Protecting our environment

Protecting our environment for future generations is vital if we are to survive as a species. That’s why I have always been passionate about action on climate change.

Much has been achieved in recent years, yet there is much more to do. And we need to go harder and faster to get there. What won’t help is people gluing themselves to the A20 in order to block the route to our port. This caused massive disruption and just made life harder for people to get about.

It was a cheap publicity stunt – by yet another protest group seeking to exploit Dover’s important role for the nation. And it was counter-productive. The slow-moving traffic chuffed up more pollution, while local businesses were harmed and days out for families who work hard the rest of the week were ruined.

Yet the saddest thing of all is that this country has never needed mass protest to get the change we need. And we are already leading the way in the fight for a cleaner planet.

We’ve cut CO2 emissions by 3.7% a year – more than any other major industrialised country. It’s been so successful that they are now at the level they were in 1888. Since I became an MP, CO2 emissions have fallen by a quarter. Renewable electricity generation has quadrupled. Electricity generated from coal has fallen from almost 40% in 2012 to our first coal-free day since the industrial revolution. Fully-clean electricity now gives us over half our total.

We’ve also been cutting down on the plastics and micro beads that harm flora and fauna. Anyone who has seen Blue Planet knows how sea life, from the humble seahorse to the great whale, is greatly impacted by our actions.

This country will also host the next round of global climate change talks next year. This is perhaps most important of all – because I do recognise there is so much more to do on a wider scale if we are to properly protect our planet for our children and grandchildren. I want to see us build a land powered by renewable solar electricity. From solar panels on our roofs, not solar farms in our fields. These should not simply be tasked with powering our homes. They should power zero-carbon electric cars too. With advances in battery technology, it’s no longer some far-off dream.

This is the future that now lies before us, that I hope will be the step change in the next decade to cut CO2 emissions even further. Environmental enterprise should be part of a wider rebirth of exports in this country – as we become a free-trading, global nation again. That way we can have strong economic growth, rising prosperity and preserve and protect our environment too.

Much has been achieved in the battle against climate change. Yet we need to go much faster. We should aim to dump petrol, diesel and coal for good – building a zero-carbon Britain as the beacon for a cleaner planet.

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