J.H. to Priti Patel

11th November 2020

Dear Ms Patel,

I live in your constituency, in the village of Tollesbury. For over 30 years I’ve worked in communications on environmental issues including many assignments for the United Nations and other key global players. Through work and on a personal level I’ve been concerned about climate change and the threats to biodiversity, helping to publicise major global reports findings. I will be honest; I have become increasingly terrified about the trajectory that we are on and the failure of governments around the world to act decisively to protect their citizens and our precious planet. As a family we have done everything we can to live a low carbon lifestyle, and refurbished our 100-year old house to be highly energy efficient. I have come to the conclusion that individual action is not enough and that governments and companies need to step up, stop burning and investing in fossil fuels and address the climate and ecological crisis that is now so acutely apparent. We have all the solutions at our disposal; we don’t need new technological fixes; we need action that is immediate and commensurate with the challenges we face. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world that when nations have the will and need to act fast and furiously, they can. Sadly when it comes to their climate pledges they are mostly empty rhetoric, as you can see here – The Truth Behind the Climate Pledges.

I’m aware that you have consistently chosen to vote against measures to prevent climate change. As a mother, I’m sure you must worry about what a difficult world young people are inheriting, facing so much uncertainty about the future. You are lucky to be in a position to make a difference in this regard. Please use the responsibility you hold to heed the remarkable David Attenborough, who said categorically, “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate Change. If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon”. (transcript of speech to IPCC, Katowice, 2018).

I’m writing now to strongly urge you to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill (https://www.ceebill.uk/).

This calls for: ·

·          the UK to develop a strategy to reduce carbon emissions enough to limit global rises in temperature; ·

·          the UK’s actual carbon footprint to be taken into account; ·

·          the protection and conservation of nature here and overseas along supply chains, recognising the damage we cause through the goods we consume; ·

·          no reliance on unproven or non-existent technology as an excuse for inaction,

·          policy to be guided by a citizens’ assembly with genuine powers. 

The Bill has been drawn up by a collaborative team with input from lawyers and eminent climate scientists. It offers a clear vision and strategy to help the Government limit global warming, and begin to restore nature and our precious ecosystems. It calls for deliberative democracy to secure public engagement and support for this huge task.

Right now attention is of course concentrated on Covid 19, but there is a risk that we lose sight of the even greater twin threats posed by climate chaos and loss of nature. Scientists have repeatedly told us the window for climate and biodiversity action is shrinking, delay poses even greater dangers for our future. In recent years we’ve seen devastating floods in the UK, wildfires in California and Australia, Arctic ice sheets melting faster than anticipated, severe droughts and famine in Sub-Saharan Africa and already methane release from permafrost – feedback loops pose an unprecedented threat if these trends continue.  Migration from least developed countries due to climate change is fast increasing, and yet these countries are least responsible for the shift in climatic conditions they face.

The UK’s 2050 net zero target is clearly too late – we have to limit warming to below 1.5 degrees centigrade or we face ‘catastrophic’ events, according to climate scientists. The consensus is that we are instead on track to a devastating 2- or 3- degrees C. The government has a unique opportunity to take a green road to recovery post-COVID. We can fast track energy efficiency, scale up renewable energy, train young people in green jobs and re-train/upskill others to meet this challenge. We need to invest in public transport, encourage people out of their cars and stop burning fossil fuels. These are all positive changes that will improve our health and wellbeing as well as protecting the planet.

The CEE Bill outlines what is needed to address the scale and urgency of the threat. Please do what you can to support this Bill, and encourage others.

Yours sincerely,