Government Plan for Net Zero Emissions — [James Gray in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:27 am on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle 10:27 am, 8th October 2019

I have always thought that one of the most empowering sentences ever to be uttered was “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and in Hull we are living it. At present, forests store up to 45% of land carbon. In Hull we want to increase that. We are launching our ambition to become a butterfly city through the mass planting of more than 3,000 alder buckthorns at the end of the year. The aim is that it will be a continuing project to create the UK’s and, as far as I know, the world’s first true butterfly city. We are beginning with the adoption of the beautiful sulphur-yellow brimstone butterfly.

The project has brought together people throughout the city. The Deep, Hull City Council, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation, the Plant a Tree Foundation, community allotment groups, community orchards and Hull and East Yorkshire woods group, which is responsible for delivering the northern forest in our area, have pledged to include 2,000 buckthorns in their planting over the winter. Even Highways England has got involved, having agreed to include the tree in its work on the A63 at Castle Street.

For the public planting—the launch is on Saturday 23 November—Mires Beck Nursery, a registered charity that employs and trains people with learning disabilities, is providing more than 1,000 plants, which will be available free to members of the public, schools and other interest groups, from local community growing organisations such as Pickering Road community orchard and Down2Earth. Recent research shows that a mixture of tree species can store up to twice as much carbon as single-species planting. By adding buckthorn to the mix of trees in Hull and the surrounding area, we can greatly increase the amount of carbon captured.

Those 3,000 plantings will, however, still leave us a long way short of the target of a carbon-neutral way of life, or indeed the reversal of the dramatic decline in insect numbers across Europe. As immensely proud as I am of the response that the project has received from all areas of the community in Hull, the biggest challenge lies at the feet of Government. The market alone cannot and will not solve the challenges of CO2-driven climate change. The international community is crying out for leadership on climate change, and the implementation of Labour’s green industrial revolution would provide just that. To quote Greta Thunberg,

“We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”