We need urgent action on climate change. Climate and environmental breakdown is not a distant threat, but something here and now, and it will get worse if we do not act in this current, decisive decade.
Yet, while Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency in May 2019, the Government is simply not responding as the situation requires. While it has accepted the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommendation to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 and to include international aviation and shipping emissions in the sixth carbon budget, this is the minimum that is required.
Indeed, the CCC’s more ambitious scenario of an 87% reduction better reflects the urgency of the situation. Furthermore, targets are no substitute for concrete plans to deliver them and, unfortunately, I am concerned that the Government’s actions fall short of its rhetoric.
In both the Budget and Spending Review, for example, the Government missed the opportunity to deliver a major green stimulus and lock-in a green economic recovery from the pandemic. At the same time, it has abolished a vital housing retrofit scheme, considered allowing a new deep coal mine and delayed crucial environmental legislation. Crucially, we remain well off track to meet our legally binding climate targets.
With the COP26 climate conference approaching, I am determined that the UK must show global leadership on this issue. I believe we should aim to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030, make climate justice a priority, both in the UK and abroad, and take action to accelerate the benefits of nature restoration and recovery.
That is why I have supported calls for a Green Economic Recovery, which would urgently bring forward that ambitious stimulus package of capital investment to help support the creation of up to 400,000 new low-carbon jobs over the next 18 months to rebuild from the pandemic and decarbonise our economy at the same time.
I would therefore support an initiative like the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill. However, Amendment (a) to the Queen’s Speech, which calls on the Government to introduce and make time available for a CEE Bill, was not selected for debate and therefore not voted on.
This is a missed opportunity; however, I will continue to support other parliamentary measures that seek to implement many of the principles laid out in the Bill. Proposed amendments to the Environment Bill, for example, would incorporate several specific issues highlighted by the CEE Bill.
I can assure you that I will continue to push for bold action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency at every opportunity.