Environment and Climate Change

Part of Speaker’S Statement – in the House of Commons at 6:38 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood 6:38 pm, 1st May 2019

I pay tribute to Greta Thunberg and the school strikers, including those from my constituency, and to the protesters whom we saw outside Parliament last week for ensuring the climate change is once again at the top of the political agenda, where it must be. Under this Government and in this global context, their actions are necessary.

The Government have failed on climate change. Since 2010, a raft of policies and initiatives that were driving progress have been scrapped. Today, Conservative Members have called for action on energy efficiency, yet the Tory Government’s cancellation of the green homes scheme means that the retrofitting of insulation is 5% of its level in 2012. We should have been building on those initiatives to make further progress, not talking about the extent to which we have moved backwards.

In the very limited time that is available to me, I want to raise an issue that has not been mentioned so far today: fossil fuel divestment. Part of the system change that we need to see involves taking money out of dirty, damaging, exploitative fossil fuel extraction. We can do something about that here, in this place. Both my local councils, Lambeth and Southwark, have committed to divest their pension funds out of fossil fuels, yet our parliamentary pension funds remain invested in fossil fuels, despite 100 Members writing to the trustees last year calling on them to divest and remove our money from fossil fuels and invest it in sustainable industries. I call on all Members here to join that call.

We need the Government to act comprehensively at the scale required by an emergency. Climate change demands that it is the prism and the underpinning principle of all our political and economic decision making. We must act to address this emergency.