I am proud to represent a constituency where people passionately care about the crisis affecting the climate and the natural world.
I was pleased to see climate become the main focus of the UN General Assembly this week. This is progress. But our government is still stuck in an outdated way of thinking, imagining we can avert disaster while still digging up more oil and coal. This must change.
Such meagre and piecemeal attempts to deal with this crisis would be completely ineffectual. Worse, they completely undermine the UK’s attempts to lead the world when we host the COP26 global climate summit this autumn.
For my part, I am working with Labour colleagues to push the government into stronger action on the climate emergency. As Shadow Leader of the House, I regularly use my weekly speaking slot to stronger laws to address this emergency. And I will ensure that Labour’s manifesto at the next election includes strong commitments to protect the climate and ecosystems.
Your questions on the CEE Bill
Many people have written to me about possible political solutions, including the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill.
There is a lot that I wholeheartedly support in the CEE Bill. We need stronger, legally binding targets to reduce emissions and protect nature. However, the way this Bill has been tabled means it is unlikely ever have its Second Reading, let alone turn into effective legislation.
Several people have written to me asking me to explain this. Here are my concerns:
Firstly, the way this Bill has been put forward means it can never achieve its ambitious aims. It is a Presentation Bill, a kind of Private Member’s Bill which is designed to draw attention to an issue. Presentation Bills do not receive a vote or debate in the House. It is similar to a petition for MPs. I believe we need to go further, with substantial legislation to deal with the scale of the climate emergency. Even if passed, this Bill would not do that.
Secondly, the CEE Bill is unlikely ever to get debated, let alone pass its Second Reading. Slots for Private Members Bills are drawn randomly. The CEE Bill was on the order paper to have its Second Reading last week, but as it was eighth on the list it was never going to be discussed. It is next down on the order paper for 29 October – but this is also unlikely to happen because of the sheer volume of Private Member’s Bills. Or as the CEE Bill website puts it: “Again, the CEE Bill will not pass this Second Reading.”
Thirdly, there are Private Member’s Bills which do seem to have more opportunity for widespread support. Colum Eastwood MP has put forward the Climate Change Bill. In contrast to the CEE Bill, this is likely to have its Second Reading, on 10 December, as it is second on the list. I hope the campaigners supporting the CEE Bill can also throw their weight behind this.
As I said, there is a lot in the CEE Bill which I believe we urgently need. First and foremost, the CEE Bill shows huge – and necessary – ambition. I welcome all constituents’ suggestions for political solutions to this global emergency.
The latest scientific assessment on climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was clear: We have no time to waste.