Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill enters Parliament

Against the backdrop of the return of Extinction Rebellion to the UK’s streets, Green MP Caroline Lucas has introduced a new Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill to call on the government to take immediate and radical action to address the climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion protesters in London
Extinction Rebellion protesters in London

Image: Julia Hawkins / Flickr / cc by 2.0

Green World

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE Bill) has been tabled in Parliament and calls for urgent action to address climate breakdown and the creation of Citizens’ Assemblies to guide the just transition to a zero carbon society.

The Bill was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday (2 September) as activists from Extinction Rebellion returned to the streets to call on MPs to support the Bill and drive radical action on climate change.

Put together by the CEE Bill Alliance and introduced by Green MP Carline Lucas, the Bill has gained support from MPs from seven political parties, with additional co-sponsors listed below:

  • Alan Brown (Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

  • Dr Stephen Farry (Alliance, North Down)

  • Claire Hanna (Social Democratic and Labour Party, Belfast South)

  • Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat, Bath)

  • Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion)

  • Clive Lewis (Labour, Norwich South)

  • Caroline Lucas (Green Party, Brighton Pavilion)

  • Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd)

  • Tommy Sheppard (Scottish National Party, Edinburgh East) 

  • Alex Sobel (Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West)

  • Zarah Sultana (Labour, Coventry South)

  • Nadia Whittome (Labour, Nottingham East)

The Bill aims to provide a framework for the UK to meet its commitments to the UN 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which calls on countries to limit global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

As part of this framework, MPs are calling on the government to take real action to protect and restore the UK’s biodiversity and slash carbon emissions, with an emergency Citizens’ Assembly set up to guide government action.

The CEE Bill was drafted with the contributions of experts including Professor Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth, and Dr Joeri Rogelj, lead author of the IPCC report warning the world had until 2030 to limit warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels to avoid catastrophic climate change, and has the support of leading environmental figures such as Bill McKibben and Rob Hopkins.

The Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill has now been tabled in Parliament, with support of MPs from 7 political parties

We have a clear route map to tackle #ClimateEmergency - what we need now is for Government to back it#CEEBill @CEEbill_NOW

Our letter in @FT pic.twitter.com/MIFhjfesKD

— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) September 4, 2020

XR is using its latest rebellion to demand support for the CEE Bill, with thousands of protestors taking to the streets in London, Manchester and Cardiff, with hundreds being arrested for acts of civil disobedience.

The UK has taken action on climate change in recent times, becoming the first country in the world to enshrine a carbon neutral target into law, with its net-zero target set for 2050, while also setting up a Parliament-backed Climate Assembly to gather input from UK citizens on how the UK can reach its climate goals.

However, many have criticised the 2050 carbon neutral target as lacking ambition, while the government has failed to guarantee that it will enact the recommendations of the Climate Assembly.

 

It’s great to see cross-party support for @CarolineLucas’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.#BetterIsPossible when we put tribalism aside and work with our rivals to get the results this country needs.

Now we need the government to back it.https://t.co/RBTs3JQhZ1

— The Green Party (@TheGreenParty) September 3, 2020

Bill objectives

Ensure the UK plays its fair and proper role in limiting global temperatures to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels: To do this, the Bill calls on the government to take account of the UK’s entire carbon footprint both domestically and internationally, including aviation emissions, and pushing ahead with significant emissions reductions. The Bill also calls for the circumscription of reliance on speculative future carbon capture technologies.

Actively conserving the natural world: This should be achieved by protecting and restoring the UK’s ecosystems, with a focus on biodiversity, soils and natural carbon sinks, and accounting for the UK’s ecological footprint. Further, the damage to nature caused by supply chains, both domestically and internationally, should be mitigated.

Setting up an emergency Citizens’ Assembly: To implement the above actions, the Bill calls for the creation of a temporary emergency Citizens’ Assembly made up of a cross-section of society, to empower MPs to take decisions with the direct backing of the people and to allow people to have a say in a just and fair transition to a zero carbon society.