Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 5:25 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment) 5:25 pm, 10th July 2019

I absolutely agree with what the hon. Gentleman says. We serve on the Environmental Audit Committee, where we have received invaluable evidence in the past two or three years. I agree that we cannot just set a target; it has to be achievable at a very early stage. We simply do not have the time, and I will speak more about that as we go on.

We have been put to shame by the urgency demanded by the new breed of young environmentalists. They have had enough of taking baby steps. They know that time is running out, and I agree with them. In October 2018, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned us that we have only 12 years to make the unprecedented and unparalleled changes needed to prevent a rise in global temperatures of more than 1.5° C. Mike Thompson, the head of carbon budgets at the Committee on Climate Change, told the EAC that it is now or never on that. Exceeding this by even half a degree risks global catastrophe, with flooding, fires and famines, which other hon. Members have mentioned. Those are clear and challenging messages that we simply cannot fail on.

A decade ago, in 2009, Scotland set itself the world’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target, when the Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to cut the country’s emissions by 42% by 2020—next year. The latest statistics show that we remain on track to achieve that. In her recent speech at the Scottish National party conference, our leader, Nicola Sturgeon, acknowledged the situation’s urgency. Her speech was inspiring, strengthening my resolve and that of many others, from all parts of the community, not just politics, to do what we can to make this a dominant issue.

How are we helping? Thanks to a green initiative, myself and fellow MPs are forming climate youth ambassadors groups to generate public interest in initiatives we can help with locally. As with the SERES education for sustainable development youth ambassadors programme in South America, we aim to build a cohort of facilitators to inspire, mobilise and grow community resilience to climate change. UNESCO is recruiting youth ambassadors, again with the aim of developing organisers and future leaders to build this resilience to climate change. We in Scotland certainly want to be part of the environmental ambitions. This is very much about, “If you can change the world, get busy in your own little corner.”