Last week in Parliament we got the chance to debate the most crucial issue – and I choose my words carefully – facing us today: the issue of climate change. This issue puts Brexit in perspective. Tackling climate change is about our ability to survive and thrive on this planet. Supporting the UK’s progress towards net zero carbon emissions is something that unites MPs from all sides of the House. No one should underestimate the impact that climate change is having. In October last year, the IPCC said that there was an evens chance of meeting a 1.5° target for global CO2 emissions and spoke of the absolute imperative of reaching net zero. It set out a challenge to policy makers all over the world – that there are just 12 years left to deliver this.
There is a strong collective will here to see change but we should recognise that the UK is a world leader. We were the first developed economy to pass a Climate Change Act. We have reduced our emissions by over 40%, more than any other G7 economy. We have passed legislation to protect the ‘Blue Belt’ which means that we are now committed to protecting an area of sea the size of India, policing it with modern satellite technology, and that area is set to grow significantly in the near future. We have a clean growth strategy and record amounts of power are now generated renewably.
Failure to act also has huge implications for global security. You might be surprised to hear that the Pentagon refers to climate change as a ‘risk escalator’, increasing pressure on migration and the costs of stabilising failed states. Other than North Korea and the dispute over the India-Pakistan border, it is arguable that the biggest single risk to international security today is the question of the climate fence around Bangladesh and the possibility of rising waters forcing tens of millions of people up towards the border with Kolkata. I have flown over that region and you can clearly see the effect that even a small rise in sea level would have on the people who live in this delta.
There was no doubting the passion of the young people from all across Berkshire who took part in the school strikes recently. Subsequently I was privileged to meet Amy and Ella who have set up an inspiring venture called Kids against Plastic. They are proof that there are lots of ways to become involved in protecting our environment and I am writing to the head boys and head girls of all the secondary schools in my constituency to encourage them to take part in the Year of Green Action 2019. It’s their future and, to quote from one of the school strike placards, there really is no planet B.