Cee BillThe cross-party CEE Bill is a potentially game-changing piece of legislation offering the best hope of getting the UK to net carbon emissions at speed. Here are five reasons why TTL supports it and is urging our MP to back it.

The cross-party Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill was tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas on 2 September, calling on the government to take immediate and radical action on the climate emergency. You can see details of the CEE Bill here.

The Bill, which has been written by scientists, academics, lawyers and campaigners, has received support from 84 MPs at the time of writing – but no Conservative MPs so far. It will need support from a majority of MPs to give it chance to become law.

We’re encouraging everyone to write to Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, asking her to support the bill, which she currently refuses to do. To help, here are five reasons why TTL supports the Bill.

1. It recognises that aiming for net zero carbon by 2050 is too late
The UK government has pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), halving global emissions of CO2 by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050 only gives us a roughly 50:50 chance of limiting global warming to the critical level of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels set by the international Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.  The CEE Bill calls for the radical, swift action required to reach net zero carbon at a rate that would allow the 1.5°C limit to be met.

2. It looks at the UK’s entire greenhouse gas footprint
Rather than focusing solely on carbon emissions generated within the UK, the CEE Bill takes account of our ‘international’ emissions as well. These include emissions from the overseas production and distribution of goods and services consumed in the UK and also our emissions from international travel. As such, it reflects far more accurately the greenhouse gases created by our current ways of living. Only addressing homegrown ‘territorial’ emissions misses out nearly half (46%) of our actual greenhouse gas footprint.

3. It properly addresses environmental breakdown
The ecological emergency, including the loss of natural green spaces, the impact of intensive farming and diminishing biodiversity, has been almost entirely ignored by successive British governments. Nature is key to the CEE bill, which looks at agriculture, soils, natural carbon sinks and our relationship with the natural world. It also looks to address the environmental impact both here and abroad of manufacturing supply chains – radically recognising the damage we cause through the goods we consume.

4. It doesn’t rely on speculative carbon capture technologies
The government is set to invest several hundred million pounds in carbon capture and storage technology as part of its latest plan to tackle climate change. But a lot of these technologies are unproven, hugely expensive to develop and could have adverse ecological and social impacts. The CEE Bill agrees that carbon capture is vital. But it focuses first on natural climate solutions including the conservation and restoration of soils, forests, peat bogs, and coastal ecosystems – all of which offer a wealth of other ecological benefits. Furthermore, the Bill calls for stringent evaluation of carbon sinks, such as using land abroad to offset UK carbon emissions, to avoid ‘greenwashing’.

5. It makes full use of Citizens’ Assemblies
Given that tackling climate change demands speedy and radical changes in people’s lives, it’s essential that UK citizens have a genuine say in the route taken to a zero carbon society. Citizens’ Assemblies are a tried and tested means of engaging people in the democratic process (one helped break years of political deadlock on reforming Ireland’s abortion laws, for example.) A Climate Assembly UK was held in 2020 but its recommendations were only advisory, it only addressed reducing emissions by 2050 and didn’t consider biodiversity. The CEE Bill’s proposals mean that assembly members would fully contribute to the strategies chosen to meet the Bill’s objectives, and Parliament would been required to debate on any recommendations made by the assembly. This would give ordinary people a real sense of ownership over the difficult changes that urgently need to be made.

Here’s also great piece by Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition movement, on why he believes the CEE Bill could lead to a revolution of the imagination.

 

2 Comments

  1. Simon Oldridge

    Hi there. I’m involved with the CEE Bill campaign in my area near Totnes in Devon. Firstly, great couple of pages on the CEE bill – this and the Maria Caulfied letter rebuttal. I think there may be a slight error in the explanation of how the proposed citizens assembly would work. In saying that previously assemblies weren’t always successful because their recommendations weren’t binding, the implication is that the CEE Bill is proposing that recommendations would be binding. Same thing applies on the Caulfield letter page.

    I may of course have this wrong, but if you look at 5(1)(a) in the draft bill, the Sec of State would be obliged to include any recommendation with >80% votes in their proposed strategy document, but parliament is still at liberty to vote for or against the strategy, and to make amendments. For any recommendation with <=80% support, the Sec of State can choose whether or not to adopt it, BUT (s)he rejects it, it still has to go before parliament in the strategy document with reasons for rejection. The strength of this is that it forces the government to present all the recommendations to parliament rather than sweep them under the carpet. It also pulls the rug out from under any argument from the government that the citizen’s assembly undermines our democratic institions etc, or "what if it produces a perverse result". We can reassure people that Parliament always gets the final say, but knowing it would be very difficult to vote down recommendations supported by over 80% of the citizens assembly.

    Here is some response guidance from a document written by Peter Scott of CEE Alliance
    CONCERN
    It is a worrying precedent to establish binding powers on secretaries of state by external bodies to whom executive power has been ceded. It raises a slippery slope argument via the question if certain powers to indirectly introduce legislation can be outsourced on environment policy; what other policy areas can they ceded on? These decisions should rest with the democratically elected Government as held to account by Parliament.

    RESPONSE
    1) The critical phrases here are ‘external bodies to whom executive power has been ceded’ and ‘held to account by Parliament.’ How has executive power been ceded, when MPs are able to vote on any recommendation from the Citizens’ Assembly? And how has there been a failure of holding to account by Parliament? The objection does not stand up to scrutiny.
    2) Often ministers simply ignore findings of advisory bodies, so these are never put to a vote by MPs – even when ministers promised in advance to act on the recommendations. For example, the government has failed so far to implement fully the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee, the Leveson report, the preliminary report of the Grenfell inquiry, or those of the Race Disparity Audit. Holding such inquiries and then failing to act on them is a huge waste of time and money. It is precisely to hold ministers to account that the CEE bill mandates a vote by MPs.
    3) The CEE Bill's Citizens’ Assembly is a useful addition to the democratic process and one which seeks to work alongside MPs, assisting them and empowering them to work on behalf of the electorate, rather than vested interests.

    all the best
    Simon

    Reply
    • Juliet Oxborrow

      Thanks so much for this detailed reply, Simon. We’ll amend content to talk about government being obliged to put assembly recommendations before government to vote on. Thanks for spotting!

      Reply

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