Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:29 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Shadow Minister (Scotland) 6:29 pm, 1st May 2019

On behalf of my constituents, I want to declare a climate change emergency. I have received compelling correspondence about the need for us to declare one, 10 years before we see irreversible change to our climate the likes of which we will not be able to comprehend. I was struck by the call from my hon. Friend Clive Lewis, who said we needed a national mission of the likes we have never seen before to solve this problem. We need to grasp it in the same way the Americans did with the space race. We need to set national targets to decarbonise and be the first nation to truly enter the green era of industrialisation.

The nation that I represent, Scotland, was the first to industrialise in the industrial revolution. It saw the most rapid industrialisation of any country in the world. We will have to adopt the same sort of bigger imagination and purpose if we are to achieve that, but I am afraid that the Government at all levels are singularly failing to grasp the urgency and the burning need to adapt radically. On the one hand, I hear great rhetoric, but on the other hand, I see valuable projects in my constituency being defunded, such as the climate challenge funding for housing associations and other local organisations. In one breath, the Scottish Government are declaring a climate emergency, which I welcome, while also defunding local projects in my constituency.

Likewise, I would like to see a national project to fully develop public transport across our country. It is a critical issue that is causing social dislocation. We have seen privatisation and fragmentation of our public transport system in this country. Why are we not seeing a radical project to re-municipalise, reintegrate and establish affordable, convenient and comprehensive public transport across the country? That would be the radical change needed. We could utilise it to grow our industrialise base as well. We have huge capability in bus manufacturing in this country. Let us, for example, set a target to be the first nation to have completely decarbonised bus travel across this country. Labour has made a radical proposal for a totally free and comprehensive bus service across the whole of Scotland. That is the sort of radical thinking we need, and we need it now. The Government need to act.