Green tests for the Environment Bill

Boris Johnson has written an article in The Times describing the Environment Bill which will be in the Queen’s Speech on Monday. As a quick measure of how green this Environment Bill really is, here are five policies that it must include:

* new target of zero carbon by 2030

* clean air as a human right

* stopping all unnecessary single use plastic by 2025

* all new housing being zero carbon 

* 30,000 hectares of new forest a year (this is the target set by the Committee on Climate Change).

The Prime Minister will claim that his ‘landmark legislation will set a framework of far-reaching, legally binding targets to reduce plastics, restore biodiversity, improve the quality of our water and clean up our air.’ Fine words. But such legally binding targets are already set out in European legislation, although that hasn’t stopped the government losing three court cases about its failure to hit existing air pollution targets over the last eight years. We need some real action, please. 

Burning more than we recycle

Over two years ago, I predicted that we would now be reaching the point where we burnt more household waste than we recycled and the 2018/19 figures from DEFRA, due to be published this December, will confirm that I was right. I have been warning that this would happen since my time as a London Assembly member, when it became clear that several London boroughs were tied into incineration contracts that inevitably led to them recycling far less than neighbouring boroughs. Continue reading “Burning more than we recycle”

Green New Deal, Agriculture and Fisheries

It is no longer hyperbole to state that our planet is facing multiple existential threats. It was the conclusion, and consensus, of international scientists laid out in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report late last year. And it is bolstered by the UN’s terrifying new report by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The conclusions can be summarised in a simple truth: humanity has caused mass extinctions and we are destroying the natural systems on which we all depend. It isn’t too late to change course – but we cannot delay a moment longer. Continue reading “Green New Deal, Agriculture and Fisheries”

Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions

Today Jenny wrote to Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE), the volunteers behind the ‘Pledge to Fly Less’ environmental campaign to say:

Jenny supports you; she thinks it is vital to put the brakes on airport expansion to save the planet

Continue reading “Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions”

The Heathrow question

The government can’t push ahead with Heathrow, unless they reject the latest advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). In 2016, the Airports Commission used evidence from the CCC to state that Heathrow expansion was OK if we stayed within national limits for carbon emissions, but the CCC now want the UK target changed to zero emissions by 2050 and have stated that aviation expansion will have to be curbed. Continue reading “The Heathrow question”

Question to Minister on protecting the right to protest

Today around 3pm I’ll be raising the issue of freedom to protest with questions to the Government in the House of Lords about the Court of Appeal’s striking out an injunction obtained by INEOS in a secret court. The successful appeal was brought by two individuals and Friends of the Earth, representing an enormous victory for the right to protest. It will hopefully pave the way for more successful appeals by peaceful protestors who have had their human rights restricted by the frackers and other environmental vandals. Continue reading “Question to Minister on protecting the right to protest”

Trade Bill update

My amendment on the Trade Bill was debated this week, with support from Labour and Lib Dems. It contains the current protections for the standards we have. But the Government seems reluctant to accept it, even though the Prime Minister herself has said that she doesn’t want to weaken existing standards in future trade agreements. At the moment it would be possible for Ministers to use statutory instruments to change the rules on this, but my amendment would guarantee these minimum standards were kept for rolling over all the trade deals that we currently have as a result of EU membership.

Continue reading “Trade Bill update”

The big solar rip off

Imagine investing thousands of pounds in a business that produces something everyone wants, but the government tells you that if you produce more than you need then you will have to give it to a big corporation free of charge, so they can sell it to their customers. This is state approved, corporate theft and it’s due to start this April, in the UK. Continue reading “The big solar rip off”

Meeting with Minister on Trade Bill changes

I had a meeting this week with Trade Minister Baroness Fairhead to discuss my amendment to the Trade Bill which aims to make our existing standards the foundation of all new trade agreements. Despite the number of advisors in the meeting on the government side, no one could give any reason why my amendment was bad in law or in principle. From what Ministers say in public, we are all in agreement about not using trade deals to lower standards. The main disagreement is over whether we need this principle enshrined in law. Continue reading “Meeting with Minister on Trade Bill changes”