Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:58 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Dr Caroline Johnson Dr Caroline Johnson Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 5:58 pm, 1st May 2019

As a mother, doctor and the MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, I am committed to ensuring that our children inherit a world that is cleaner, safer and greener than we found it in. This will be achievable only with a serious long-term and ambitious response to tackling the threat of climate change. The importance of this issue to members of the public cannot be underestimated. Indeed, in my own parliamentary office we have seen 10 times more correspondence this month on climate change than we have seen on Brexit.

This is clearly an issue of great importance to the country and my constituency, and I am very glad that the Government see it as such too. We have been a leader both at home and abroad in leading the fight against climate change. We have reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 25% since 2010, established the international climate fund to provide £5.8 billion to help the world’s poorest to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and played a crucial role in delivering the historic 2015 Paris agreement. This Government have achieved all this by decarbonising the economy at the fastest rate of any G20 country since 2000.

I have been proud to play my part through the work of the EFRA Committee in scrutinising the Environment Bill. That Bill, which will come to the Commons soon, will put the 25-year environment plan on to a statutory footing, introduce a set of environmental principles to guide future Government policy making, and establish a world-leading environmental watchdog. It will create a green governance framework that will ensure that Parliaments, for years to come, keep the environment at the heart of their decision making. I look forward to its introduction soon.

It is a common refrain that all politics is local, and climate change is no exception. Reaching the ambitious goals that were set will require action at all levels of government. In Sleaford and North Hykeham, we are lucky to be served by district and county councils that take their role in reducing emissions seriously. For example, North Kesteven District Council has reduced its carbon footprint by an incredible amount—almost 70% in the past 10 years.

Some of the concerns that we have seen on this issue have been due to how climate measures might affect the economy, but actually those fears have been misplaced, because rather than being a shackle on our economy, green energy has been a boost for it. Since 2010, our renewable energy capacity has quadrupled, and right now there are 400,000 people in the UK working in low-carbon businesses. I have had the pleasure of seeing the benefits that renewable energy can bring first-hand in my constituency at the Sleaford renewable energy plant, which burns straw to generate enough energy for 65,000 homes and saves 150,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum in the process. I believe that the Government’s commitment to the environment is clear to see.