Net Zero Carbon Emissions: Uk’S Progress

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West 4:13 pm, 28th February 2019

Time is short for this debate and for the planet. I am going to speak up for the 3,000 young people who came out in Leeds two weeks ago on the youth climate strike and all the other thousands of young people who came out in every other town and city in the country. I spoke to those young people and said that I would come to the House and support their call for us to address the climate emergency. I call on the Minister today to say that the Government will declare a climate emergency as they would a civil emergency, because we are on the precipice of disaster.

NASA’s latest measurement of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 411 parts per million. The historic high for this planet is 300 parts per million in 325,000 BC. In 2005, it was 380 parts per million. We are on a trajectory towards the global extinction of humanity. The insects are the canary in the coalmine of our planet. There has been a 75% reduction in flying insects in Europe in the past 25 years. Where the insects go, we will follow. How are we going to tackle this scale of emergency?

We need a rapid programme of decarbonisation. We need to become a leader in decarbonised technology in this country and in Europe. We need a world in 2030, not 2050, that looks radically different to the world we have today, a world where petrol stations are as common as coaching inns, if we are to avoid climate disaster. We need electric vehicle charge points in every parking bay. All new houses need to be made in factories from airtight and energy-efficient timber. We need to harness the internet and open and smart data, so that everybody knows everything about their lives, from the quality of the air to the amount of carbon in their clothes.

This is the brave new world we need to aspire to. We do not need gradual change; we need a paradigm shift in our system. I call on us not to have a green new deal; I call on us to have a Marshall Plan for the environment across Europe and across the planet.