This month, the G7 met in Cornwall, the first in-person meeting of the group since the pandemic began and the first visit of US President Joe Biden to Europe. It should have been the opportunity for Johnson to prove that he was serious about repairing our climate and investing in a greener economy. However, as per this inept Conservative Government, it was a let-down.
Prior to the summit, the Government refused to budge on its plan to cut the international aid budget from 0.7% of the national budget to 0.5%. How can the Tories claim to be serious about tackling global warming when it is planning to cut funding to international sustainable development initiatives and projects? This aid cut will be a blow to climate finance and ambition all over the world and will seriously undermine the Government’s reputation ahead of COP26.
I believe this Government failed to deliver the significant and radical proposals that we needed from the summit. Although the leaders promised to move away from using coal plants without carbon capture technology, there has been no detailed plan on how this will happen. We need a bold transformation that offers year-by-year investment for green industries, technology, and research.
Here are some of the things I’ve been doing in Parliament since your last newsletter:
Online Climate Consultation
On 30thJune, I organised a virtual Climate Consultation with my constituents to hear their thoughts and concerns on the Government’s Environment Bill and to understand what they believe is needed to tackle the climate emergency. My colleague Ruth Jones MP, Shadow Environment Minister, attended and highlighted Mr Johnson’s feeble climate budget announcement of just £4 billion, compared to President Biden’s $800 billion. Labour wants £30 billion of new money for the climate – we would invest in sustainable homes, green jobs, and green industries.
The Environment Bill is the most important piece of legislation that must be passed before the UK hosts COP26. Unfortunately, the Conservatives would rather play party politics than pass a serious and competent Bill and Ruth explained that they voted against every single Labour amendment and committee contribution. For example, we called for a fracking ban, stronger air quality rules and independent powers to the OEP (Office for Environmental Projection). I believe that the Government is wholly unprepared for the challenges ahead – how will it tackle polluted rivers and lakes; how will it protect biodiversity and animals, and when will it properly invest in its tree planting scheme?
I also heard from my constituents on local issues concerning the environment, including:
- The possibility for all governmental departments to have green budgets
- The reliance onincinerators instead of recycling in London
- More funding for the purchasing of electric cars and charging points, as well as public transport
- Introducing National History GCSE and more inter-subject discussion on climate change and the environment. The opportunity for a panel debate on the climate emergency for sixth formers
- The world of work and sustainability, in particular for carers and the social care system – this would look at sustainable local transport, support for burn-out, better pay and working conditions and the active involvement of trade unions.
- Sustainable housing, including the over-heating of homes, and the Government’s pulling out of the Green Homes Grant
- Monitoring the Low-Traffic Neighbourhood scheme so it does not discriminate against those who rely on cars or that it does not push traffic to other areas
- Better protection of local trees – this includes protecting existing trees and improving the tree planting scheme.
One of the most interesting points discussed throughout the call was the importance of national and local climate justice – making sure that any green new deal doesn’t discriminate against the most vulnerable members of our society. My constituents want a fair and just climate transition – we must ensure that people are able to retrain in new, green industries and are not left behind.
Westminster Hall Debate
I led for the Opposition in the debate on Brazil and deforestation in the Amazon on 23rdJune. Scientists estimate that a staggering 76 billion tonnes of carbon is among the vegetation and trees making up the forest, and it is home to a rich tapestry of wildlife and indigenous peoples who live in the deepest parts of the forest. Despite this, the situation is precarious. Some scientists estimate that if we lose just 5% more of the Amazon, it will trigger a tipping point where the rainforest will no longer be able to sustain itself – we will lose the Amazon as we know it.
We need international action, and as the host of COP26 we have the chance to make it clear to the Brazilian government that their plans are unacceptable and pose a threat to the world. It is the Government’s moral, environmental, and international duty to ensure that any post-Brexit trade deal with Brazil guarantees that the UK is not further contributing to the destruction of the Amazon. You can read my full speech here.
I took part in the Parliamentary debate on the Government’s Environment Bill to highlight the important work of Surfers Against Sewage and express concern that the Bill doesn’t go far enough in protecting our forests and oceans. I also drew attention to the concerns that so many constituents have raised with me over recent months about urban trees and the need to ensure they are also protected. You can read my contributions here.
Ocean Recovery Strategy
A number of constituents got in touch with me in support of the call for an Ocean Recovery Strategy to mark World Ocean’s Day on 8thJune. I believe that World Ocean Day 2021 is a chance for us to celebrate our magnificent and fragile oceans and a reminder that the Government must do more to protect them. I shared the concerns of constituents directly with the Secretary of State. You can read their response here.
My response to the Queen’s Speech
According to the UN, just one decade is all that remains to stop irreversible damage from climate change. However, the Queen’s Speech did not reflect this sense of climate emergency. The Government did not announce the much-needed investment for green jobs and infrastructure, and I am disappointed at the lack of concrete plan to tackle the world’s most urgent issue. You can read my speech here.
Some of my recent Written Parliamentary Questions
- To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment has been made of the environmental & carbon impact of the agricultural products that will enter the UK food market, as a result of the UK-Australia trade deal. Response here
- To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Transport Decarbonisation Plan will include targets to halt and reverse the growth of road traffic. Responsehere