Thank you to all those of you who have contacted me about Amendment (a) to the Queen’s Speech. I certainly entirely recognise the scale of both the climate and ecological challenges faced by our planet. And I know the Government is using its presidencies of both the G7 and the Cop26 summits to encourage ever greater ambition from countries across the world and is leading the international community by example. We are legislating for the highest emissions reduction targets in the world as recently announced by the Prime Minister at the recent Leaders’ Summit in April. This includes a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035 (from 1990 levels).
These broad emissions reduction targets, including the 78% by 2035 target, represent interim targets on the route to net zero emissions by 2050. All these targets, including the 2050 target, are provided by the independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), which sets the carbon budgets.
The Government plans to meet these targets through truly world-leading policies, which have so far included (but are certainly not limited to):
- A phase-out for the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
- A phase-out of coal in in electricity generation by 2024.
- A new Future Homes Standard for new build homes to be net zero ready by 2025.
- A phase-out for taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects overseas.
- A unilateral doubling of International Climate Finance to at least £11.6 billion over the next five years, between 2021/22 to 2025/26.
Although the UK did meet the first two carbon budgets and is on track to meet the third, the CCC did report that the UK isn’t yet on track to meet our fourth and fifth carbon budgets. But there are a huge range of strategies and plans to get us back on track to meet those later budgets. These include:
- The Prime Minister's Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
- The Energy White Paper.
- The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy.
- The Tree Strategy and Peat Strategy.
- The upcoming Transport Decarbonisation Plan.
- The upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy.
On ecology and biodiversity, the Government set new targets on the 18th of May for protecting and actively restoring nature, both in the UK and abroad. These include:
- Halting species decline by 2030 - a 'net zero moment' for nature, the first of its kind in the world.
- A plan to treble tree planting by the end of this Parliament, which will be backed by over £500 million of climate finance, and an end to the sale of peat in horticulture.
- A new Environment Act which will introduce legally binding targets on biodiversity, air and water quality and waste, as well as enshrining due diligence of illegal deforestation for supply chains.
The Government has also produced the 25 Year Environment Plan and, as a participant of the High Ambition Coalition, has committed, along with 50 other countries from six continents, to protecting 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030 – a fantastic measure that will be crucial in preventing mass extinctions of plants and animals and ensuring the natural production of clean air and water.
Indeed, I must say that the list of policies and measures in which the UK is leading the world in ensuring that we leave our planet in a better state than we inherited it is far too long to list in this letter. But I’ve compiled a more comprehensive summary on my website that you may well find of interest – you can see it at www.davidwarburton.org.uk/environment
I believe that Amendment (a) fails to recognise both the enormous strides that the UK is already taking to fight climate change and to protect biodiversity and the role that the UK is playing in leading the international community to be ever more ambitious in their targets. Given these considerations, I am unable to support the amendment in Parliament.
But of course, there is always more to do. And, as such, I’ll be continuing to work with my colleagues in encouraging the Government to be ambitious and in ensuring that we are indeed firmly on track to meet all our climate and ecological targets.