Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Danielle Rowley Danielle Rowley Labour, Midlothian 4:44 pm, 1st May 2019

In February, I asked the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth whether she really believed the Government were doing enough on climate change. Her answer was:

“I am very pleased to assure the hon. Lady that we are not only doing enough, but leading the developed world.”—[Official Report, 12 February 2019;
Vol. 654, c. 726.]

Clearly, after pressure from young people striking and the protests that have taken place, the Government have been forced to change their language. They now admit that much more needs to be done, which is welcome, and the Secretary of State recognised that in his opening remarks.

In spite of that rhetoric, the Government have failed to take the necessary action on climate change. I could mention many things, and we are short on time, but I cannot support anything that puts green jobs at risk. Urgent action is needed, and it must be bold, transformative and jobs-centred. We need change driven by the Government, including to transform our economy. Our current economic system threatens the foundations on which human wellbeing depends. Building a sustainable economy needs a fundamental rethink of the way we run and measure its success, so that GDP, which takes no account of environmental impact or human wellbeing, is no longer the only benchmark. We need to adapt how we produce goods and services to reflect natural constraints.

As the party of workers, Labour is unequivocal that the required shift to a net zero-emissions economy must be fair for communities and workers. What we need is nothing short of a green industrial revolution, which will allow us to develop jobs and investment opportunities across the UK, such as the 50,000 well-paid, unionised jobs that Labour would create in Scotland.

It is clear that the demand for change from our young people and campaigners is not about business as usual, with bold words but bland action tinkering around the edges. They are explicit that this is about ensuring that actions are transformational, addressing the systemic drivers of environmental degradation and climate change. Labour is committed to doing that. My constituents in Midlothian are extremely concerned about not only climate change but the environmental crisis. Scotland’s rivers, including my local River Esk, are being frequently polluted, and it is awful to see.

I will sum up with the words of my constituent, who wrote to me recently to say:

“Current legislation appears to be serving companies;
it is serving ‘convenience’, which translates into suffering, poisoning and harm for wildlife and ecosystems, and it is serving profits and the economy.”

We must create a system that is for the people, for the planet and for the many.