Many constituents have contacted me via email and postcards about the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.
I understand that this Bill has been developed by campaign members of Extinction Rebellion, Big Ask and Power for the People.
Let me be clear: tackling climate change is a priority for me and my Ministerial colleagues. I am proud that the UK was the first G7 country to legislate to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. While I can understand that you want this target to be achieved sooner, and I share this desire, getting to net zero by 2050 is feasible and consistent with avoiding most damaging climate change. Aiming for zero emissions by 2030 is almost certainly impossible, hugely disruptive and risks undermining consensus. Climate change is an emotive issue, but a cross-community consensus will be required to ensure the UK achieves a transition that works for all.
I note that the Bill seeks to examine the UK’s global carbon footprint, such as indirect UK emissions in our supply chain which may affect developing countries. I am encouraged that the UK remains committed to environmentally sustainable development as set out in the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. In September 2019 the Prime Minister committed to doubling the UK’s International Climate Finance over the next five years which I hope will enable the UK to play an active part in protecting the environment and reversing biodiversity loss.
The UK is on course to protect over half of our waters. We now have 357 Marine Protected Areas of different types and no activities deemed damaging to designated features will be allowed to take place in these areas.
I do not believe citizens' assemblies have advantages over conventional policy making in this context. Previous experiences in Canada, for instance, included citizens in the decision-making process but they failed to produce impactful or long-lasting results. I know that a Climate Assembly UK was formed as a result of work conducted by Parliamentary Select Commitees. Ministers have assured me the Government will be looking closely at the findings however I welcome that many of their recommendations, which were published in their report, are already either in place or in the pipeline as a result of the Government working towards net zero. Achieving net zero will affect everyone and it is important that we work together to achieve it.
While I welcome the increased awareness and debate this Bill brings, I do not believe that it is required as work is already underway.
Thank you again to all those that have taken the time to contact me on this important matter.