Last month saw young people and schoolchildren around the world strike for action on climate change and are set to do so again next week.
When we’ve just had the hottest ever winter day it could hardly be more prescient. Global warming is already changing our weather patterns and will change the lives of our children and their children.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported last October that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” but would still have far-reaching consequences.
Young people care, and rightly so. Besides strictures from my own 12 year old, I receive letters from school children across High Peak who want to see action.
Last week was the first time that Climate Change has been debated in Parliament’s main chamber since I was elected in June 2017, so I made sure I was there to speak.
I was able to quote 10-year old Monica from New Mills, who wrote to me and whom I met at St Mary’s Primary School. Monica told me she was worried that her “children would never know the beautiful natural world that is quickly ebbing away.”
People across High Peak have always felt strongly about our environment and I was pleased to be able to pay tribute to Sustainable Hayfield, Transition Buxton, Transition Hope Valley and Transition New Mills who are working locally on developing sustainable transport and energy solutions, on tackling plastic, refillable water bottle schemes, on locally grown food, the first community-owned hydroelectric scheme in the UK in New Mills and much more.
But government policy seems to be working against all of our actions to tackle climate change.
We’ve seen cuts to our bus services and trains, with few opportunities for off-road cycling other than mountain biking.
Most people in High Peak are obliged to drive, so towns and villages like Glossop and Tintwistle are seeing air pollution exceeding safe levels. But we have no public electric vehicle charging points in High Peak. The government’s target of electrification of vehicles by 2040 is just too late.
On Tuesday I supported the Derbyshire against Fracking protest in Parliament Square. I’m grateful to the peaceful protesters seeking to prevent fracking in our county.
But our government are giving tax breaks to fracking companies and forcing councils to ‘plan positively for fracking’, whilst at the same time ending subsidies on renewable energy.
Parliament needs to be able to hold the government to account for these decisions so I have called for a full day of debate, led by the Prime Minister, to start giving climate change the focus it needs and make sure our country supports #climateaction.