Environment and Climate Change

Thank you for contacting me about the environment and climate change.

I firmly believe in protecting both the UK's vibrant ecosystem and the natural environment worldwide. I am encouraged that the first progress report of the Government’s ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan found that 90 per cent of the priority actions have been delivered or are on track for delivery. I believe this clearly demonstrates our commitment to improve the environment within a generation.

For example, the Government are committed to developing a Nature Recovery Network and, in the long term, to create or restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat outside the protected site series. Anew framework for Local Nature Recovery Strategies will be legislated for in the Environment Bill, to help support the Nature Recovery Network and better direct investment in the environment and green infrastructure – creating places that are richer in wildlife and provide wider benefits for local communities.

To give a further, more specific example, since 2014, efforts by Government, beekeepers, conservation groups, farmers and researchers have been brought together under the National Pollinator Strategy. This is a ten-year plan to improve understanding and awareness of the status and role of pollinators, create and enhance habitats and safeguard bee health.

The decision to leave the European Union has created an historic opportunity to review our environmental policies. Outside the EU we can develop global gold standard environmental policies, raising our ambitions, restoring nature and reversing decline. We can, and I believe we will, be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.

It is widely believed that the threat of global warming has never been more apparent. However, I am encouraged that we are witnessing an unstoppable momentum towards a more ambitious global response, most recently demonstrated by agreement on a 'rulebook' for the Paris Agreement late last year.

Since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds, the best performance on a per person basis than any other G7 nation. To continue this momentum, the Government published the Clean Growth Strategy in 2017, which has been boosted by significant innovation funding made available through the Industrial Strategy.

The Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy identify and target the huge potential opportunity for the UK from clean growth and our transition to a low carbon economy through the 2020s. This includes a detailed plan to create thousands of highly skilled, well paid jobs and to help protect the climate and environment upon which future generations depend.

In order to help tackle air pollution, the Government has set a target for ultra-low emission cars to form 50-70 per cent of all sales in the UK by 2030, rising to all new cars and vans being effectively zero emission by 2040. This forms part of the wider Road to Zero strategy, which sets out the Government's ambition of being a world leader in zero emission vehicle technology.

The Government has introduced a legally binding net zero target to end the UK’s contribution to global warming entirely by 2050. The foundations to achieve this have been laid and it is expected that other major economies will follow suit.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

November 2019