Hornsey & Wood Green Labour has an active climate change & environment group, and I let them know what I’ve been up to in Parliament at their regular meetings. Here’s my latest report:
I’ve launched a climate consultation to hear residents’ view on what more we can do to tackle the climate emergency.
With Brexit consuming attention over the coming months, it is crucial environmental issues aren’t neglected. Please do encourage people to complete the survey at www.catherinewest.org.uk
I am keen to do anything I can to further the cause in Parliament – whether that’s asking Parliamentary Questions, seeking to bring forward a Private Member’s Bill or pushing Ministers for action. I’ll be using the responses to help inform my work.
Green New Deal
I am a signatory to EDM 2724 on the Green New Deal which states: That this House notes the lack of a comprehensive Government plan to decarbonise the UK economy in response to the climate emergency; recognises public concern about the lack of decisive action; and call on the Government to support the Green New Deal Bill, formally known as the Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill, to introduce a legally binding target for net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and legally-binding targets to reverse inequality and protect and restore nature and our environment, implement new measures of progress that prioritise human and ecological wellbeing, to replace measures that focus on what Greta Thunberg has described as the fairy tale of eternal economic growth, to change the way Government manages the economy to enable unprecedented public and private investment in the Green New Deal, to establish a comprehensive action plan to transform our energy supply, transport system, farming, land management, buildings and the way we work, to involve communities and workers in the development of such a plan; ensure a just transition by prioritising investment in communities excluded from full participation in the economy and those working in today’s high-emissions sectors, to redistribute democratic power and resources to devolved government, local authorities and elected mayors, and to advance global justice by ensuring finance and technology for the global south, and by promoting the Green New Deal approach globally.
Police treatment of school strikers
Concerns were raised with me that school pupils taking part in climate strike protests are having their names put on central lists. Details are patchy but I’m worried about any suggestion that young people taking part in legitimate, peaceful protest should be targeted in this way and I raised Parliamentary Questions before the summer recess to try and establish what was going on. Here are my questions and the answers I received:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his policy is on collecting data on students missing school to take part in climate change protests.
The information requested is not held centrally. The Department collects data on school absence, which includes authorised and unauthorised absence data, but does not include whether the absence is due to attending climate change protests. Our most recently published data on pupil absence can be found here:
Schools are required to take the attendance register each morning and afternoon. They must record whether each pupil is: present; absent; attending an approved educational activity; or unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances. Where a pupil is absent, it is for the school to decide whether the absence should be authorised or not.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance is in place for schools on the circumstances when they should provide information to the police on domestic extremists.
The Department does not provide specific guidance to schools on circumstances where they should provide information directly to the police on domestic extremists. However, the Department has published advice on the Prevent duty, which explains what schools can do to protect children and young people from the risk of radicalisation.
Under the Prevent duty, a school may make a ‘Prevent referral’ as a result of concerns about extremism and for further multi-agency support. The means by which a referral can be made is determined locally and is either via the local authority or directly to the police. Guidance on Prevent referrals is available from these agencies. More information on the Department’s guidance is available here:
The Home Office has also developed an online ‘Prevent referral’ package, which explains when to make referrals and what to include, featuring examples from the education sector.
The Department also has a dedicated telephone helpline and email address that schools can use if they have an extremism-related concern that they are uncertain how to manage. This will include advice on whether concerns need to be shared further, including to the police. More guidance on this matter and information on the telephone helpline is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preventing-extremism-in-schools-and-childrens-services/preventing-extremism-in-the-education-and-childrens-services-sectors.
- I attended an interesting Haringey Living Streets meeting where we discussed how to do our bit on tackling air pollution. More must be done to support the Mayor of London’s ULEZ so more people can switch to non-diesel vehicles and public transport, & walking and cycling can be promoted in Haringey.
Extinction Rebellion hosted a meeting in Parliament on 9 September with an IPCC Climate Scientist which I was pleased to attend.
- I’ve taken part in a meeting on Labour’s Green New Deal at the Wood Green Social Club.
- I celebrated Car Free Day outside Labour HQ on Middle Lane as one of the Haringey streets closed to traffic.
Scrap plastic packaging
I’ve been leading calls to eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging and last year had over 200 MPs sign my letter urging UK supermarkets to act by removing plastic packaging from their own branded products as part of a move to go plastic free.
I’ve submitted a Parliamentary question asking the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what further steps the Government is taking to reduce the use of single-use plastics; and what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of levies to further reduce the use of plastics.
The Solar Trade Association are concerned that there’s no central plan in place to keep a record of solar installations and without the data it becomes difficult for the energy sector to fully decarbonise, as they won’t have the information available to know which forms of generation are contributing to the grid. As a result, I have submitted a Parliamentary Question asking the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that Ofgem is able to collate accurate data on the installation of solar power units.
Here’s the piece I wrote for the CCEG Newsletter on the exciting green policy initiatives and ambitious zero carbon targets that came out of Labour’s Brighton conference.
“A Green Industrial Revolution that will see a seven-fold increase in offshore turbines backed up with £6.2 billion funding to jumpstart a home-grown renewable industry.
An electric car revolution that will see 400,000 of the dirtiest cars taken off the road, the whole of the government’s car fleet become electric, massive investment in rapid charging points across the UK and interest free loans to support families to make the transition.
And a Green New Deal motion overwhelmingly passed from the conference floor including a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, something the chief political correspondent for the Financial Times described as “one of the most radical policies by a mainstream political party in my lifetime”.
We have to be radical because we can’t afford not to be. The climate emergency Labour forced Parliament to declare was an acknowledgement that our planet faces irreversible collapse if we don’t act now. A Labour Government must work with businesses, with trade unions, with scientists to make that ambitious target a reality.”