Climate Change – MPs declare an environment and climate emergency

MPs debated whether an environmental emergency should be declared. This follows the findings of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change that global emissions need to fall by around 45% by the year 2030 (from 2010 levels) to avoid a more than 1.5% rise in global warming.

Note: This video is an archived copy of the YouTube live stream. The debate begins at 9:31

Because today is an Opposition Day in the House of Commons, the subject for debate has been chosen by the Labour Party.

Motion to be debated today

‘That this House declares an environment and climate emergency following the finding of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change that to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming, global emissions would need to fall by around 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero by around 2050; recognises the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on UK food production, water availability, public health and through flooding and wildfire damage; notes that the UK is currently missing almost all of its biodiversity targets, with an alarming trend in species decline, and that cuts of 50 per cent to the funding of Natural England are counterproductive to tackling those problems; calls on the Government to increase the ambition of the UK’s climate change targets under the Climate Change Act 2008 to achieve net zero emissions before 2050, to increase support for and set ambitious, short-term targets for the roll-out of renewable and low carbon energy and transport, and to move swiftly to capture economic opportunities and green jobs in the low carbon economy while managing risks for workers and communities currently reliant on carbon intensive sectors; and further calls on the Government to lay before the House within the next six months urgent proposals to restore the UK’s natural environment and to deliver a circular, zero waste economy.’

What is an Opposition day?

Usually the Government decides what is debated in the Chamber but twenty days in each session are set aside for debates on subjects chosen by the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition (currently Jeremy Corbyn, Labour) gets 17 days. The other three days are allocated to the third largest party in the House (currently The Scottish National Party).

Parliamentary sessions usually last for a year but if a session lasts longer than a year, the whips may agree on a further number of Opposition days. And the Government may provide further ‘unallotted’ Opposition days, even in a normal year-long session. Some of these might be used for the smaller political parties to choose the subject for debate.

The Opposition sometimes table a motion in the form of a humble address on Opposition days. A humble address is a message to the Queen. It’s used, among other things to call for papers from departments headed by a Secretary of State.

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