I heard Greta Thunberg speak at the meeting here last week, where, on behalf of her generation, she demanded that we declare a climate crisis and take serious, effective action based on what scientists tell us. At that meeting, and again today, we heard lots of warm words from the Environment Secretary, but he is always weak on new action. If this country is to justify our reputation as world leaders in carbon reduction and on the environment, far more needs to be done.
I have time for three points. First, the Government should reverse the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow, which will add 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, making Heathrow the biggest emitter of CO2 in the UK, as well as adding yet more to local air pollution. As Department for Transport analysis shows, it will produce no net benefit to the economy anyway.
Secondly, we have seen good work on air pollution by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has just introduced the ultra low emission zone and who took the Government to court over their illegal air pollution plans. However, we need Government intervention to help the Mayor and other forward-thinking local leaders, including by initiating scrappage schemes and significantly investing in and supporting clean and green solutions for transport and for waste and recycling.
Thirdly, I suggest that the Government support and listen to a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice. The Government plan to take us out of the EU, which has, among its other environmental policies, ensured that UK beaches are now clean and pollution free. At the same time, they will roll out the red carpet for President Trump, who claims that global warming is a hoax and has pulled the US out of the Paris agreement. On the climate and environmental crises, let the warm words be matched by serious action.