The science is clear that if we continue to pump greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere, climate change will continue to get worse – temperatures will continue to rise, along with impacts and risks. To halt climate change at any level, we have to stop adding GHGs to the atmosphere. This is why I welcome a report published this morning by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent body of advisers established by law to advise the UK Government on environmental targets and progress, it is chaired by the former Conservative cabinet member, Lord Deben. The report, entitled Net Zero: the UK’s Contribution to Stopping Global Warming, recommends that the UK achieves a reduction in GHG emissions to ‘Net Zero’ by 2050 – Net Zero is the point at which the overall effect of carbon dioxide and other emissions equals zero.
I welcome this report, and it’s ambition of ending the UK’s contribution to global warming within 30 years. I believe that this is the best way to meet the Paris climate agreement, which seeks to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels to avoid dangerous climate change. Too long has the issue of climate change been passed over, the Government must seize the day on this agenda by implementing robust policy mechanisms to support the recommendations of the report. I also believe that we could go further by making these changes to effect before 2050.
Protecting our environment for future generations is absolutely crucial, which is why yesterday I spoke in favour of the Government declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ and I have signed a joint letter from MPs, spearheaded by Simon Clarke MP, calling the Prime Minister to adopt the net zero emissions target before 2050.
How will this target be delivered?
The report makes numerous recommendations including:
- Increased tree planting, as a form of carbon sequestering and ecosystem improvement. As an MP, this is something I have been working towards since my election, most recently by launching a project to plant 20,000 trees by the end of 2020. I am pleased that Michael Gove, environment secretary, has stated that the Government will redirect farming subsidies after Brexit for landowners to create new forests – it is right that this increased forestation should not come at the expense of damaging our vibrant farm businesses and community.
- The need to improve our leaky, energy inefficient homes, something I have long urged the Government to act on - not only because it will be environmentally more sustainable, but also because of the reduced NHS bill from heat related illness. Domestic gas boilers are likely to be replaced with greener alternatives under the report’s recommendations.
- It recommends banning the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, although in low income areas like Cornwall, a reward based scrappage scheme will likely be needed to enable people to make the transition to greener cars.
- Cornwall is a leading producer of green energy, and so the report’s suggestion that low-carbon electricity supplies must quadruple is likely to be good news for the Cornish energy sector.
- Enabling people to act – perhaps most importantly of all, the report recommends that the public should understand why and what changes are needed, to see a benefit from making low carbon choices and be able to access the resources required to make change happen. I fully support any movement to help people understand how to live more sustainably and to make greener choices.
I will continue to apply pressure to ensure that the Government commits to the committee’s recommendations.
For more and to read the full report click here.