Climate and Ecological Emergency: UK’s Response

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:18 pm on 9 February 2021.

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Photo of Nadia Whittome Nadia Whittome Labour, Nottingham East 8:18, 9 February 2021

It is a real privilege to follow Caroline Lucas, and I am very proud to co-sponsor her CEE Bill.

The emergence of coronavirus has thrown into focus the way in which environmental degradation can have profound impacts on society, and of course the escalating ecological crisis will make future pandemics more likely, so we must make sure that our recovery is a green one right from the start. We cannot wait until the pandemic is over to take these urgent steps. We cannot afford to lose sight of the climate crisis, because it threatens our very existence. The 2018 special report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that to stop runaway climate chaos we need “rapid and far-reaching transitions” that are “unprecedented” in scale, yet we have heard from the hon. Lady how little progress we have made on that.

The Bill really offers the most viable way for us to tackle the climate and nature emergency at a national level. It provides a clear framework to deliver the UK’s commitments to the Paris climate agreement. For example, the Bill would introduce measures to dramatically reduce our emissions, restore and regenerate our soils, biodiverse habitats and ecosystems, and lessen the negative impacts that we have on our environment. In short, it would mean that the Government would have to take immediate, radical action of the sort that the crisis demands. The Bill has been written by scientists, lawyers and climate activists. It is backed by a broad range of campaign groups, businesses, charities and individuals and, as will be evidenced today, it has huge cross-party support.

In May 2019 this House declared the climate and ecological emergency, but that means very little without comprehensive legislation. We cannot simply declare; we must also act, and the Bill is essential to ensuring the commitment that we made almost two years ago.