Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:24 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2:24 pm, 1st May 2019

Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker. I will give way to colleagues from all parts of the House in a moment, but I must develop my argument. It is important that everything that the Government have done and need to do is properly analysed in this House.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham pointed out, five of the warmest years that this planet has ever endured have happened since 2010. The consequences for us all are visible, and they have been recorded by Members from across the House. We have wildfires in the Arctic, the Ross ice shelf is reducing in size at a greater rate than anyone anticipated and glaciers are in retreat across Europe and in the Tibetan plateau. Those things are all evidence of the impact of climate change. Although statistics are sometimes abstract and the impact may seem distant, as individual citizens and as parents we all know that the next generation will face the consequences if we do not take action now to deal with climate change.

A warming world will result in the desertification of large parts of our Earth; our Foreign Secretary is speaking today in the Sahel about the action that we are taking to deal with that. As has been mentioned, the transformation of previously fertile lands into lands that are incapable of generating food will result in population movement, which will create challenges—as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, not just a security challenge for the global north, but a moral and ethical challenge for us all.

We in the United Kingdom must bear that moral and ethical challenge particularly heavily. We were the first country to industrialise, and the industrial revolution that was forged here and generated prosperity here was responsible for the carbon emissions that have driven global warming. The burden of that is borne, even now, by those in the global south, so we have a responsibility to show leadership. It is vital that we reduce our emissions, for the defence and protection of those in small island developing states who face the prospect of coastal erosion and damage to their economies. That is why the Government are committed to spending £5 billion every year on helping developing nations to deal with the prospect of climate change.