The 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 vote 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.