“One of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
That is how Pope Francis has described the threat of climate change.
The threat of climate change will not be extinguished in our generation, but the choices we make will echo in years to come.
He is not wrong.
I, like many of you, understand that climate change is a real and ever-present threat.
The danger it poses to our planet is great, and we all have a role to play in combating it, and we must work together.
For this reason, I was delighted to meet a number of my constituents who had travelled down to the House of Commons as part of the climate change lobby day.
The nationwide campaign saw 9,000 people descend upon Parliament to lobby their respective MPs.
There was an impressive turnout from Northumberland, and our region was well represented.
I thank all those who came down and made the effort to lobby me.
It is so important that, in a democracy like ours, people use their right to come to Parliament and lobby their MP.
I never forget that I work for you, and I am always keen to hear from you.
We discussed a variety of issues, and it was good to be quizzed and tested on this crucial topic.
One thing was clear — we all agreed that climate change is a fundamental issue.
All of us accept that climate change is an issue that already affects us today, and one that will have grave consequences for future generations unless concerted action is taken.
We have a collective responsibility to do all we can now to tackle climate change for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
The major event on the horizon is December’s Paris climate change summit.
It is an essential gathering of world leaders and is key to achieving our long-term aims.
The key issue is getting a deal that all countries will sign up to.
I am confident that Europe will sign.
The problem is the emerging economies of China and India, and others, reluctant to restrict their growth.
This Government understands the significance of the threat posed. I believe we are making real progress.
We have a commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and we are on track to do this.
I agree that more needs to be done, but we are making progress.
In the last Parliament, this Government grew the economy and cut our carbon emissions, and I will campaign to ensure we do the same again in this Parliament.
We saw a massive increase in investment in renewable energy, including the largest offshore wind market anywhere in the world, between 2010 and 2015.
What is clear is that we can no longer rely upon Russian or Ukrainian gas, and that North Sea oil and gas reserves are ever more difficult to extract.
We need a mixed energy supply, but preferably some that is home-grown.
We are leading the way with the world’s first green investment bank, an initiative which I strongly champion, and one that can bring real benefits to both our economy and environment.
Locally, I am a huge supporter of the various schemes for warmer homes, actively support oil-buying clubs, and am helping to set up the Tynedale Community Bank to help such schemes in our area.
The threat of climate change will not be extinguished in our generation, but the choices we make now will echo in the years to come.
I will do all I can in Parliament, and locally, to push us towards a global climate change deal.