Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:07 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge 6:07 pm, 1st May 2019

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I think we were all impressed by the passion of the children across the country who have taken action over the last few weeks and those in Extinction Rebellion who had never been involved in protests before.

We can all talk about climate change, but seeing the evidence at first hand makes a real difference. I was fortunate to visit the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge last week, where Dr Huw Griffiths, who I was paired with in a Royal Society scheme and who was just back from the Antarctic, and Professor David Vaughan showed me their extraordinary ice cores. Ice cores are dug down deep into the ice, forming a pathway back into the past, with little bubbles from centuries past captured from the atmosphere. They are able to chart the rises and falls in temperature and emissions in the atmosphere and show exactly what has happened to our climate over the last few millenniums. The chart shows temperatures going up and down, up and down, and we should be entering the cooling period, but the chart shows that temperatures are going up. That graphic representation makes it all clear.

That is why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was so right last year to demand “rapid”, “unprecedented” and “far-reaching” transitions. We are not seeing that from the Government. For example, we have not seen cuts in road transport emissions, so why were the Government so pathetic in their response to suggestions that they look again at the fuel duty escalator? For goodness’ sake! It was introduced by a Conservative Government. Why was there such a negative response to Labour’s brave suggestion to restore our bus services by transferring money from vehicle excise duty? Those are the kinds of things that will make the difference—not honeyed words, as we heard from the Secretary of State, but rapid, unprecedented and far-reaching transitions. That is what we need.