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 wants to make a political point—that the private bank works better. This will be the big debate about climate change. Who will take the lead—the private or the public sector? I am not convinced that the private sector will deliver what we need to achieve the net zero target in 2050. I do not believe it will. Those will be our big political differences. I do not mean that everything needs to be nationalised, but we need a clear debate about what will be carried by the public sector and by the private sector. I believe that, to make the transition socially just, the public sector will have a very important role to play.

I am going to say something else that the Government side of the House will not like. If we are serious about the climate emergency, the most immediate thing we can do is stop Brexit. Climate change is a global problem and the fight against it requires co-ordinated international action. As our closest geographical neighbour, the EU is a good place to start. It has been a force for good in meeting the challenge of climate change. Through its institutions, we have learned how to negotiate and bring together separate national interests under a commonly shared vision.

The process is not easy and not perfect, but it is far preferable to going it alone. The EU has taken the lead on international climate change action: it has, for example, introduced projects such as emissions trading schemes and interconnectors between national grids. One initiative important for local councils was that of the European directives on biodegradable waste, without which this country would have done nothing about recycling.

This is why the European Union actually works: it makes national Governments take action when they would not do so on their own. EU directives have required member states to take decisive action even when national Governments would not have done. It has built environmental protections into its dealings with the rest of the world, putting key protections at the heart of its trade deals. Outside the EU, we will be weaker. We will have less clout, for example, against the United States, which might impose environmentally harmful terms on us as a condition of any new trade deal. While we are desperately looking for new trade deals, we might be victims of all that.