Kate writes a bi-weekly column for the Burton Mail. This column was originally featured in the 10th September print edition.
One of the biggest challenges we face today is protecting the environment from climate change. However, the actions of Extinction Rebellion, which have been broadcast across the media recently, actually risk undermining climate action by degrading the debate around how to reach net zero. Whilst peaceful protest is a democratic right in a free society, Extinction Rebellion’s disruptive, costly, and often illegal forms of protest alienate a large section of society who do not agree with their methods. Blockading printing presses and therefore delaying publication of several major newspapers is attack on our free press, society and democracy and is completely unacceptable, and blocking ambulance routes to hospitals during the current health pandemic is both disruptive and a danger to life.
In stark contrast I recently met with constituents from The Climate Coalition Lobby to discuss how the Government planned to address the important issue of environment and climate change. The effects of climate change in the UK most obviously manifest themselves in the form of flooding and extreme weather conditions so to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as soon as possible. To this effect the Government has legislated for the UK to be the first major economy to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.
So how do we reach this goal? Prioritising public transport and investing £2 billion to boost walking and cycling, which are beneficial to health as well as cutting traffic congestion and improving air quality, are all positive steps in the right direction. A commitment to phasing out the use of coal by 2024, doubling of our International Climate Finance and a £3 billion Green Homes Fund form part of an economic recovery package that seek to address these issues.
In addition, the Government is introducing three landmark pieces of legislation. The Environment Bill - putting in place legally binding targets to reverse the decline in nature, the Agriculture Bill - ensuring that Farmers will no longer be supported based on how much land they farm but according to the benefits they provide such as environmental improvements, and the Fisheries Bill which commits to sustainable fishing and marine conservation.
The Government continues to build on its strong record on the environment, recognising that preserving our planet for future generations must be a priority.