Here’s my contribution in full:
Thank you Madame Deputy Speaker and can I too congratulate my hon friend the member for Newport West on her excellent, compassionate and warm maiden speech. I feel I’ve been very lucky over the years with my constituency neighbours and I am delighted not to be the only women MP ever in Gwent any longer.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak up for the many constituents who have contacted me urging support for this motion today – calling for this house to declare a environment and climate emergency. In fact the Welsh Labour Government yesterday did just that and I hope we do so today to instil the urgency that is crucially needed.
Climate change is wreaking havoc on our wildlife and habitats and is putting lives and homes at risk around the world, with the poorest around the world bearing the brunt. 2018 was the 4th hottest year on record, and our UK summer last year was declared by the Met Office to be the joint hottest since records began.
As this motion acknowledges we need urgent, rapid and large scale response by the UK Government and of course Governments around the world – incremental change is not enough.
In Wales we’ve been ambitious with the actions set out in ‘A low carbon Wales’ – the first statutory decarbonisation plan with 100 policies and proposals across all sectors of our economy – to drive down emissions in Wales. We were one of the first nations in the world to make sustainable development a constitutional duty. We have consistently supported and promoted renewable energy generation, put a planning moratorium on fracking, and supported the development of tidal lagoons. In Wales we recycle more than anywhere else in the UK and are in touching distance of being the world’s top recycling nation.
But we cannot do this alone – we need this government to deliver on areas that are not devolved. The UK may have been a global leader on climate change but the task is getting much tougher. Onshore wind deployment has fallen by 94% and offshore wind can’t plug the gap. The UK Government has removed support for solar and failed to deliver on the Swansea Bay Tidal lagoon which could have had huge potential for Newport too. These are lost opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and build the green jobs and economy of the future which Wales could be a key part of.
And as the RSPB – who run the excellent Newport Wetlands reserve in my constituency – highlighted last week, the loss of species and pollinating insects, the destruction of habitats, and damage to eco systems pose as great a threat to tackling climate change.
Today’s debate centres around the impact of humans on the natural environment and there are difficult choices to make, not least in my corner of Wales: the decision on road building, or the challenge of looking after workers and communities reliant on carbon-intensive sectors.
This week I received a huge bundle of letters from Year 5 and 6 in Magor Primary school as part of their campaign on plastics. As one young pupil Katie said to me in her letter: “I want to help but I can’t do it on my own”. I think this echoes the views of many young people calling for action to protect the planet and we should be harnessing the passion of young activists like my constituents to protect their future.