April 2019: News from your local MP

March 25 2019

Bristol is a climate leader - the UK must follow

Climate change is happening at a terrifying pace. The good news is that places like Bristol are demonstrating that we can do something about it.
My niece recently told me a story, which filled me with dread for the future. She works as a researcher, investigating microbes frozen in glaciers in Svalbard. These microorganisms may hold the key to the next generation of antibiotics as bacteria become resistant to our current drugs. Yet the glacier she is working on is disappearing incredibly quickly. Her work is now a race against time to gather this potentially life-saving genetic material before it melts away.
At the time of writing, I am planning to tell this story to introduce a debate on fossil fuel use in Parliament. It is an opportunity for me to bring up some of the excellent work of local environmental groups and ask the government to follow Bristol’s lead.
Bristol City Council recently declared a climate emergency, committing to reduce emissions to net zero by 2030, going much faster and further than the UK’s national 80% target for 2050. I will urge the Climate Change Minister to follow this example – the science clearly says we need to do more.
Bristol’s local voluntary groups have also played a major role in showing what is possible. Groups like Transition Bristol have been at the forefront of the UK’s impressive growth in renewable energy generation. This has cut emissions over recent years, but we need to do more. Individuals and community groups cannot do this alone, especially when the government seems intent on slowing progress.
The UK subsidises fossil fuels more than any other European Union country, putting significantly more money into coal, oil and gas than renewable energy. I raised this backward-looking imbalance in a recent House of Commons debate on climate change.
The good news is that there is growing political pressure on the government to act. I recently met schoolchildren and young people at Redland Green school who were walking out in protest against climate change. Their activism is inspiring.
Over the last year I have visited some of the UK’s leading low-carbon energy facilities, including the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth, Northumberland. This area, which was devastated by the collapse of coal-mining and ship-building industries, is now seeing new economic opportunities as the place where they are building the biggest wind turbine blades in the world. This is true transition in action.
I will ask Minister Claire Perry to do what the young people I met in Parliament Square asked: declare a national climate change emergency and act accordingly! You would not put your children in a plane which had a one in twenty chance of crashing. Why are we putting the next generation under the awful threat of climate change? We only have one earth. Let's save it!
By the time you read this you should be able to watch the full debate on my website – www.debbonaire.co.uk.
Latest news on leaving the EU
March has been a dramatic month in the Commons. Labour has successfully beaten the Prime Minister’s disastrous Brexit deal several times. As a result, the most chaotic ‘hard Brexit’ looks increasingly unlikely. By the time you read this, a lot will have changed, so please check my website and social media channels for the latest updates.