Thank you for contacting me about the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.
I understand that this Bill has been developed by campaign members of Extinction Rebellion, Big Ask and Power for the People.
The Government regards tackling climate change as a priority. The UK was the first G7 country to legislate to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Ministers believe that getting to net zero by 2050 is feasible and consistent with avoiding what is said to be the risk of the most damaging climate change. Aiming for zero emissions by 2030 is almost certainly impossible, hugely disruptive and risks undermining consensus. However, the UK Government has announced the interim target of reducing emissions by 68 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030. This target is faster than any other major economy. Such measures, if they are to be justified as necessary, will require high levels of informed public consent which can only be achieved through open and full debate, rigorous examination of the available evidence and ongoing cost/benefit analysis.
I note that the Bill seeks to examine the UK’s global carbon footprint, such as indirect UK emissions in our supply chain which may affect developing countries. The UK remains committed to environmentally sustainable development as set out in the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. In January 2021, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will spend at least £3 billion of international climate finance on nature and biodiversity over five years. The funding will help to protect biodiversity, a shift to sustainable food production and supply, and support the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people.
In addition, I was encouraged that on 31 March 2021, the UK Government implemented its new, world leading policy to no longer provide new direct financial or promotional support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas. At the G7 Leader’s Summit in June, leaders agreed to phase out new direct government support for international carbon-intensive fossil fuel energy as soon as possible, and to end new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021.
The UK is on course to protect over half of our waters. We now have 357 Marine Protected Areas of different types and no activities deemed damaging to designated features will be allowed to take place in these areas.
I do not believe citizens' assemblies have advantages over conventional policy making. Canada, for instance, included citizens in the decision-making process but the exercise failed to produce impactful or long-lasting results. A Climate Assembly UK was formed as a result of work conducted by Parliamentary Select Committees. While the Government will be looking closely at the findings, the fact is that many of the Assembly's recommendations are already either in place or in the pipeline as a result of the Government working towards net zero.
I do not believe that this Bill is necessary.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP
Updated October 2021