It was good to meet members of my constituency in Westminster for The Time is Now campaign. Together we discussed climate change, plastic pollution and actions we can take to reach the net-zero emission target in 2050. My team have made a note of your comments and will be looking to see what more we can do to help resolve these issues. Although I cannot go into full details about each topic here, I would like to do a short summary of my thoughts for those who were not able to attend.
Plastic pollution is an issue that needs to be tackled, which is why last year I signed up to the Sky Ocean Rescue ‘Pass on plastic’ campaign, inspiring people to make everyday changes to help end plastic pollution.
The government have funded a 5-year-long study to investigate the potential harm caused by microplastics in the marine environment. As a result of this study, last year the government introduced one of the world’s strongest bans on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products. Microbeads, like other microplastics, do not biodegrade and therefore accumulate in the environment.
The government are working with water companies and researchers to understand the scale of the issue, evaluate the effectiveness of treatment systems at removing microplastics and assess the impacts of microplastics in aquatic environments. Research is continuing, the UK is funding a study at the University of Plymouth into textiles and tyres which are estimated to be significant sources of microplastics in the marine environment.
Our priority will continue to be preventing plastic entering the environment in the first place and eliminating avoidable plastic waste over the lifetime of the 25 Year Environment Plan.
Climate change and net-zero
In 2018 the government published a 25 Year Environment Plan. The plan aims to protect the environment by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans. In the first year alone, 90% of the plan’s actions have been delivered or are being progressed. As announced by the Prime Minister in 2018, the government is currently preparing the first Environment Bill for 20 years which will place the 25 Year Environment Plan on statutory footing and put environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government. More information about this plan can be found here.
The new net-zero target was a particularly interesting topic to discuss. Most welcomed this bill however noted that the 2050 target date was too far away. However, it is important to note that we have taken advice from experts at The independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) who advised that 2050 would be an ‘appropriate UK contribution to the Paris Agreement’. A 2050 target doesn’t rule out achieving it earlier However, it’s important to set a realistic and achievable target as it is a legally-binding framework.
I will continue to speak to constituents about these issues and support legislation to tackle climate change. I would like to thank all those who attended it was great to see attendees from a wide range of groups including the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the Women’s institute. It is important that we all work together to preserve the environment for the future generations.