Environment and Climate Change

Part of Speaker’S Statement – in the House of Commons at 6:40 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston 6:40 pm, 1st May 2019

I would like to know whether our desperation to seal trade deals with other countries, especially the United States, will inhibit our ability to talk candidly with them about the need for them to change tack on climate change, because I want the Government to embed in any future trade agreements legally binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions, as we can do everything humanly possible in this country to reduce our carbon footprint, but if we continue to trade with the rest of the world as we do now, our efforts will be for nothing.

Our economy is changing rapidly and it is now possible for people to order goods from almost anywhere in the world and for them to be on their doorstep within a matter of days. To the consumer, that is one click of a mouse with no climate impact at all, but if one counts the carbon footprint of original manufacture, transportation and packaging, it begins to look a lot less pain free. We have talked in here about some of the awful working conditions delivery drivers have to put up with in the gig economy, how they often have to pay for their own—outdated—transport and how they have to drive convoluted routes to get to their destinations. That business model is not sustainable for them as individuals and is not sustainable for the planet.

And what about the packaging? We are always talking about how we need to tax the online giants more, so let us tax those who do deliveries for the miles they send their products and for the ludicrous amounts of cardboard they use when doing so. I am sure it would not take long for them to develop more sustainable ways to deliver their products.

As we heard from the Leader of the Opposition earlier, WWF has said that humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970. Should that fact alone not cause us to reconsider what we are doing? We are the dominant species on this planet but that dominance should be used responsibly, not to drive everything else to extinction, not only because it is wrong but because, if we do that, our own extinction will surely follow.

We have to take responsibility for our actions—all of us. We have to declare a climate emergency and then we have to act on it. That is the most important thing: we have to take action, not just today but every day from now on in.