Labour take climate breakdown seriously

I’m feeling pretty proud of my Labour colleagues after watching Ed Miliband ask an urgent question in parliament this week following the Extinction Rebellion protests that have caused serious disruption in London.

We get it

I have written previously about how Labour have led the way on tackling climate change. To be clear, that doesn’t mean I think enough has been done, but I do believe we should give credit where it’s due.

In 2008 David Miliband, then Environment Secretary spearheaded the Climate Change Act which placed an obligation on whoever is in government to meet legally binding carbon budgets and reduction targets. This piece of legislation is historic – we were the first country in the world to ensure our government is legally committed to carbon budgets. By the time it reached royal assent, Ed Miliband was Secretary of State for Climate Change. Go team Miliband!

Ed and David Miliband

More than a decade on, it’s clear from watching the debate that followed Ed Miliband’s urgent question that Labour understand that urgent action is needed to mitigate the impact of climate change, and to limit the climate breakdown that is already occurring.

Practical action

Ed called on the government to commit to:

  1. Declare a climate emergency .
  2. Respond formally, before summer recess to the forthcoming Committee on Climate Change date/target to reach zero emissions.
  3. Work to deliver a Green New Deal.
  4. Involve the public through a Citizens Assembly.

I could not agree more that this is what’s needed. I am especially excited whenever I hear the Green New Deal mentioned. If you do one thing after reading this post, please have a look at, and consider getting involved with Labour for a Green New Deal.As Ed himself said during the debate “economic justice and climate justice go together”.

Extinction Rebellion supporters please take note – your demands are being taken seriously.

Highlights – Three Labour women

Other Labour MP’s who made me do a little internal round of applause for their input included Stella Creasy MP, Kerry McCarthy MP and Thangam Debbonaire MP.

Stella Creasy highlighted the success of the Irish Citizens Assembly on climate change. Read her letter to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the same topic:

Kerry McCarthy MP expressed her frustration that the global food system is so rarely mentioned:

“The global food system accounts for 30% of emissions, and it is said that without any action—if we do not do anything about it—food and farming will take up the whole of ​the Paris carbon emissions budget, so why is no one talking about it? I have been sitting here listening to this, and I have sat here listening to many of these debates, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of parliamentarians who are ever prepared to ask what we are going to do about the global food system.”

Declare a climate emergency

Thangam Deobbonaire MP asked the question on so many people’s lips regarding the refusal of the Conservative Government to declare a climate emergency:

“The Minister asks what would be the point of her declaring a climate change emergency. Well, it is because it is an emergency. It is an emergency right now and it is an emergency across the world—glaciers are melting, seas are rising—and the Minister knows this. I just do not understand, and I do not think people watching or my constituents in Bristol West will understand, what is stopping her declaring a climate change emergency and then treating the problem as an emergency.”

Clare Perry MP, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy gave this rather disappointing response:

“Let me try to help the hon. Lady and her constituents. I do not see the point of saying anything unless we take action to solve the problem. We are now realising that we have a massive, growing problem with ​our global emissions, affecting the balance of our economy. We in this country lead the world in trying to solve this problem. I accept that we need to go further and faster, but I want to focus on actions rather than simply standing here and saying, “I have said a few things—job done.” Let us focus on actions, not words.”

Disappointing because she is offering a very false choice. The point of ‘saying something’ is to focus the minds of all those working in government, across all departments, on the existential problem we face. The point is to tell the truth to the citizens of the UK, and the wider world, that what we face is a genuine emergency. ‘Saying something’ doesn’t stop action occurring. Words lead to action!

Words lead to action

The words of the MP’s participating in these debates encourage me to act. If you’d like to watch the debate yourself, its an hour well spent:

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