great deal of respect and affection for the Japanese as they have a very old culture and care very much about everything which is beautiful. Their love for nature is appreciated by everyone.

 

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today. The rising global temperatures will bring changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and more instances of extreme weather. The changes that are occurring are mainly due to human behaviour and the effects are estimated to have a larger impact on the climate as time goes on.

 

The problems that we face are global and thus we need to find global solutions to them that incorporate all of the countries in the world working together to try and combat climate change.  The Islamic world with the government and people of Japan need to work in harmony in order to combat the problems and find the right solutions. The fact that the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in Japan underlines the fact that the Japanese are highly committed to improving the state of the environment.

 

There will now be a meeting of the G20 countries in London in April where the environmental issue I’m sure will be discussed and we are all looking forward to the meeting in Copenhagen later in the year. I am certain that Japan and the Muslim countries will play a vital role in these discussions and hope that effective agreements will be reached.

 

In the United Kingdom, large steps have been taken to try and address the problem of climate change. In November 2008 the Climate Change Bill was passed and thus became part of the law of the country as the Climate Change Act. I was actually involved in the discussions when the bill was heard in the House of Lords.

 

The Act states that the United Kingdom will attempt to achieve an 80% reduction in six different greenhouse gases by the year 2050 and also set a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by at least 26% by 2020 against a 1990 baseline.

 

In passing the Climate Change Act, the United Kingdom became the first country to set up a long-range carbon target into law. I sincerely hope that many other countries follow the lead of the United Kingdom and make serious moves towards reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

 

We can look at the issue of climate change in an economic perspective. Moving to a low carbon economy would greatly help the economy concerned. Firstly it would create thousands of jobs, raise skills and improve the competitiveness of the country as a whole.

 

Secondly, decarbonising the economy will guarantee any country’s security. The country then does not have to rely on the importation of fossil fuels from other countries. The third benefit would be that decarbonising the economy will help us protect our environment for future generations.

 

I am now going to look at Islam and the environment. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has said:

 

‘The earth is green and beautiful and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it.’

 

This emphasises the fact that in Islam, the conservation of the environment is based on the principle that all the individual components of the environment were created by God, and that all living things were created with different functions. Furthermore in Islam humans are expected to protect the environment since no other creature is able to perform this task. Humans are the only beings that Allah has entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the Earth.

 

I would also like to quote another saying from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) which is:

 

“When doomsday comes, if someone has a palm shoot in his hand he should plant it”

 

I would now like to state that Hasrat Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam instructed his armies not to harm women and children. Furthermore he instructed them not to harm animals, destroy crops or cut down trees. This proves the fact that Hasrat Abu Bakr realised the value of nature and the importance of the preservation of the environment.

 

Climate change is possibly the biggest threat to life on the planet, and most of the effects are likely to be felt in Muslim majority countries. For example there may be future water crises in the Middle East, flooding in Bangladesh, desertification of sub-Sahara Africa, submergence of the Maldives and much more. All of this will lead to more wars and produce environmental refugees.

 

In addition to reducing our current levels of emissions we also need to look at alternative methods of producing energy as we have to reduce our reliance on the burning of fossil fuels. There are various methods as to how we can achieve this and some of these methods are already in use.

 

We need to increase our level of investment and carry out more research and undertake projects whereby energy is produced by biofuels, solar power, wind power, hydropower and geothermals.

 

I would like to begin by talking about biofuels which are derived from recently living organisms such as plants and animal waste and the energy source is based on the carbon cycle. Biofuel industries are expanding in Europe, Asia and the Americas but even still we need to see further implementation of biofuel production around the globe.

 

Solar energy has an enormous amount of potential. The manufacture of solar cells has expanded dramatically in recent years but we are only harnessing a miniscule fraction of the available solar energy. There is therefore a lot of room for expansion in solar technology and we need to increase its use.

 

Wind power is another form of renewable energy that we can look into. As of right now, the United States leads the way in onshore installed wind power capacity and the United Kingdom has the largest offshore wind capacity. The world needs to explore the possibility of increasing this form of energy production.

 

Hydropower is the most commonly used form of renewable energy. Hydroelectricity accounted for around 19% of the world’s electricity in 2005. Even though it is commonly used there are more potential sites that can be developed to generate hydroelectricity.

 

Tidal power is the conversion of the energy of tides into other forms of power, mainly electricity. It is not widely used but also has the potential for expansion.

 

Nuclear power is another form of energy production that is not renewable but is an alternative to fossil fuels. In 2007 nuclear power provided 14% of the world’s electricity, and it makes up 20% of the United Kingdom’s electricity. There are several nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom that are scheduled to close by 2015 but the government has approved plans for new nuclear power plants to be built. The production of energy by nuclear power does however lead to controversy.

 

I would now like to refer to the issue of carbon capture and storage. It is still a relatively new concept and one that I feel needs to be investigated further.

 

Carbon emissions trading is another issue which I feel needs to be discussed. The trade of carbon emissions has been increasing in recent years. The trouble with this is that it reduces the necessity to greatly improve carbon emissions as countries or companies can spend money in order to cover their shortcomings.

 

We need to look at what we as people can do. Climate change unites us all and each and every one of us will suffer if we allow runaway increases in our emissions to further damage an already ailing atmosphere. We all need to protect our forests and everything green. We can undertake home improvements and cut down on energy wastage as well as recycle as much as possible.

 

We must remember that few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the end, the combination of all of those small acts will result in a big difference being made.

 

Thank you.

 

Environment

1. My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to return to this important subject: it was on this subject that I gave my maiden address in your Lordships’ House about the same time last year. Our stewardship of the environment is one of the most pressing concerns of the present time, and we must ensure that we take great care not to make mistakes that could prove damaging and dangerous.

2. The global concern about climate change is embodied in the Kyoto Protocol: yet, as a mechanism for achieving emissions reduction, it can only be judged a failure. There has been no real reduction in emissions and it does not adequately deal with the need of societies to adapt to climate change.

3. It is the Opposition that has led the national debate on the safe management of our environment. As David Cameron has said, this issue “is not just about ticking a few boxes – it is about changing our political system and changing our lifestyles” . It has been David Cameron that has led the charge for a Climate Change Bill, and the Government has responded to that pressure.

4. Scientists may argue about the underlying causes of climate change. However, it is widely acknowledged that the temperature of the earth is rising: and most agree that we should focus our policy debate on what action we can take to address the issues that these changes raise for us.

5. In regard to problems relating to climate change we have not seen the emergence of a global price for carbon, and it is unlikely that one will develop in the course of the next five to ten years. Even if it were to be established, we are unlikely to see it deliver much more than an incentive towards efficiency gains.

6. We must take action to ensure that man-made carbon emissions peak by 2015, and reduce steadily thereafter: without such action, it is likely that we will be unable to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. I welcome the introduction of a Climate Change Bill, and to seeing it crafted into a thoroughly effective piece of legislation: this country must be at the forefront of the global conversion to a de-carbonised economy.

7. On that basis, it is important that the Bill contains a legal framework to underpin our national contribution to climate change; I welcome the creation of an independent committee on climate change, but want the Government to consider whether advice from the committee could be provided on ‘five year carbon budgets’ and whether the national target should be strengthened as progress occurs; an annual report from the Government to Parliament on progress and a statutory target reduction in carbon dioxide emissions monitored on a five-yearly basis.

8. However, there should also be a new carbon trading scheme for large and medium-sized firms to cut more than four million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2020. We should also consider whether or not we can introduce the concept of carbon trading in other sectors of the economy.

9. The suggestion that the Government are going to include powers for local authorities to introduce financial incentives to promote recycling merit further examination. I would welcome more from the Minister on how the Bill will ensure that the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation will be enhanced.

10. The European solution offers more promise. One of the most advanced examples of harnessing market power to address the problem is the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme. It is essential, however, if we are to make this work, that we ensure that it becomes more open, transparent and accountable, and issue permits on the basis of auction, rather than the present approach. The principle of polluter pays is sound: using fiscal measures should be measured, not on the basis of the financial numbers involved, but, rather whether it makes any difference in the carbon emissions that we emit. The fifteen countries of the European Union before enlargement promised to cut emissions by eight per cent on 1990 levels by 2012: so far we have managed only a one per cent cut.

11. There is much more work to be done. Even if the Climate Change Bill proves to be effective, that will still only be the start of a very long journey: and we need to be ready to commit to the trials that will present during that exercise. Sensible stewardship of the earth is a duty, and one that we need adequately to answer.

12. My Lords, I may add that I am an insurance broker and some insurance companies are considering introduction of schemes whereby premium reductions can be granted for companies who have better management of waste and take measures to reduce pollution and emissions.

Islam & the Environment

I am Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum and in our last newsletter we had a paragraph concerning the environment. I have quoted the saying of our Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, which is:

‘The earth is green and beautiful and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it’

The Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, also said:

‘The whole earth has been created a place of worship, pure and clean. Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded’.

Muslims should seek to protect and preserve the environment because by so doing they protect Allah’s creatures, which pray to him and praise him.

Human kind might not be able to understand how these creatures praise Allah but this does not mean they do not do so. In Sura 17 Bani Israil. Verse 44 it is stated:-

The seven heavens and the earth and all beings therein, declare his glory. There is not a thing but celebrates his praise and yet ye understand not how they declare his Glory.

The environment contains Allah’s creatures, which the Muslims consider to deserve protection.

Islam seeks to protect and preserve the environment as Islam, as a way of life, is established on the concept of good (Khayr). Therefore, it is expected that Islam will protect the environment once understood that such protection is good by itself. In Sura 99 Zilzal, it is stated in Verse 7 to 8;

Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.

In Islam, humans are expected to protect the environment since no other creature is able to perform this task. Humans are the only being that Allah has ‘entrusted’ with the responsibility of looking after the earth. This trusteeship is seen by Islam to be so onerous and burdensome that no other creature would accept it. In Sura 33 Ahzab Verse 72, it is stated:

Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it and man assumed it Lo! He is a tyrant and fool.

In Assisi declarations, issued by gathering of world religions in 1986, the Muslim statement was’

Allah is oneness; and his oneness is also reflected in the oneness of mankind and the oneness of man and nature. His trustees are responsible for maintaining the oneness of his creation, the integrity of the earth, his flora and fauna, his wildlife and natural environment.

I was brought up in Uganda, a country once described as the “pearl of Africa” by Sir Winston Churchill. As a young boy I used to fish on the shores of Lake Victoria, swim in the River Nile and visit our game parks to watch with fascination and awe the beauty of the wild. I was lucky enough to see and enjoy the fruits of nature in my youth and it was those experiences that led me to a lifelong love of the environment. I want future generations to be inspired, stirred and captivated by the same natural wonders as I was as a young man. It saddens and worries me when I see the problems that have been created by climate change. The more we understand climate change, the more it looks as if we may be the real culprits.

Climate change poses a serious threat to Africa, and measures to help African countries to “climate-proof” their societies, economies and infrastructure are now widely seen as vital. Sir Nicholas Stern, among others, has recently warned of the uneven impact of climate change on the poorest countries. Most Africans still rely, literally on the fruits of their labour. When crops fail, things fall apart. Lake dissipation, collapsing fisheries, the displacement of millions, and the loss of crops that feed them—all these have a direct and potentially fatal effect.

But of course the problems of climate change affect not only Africa but also the entire globe. The Middle East and Muslim countries, like other regions, need to urgently examine the way in which climate change may affect their future. In an area dominated by arid and semi-arid lands, water is a very limited resource. Water is a scarce resource and with climate change further exacerbating the situation it will continue to be so in the future. The downstream states of Israel, Jordan, Syria and Palestine are under pressure to share the limited waters of the River Jordan. This in turn means examining the inter-relationship between climate variations, water supply, land use, economic planning and demographic change. Such questions cannot be dealt with on the basis of national interest only but demand cross-border cooperation.

As the chairman and chief executive of an insurance broking organization, I see at first hand how the insurance industry is already feeling the impact of climate change worldwide. In the United Kingdom, Europe and America, we are suffering from freak weather conditions; we now have hot summers and excessive rainfall resulting in flooding and stormy conditions in winter. Storm and flood losses in Britain cost £6.2 billion between 1998 and 2003—double the amount in the previous five years. The financial costs of flooding could rise in both the UK and the rest of Europe, increasing the annual flood bill by some £82 billion across the continent. More important than the financial loss is the human cost. It now appears clear that climate change is a threat to the future of the entire world. Hurricanes, floods, drought, tornadoes, wild fires and other natural disasters have caused devastation in parts of the globe.

Yet the future does not look promising. Economic growth is expected to propel global oil demand from 84 million to 116 million barrels a day by 2030. Carbon emissions are set to soar by more than 55 per cent over that period. Furthermore, there may be greater use of the burning of coal. This energy scenario is not only unsustainable, but also doomed to failure, according to the International Energy Agency.

The first and best way to alleviate the efforts of climate change and to make dramatic cuts to damaging greenhouse gas emissions is to take a holistic approach with the participation and the support of local authorities, Governments, international organizations and us, the people. The UK government is taking a leading role. Its focus on climate change during its presidency of the G8 in 2005 is most welcome. The UK produces 2% of global carbon emission, but in the UK we have achieved a 15% reduction of Green House Gas emissions in 2002 from 1990 levels, and committed to 60% cut by 2050. All this while economy posted 30% growth which I believe we can be an example to other nations by championing sustainable development.

We would like other countries in the world to follow our example. United States of America and fast growing countries like India and China must all take a positive role to reduce pollution and carbon emissions and preserve energy.

If we take the right action there will be dual benefits; first we will reduce pollution and, secondly we will secure our energy supplies for the future. The UK must set an annual ‘carbon budget’ to limit the amount of greenhouse gas we produce each year, so we can achieve that 60% reduction target by 2050. The government needs to offer tax incentives to drive UK innovation in renewable energy and other clean technology and use public subsidy to support R&D.

With renewable energies, there is real hope that this can be achieved – in wind, solar and waterpower – reminiscent of the early days of information technology or mobile phones. And, like the information Age, the Renewable Age could also herald real opportunities

What can we as people do? Climate change unites us all – each and every one of us will suffer if we allow runaway increases in our emissions to further damage an already ailing atmosphere. More than one-third of the UK’s carbon emissions come from people’s homes and road transport. This is an issue of personal choice as well as government policy.

We can begin by undertaking home improvements to cut down on energy wastage. We can recycle as much as possible. We should make more use of public transport and cut down on air travel, where possible.

We must remember few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts we can make a real difference.

We must choose instead to make the 21st century a time of renewal. By seizing the opportunity that is bound up in this crisis, we can unleash the creativity, innovation, and inspiration that are just as much a part of our human birthright as our vulnerability to greed and pettiness. The choice is ours. The responsibility is ours. The future is ours.

I will conclude by reciting one of my favourite sayings by Mahatma Gandhi;

‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’

Thank you

Maiden Speech

My Lords, at the outset, I apologise for my late arrival this morning. I take this opportunity to thank noble Lords for the very warm welcome that I have received. I also thank all the attendants and staff of the House for their courtesy and friendly reception and for the great help and assistance that I have been offered. I am naturally proud to have received the peerage and I hope, in return, to make useful contributions to the House and become a diligent Member.

The environment is a passion of mine and it saddens me to see the devastating impact of climate change, particularly on societies in the most vulnerable parts of our planet. It is on that subject that I wish to speak. I was very pleased to note that Her Majesty in her speech yesterday said that the Government would publish a Bill on climate change as part of their policy to protect the environment, consistent with the need to secure long-term energy supplies. I very much look forward to taking an active part in the proceedings on that Bill.

I was brought up in Uganda, a country once described as the “pearl of Africa” by Sir Winston Churchill. As a young boy I used to fish on the shores of Lake Victoria, swim in the River Nile and visit our game parks to watch with fascination and awe the beauty of the wild. I was lucky enough to see and enjoy the fruits of nature in my youth and it was those experiences that led me to a lifelong love of the environment. I want future generations to be inspired, stirred and captivated by the same natural wonders as I was as a young man. It saddens and worries me when I see the problems that have been created by climate change. The more we understand climate change, the more it looks as if we may be the real culprits.

Climate change poses a serious threat to Africa, and measures to help African countries to “climate-proof” their societies, economies and infrastructure are now widely seen as vital. Sir Nicholas Stern, among others, has recently warned of the uneven impact of climate change on the poorest countries. Most Africans still rely, literally, on the fruits of their labour. When crops fail, things fall apart. Lake dissipation, collapsing fisheries, the displacement of millions, the loss of crops that feed them—all these have a direct and potentially fatal effect.

Many environmental tragedies are being overlooked. They include the shrinking of Lake Chad, formerly the sixth largest lake in the world; the melting glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya; and the drying up of the famously lush Okavango Delta in Botswana. The fate of Africa’s iconic natural wonders is sadly symbolic of a world in which climate change can be measured not only in temperature increases, but in damage to human society.

But of course the problems of climate change affect not only Africa but the entire globe. As the chairman and chief executive of an insurance broking organisation, I see at first hand how the insurance industry is already feeling the impact of climate change worldwide. In the United Kingdom, Europe and America, we are suffering from freak weather conditions; we now have hot summers and excessive rainfall resulting in flooding and stormy conditions in winter. Storm and flood losses in Britain cost £6.2 billion between 1998 and 2003—double the amount in the previous five years. The financial costs of flooding could rise in both the UK and the rest of Europe, increasing the annual flood bill by some £82 billion across the continent. More important than the financial loss is the human cost. It now appears clear that climate change is a threat to the future of the entire world. Hurricanes, floods, drought, tornadoes, wild fires and other natural disasters have caused devastation in parts of the globe.

Yet the future does not look promising. Economic growth is expected to propel global oil demand from 84 million to 116 million barrels a day by 2030. Carbon emissions are set to soar by more than 55 per cent over that period. Furthermore, there may be greater use of the burning of coal. This energy scenario is not only unsustainable, but doomed to failure, according to the International Energy Agency.

What we do with energy is crucial to global climate policy. The production of energy and consumption must change from now on. To take the appropriate action, there needs to be a holistic approach with the participation and the support of local authorities, Governments, international organisations and us, the people. All countries, especially those that consume vast quantities of energy, must sign up to increasingly progressive international agreements. If we take the right action, there will be dual benefits: first, we will reduce pollution and, secondly, we will secure our energy supplies for the future. There needs, therefore, to be more efficient fuel consumption, more efficient power generation and a switch towards nuclear and renewables to minimise fossil fuel burn and carbon emissions.

What can we as people do? We can begin by undertaking home improvements to cut down on energy wastage. We can recycle as much as possible. We should make more use of public transport and cut down on air travel, where possible. There are very great challenges ahead of us and two divergent paths. The first is to live as we are and play Russian roulette with the future of the planet and our species. The second is to find a new direction and, through societal and international action, rebuild and renew our relationship with the natural world.

I end on one of my favourite sayings, which is by Mahatma Gandhi. He said:

“You must be the change you want to see in the world”.

We all must be the change we wish to see. Thank you.