My Commitments on tackling the Climate Emergency
By Andrew Simpson
The Climate Emergency should be the one big issue that dominates this General Election and it seems to be getting only secondary coverage at best.
Compared to the challenges facing our environment and our planet, Brexit is but a sideshow and a needless distraction.
While the election has been taking place:
- Brazilian rainforests are still burning
- Australia has seen more bush fires and hotter and more intense weather
- The UK has seen historic flooding levels in South Yorkshire
At the same time:
- A 40 year study has led 11,000 of the world's leading scientists to proclaim that climate change is 'Clear and unequivocal' and that if not tackled will lead to 'untold human suffering'.
- At 407 parts per million (ppm), atmospheric CO2 level is the highest for 3 million years! Forty years ago it was only 330 ppm.
- And the United Nations forecast a 'bleak' outlook as the carbon emissions gap grows.
The UK Parliament declared a Climate Emergency in May this year yet nothing much seems to have happened since. Our Government seems to have been paralysed by Brexit.
Also the Conservative record in this area is pretty poor:
- They scrapped the Department of Energy & Climate Change set up by the Lib Dems in the Coalition Government and they have also sold off the Green Investment Bank - another Lib Dem achievement in the Coalition.
- They have also cut subsidies for renewable energy schemes and The Government is not on target to meet the 80% reduction in carbon emissions target in the 2008 Climate Change Act.
- What's more Daventry's local Conservative MP, Chris Heaton Harris has voted against subsidies for renewable energy and campaigned against onshore wind farms.
- He is a member of the European Research Group who have strong links to Donald Trump and Republicans who deny climate change exists.
So what can I do about the Climate Emergency if elected as your MP?
Firstly ensure it is constantly the top priority in Parliament.
Then locally I would be an active MP campaigning on:
- Planting more trees and converting suitable farmland to new woodland - part of Lib Dem commitment to 60 million trees being planted each year.
- Replanting dying ash trees, especially in the hedgerows, field margins and road sides.
- Investing in bus services - Lib Dems would provide funds to re-introduce rural bus routes crucial for us with many villages currently without or with limited services. Also a key part of this is making sure real time information is displayed at each bus stop.
- Tackling Poor Air quality - making sure it is measured correctly and poor areas highlighted and actioned.
- Opposing any major new road building in the area unless it would improve the environment such as replacing village 'rat runs'.
- Promotion of more cycling and walking and at the same time, developing safer roads for cycling and dedicated cycle tracks and routes. Plus any new housing developments that are planned should be designed so people can easily walk or cycle to schools and local facilities.
- Support to retain key local facilities such as shops/Post Offices and pubs so people have less reason to travel by car away from their own area. A 'shop local' scheme should be launched across the area.
- Campaigning to enhance our railway connections in the area - I also support the re-opening of the Great Central Railway through to Rugby which could provide a parkway station outside Daventry and so a new direct link to London.
- Campaigning to get support for residents in converting legacy oil and gas based heating systems to renewable and clean energy systems including ground source heat pumps.
- Support for wind farms and solar farms at suitable locations in the area.
Furthermore, what can I do about pollution?
- Campaigning for the removal of single use plastic in everyday use.
- Community recycling schemes - set up a best recycling award for areas that recycle the most and work with the Council so each area knows how well it is doing - and sets a target to do more.
- Improving public education in recycling, especially through schools
Lastly as the MP I should set an example so I would want to see how I can make my life more carbon neutral and apply that in everything I do.
The Climate Emergency is now and so we cannot afford to wait to do more.