Today I gave a speech in the House of Commons calling on the Government to declare a Climate Emergency.
This is what I said:
I am pleased so many colleagues are here discussing the greatest challenge we face.
Last year, UK carbon emissions fell by only 2%.
At that rate, we would not reach levels compatible with net zero before 2100 – far too late to avoid dangerous climate change.
Last year’s IPCC report could not have been clearer; we have only 12 years to take real action.
That doesn’t mean we have 12 years to sit and argue about whether we really need to do something.
That is 12 years to agree and implement radical policies to dramatically cut down on our carbon emissions and change how we as individuals live our lives.
And that needs to start today with declaring a climate emergency.
We cannot ignore experts who continue to sound the alarm.
Dr Dmitry Yumashev of Lancaster University recently published research showing the potential $70tn cost if we continue with our current pledges and only limit the rise in temperature to 2c.
We simply cannot afford to continue down the same route we have been on.
I am proud that Labour-led Lancaster City Council has already declared a climate emergency, becoming one of the first councils to do so.
Our Councillors are committed to a radical green new deal to create a healthy, sustainable district that places environmental policies at the heart of everything it does.
As elsewhere, it is our young people who have led this call for action.
I have been awed by the tenacity and dedication of our local young leaders, such as
Cllr Amara Betts-Patel,
Cllr Oliver Robinson,
and Dan Chester,
to name but a few, who have shaped our response to our climate disaster locally and have suggested bold policies to tackle the crisis.
I know Honourable Members listened to Greta Thunberg’s moving words last week.
The onus is now on us in this House to listen to the words of Greta, and the young activists in our communities, and put the climate at the forefront of everything we do.
Today needs to be the start of a journey to a sustainable economy which works for everybody, which is not beholden to the wishes of the oil lobby and isn’t centred on individual car use.
In Fleetwood it could not be more evident how far away we are from having a sustainable transport policy.
Every morning, hundreds of my constituents get in to their cars and drive down the A585 to access jobs and education.
Given a reliable, low carbon alternative I know many would jump at the chance of leaving their car at home – but that simply isn’t possible.
The government needs to get serious about investing in sustainable transport for communities like Fleetwood so that people can switch to public transport.
That means urgently rebalancing our transport spending towards the North West and bringing back into use disused transport links such as the Fleetwood branch line to give people the chance to use greener alternatives.
Harnessing the power of wind and water has huge potentials to transform the Lancashire coastline into a true energy coast.
Hydro, wind, and solar energy industries have the potential of providing thousands of skilled, highly paid jobs, which will transform the employment prospects for our young people, while providing for our energy needs.
The beginnings of this green economy are already visible in Fleetwood.
I recently visited 4Navitas, building vertical axis wind turbines, set up and run by Fleetwood entrepreneurs Paul Cook and Marcus Stefani.
Other Fleetwood entrepreneurs have been perusing plans to construct a hydro barrage across the River Wyre, which again has huge potential to transform the town.
Sadly, this government continues to ignore the potential of this new green economy and perseveres with damaging and unwanted policies.
Fracking could not be a clearer example of this shameful approach.
The people of Lancashire have repeatedly rejected fracking, but still the government imposes their policies on us.
It is time that they woke up and pulled the plug on fracking in Lancashire and across the country before it is too late. A Labour Government would ban fracking, and this current Government should act now to adopt this same position.
Government needs to lead the charge for a sustainable future.
But that doesn’t mean that individuals and communities cannot take a stand themselves.
I was pleased to support Extinction Rebellion activists in Lancaster last week, demonstrating the need for a change in the way that we live our lives, and standing up for a green future.
Part of that future needs to be making sustainable choices about how we live and what we eat.
Most scientists agree that we need to eat significantly less meat to tackle climate change, and we all need to recognise the real damage that intensively farmed meat is having on the eco-systems of developing nations.
Only a Labour government which places the environment front and centre of government policy, and ushers in a Green Industrial Revolution will succeed in halting the slide to environmental chaos.
Until then, we in this House must do our duty and take responsibility for our actions.
Future generations will not forgive us if we let this opportunity for positive action pass.
We owe it to our children, to seize this opportunity to vote to declare a climate emergency today.