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The Climate Emergency

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 1:41 pm on 17th October 2019.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 1:41 pm, 17th October 2019

No; I want Back Benchers to have all the time they need, so I will have to cut down on the points of information.

We will, for example, go further and faster than ever before on air quality, because we will be setting a legally binding target on PM2.5 fine particulate matter. Poor air quality is the biggest environmental threat to public health that we face, and particulate pollution is the most damaging of all. Real progress has been made, but we need to do more if we are to ensure that children growing up today can live longer healthier lives. This Bill will drive that forward.

The UK is home to scientific excellence that has made us world leaders in environmental innovation, from Kew’s millennium seed bank to climate-resilient crops, but as well as backing the science and research that we need to protect our environment, we are also embracing nature-based solutions to tackle climate change. We have recently announced that we will plant 1 million trees to create three new forests in Northumberland, in addition to the 11 million to which we are already committed. We are restoring almost 6,500 hectares of peat land. That is our biggest carbon store, and it is home to some of our most threatened and fastest declining bird species, including the golden plover and the curlew. Through our agriculture Bill, we will seize this once-in-a-generation chance to combine support for our hard-working, brilliant farmers with support for our natural environment.