I spoke in a Parliamentary debate on the environment and climate change in support of declaring a climate emergency. For my full speech please click here.
The UK has suffered the loss of 40 million birds over the past 50 years and there has been a huge decrease in the number of pollinating insects while, globally, around a million species are currently under threat. These stark facts alone are reason enough to declare a climate emergency and I believe the Government must seize the day on this agenda.
It should be acknowledged that the UK has, and continues to take a world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth.
An independent assessment shows that the UK has decarbonised its economy at the fastest rate of G20 countries since 2000. Indeed the last time the UKs emissions were this low was in 1888.
Nevertheless, there is a need to accelerate this progress and, to speed the process of making the UK carbon free, many more practical measures are required.
As I have argued ever since entering Parliament in 2015, the Government must fund and accelerate measures and initiatives to address the issue of fuel poverty. Around 2.5 million households (11%) in England are estimated to be living in fuel poverty, which is caused by a combination of low household income, inefficient housing and high energy costs. Not only do these homes consume excessive amounts of energy but the effect of living in a cold home can cause mental and physical health problems; fuel poverty is a particular issue in West Cornwall where many homes are fairly old and not very well insulated.
I also propose the introduction of a car scrappage scheme which would help support poorer families make the move to newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles and advocate increasing Government support of organisations like Salix Finance which provides 100% interest-free capital for the public sector to reduce their energy costs by enabling the installation of modern, energy efficient technologies and replacing dated, inefficient technologies.
It is also vital to bring forward the Environmental Bill as soon as possible. The Bill should establish a Nature Recovery Network, commit the government to invest in the recovery of our once plentiful woodland areas and to give incentives to land-owners to carry out nature-friendly practices.
I also call for the establishment of Citizens’ Assemblies which have real powers, giving people a stake in coming up with local and national solutions to the problems that exist.
There is no doubt that the Government can commit to and grow a low carbon economy.
If the Government were to act on these suggestions, there would be multiple benefits including:
- reducing demand on the NHS,
- creating and spreading wealth across all corners of the UK,
- reducing demand on energy supply,
- providing warm and comfortable homes,
- supporting small business and creating a skilled workforce, especially in the construction and renewable sector,
- boosting the car manufacturing industry and innovation in greener fuels and
- supporting a sustainable food production industry.
Tackling climate change has rightly become the most pressing issue facing the world; if the UK is successful in its bid to host a vital UN climate change conference next year, the Government must demonstrate that is continuing to lead global efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and so encourage our friends and allies to do more as well.