Thank you for contacting me about the protection of uplands.
I support investment in the restoration of a variety of habitats. The Government has said uplands are precious, but I am concerned it is not doing enough to protect native species and wildlife and that it lacks a serious plan to deliver a recovery for nature.
Protecting biodiversity, halting the decline of nature and restoring habitats and wildlife should be priorities as the keys to tackling the climate emergency through rapid carbon storage and biodiversity gain. It is intrinsically important to protect species and ensure that wildlife can be enjoyed by everyone.
I believe we need ambitious biodiversity targets. The Government plans to introduce a target for halting the decline of nature in England by 2030 to the Environment Bill. However, I do not think it is acting quickly enough and should set this target urgently and ahead of COP26 to meet the significant challenge of the nature emergency. It should also seek to reverse the decline in nature with a dramatic incline in species abundance.
I am also concerned about the continued persecution of birds. Species conservation plays a vital role in restoring biodiversity and enabling nature’s recovery and, in my view, the Government is lacking a strategic approach to conservation through the protection, restoration and creation of habitats over a wide area to meet the needs of individual species under protection.
Likewise we need ambition on reforesting and rewilding. I supported an amendment to the Environment Bill for a bold, ambitious tree planting strategy in England, as we need more trees and better protections to restore our most vulnerable habitats. Disappointingly, the Government voted this down.
More widely, I believe that for too long climate change has been viewed as tomorrow’s problem – an issue that will affect future generations. The urgency for change has become strikingly evident, in light of the recent extreme flooding across Europe and the extreme heat that has been experienced in Pakistan and Canada. I fear that without a substantial change to our attitudes towards fossil fuels, these events will become much more regular with increasingly disastrous consequences.
The Tories’ lack of seriousness on environmental issues has again been highlighted by their shambolic handling of the COP 26 global climate change conference. The former head of the summit, Claire O’Neill, revealed that Boris Johnson admitted he “doesn’t get” climate change and she rightly criticised the Prime Minister for a “huge lack of leadership and engagement” over the UK’s hosting of the COP 26.
There is no response to the climate crisis that does not confront the problem of fossil fuel supply head on. As things stand, the UN has warned that countries are on course to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting average global temperature increases to 1.5°C. And as you note, the International Energy Agency makes clear that the pathway the world needs to take to get to a net zero energy system by 2050 involves no new oil and gas fields being approved for development beyond projects already committed to as of this year.
I’m really proud the Labour Party has a policy for a Green Economic Recovery, with £30 billion in planned capital investment brought forward as part of a rapid stimulus package to support up to 400,000 new, clean jobs in manufacturing and other key sectors. This will work to accelerate investment in clean projects such as energy efficiency, flood prevention, offshore wind, cycling and walking infrastructure and the electric vehicle charging network would help to create secure, stable employment in every corner of the country right now. We have an opportunity to be the leading light on tackling climate change, by introducing bold and forward thinking green policies.
Finally I would appreciate it if you could take the time to complete my climate change survey. I want to hear from constituents about your views and priorities about how to address climate change. Please follow this link to participate: https://www.louisehaigh.org.uk/news/2021/09/17/climatechangesurvey/