Bill please!

IssueOctober 2020 - November 2020
Feature by Gabriel Carlyle

One of the main aims of XR’s September ‘Rebellion’ was ‘to create the political appetite for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill’ which has, so far, received the support of over 50 MPs, including DUP, Green, Labour, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru and SNP representatives.

Introduced into the house of commons by Green MP Caroline Lucas on 2 September, this landmark legislation has been drafted by an alliance of scientists, academics, lawyers and environmentalists.

The aim is to ensure that the the UK plays a fair and proper role in limiting global temperatures to 1.5 °C.

  • It would become the prime minister’s duty to reduce the UK’s greenhouse emissions at a rate ‘consistent with keeping the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees centigrade compared to pre-industrial levels’. (According to the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, going from 1.5 °C to 2 °C could mean 1.7 billion more people experiencing severe heat waves at least once every five years.)
  • There would be an end to loopholes in existing laws that allow the UK to ignore its carbon emissions from shipping, aviation and imports. (According to recent analysis by WWF UK, roughly half of the UK’s carbon footprint comes from emissions released overseas to satisfy UK consumption.)
  • The government would have to take real action now to reduce its emissions, because the bill would cut the extent to which the UK can rely on speculative future technologies (which may never exist at the scale required) to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • The commitments to global fairness contained in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement would be enshrined in UK law. This means, among other things, the UK becoming zero-carbon much sooner than its current target of 2050.

Once passed, the bill would give the secretary of state six months to create a strategy to do these things. This strategy should ensure that ‘deprived communities’ don’t suffer as result and include ‘adequate financial support and retraining’ for people working in affected industries.

Finally, the bill would create a temporary citizens’ assembly (made up of a randomly-selected group of people, reflecting the make-up of the UK’s population) to recommend measures for inclusion in this strategy.

Any recommendation of the assembly agreed by 80 percent or more of the assembly’s members must be voted on in parliament.