We need urgent action to tackle the escalating ecological crisis and I believe the Government should join with the Opposition in declaring a national environment and climate emergency.
On 28th March, Labour declared an environment and climate emergency in the House of Commons. At DEFRA Questions, the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Sue Hayman MP challenged Michael Gove and his ministerial team to join us in this declaration – they did not accept our invitation. You can watch the questions here: https://goo.gl/NFmLnb
On 1st May, Labour used an Opposition Day debate to force a non-binding vote in the Commons on declaring a Climate Emergency. I fully supported the motion and voted for it. No other government or legislature in the world has declared a climate emergency – and this would make the UK a world-first.
The motion is as follows:
That this House declares an environment and climate emergency and resolves to act with commensurate urgency following the finding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, global emissions would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050; recognises the devastating impact volatile and extreme weather will have on UK food production, water availability, public health, flooding and wildfire damage; calls on the Government to increase the ambition of the UK’s climate change targets under the Climate Change Act to achieve net zero emissions before 2050, to increase support for and set ambitious, short term targets for the rollout of renewable and low carbon energy and transport, and move swiftly to capture economic opportunities and green jobs in the low carbon economy while managing risks for workers and communities currently reliant on carbon intensive sectors; further notes that the UK is currently missing almost all of its biodiversity targets, with an alarming trend in species decline, and that cuts to Natural England of almost 50 percent are counterproductive to this end; and calls on the Government to bring to the House within the next six months a series of urgent measures to restore nature and move towards a circular, zero waste economy.
Indeed, I also wrote about this for the Edinburgh Evening News which you can read here.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that we need to act on climate change over the next 12 years or forever miss the opportunity to do anything about it. The UN’s World Meteorological Organization, meanwhile, has found that the impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels. Everything the Government and we in Parliament do must therefore be judged by whether we are making progress on reducing carbon emissions and fighting the effects of climate change. This means doing things in an entirely different way, so we have a permanent low-carbon sustainable economy.
I mentioned this as a global problem in the House of Commons and asked the government to re-treble their efforts on Climate Change. You can see this here.
People living in the Global South are already being hit from decreasing rainfall and increase in extreme weather events linked to climate change. I have been involved in climate impact training with MPs in the South Pacific islands as these islands, such as Vanuatu, will be hugely impacted.
The Climate Change Act, passed by a Labour government in 2008, legally binds the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. The Labour Party committed to a net zero target at our 2018 Party Conference. The Committee on Climate Change will publish a report on Thursday 2nd of May that is likely to propose a net zero target for the UK.
I have had two Private Members Bills that I presented to the House of Commons on fully decarbonising the UKs energy supply by 2030. These became Labour policy which was subsequently included in the election manifesto.
I also placed a parliamentary motion recently congratulating the student strikes for climate action and laid it before Parliament which you can see here.
We must use all the powers of government to decarbonise our economy, implementing a green industrial revolution to benefit the entire country. For example, I support plans for a seven-fold increase in offshore wind, a doubling of onshore wind and a near tripling of solar power. This would be enough to power 19.5 million homes and generate over 400,000 jobs. I also believe we must make all new homes zero-carbon and decarbonise our transport system by investing in public transport and cycle paths to reduce our reliance on carbon-emitting vehicles.