Thank you to all those who have recently contacted me about climate change.
I agree entirely that climate change is one of the most serious long-term economic threats that we face today. In 2006, I wrote a book called ‘A better agenda for the environment’, and I have continued to meet with constituents to discuss the effects that climate change has and will continue to have on our County and how best we can combat this incredibly important issue.
In November I put forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill to standardise Electric Vehicle charging points, aiming to make electric cars more accessible in the UK and reduce our carbon footprint.
I appreciate that you would like to see the UK increase its ambition on climate change. That is why I am pleased that the Government are taking these urgent changes very seriously in the new 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment. This addresses diverse environmental issues such as eliminating all avoidable plastic waste, protecting and regenerating our woodlands, and using the opportunity provided by Brexit to develop our own agricultural and fisheries policies with a more sustainable focus.
The Chancellor’s Spring Statement announced a new global review to assess the economic value of biodiversity globally so we know what action is needed to restore our environment.
It also announced further funding to tackle poor air quality through the Clean Air Strategy, and plans to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and invest millions in greener public transport and electric and hydrogen vehicles.
Global leadership in combatting climate change
One of our proudest achievements as a country is our position as a world-leader in tackling this global challenge, being the first country to raise the issue on the international stage and introduce long-term legally-binding climate reduction targets, and cutting emissions further than all other G20 countries.
The Government is delivering a greener Britain with record amounts of electricity generated by renewables. Britain is firmly on track to meet the 2050 target to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by 80% and underpins the remarkable investment that the UK has seen in its low carbon economy since 2010.
2018 was the cleanest and greenest year ever for electricity. We invested over £52 billion in renewable energy, and UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions have fallen by 23% since 2010. Low carbon electricity generation is at a record high and now accounts for over 52 % of our electricity.
The Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy identify and target the huge potential opportunity for the UK from clean growth and transition to low carbon economy, while the National Adaptation Programme 2018-23 sets out a strategy for dealing with the effects of a changing climate. The Government has also agreed to support and expand offshore wind, and made the historic commitment to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025.
Draft Environment Bill
As set out in the 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment, the decision to leave the European Union has created an historic opportunity to deliver a Green Brexit, where environmental standards are not only maintained but enhanced.
Draft clauses to be included in the Environment Bill on environmental principles and governance have now been published, and will place environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government. These clauses are part of a broader Bill, which will include legislative measures to take direct action to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age: air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency, and water resource management.
Opposition Day debate on Climate Change 01/05/19
It is fantastic to see a renewed cross-party commitment to tackling this global crisis in recent weeks. In Wednesday’s debate, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stressed the need for the UK to do everything we can to combat climate change.
We have been clear since 2016 that we would legislate for a net zero emissions target at an appropriate point in the future to provide legal certainty on where the UK is heading.
Today, the Committee on Climate Change has responded to the Government’s request for advice on a date to achieve net zero emissions in the UK, so that we can leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.
This report now sets us on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely. In the meantime, Ministers will continue to seek advice from the UK’s independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, on the UK’s long-term emission reduction targets.
Environment and economy
What is often overlooked by many activist groups, however, is the fact that in order to combat climate change, we must ensure the right balance between an environmental and economic focus.
If we want our efforts to reduce climate change to succeed, our country must also succeed. Announcing radical environmental goals without developing the corresponding economic infrastructure is not a sustainable policy and will ultimately damage the UK.
Balancing long-term economic growth in Britain with increasingly ambitious environmental commitments is therefore a more effective strategy. Other nations such as India and China will not follow our lead on climate change until they see that our environmental achievements are sustained by, and indeed sustain, strong economic growth.
We are one of the largest donors of overseas development assistance
I firmly believe that, whilst we must lead the way, the most important challenge we face is in educating and supporting developing countries in emulating the steps we are taking to combat climate change.
I welcomed The International Climate Fund which has been set up to provide £5.8 billion to help the world’s poorest adapt to climate change and promote cleaner, greener economic growth. Through it, the UK works in partnership with developing countries to reduce carbon emissions through promoting low carbon development, to help those worse off protect themselves from the effects of climate change and to reduce deforestation.
I am sorry that this letter is so long but you will appreciate that Climate Change is complex and covers many different areas of Government.
We have been taking this seriously and I wanted to share these achievements with you.