Drugs, organised crime and the climate crisis

I asked the government about the connection between drugs, organised crime and climate chaos because it is often over looked in big debates about international agreements, like COP26

The Global Initiative describes many West African States as ‘narco-states’. These include Guinea Bissau, Senegal and Guinea. All are equatorial Nations that are key to maintaining their rainforests and the world’s lungs, but corruption and organised crime can dominate decisions about what happens at a local level.

It is true that inequality and poverty makes corruption more likely but only drugs’ money can enable the take-over of a country’s political structures. The cartels in Mexico alone earn more than the entire GDP of most West Africa Nations, a region that acts as a hub for work cocaine distribution. And our drug laws create this vast wealth for criminals. 

The war on drugs is a colonial hangover that is going to cost the world a great deal if this isn’t considered as part of global climate action. The quickest way to end the cartels’ dominance of both the rainforests and the political structures would be to end their financial dominance by decriminalisation and legally regulating the supply of drugs here in the UK.

Working to ‘climate proof’ Parliament’s pension fund

I recently chaired an online seminar of Parliamentarians to discuss whether the pension fund for MPs and Ministers should dump all its remaining holdings in fossil fuels. If you have a pension then it is worth asking the same kind of questions about how your money is being used.

To contain global heating to 1.5°C as outlined by the Paris Agreement, the International Panel on Climate Change have specified that global greenhouse emissions levels must be halved by 2030, followed by continued marked reductions to reach ‘net zero’ global emissions by the middle of the century.

Much of the debate within the pension industry has been about using shareholder power to nudge the fossil fuel producers towards investment in renewables. My job as chair was to nudge the discussion towards dumping all pension fund investments in fossil fuels and to influence the industries that still use fossil fuels to switch urgently to alternatives.

The UN states that for a 1.5°C-consistent pathway, the world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% per year between 2020 and 2030. Indeed, if we are to have any hope of avoiding ecological tipping points then we must reduce production, with half of the world’s largest listed oil and gas companies facing cuts of 50% or more by the 2030’s.

Big reductions in oil and gas are going to hit share prices, so it is far safer to get out of them now and focus investments in those industries that will prosper as part of a new green deal. 

Lake Windermere, Sewage and Pollution

I have asked the government:

“What discussions has the Environment Agency had with water companies regarding the ending of sewage being dumped into the Lake District, World Heritage Site and how far off are they from achieving high quality water in accordance with the water framework directive?”

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Pregnant prisoners shouldn’t be treated this way

The government is failing to increase the number of Mother and Baby Units, despite a planned increase of 500 places in women’s prisons. In answer to my written question I discovered that they keep no records of how many women and trans men are pregnant in Britain’s jails, nor do they have any idea of how many pregnant prisoners in individual facilities.

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Green success in Lords, now lobby your MP

Did you see all the progress we made with the Environment Bill this week? Eight government defeats with eight great amendments covering everything targets to principles; and from soil health to air pollution and human health. There is more to come next week with Natalie’s attempt to create UK support for the offence of Ecocide.

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Heathrow expansion and other backward steps towards COP26

The government’s decision not to review the expansion of Heathrow, despite the obvious impacts on the climate emergency, is just one of the backward steps on the journey to COP26. The backward steps are the big decisions on climate change that can be categorised as ‘business as usual’ and won’t appear on any government media release. The £27bn road building programme, the thousands of homes and buildings being constructed that don’t meet zero carbon standards and the large number of waste incinerators. Even the fact that we are holding an inquiry into a new coal mine in Cumbria, or dishing out development licences for oil and gas exploration is bizarre when the science is telling us that the Greenland ice sheet is going to disappear and the seas rise by at least 7m (the palace of Westminster is 6m above sea level).

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Give Metro Mayors more power to act on air pollution

I have tabled the following amendment to the Environment Bill that would enable Metro Mayor to set tough air pollution standards for their area and give local authorities more power to act on sources of bad air such as wood burning stoves.

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Lawless roads and motorists getting off lightly

Today, I’m asking a Minister if breaking the law with a car attracts a lighter sentence than if someone does the same in any other area of their life?

Many years ago a police traffic sergeant told me that the best way to murder someone is to do it with a car. A hit and run carries a fairly minimum sentence and even if caught you can always claim that “accidents happen.”

The reality of this was brought home to me in 2014 when a man travelling at 80-88mph drove straight at the traffic officer who stepped out to flag his vehicle down for speeding. The killer made no attempt to stop as he threw PC Duncan into the air ‘like a rag doll’ and left him with fatal injuries. The starting point for murdering a police officer with a knife, or iron bar is 30 years, this driver received an eight and a half year sentence.

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Police must be open as well as honest

Today I ask whether the government will ensure that the police have a ‘duty of candour’.

One of the main recommendations that came out of the recent report on the murder of Daniel Morgan is that the police should have a “duty of candour”. It seems such a simple and inoffensive change to how the police conduct themselves, but it would generate a flow of fresh air and transparency through the suffocating fog of the UK’s policing culture. The Daniel Morgan case is the most documented example of institutional corruption within the police, but is only one of many going back over several decades.

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