Thursday, 15 April 2021

Businesses call on MP to support climate bill

Businesses call on MP to support climate bill

TWO business leaders are urging John Howell to back a proposed law to help tackle climate change.

Mark Cuddigan, chief executive of baby food manufacturer Ella’s Kitchen, of Rotherfield Greys, and Jonathan Hobbs, managing director of Hobbs of Henley, want the Henley MP to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill in Parliament.

They have signed an open letter as part of a campaign by the environmental group Greener Henley.

The private members’ Bill, which introduced to the House of Commons by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, would enshrine the UK’s commitments on climate change under the Paris Agreement into law.

It would ensure the country reduces greenhouse gas emissions to meet its legal obligation to limit global heating to no more than 1.5C, account for our entire carbon footprint in calculating emissions and include measures to actively conserve and protect ecosystems.

The Bill also calls for the establishment of citizens’ assemblies to give ordinary people a say.

Mr Hobbs said signing the letter made sense because his family business would have to become more environmentally-friendly.

He said: “Sustainability and environmental security are going to be at the forefront of what we do because we’ve got a large fleet of petrol- and diesel-driven boats and realise they’re going to become unacceptable in the near future. We want to improve our contribution to the environment and have ordered five new electric boats for this season, which will mark the beginning of us phasing in electric boats over a number of years.

“We’ll also be looking to upgrade our moorings to take electric boats because they’re taking off among private owners.

“We’ve only started considering these issues in the past two years or so, which is perhaps later than some businesses, but we’re very much aware of them now and keen to move with the times.

“The car industry has led the way with efforts to reduce emissions because everyone needs a car but I think the marine industry is following suit.”

Mr Cuddigan said he had been worried about the environment for at least 20 years but having children had intensified his concerns. He said the family recently had to stop watching a documentary by Sir David Attenborough because his daughters Mimi, 11, and Orla, nine, were distressed by the threat to the planet which it highlighted.

Mr Cuddigan said: “We know we need to do something about the emergency. There’s a great quote by Barack Obama that we now have the first generation of leaders who cannot look back and say they weren’t aware of the problem.

“There’s a scientific consensus surrounding this so the only outstanding question is what approach we need to take. It’s great that Parliament acknowledged the climate emergency in 2019 but we need a proper plan, nothing wishy-washy.

“Like businesses, governments have to be willing to stand up and lead. We have to be brave and take this more seriously otherwise it’s just pretty but ultimately meaningless words. I spend much of my time trying to persuade other businesses to be more mindful of the environment but only became aware of this Bill quite recently.

“It suggests some great ideas like citizens’ assemblies, which have worked really well in France.”

Mr Howell has said he won’t vote for the Bill, which almost 100 MPs support to date, because it has “imperfections” which make it unviable and efforts to launch citizens’ assemblies in Canada haven’t yielded results.

He accepts climate change is the “all-important” issue of the day but says the Government is on track to address it through measures like generating more electricity from renewable sources.

The letter, drawn up in partnership with the CEE Bill Alliance Oxfordshire, which is calling on the county’s five Conservative MPs to get behind it, says: “We welcome the strides that policymakes 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.”

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