Amazon Deforestation — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:26 pm on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield 5:26 pm, 7th October 2019

I am sorry if I repeat anything that another Member has said. It has been a good debate, with excellent contributions, and I will not push too many statistics. I have always been involved in environmental issues. Early in my career, before I got into Parliament, I started the Socialist Environment and Resources Association, and the first branch of Friends of the Earth in England and Wales, in Swansea. I also started a number of organisation such as Urban Minds. So I “do” the environment, in a sense, but I have obviously not done it very effectively. I have been in this place for 40 years and we have not woken up to the fact that we are destroying our fragile planet. We seem to be hell bent on destroying it.

I support most of the petition, but I think that the question is multifaceted. I have worked with Brazilians and other South Americans. I used to co-chair the British-Brazilian all-party parliamentary group, and I started a charity in Peru working on rural and urban development, giving jobs to young people in Lima and the countryside. I know that those are not primitive, backward people. They are highly intelligent and clever. Often they are absolutely let down by bad governance, but they are talented. They have talented scientists. Some of the best technological and scientific innovation takes place in Brazil. It was one of the best competitors in the aircraft industry—a pretty sophisticated industry. Brazil has enormous talent and I sometimes wonder why we do not reach out to that talent more effectively.

I get fed up, and I think the time is coming when the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association must wake up to the fact that getting on planes and going to visit and talk to other parliamentarians is something of the past. Some colleagues will not like that, but we must develop new techniques for parliamentarians across the globe to work together. We can do it by clever video conferences and the social media potential is enormous. We should reflect on that as parliamentarians. We often say “It’s the Government.” In an intervention on the very good speech of my hon. Friend Daniel Zeichner, I mentioned the appearance of the Brazilian Environment Minister on the BBC World Service this morning, which I thought was very poor. However, other major influences are also poor. I work with a number of Brazilian legislators on reducing road deaths in Brazil—a very big killer—so I know about international working.