The environment must be front and centre in our post COVID recovery and I’m pleased to be working with Haringey Labour Climate Action on plans for a July event on energy and climate issues in the run up to COP26. Ed Miliband, who’s leading Labour’s work in this area, has begun setting out a vision for a radical climate policy that recognises the scale of the challenge we face and it’s vital we build on this and communicate effectively in the run up to COP26.
Johnson’s Government certainly isn’t up to the job – the March Budget was yet again a missed opportunity to show global leadership and put in place bold policies that could see us reach our climate targets. As it is, they’re slipping further out of reach. I made the transition to a green economy one of the subjects of my Budget Speech – it’s a challenge we cannot afford to ignore or neglect any longer. Watch my speech here.
Here are some of the things I’ve been doing in Parliament since my last report:
Green Homes Grant
My written Parliamentary Question on the Green Homes Grant drew widespread attention to the serious problems in what was supposed to be one of the Government’s flagship schemes. Huge delays in agreeing grants and giving out payments has left 95% of the £1.5 billion pot unspent yet incredibly in response to my question the Minister confirmed that this wouldn’t be rolled over into the next financial year. Instead, since I asked my question the scheme has now been scrapped. It’s bad for businesses, for home owners and makes a mockery of the Government’s supposed commitment to the green transition we so desperately need. The rollout of the scheme has clearly been botched, but abandoning it, like the Green Deal Loan Scheme before, sends the wrong message and Government needs to get a grip and not waste yet more time with inaction.
Labour’s Air Quality Summit
I was pleased to chair a session of Labour’s Air Quality Summit last month calling on the UK Government for a Clean Air Act. In my session on Air Quality in Urban Communities with speakers Kerry McCarthy MP, Cllr Tom Hayes from Oxford City Council, Cllr Mete Coban from Hackney Council and Andrea Lee from Client Earth we discussed the challenged in cities and the work already taking place. Oxford City Council was England’s first local authority to set a city-wide pollution target and under their new Air Quality Action Plan they’ve pledged to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions to 30 µg/m3 by 2025.
Protecting our urban trees
I’ve had a number of constituents get in touch this month in alarm at Thames Water’s works at Tile Kiln Lane reservoir and conservation area and the impact on woodland and trees. I’m pleased that, following my intervention, works have stopped on site but it again raises questions about the protections in place for our precious urban greenery. I’ve been asking Parliamentary Questions (below) and my website has a wider update on some of the work I’ve been doing in Parliament and locally to protect our mature trees.
Some of my recent Written Parliamentary Questions
- To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the effect of the Government’s climate policies on BAME communities. Response here.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of trees being felled in urban areas. Response here.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what data is collected on the number of trees felled each year as a result of claims of subsidence damage to nearby buildings. Response here