Queen’s Speech should prioritise the climate

Tomorrow (19 December), the Queen will mark the start of the new parliamentary session at the State Opening of Parliament, delivering a speech written for her by the new government. Ahead of tomorrow’s speech, the Green Party has called on the government to prioritise the climate and urged MPs to make this the climate Parliament. 

House of Commons
House of Commons

Image: UK Parliament / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-3.0

Imogen Benson

The Green Party has called on the government to prioritise the climate in its Queen’s Speech, which is set to take place tomorrow (19 December).

Following the Conservative Party’s landslide victory in last week’s general election, the Queen will now officially open the new parliamentary session by delivering a speech laying out the government’s agenda for the coming year.

Green Party Co-leader Jonathan Bartley said: “The next five years are crucial if we are to stop runaway climate change, but all we have seen from previous administrations is inertia and inaction.

“Over the last six weeks, we made it clear that it needed to be the climate election and other parties finally seem to be catching on. However, the commitments made by both the Conservatives and Labour during the campaign go nowhere near far enough if we are to show leadership and protect the future of the planet.

“Now the Tories have their majority, all eyes will be on them to see if they will take necessary action on the climate. But it is also the duty of all MPs to work together and to make this the climate Parliament.”

Although Brexit was the main issue of concern in last week’s election, the climate crisis was a significant factor in voters’ decisions – YouGov’s November poll on the election’s deciding issues revealed that 25 per cent of voters considered the environment to be a top-three issue, compared to nine per cent in 2017. Demand for decisive climate action is evidently on the rise, with the Greens achieving more than 850,000 votes, increasing their vote share by over 60 per cent compared to the 2017 election. 

However, public concern for the environment has not necessarily been reflected in government policy. Although the Greens have stressed that the UK’s current aim for carbon neutrality by 2050 should be brought forward to 2030, Boris Johnson has continued to boast 2050 as a ‘world-leading’ target – the Scottish Government’s target is carbon neutral by 2045.

With next year’s COP26 climate summit set to take place in Glasgow, the UK has less than a year to prove its position as a global climate leader before it hosts more than 30,000 delegates from around the world to discuss necessary action. 

Whilst Western states are beginning to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis, with the European Commission unveiling its Green Deal last week, the Greens have been firm in criticising gesture politics, calling for transformative change to truly address the scale of the issue.