Open Letter to Oxfordshire MPs
To: Anneliese Dodds MP, David Johnston MP, John Howell MP, Robert Courts MP and Victoria Prentis MP
CC: Layla Moran MP
Dear Oxfordshire MPs
We, the undersigned, are a group of constituents, councils, businesses, schools and organisations from the six Oxfordshire constituencies (Oxford East, Wantage, Henley, Oxford West and Abingdon, Witney and Banbury) who invite you as our MPs to take urgent action on the climate and ecological emergency. To align our communities, lifestyles, businesses, and organisations with a sustainable, zero carbon, nature positive future, we require a strong, joined-up legislative framework that strengthens and embeds the Government’s targets in law, and provides an enabling framework for sustainable communities and businesses to thrive. To this end, we are asking you to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill in Parliament.
2021 has shown that climate change is already upon us, with warming now at around 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. In this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC, AR6 August), the IPCC emphasised, in the strongest terms, the grave dangers of exceeding even 1.5°C of warming. The UN Secretary General described the IPCC findings as “a code red for humanity” to act.
We welcome the world-leading ambitious pledges our Government has made. And we accept that the proposed Environment Bill, introduced to fill legislative gaps post-Brexit, goes some way towards the protection of nature here in the UK. There are, however, fundamental parts of the policy framework that don’t yet align with recent pledges, nor the latest IPCC report. The Government’s independent adviser, the Climate Change Committee, cautions that the UK is heading worryingly off track, that there has been ‘very little action, very little delivery’, and that ‘it’s hard to discern any comprehensive strategy’.
The CEE Bill has been developed to address the gaps in current legislation, a framework which will lock policy and action into step with the latest science. It is a private member’s bill drafted by leading UK scientists, academics, economists and lawyers, and will:
- Commit the UK to the carbon budget for 1.5°C: The Bill will create a legal obligation on Government to enact policies that are consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C – while this is already agreed in the Paris Agreement, it’s not enshrined in law, and current UK policies are in line with a 2-3°C trajectory. The Bill will, critically, introduce new short-term annual targets to help keep the country on track. These will be legally-binding upon this and all future governments to ensure climate policy doesn’t suffer from the short-termism that so often comes hand in hand with our political system.
- Create a Joint Emergency Strategy for Climate and Nature: The CEE Bill treats the climate and ecological crises as two sides of the same coin, combining action on climate and nature – the first and only piece of legislation to explicitly and strategically link the two. The Bill commits the UK to a nature target that is given equal weight to its climate target; to ensure that the UK not only halts, but also sees net gains in biodiversity by 2030; and, as with climate, the Bill would require that the UK takes responsibility for reducing its ecological impact along overseas supply chains, not just on UK soil. Whilst the Environment Bill, Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS), and the Leaders’ Pledge For Nature have merit on their own terms, they address different policy areas and there is no joined up strategy on nature and biodiversity linked to climate policy.
- Take account of the UK’s global, consumption-based emissions; Consumption and behaviour change are two of the biggest challenges our businesses, Governments, organisations and communities face. Unlike any other legislation, the CEE Bill takes into consideration our total carbon and ecological footprint including consumption-based emissions, shipping, aviation, and accounting for emissions from overseas manufacture; all essential for giving full transparency to our businesses, organisations, and communities so they have the certainty and confidence to act.
- Establish a Climate and Nature Assembly: The Bill supports the consultation of the Great British public in the transition to Net Zero via a representative, temporary climate and nature assembly, with Parliament having the final say. It is essential that the public are involved and engaged with the large-scale shifts in behaviour and consumption they face, and an assembly will both empower politicians to arrive at recommendations that will address challenging decisions, and provide a public mandate.
The CEE Bill has already gained, at the time of this modified letter in September 2021, the support of 150 Parliamentarians across all major political parties, over 105 local councils nationally and, critically, the UK’s leading scientific advisors – including Sir David King, Prof. Tim Jackson, Prof. Joanna Haigh and Prof. EJ Milner-Gulland.
The Bill is growing huge momentum on a national level and here in Oxfordshire – from high profile individuals, NGOS, organisations, schools, sustainability business leaders, and a broad range of leading Oxfordshire businesses representing every sector from farming to finance and construction. You can find the most up to date list here.
The IPCC has made it clear that this decade is critical. Unless we make immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in carbon emissions and restore nature, we face catastrophic consequences for our way of life; our countryside, people and communities, businesses, and the natural world that is so fundamental to our survival.
We know that climate change and pollution is the most concerning issue for Britons second only to Covid-19, and rising climate anxiety among people has been directly linked to Government inaction both here and abroad. COP26 is our opportunity to set out an ambitious policy framework to back up our world-leading pledges.
We ask you therefore to support the CEE Bill, and to recognise that there is a diverse and growing group of people, businesses, councils, schools, and organisations in your constituencies calling on the Government to be guided, as we have with Covid-19, by the science. We ask you to commit – in law – to the changes necessary to leave our children with the legacy of a healthy and thriving natural world.
Letter modified in September 2021 to reflect latest IPCC report and extend the letter to include individuals and councils.