WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

There is a climate emergency and we must act

03 May, 2019

Tulip Siddiq MP

• RECENT climate protests have been a breath of a fresh air. Not only did they temporarily reduce pollution in Westminster, but they provided much-needed impetus to a debate that has been shamefully neglected.

As a United Nations Security Council member, the UK has real potential to lead efforts to save our natural world. At present, our polluted air is killing us, our farms face an uncertain future, our fish stocks are collapsing, our oceans are used as dumping grounds, and our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are under threat.

Numbers of species are plummeting, sea levels are rising, and it is high time for decisive action. The protesterss have been mocked for their tactics and bemoaned for the disruption caused to the daily commute, but it would be a grave error to disregard the crucial message being sent.

The inspirational 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg told politicians last week that “one person can make a huge difference”, and the climate protesters – like them or not – have ensured our environment is once again on top of the political agenda. However it is crucial that their efforts lead to tangible change.

Though I’m sure their meeting with Michael Gove will be illuminating, only MPs across the House of Commons can pressure him into setting about creating a new environment bill. Such a bill should be wide-ranging and it must fundamentally challenge the production and energy systems we rely on.

The WWF, World Wide Fund for Nature, Living Planet report highlighted that agriculture has caused a 60 per cent loss in wildlife populations since the 1970s.

The evidence is clear that intensive farming threatens our natural world and our supply of food, water and clean air for future generations. This is just one area that a new environment bill could confront.

Given the range of challenges at hand, I am delighted that Labour is demanding drastic action. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn successfully called for MPs to declare a national environmental and climate change emergency.

Our demands include the introduction of binding targets to roll out renewable energy and low-carbon transport, to increase proper funding of environmental protection and to develop plans to move towards a zero-waste economy.

There have been a number of Conservative MPs who have spoken out against plastic waste and environmental disaster but if they remain in denial or opposed to the scale of change needed this problem is going to get away from us all.

As Greta Thunberg said in her address, “we cannot solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency”. Following years of devastating flooding, forest fires, and ecological decline, we must all work together to deliver a sustainable future for the future generations.

I sincerely hope that this week will mark the start of a new approach to saving our natural world.

TULIP SIDDIQ MP
Labour, Hampstead and Kilburn

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