NOVEMBER 2021: News from your local MP Thangam Debbonaire
Your message on COP26 - it's time for UK to take radical action
The Glasgow climate summit must deliver
When you read this, the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow will probably be under way.
I feel cautiously hopeful about this. Hopeful, because many of the countries most responsible for climate change, including the United States, are finally starting to take it seriously. This hope is tempered by caution. Even if the summit is a success, it is just the start of a hugely ambitious process to change the way we power the world, in just a few decades.
As host of this critical event, I think our government should be committing to much stronger action on climate change. Over the summer I held a series of meetings with constituents to hear your opinion on the climate emergency. Hundreds of you took part. I have compiled your thoughts into a letter to Alok Sharma, the minister leading the event.
If Bristol West residents are anything to go by, Sharma has a strong mandate to commit the UK to leading the world.
And there are policies which the government could put in right now. At the recent Labour Party Conference, it was clear that responding to climate change is now a central part of our policy platform, running through a wide range of policies and commitments. This includes £28 billion investment in cutting emissions, every year until 2030. Part of this is properly insulating every home in the country by 2030.
Such a radical plan would transform our economy. As Labour Leader Keir Starmer said in his conference speech: “Action is needed. Not in the future, but now.”
Fairer taxes could help high street businesses thrive
I was sad to hear that the landmark Broadmead branch of Marks & Spencer will be closing. It should be a wake-up call to all of us that our city centres need our support if we want them to continue to be lively, safe and welcoming for locals and visitors.
Our shopping and social habits have changed a lot, so the city centre is changing too.
I know Bristol’s natural creativity will help us with these changes. Our city is created and renewed constantly by its amazing people. By our creativity, our radicalism and our ingenuity as well as our skills and knowledge. We've built planes and theatres. We've mined coal and made chocolate. I know we can do this.
But we need the government to have our backs.
I'd like to see a fairer system of taxation. Right now, high street businesses pay one third of business rates even though they are only 15% of the economy. This unfairness was exaggerated when the pandemic gave online shopping another boost, while physical shops were shut.
The government needs to change the tax system to support places like Broadmead and local high streets like Gloucester Road. These places depend on shopping, but they also serve a much more important function. They are the heart of our communities.