Priti Patel’s reply to J.H.

25 November 2020


Dear Ms H,
Thank you for your e-mail regarding proposals for a ‘Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill’, and the wider issue of climate change.

I note your statement in your correspondence that “I’m aware that you have consistently chosen to vote against measures to prevent climate change.” I would like to highlight that for this Government, of which I am a Minister, tackling climate change and delivering our world-leading net zero target is a key priority for the Government, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed this. It is also important at the outset to highlight that the UK Government have decarbonised our economy faster than any G20 country this century.

Our existing carbon budgets are among the most ambitious in the world and continue to set the right level of challenge for the years ahead. We have met our first two carbon budgets and our latest emissions projections show that we are on track to meet the third.

You highlight that this proposal calls for the UK to “develop a strategy to reduce carbon emissions enough to limit global rises in temperature.” In terms of our domestic action on this matter, as you may have seen, the Prime Minister’s recently announced ambitious Ten Point Plan will ensure that our recovery from coronavirus will be green, generate jobs, and bolster the economy, whilst continuing to drive down emissions both now and in the future. Covering clean energy, transport, nature, and innovative technologies, this plan will enable the UK to forge ahead on delivering its net zero target – and to build back better. In the coming year, the Government will set out further plans for reducing emissions across the economy and delivering net zero.

It should of course be realised that our actions alone cannot limit global rises, effective action and results will rightly require international effort and cooperation, and as the host of COP26 and the president of the G7 next year, securing greater global ambition on climate change is a diplomatic priority for this Government. The United Kingdom is leading from the front, and we are pressing foreign Governments for greater action and higher commitments at the climate ambition summit on 12 December. Our posts across the globe have engaged with host Governments, businesses and civil society on climate change issues ahead of COP26, and we will continue to do so in the run-up to the climate ambition summit this December.

As part of these international efforts, our International Climate Finance includes up to £1 billion for the Ayrton Fund, which includes support for research, development and demonstration of new clean energy technologies with the potential to improve air quality, health outcomes, and reduce carbon emissions in developing countries.

In terms of the issue of our carbon footprint, information on the UK’s carbon footprint is available here:

(www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uks-carbon-footprint)

The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy for England sets out its ambition to move from a make, take, use, throw linear economic model to a more circular economy which will reduce our carbon footprint from imported emissions through increasing repair, reuse, remanufacture and other waste prevention activities. With regards to the protection and conservation of nature, during the course of the events this year, it is clear that people have valued all our green spaces during the lockdown period. The Government was elected on a manifesto commitment that, through the Environment Bill, we will set a new domestic framework for environmental governance, and this will enable us to work with developers, landowners and managers to create and restore wildlife-rich habitats, with wildlife thriving everywhere.

This will result in a biodiversity net gain through that environment plan, and we will have local nature recovery strategies and a whole new area called nature recovery networks. All of this will help to look after our precious green space. The Environment Bill also establishes the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). The creation of the Office for Environmental Protection will mean that the UK is a world leader in upholding environmental standards.

Internationally, on this specific area, we have supported international action under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UK is committed to playing a leading role in developing an ambitious post-2020 global framework for biodiversity under the CBD, expected to be adopted at COP-15 next year. In particular, we will promote ambitious and practical targets, including targets to enhance ecosystem resilience and species recovery, supported by strengthened implementation mechanisms that are commensurate with the scale of the challenge.

Together, all these measures mark the beginning of the UK’s path to net zero, with further plans to reduce emissions whilst creating jobs to follow over the next year in the run up to the international COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year. Thank you again for contacting me on this important issue.

Yours sincerely,
With all good wishes
Rt Hon Priti Patel
Member of Parliament for Witham