Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:50 pm on 1st May 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East 4:50 pm, 1st May 2019

We need our environment, and the environment needs us to care for it. In the last week, we have had powerful reminders from Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion that the time to take decisive action on climate change is now. Scientists project that in 12 years it could be too late to prevent levels of pollution from causing irreversible damage to our planet and, indeed, our society.

I will focus particularly on air quality, as it is about this issue that I have mostly been contacted by my constituents. The concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the air in my constituency is falling, but in many areas it still exceeds the legal limits put in place to protect us. There are 453 London primary and secondary schools in areas that exceed legal air quality limits. I have recently spoken about improving air quality at Heath House school in my constituency, and to children at Torridon Primary School, who have written beautiful letters to me about climate change. Children are clearly leading the way on this, which is to the credit of our schools and our teachers. It is time we took notice, time we paid attention and time we took action.

The busy South Circular Road runs through my constituency, and many will know of the tragic death of Ella Kissi-Debrah, which has been linked to spikes in nitrogen dioxide in that polluted hotspot. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of her mother, Rosamund, who works tirelessly to campaign to improve air quality. I am delighted that the Mayor of London has taken action to tackle the problem in London, including with the ultra-low emission zone and low-emission bus zones. ULEZ will improve air quality, and by 2025 no primary or secondary schools will be in areas exceeding legal air quality limits, while the gap in air quality between high and low-income areas of London will be reduced by 71%.

We must live more sustainably. We need transformative action, and it is important that we do this. I urge the Government to recognise the scale of the problem, to declare a climate emergency and to begin legislation for a net zero emission target as soon as possible.