Monday, 29 November 2021

Climate bill is not best way to deal with crisis, says MP

Climate bill is not best way to deal with crisis, says MP

JOHN HOWELL has defended his decision not to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.

The Henley MP says the proposed legislation is flawed and that the Government has already put targets in place to achieve carbon net zero and reverse the impact on nature.

He was responding to an open letter calling on Oxfordshire’s five Conservative MPs to support the private members’ Bill, which has received its first reading in the House of Commons.

The Bill, which is being promoted locally by the CEE Bill Alliance Oxfordshire, calls for the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems and the formation of a citizens’ assembly to propose green measures.

In an open reply letter, published in this week’s Henley Standard, Mr Howell says he is “very ambitious” about tackling climate change but says the Bill is not the right way to do it.

He says: “Rather than a Bill pushed by campaigners, we have put in place targets both for climate change and for nature that have been guided by independent experts and by the science.

“We have also used our chairmanship of the G7 to emphasise the role of nature in all this. It is therefore very disingenuous of the campaigners to claim that the Bill is the first time that climate change and nature have been linked.

“I support the Government in being as ambitious as possible when it comes to action to tackle climate change and restore nature.

“However, I do not believe the CEE Bill is the right tool to do this. We already have a net zero target (2050) as well as the world’s most ambitious interim emission reduction targets (63 percent reduction on 1990 levels by 2030 and 78 per cent by 2035) and a 2030 target for halting and reversing the decline of nature.

“The UK was the first to adopt a net zero target and was followed by more and more major economies.

“At the recent G7 summit, we managed to get support from all parties for the 2030 nature target.

“I am also particularly pleased that the UK is the first country to include international aviation and shipping in our target, a truly world-leading step.

“Through legislation and policy, I and the Conservative Environment Network are supporting the Government to set the frameworks which will allow us to achieve these targets.

“I am pushing for these to be as ambitious as possible. Through these plans, we are bringing forward policies to make sure we get to our targets set nine, 15 and 29 years from now to achieve a net zero economy and repair our relationship with nature.

“A citizens’ assembly is not a democratic way of proceeding on this Bill. It offers no advantages over conventional policy-making, such as parliamentary procedure. Where they have been tried, they have not produced impartial or long-lasting results.

“Rather than continuing the debate over which targets to set, I am putting my energy into campaigning in Parliament to support the Government in building back better and greener as we come out of the pandemic through existing ambitious plans.”

The campaigners’ letter to the MPs said: “We welcome the strides that policy makers have taken over the past decade to support the decarbonisation of the economy.

“However, there are key parts of this framework that are still missing and the CEE Bill seeks to address this… and to bring the UK’s climate policy into line with evolving scientific advice.

“Severe climate impacts with 1.5C of warming… get significantly worse with 2C. If we do not hold the temperature rise to mitigate against some of the worst impacts, we face irreversible damage to our societies, economies and the natural world. We ask you to recognise the wide, growing and diverse group of businesses in your constituencies calling on the Government to take leadership.”

Among the signatories are a number of businesses from the Henley area, including pub company Brakspear, baby food manufacturer Ella’s Kitchen, from Rotherfield Greys, boat hire firm Hobbs of Henley, watchmaker Bremont and architect Spratley & Partners as well as the Henley Business Partnership.

Individual supporters include broadcaster and adventurer Ben Fogle, from Fawley, and naturalist Professor Richard Fortey, of St Andrew’s Road, Henley.

The letter can be signed at

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