Response to e-action from Westminster Liberal Party
Thank you for email. I appreciate you taking the time to share your further thoughts.
I recognise that grouse shooting is an issue on which strong views are held on both sides, and I am aware that we have corresponded previously on this issue. I still believe that a tightening of the rules is needed and that partnership working between conservationists and the shooting industry should be explored and encouraged. I appreciate, however, that we may have to agree to disagree on this issue.
I would like to assure you that both my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I take the twin crises of the Climate and Ecological Emergencies extremely seriously and are committed to taking the immediate action which you rightly say is needed. Never has this been more urgent and necessary, with the stark warnings issued in the IPPC report this week, and extreme weather events that we have seen causing widespread destruction and devastation to so many, from the wildfires in Greece and Turkey to the severe flooding in Germany.
This includes a commitment to introduce a Nature Act to restore the natural environment through large scale restorations of peatlands, woodlands and marshlands, and setting legally binding near-term and long-term targets for improving water, air, soil and biodiversity, and supported by funding streams of at least £18 billion over five years.
We are living in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and are currently only meeting 3 out of 20 of our UN biodiversity targets. We need a strategy to double nature, which I believe is best done by devolving powers to local authorities.
The Liberal Democrats are campaigning to expand the Local Nature Resource Strategies to all local authorities. These strategies map the most valuable sites and habitats for wildlife in their area and identify where nature can be restored. We would then ensure that these areas were included in all planning decisions and that destruction of the natural environment in these areas would be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
In my view, the current government is missing many opportunities for real change to address the Climate and Nature Emergencies and merely paying lip service to these issues, and I have been holding the Government to account on this through my work in Parliament. I have always said that climate action delay is just as bad as climate change denial, and I very much share your deep concerns and frustration that the Government is not treating the Climate and Nature Emergencies with seriousness that they require. I set out some of the actions that I feel that the Government should be taking now in the Queen’s Speech in May: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-05-13/debates/3C945343-3504-4311-B086-EFF86920C0E0/ABrighterFutureForTheNextGeneration?highlight=green%20homes%20grant#contribution-AB8DC466-4B35-47FC-90AF-72438977003A
Earlier this year, I called on the Government to giving the Office of Environmental Protection the powers and resources to hold public authorities to account on environmental standards, after the Government gave permission for a neonicotinoid pesticide to be used: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-04-22/debates/1935A51C-BEFF-4724-97DE-F28838AEE723/NeonicotinoidAlternatives#contribution-4EBAE0CE-9E10-4E51-A53C-484FCAD2C722
I secured and led a debate on Global Human Security to promote an honest discussion about the threats that put all our lives at risk, which are becoming more complex and diverse. The Climate and Nature Emergencies are the most serious crises that we face and affect all of us, and this begs the question whether the way that we currently look at security policy limits the extent to which Government can keep us safe. You can read the full debate, here, should this be of interest: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-04-13/debates/10C5F578-2289-4E2E-85DD-0BD5D75EA7A2/GlobalHumanSecurity?highlight=nature#contribution-959498F7-08F1-4677-B456-C8F31BD7144C
Most recently, I co-sponsored a debate in July regarding COP26 which, if the government gets its house in order, provides the greatest opportunity for climate action since the 2015 Paris Agreement. As I said last month, “COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.”
Should you be interested in reading the full debate, you can do so here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-07-22/debates/5F6AF58F-A792-413D-9DF5-704C07E6E5A5/COP26ConferencePriorities
I appreciate that we may not agree on all of these issues, but I hope that this has helped to demonstrate my and my party’s commitment to tackling the Climate and Nature Emergencies.