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Restoring Nature and Climate Change — [Stewart Hosie in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:13 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East 5:13 pm, 28th October 2019

Yes, soil is a huge issue. The Environmental Audit Committee did a very good inquiry on it a few years ago, and the all-party parliamentary group on agroecology for sustainable food and farming, which I chair, did a three-part inquiry. One of the amendments that I tried to get into the Agriculture Bill, with the list of public money for public goods, was to say that better soil health ought to be identified as a particular public good. The response of the Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, who was responsible for farming, was that it was covered by the broader list and the Government did not want to be too specific, but now that the Agriculture Bill—well, who knows whether the Agriculture Bill is coming back? Who knows whether we will even be here tomorrow, let alone in time for the Agriculture Bill to come back? But I would like to see the point to which I have referred spelled out more specifically and in the Environment Bill, too.

As the petition stated, we need to act fast to avoid a climate emergency. Reducing carbon emissions alone will not be enough to keep the heating of the planet below 1.5°C. We also need to find ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere, and nature is our greatest ally in doing that. Evidence suggests that natural climate solutions could provide more than one third of the greenhouse gas mitigation required globally between now and 2030, yet natural solutions currently receive only 2.5% of the funding spent globally on cutting emissions. The lack of focus on natural solutions is indicative of the wider lack of action on reversing the ecological crisis over the past 40 years.