Several constituents have contacted me about the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. I very much agree that we need urgent action on this issue.
The flash floods, deadly landslides, and wildfires we have seen over recent years make clear that climate breakdown is not a distant threat but something that is happening here and now. Yet while Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency in May last year, our government are simply not responding as the situation requires.
The Government maintains that it intends to green the UK economy and that it is taking steps to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But as the Committee on Climate Change’s most recent progress report makes clear, the gulf between the government’s rhetoric on climate action and the reality is vast. Not only are Ministers set to miss the 2050 target that Parliament legislated for just over a year ago, they are not even on track to meet the less ambitious one that preceded it.
Confronted by this unfolding emergency, I am clear that 2050 is too late for the UK to end its contribution to climate breakdown and runaway global heating. According to the UN, we have less than ten years left to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change. Our government must act with far greater urgency and ambition.
Labour is determined that the UK must show global leadership on this issue, and that starts with ambitious action at home. I believe we should aim to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 and that we need to do so through a world-leading Green New Deal.
As such, I support many of the aims set out in the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. This is a Presentation Bill, which means that it does not involve a debate or a vote in parliament, but is a way of drawing attention to an issue that requires a change in the law.
The Labour Party will also be developing our own Parliamentary agenda on the climate emergency, in consultation with our members, the climate movement, trade unions, businesses, and communities across the country, which will include many of the principles laid out in this Bill.
In the short term, my focus is on ensuring that the government seizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity presented by the need to rebuild in the aftermath of the pandemic to rapidly decarbonise our economy through a green recovery. Seizing that opportunity, as other advanced economies are doing, requires more than rhetoric from Ministers, it requires a plan. We need that plan now so that we can invest in the green industries of the future, put people back to work in good, green jobs across the country, and support workers and communities as we make the transition to a low-carbon and socially-just economy. With a plan like that, we can raise our domestic climate ambition with a significantly enhanced 2030 emissions reduction target and demonstrate real leadership as the host of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next year. Labour will be outlining our vision for a Green Recovery in the coming months.
There is also an Early Day Motion (EDM #832) to signal support of this Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. As a member of the Shadow Front Bench team I am unable to sign EDMs.
I can assure constituents that I will continue to push for the above, and more widely for bold action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency at every opportunity.