Catherine West MP
Catherine West MP

In February 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the latest instalment of a UN report that was signed off by 270 scientists from 67 countries – a truly global warning.

The report’s findings are devastating – current emissions could lead to a 2.7C rise. It is clear that our obsession with gas and oil, especially from Russia, makes our economy and energy resources vulnerable. As the global community and businesses begin to shun Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Boris Johnson said he would end the West’s “addiction” to Russian oil and gas. Straight after, he flew to Saudi Arabia to beg for more oil. As Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Deputy Leader, put it, Johnson is going “cap in hand from one dictator to another”. Instead of trying to invest in a diverse and long-term portfolio of green energy, Johnson is on a begging mission to a country that just executed 81 people. The reality is this Tory government has had 12 years to end its reliance on foreign oil and invest in homegrown energy to secure our supplies and ensure they are affordable for the British people. Instead, energy prices have soared and the Ofgem price cap is likely to rise again in Autumn.

According to media reports, in order to accelerate the licensing for new North Sea oil and gas fields, government lawyers are now redrawing the UK’s climate commitments. These existing commitments block new licences if they don’t align with the UK’s net zero pledges. But now Johnson wants to include a new amendment that would allow him to bypass net zero restrictions and drill for more oil. This is a disaster. The Tory Net Zero Scrutiny Group are more vocal than ever, claiming that net zero is causing poverty in the UK. I am worried that, just like the COVID-19 Recovery Group who pressured Johnson into ending all restrictions, that this Net Zero Scrutiny Group will force Johnson to pull the plug on our green commitments.

In April, the Government published its long-awaited energy security strategy. Given the current crisis, this plan is not good enough. It won’t deliver affordable energy and it completely bypasses energy efficiency and the urgent need to insulate homes. Another lost opportunity.

It is more urgent than ever that the UK government, and other nations, listen to the scientists and evidence and come together to tackle this global crisis and save the planet.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing in Parliament since your last newsletter:

My letter about ghost flights

According to the Government, almost 15,000 ghost flights have left the UK since the pandemic began. These are flights that are flown with few or no passengers on board so that airlines can keep their take-off and landing runway rights.

Amidst a global climate emergency, planes are flying unnecessarily to meet pointless targets. This is completely the wrong attitude; for all their talk about Net-Zero and saving the planet, the UK Government is turning a blind eye to this issue. That’s why I wrote to the Transport Secretary to ask how he is engaging with airline companies and the European Commission to put an end to this ridiculous debacle. You can read my letter here.

Latest IPCC report
In February 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest report.

According to its global findings, the world is already facing “unequivocal” consequences of climate change, which is intensifying heatwaves, floods, droughts, and wildfires.

I am extremely concerned about the alarming issues discussed in the report and the Government’s painfully slow progress to tackle the climate crisis. You can read my full thoughts on the report here, as well as my letter to Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, where I stress the need to future-proof our leaky homes.

The UK’s commitment to supporting climate vulnerable countries
There is still so much inequality between developed nations and developing ones, with former not fully committing to the necessary funds and rights to tackle the climate emergency. This is especially disappointing for the loss and damage in vulnerable and poor countries who are already victims to our ever-changing and volatile climate. This is why I wrote to the Foreign Secretary to express my concerns about the UK’s commitment to supporting climate vulnerable countries and ensure that aid reaches those who need it most. You can read my letter here.

Debate in Parliament: Edmonton EcoPark – Proposed Expansion
On 9th February 2022, I attended the Westminster Hall debate on the proposed expansion of Edmonton Incinerator. I understand this is a grave concern for many constituents and that’s why I called for a pause and full review into the expansion. You can watch my full speech here.

Eruption in Tonga
Following the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai explosion that took place on 15th January 2022, I wrote to the High Commissioner in London to express my condolences and those of the Labour Party. I also responded to an Urgent Question in Parliament and asked the Government what assistance they were offering to the authorities in Tonga.

The volcano, named Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai, sent a plume of ash soaring into the upper atmosphere and triggered a tsunami that destroyed homes on Tonga’s nearby islands. This was absolutely devastating for residents, and it is only right that the UK, with our international partners, stands with the people of Tonga and offers any assistance which their Government require.

Save our Bees
Without bees our ecosystem would collapse, but we’ve already lost 13 species of bees native to Britain and a further 35 are under threat of extinction. Now, despite their promises, the UK Government is using a loophole to allow a banned bee-killing pesticide to be used in England.  It’s wrong and potentially devastating and that’s why I wrote to the Environment Secretary urging him to think again.

Some of my recent Written Parliamentary Questions:

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to stop UK airlines running empty or near-empty flights to retain landing slots at airports. Response
  • What discussions he has held with airlines on the practice of running empty or near-empty flights to retain landing slots at airports. Response
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the launch date is for the builder upgrade scheme. Response
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to provide urgent insulation to low-income households in order to help with increased gas and electric bills in response to Ofgem’s energy cap increase. Response
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to ban the use of products which contain thiamethoxam on areas used to grow crops. Response
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