Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 5:38 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment and Climate Change) 5:38 pm, 10th July 2019

The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. Social justice absolutely must be at the heart of tackling this issue internationally and in this country. We cannot afford to allow such action to become the burden of the poorer communities. We need to work internationally and collaboratively, which is why the whole debate in this country about separating from Europe through Brexit—I will touch on that later—is so damaging, because it sends out a message that we want to say goodbye to international collaboration.

Thirdly, as Lord Deben, the chair of the Committee on Climate Change, said this morning, when we know, we have a responsibility to act. We know now how to get to net zero, so we have a responsibility to do it. This is a very important point. It is not that we do not know how to go about it; we do know what to do, and therefore we have a moral responsibility to do it, and do it quickly.

I welcome the fact that this House and the Government have now said in legal terms that we should get to net zero by 2050, but I wonder whether that is only a desperate effort to build a legacy for the current Prime Minister. The hypocrisy of it is striking, given that her Government have relentlessly undermined the climate progress achieved by the Liberal Democrats in the coalition Government. Distant targets such as 2050 are meaningless unless backed up by concrete short-term action. The Committee on Climate Change has reported that of its 25 headline policy actions for the past year, this Government have only fully delivered on one—one out of 25.

Complacency—[Interruption.] Complacency, which I am hearing from the Government Benches, is not in order. The Liberal Democrats are committed to achieving a net zero target by 2045, but we recognise that that will be achieved only if vital steps are taken immediately. For example, we need to ban fracking now. It is unacceptable that the Government support the development of new fossil fuels when all our efforts should go into developing renewables as sources of power. The Government blocked the Swansea tidal lagoon, even though it would have allowed us to become world leaders in tidal power. They privatised the green investment bank and stopped the growing solar power industry in its tracks. They have all but banned onshore wind, although that is now the cheapest form of renewable energy. They are also failing to lay out a clear road map that would allow industries to make long-term green investments.