Statement on the Environment Bill
Today the Environment Bill returns to Parliament for its Remaining Stages.
The Environment Bill is a missed opportunity to bring forward the urgent step change needed here at home to help meet the scale of the climate crisis we face. We are in a climate and ecological emergency. Wildlife in Britain is on a downward spiral, fires have raged and floods have battered our communities. With climate disasters only set to rise, it is incumbent on the UK Government to show ambition on our environmental standards as we leave the EU.
The Environment Bill falls woefully short of the urgent and lasting action the UK must take to enable our future generations to lead healthy, more sustainable lives. In the year of COP26, the UK Government must show the climate leadership that we want to see reverberate across the world. Yet this Bill will not stop the UK from falling behind the EU on environmental standards and side-steps scrutiny by ensuring legally binding targets won’t bite for nearly two decades. If we can’t show ambition and secure strong environmental protections at home, what hope does the UK have as COP26 President, of encouraging other countries to step up?
The Labour Party has put forward a series of amendments to rectify the Bill’s shortcomings for e.g. to stop the Tories from lifting the ban on bee-killing pesticides and to bring air quality limits in line with the World Health Organisation. The decline of bees is an environmental catastrophe. When they’re responsible for pollinating 70% of our fruit, veg, nuts and seeds, we are putting our future food security at serious risk by lifting this ban. When children like Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah are losing their lives because of illegal levels of air pollution, the Government can no longer stand idly by and refuse to act.
The Government is sadly expected to vote against these amendments today.
Here in Wales, the Welsh Labour Government has set out its bold plans to address air pollution, protect the health of the nation and defend our ecosystems. However, it’s crystal clear that the UK Government isn’t serious about protecting the environment and driving climate ambition – they’re only interested in empty soundbites on building back better. Today’s confirmation that the Government is postponing the Bill for the third time until the Autumn, is testament to that.
Labour will be the Party to expose the empty rhetoric and press for meaningful climate action that we’re all crying out for.