Climate and Ecological Emergency: UK’s Response

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:21 pm on 9th February 2021.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip 8:21 pm, 9th February 2021

I am grateful for the opportunity to show solidarity with Caroline Lucas, not least by taking the perch that she is quite accustomed to on these Benches. This is an important opportunity to demonstrate the cross-party and cross border ambition that exists to tackle the climate emergency. The Scottish Government and First Minister were the first on these islands to declare a climate emergency. I am still not sure whether the UK Government have declared an emergency in the way that the House as a whole has, but there is undoubtedly cross-party agreement on the need to raise our level of ambition and the level of action that we are taking.

The Scottish Parliament has already passed a second climate change Act, with genuinely world-beating carbon emissions reductions targets. Of course we have the opportunity to go further and faster, as technology and political allow us to. We are also committed in Scotland to a just transition, transforming local economies, and we have already committed to higher environmental standards and nature standards, including on air pollution —amendments of the type that the Tory Government were rejecting when the Environment Bill was debated last week.

We wish the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion well with her Bill. It is disappointing that the procedures in this place are not allowing it to have the proper debate that it deserves, but she has given an indication of how popular campaigning and determination can make these things work, so perhaps, beyond the Queen’s Speech, we shall see a further opportunity for proper debates and votes on the proposals, to test the will of the House on them.

In Glasgow, my city, we look forward to hosting COP26 later this year. I hope that, one day soon, Scotland will be able to become an independent signatory to the Paris agreement and whatever protocol arrives from Glasgow, but in the meantime the UK Government must lead by example. Talk is not enough, and we are demonstrating tonight that the cross-party ambition and the political will is there if the Government are willing to take that action.