Progress in improving the environment and tackling climate change

There have been some real improvements in the way we look after our environment and tackle climate change, one of the world’s most serious challenges. I am one hundred percent behind the Government’s commitment to “leaving the environment in a better state than we found it” and the 25 year plan to make sure this can be achieved.

I receive hundreds of letters about both the environment and climate change from constituents. I share their concerns about the scourge of plastic and the need to deliver cleaner air and water as well as using the opportunity Brexit provides to develop our own bespoke agricultural and fisheries policies with a more sustainable focus.

The government’s key achievements to date include:

 

  • Banning plastic microbeads in personal care and cosmetic products; these include face scrubs, soaps, toothpaste and shower gels.
  • Ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds and a deposit return scheme for single-use plastics that is underway and subject to consultation.
  • Introducing a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags: This has reduced their use by 85% - with each person on average now using 25 bags a year compared to 140 before the charge came into effect.
  • Doubling the maximum fine for littering to £150: For the first time, local authorities can also use these littering penalties against vehicle owners if it can be proved litter was thrown from their car.
  • Our Resources & Waste strategy: will end confusion over recycling and tackle problem packaging by making polluters pay.
  • Create a Northern Forest from Liverpool to Hull with the aim of planting 50 million trees over 25 years: Spanning more than 120 miles between the cities of Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, the proposed Northern Forest will help boost habitats for woodland birds and bats and protect iconic species such as the red squirrel.
  • Securing extra protection for precious Ancient Woodland and veteran trees: New planning rules have at last given ancient trees and woods the highest possible protection from development.
  • Protecting our bees and other pollinators by helping secure an EU-wide ban on neonicotinoids pesticides: The UK voted in favour of the proposals that will see a ban on outdoor use of three neonicotinoids - Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam.
  • Creating 41 new Marine Conservation Zones around the UK: Safeguarding almost 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitats and marking the most significant expansion of the UK’s ‘Blue Belt’ of protected areas to date.
  • Internationally protecting marine habitats with a Blue Belt to protect an area the size of India, including recently protecting 4m sq. kms of pristine waters around Ascension Island.
     
    It is clear that tackling climate change is at the forefront of many people’s minds and I am pleased this is being taken extremely seriously by the government. Working with the Climate Change Committee, the Government is taking advice on achieving net zero emissions across the economy.
     
    Achievements in this area include:
     
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since 2010, faster than any other G20 country.
  • Becoming the first country to phase out coal by 2020.
  • Investing £52 billion in renewable energy since 2010 with 400,000 people now working in low Carbon businesses.
  • 2018 was the cleanest and greenest year with renewable resources supplying a third of our electricity, up from just over 6% in 2009.
  • Establishing the International Climate Fund (ICF) to provide £5.8 billion to help the world's poorest adapt to climate change and promote cleaner, greener economic growth.
  • Encouraging Greener Homes by bringing an end to fossil fuel heating systems in all new houses by 2025 and ensuring new housing developments deliver environmental improvements locally and nationally by using the ‘net-environmental gain principle.’
     
    Despite these many achievements, there is still more to do and I will continue to play my part in urging ministers to step up their efforts to tackle these crucially important issues.