Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:02 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee) 5:02 pm, 1st May 2019

I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend Ruth Jones on her excellent, compassionate and warm maiden speech. I feel I have been very lucky over the years with my constituency neighbours, and I am absolutely delighted not to be the only woman ever elected to Gwent any longer.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to speak up for the many constituents who have contacted me urging support for the motion, which calls for this House to declare an environmental and climate emergency. In fact, the Welsh Labour Government did just that yesterday. I hope we do so today to instil the urgency that is crucially needed. Climate change is wreaking havoc on our wildlife and our habitats, and is putting lives and homes at risk around the world, with the poorest in the world bearing the brunt. Last year was the fourth hottest year on record, and our UK summer was declared by the Met Office to be the joint hottest since records began. As the motion acknowledges, we need an urgent, rapid and large-scale response by the UK Government and, of course, by Governments around the world. Incremental change is not enough.

In Wales, we have been ambitious for the actions set out in “A low carbon Wales”, the first statutory decarbonisation plan. It contains 100 policies and proposals across all sectors of our economy to drive down emissions in Wales. We were one of the first nations in the world to make sustainable development a constitutional duty. We have consistently supported and promoted renewable energy generation; put a planning moratorium on fracking; and supported the development of tidal lagoons. In Wales, we recycle more than anywhere else in the UK and are in touching distance of being the world’s top recycling nation.

We cannot do this alone, however. We need the UK Government to deliver on the areas that are not devolved. The UK may have been a global leader on climate change, but the task is getting much tougher. Onshore wind deployment has fallen by 94% and offshore wind cannot plug the gap. We have removed support for solar and have failed to deliver on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, which would have had huge potential for Newport too. Those are lost opportunities to reduce carbon emissions, and to build the green jobs and economy of the future, of which Wales could be a key part.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which runs the Newport Wetlands reserve in my constituency, highlighted last week that the loss of species including pollinating insects, the destruction of habitats and damage to ecosystems pose as great a threat as climate change. This debate centres on the impact of humans on the natural environment, and there are difficult choices to make, not least in my corner of Wales, on road building and the challenges of looking after workers and communities reliant on carbon-intensive sectors.

This week I received a huge bundle of letters from year 5 and 6 pupils from Magor Church in Wales Primary School, as part of their campaign on plastics. One young pupil, Katie, said in her letter:

“I want to help but I can’t do it on my own.”

I think that echoes the views of many young people calling for action to protect the planet. We should harness the passion of young activists such as my constituents, to protect their future.