Part of Environment Bill - Third Reading – in the House of Lords at 4:06 pm on 13th October 2021.

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Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 4:06 pm, 13th October 2021

It is my pleasure and privilege to be responsible for Third Reading of the Environment Bill in this House today. Although the process has often been challenging, it has also been productive, thanks to the collaboration and expertise of your Lordships’ House. The benefits of the Bill will be felt by future generations, both in the UK and internationally, as we strive to leave the environment in a better place than how we inherited it.

Here is a Bill that will transform our environmental governance in a way that is better suited to our needs and seizes the opportunities of our exit from the European Union. It will set targets for fine particulate matter, the most harmful air pollutant, and—a world-first—to halt the decline in species by 2030. It establishes an office for environment protection, an independent body that will hold us to account in meeting these ambitious targets.

The Bill takes action across the product life cycle, with resource and waste measures that will advance us towards a circular economy, extending the responsibility on to the polluting producers, while empowering consumers to make more sustainable choices. It will improve our air and water quality to ensure that generations both present and future are not at risk of ill health from pollution to these most basic and crucial elements in life.

Here is a Bill that delivers not only protections for our natural world but strategies and duties to enhance our biodiversity, allowing it to thrive once again. The Bill mandates biodiversity net gain, a game changer, to ensure that new development truly enhances the environment, allowing our ecological networks to flourish. The Bill looks beyond the UK, with world-leading due diligence measures on our supply chains to tackle illegal deforestation around the planet, saving precious habitats in the Amazon as well as a multitude of other ecosystems.

As COP 26 approaches in less than three weeks, the United Kingdom can prove with tangible action its commitment on the international stage and encourage other countries to match this ambition with similar efforts. I am enormously grateful to my noble friend Lady Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist, who has supported me both on and, even more so, off the Floor of the House to take through this gigantic Bill. I pay special tribute to the Front Benches and the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Whitchurch and Lady Hayman of Ullock, the noble Lord, Lord Khan of Burnley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, for all their invaluable contributions, which have been detailed and imperative. I extend that thanks to the countless other noble Lords and friends who, from these Benches, have provided ample helpings of constructive support and knowledge. I thank all noble Lords for taking part.

I thank the Lord Speaker and the parliamentary staff for their hard work behind the scenes, and I thank all the environmental stakeholders and committees that have campaigned diligently and effectively on so many of the issues in the Bill. I particularly thank the Bill team at Defra, who have been so extraordinarily patient and helpful throughout.

Across the myriad facets of this landmark Bill, I firmly believe that this legislation is more than just a credible step in the right direction. It is an ambitious answer to the scale of the task before us and provides the apparatus that we know we need if we are to recover nature. I hope it also acts as a rallying cry for others to move along with us.