CEN comments on the Queen's Speech

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, CEN’s Director Sam Hall said,

"I am delighted to see the Queen's Speech confirm the return of the Agriculture and Fisheries Bills and the introduction of the Environment Bill in the new parliamentary session. I particularly welcome the commitments to legally binding targets and the independence of the new Office for Environmental Protection.

The UK is facing a series of major environmental challenges from declining farmland wildlife and depleted fish stocks, to harmful levels of air pollution and unsustainable use of resources. We will scrutinise the bills in detail when they are published, but they have huge potential to provide a comprehensive response to these threats to our precious natural environment."

Conservative MPs welcome Gove's vision for a greener future

MPs from the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) Caucus have today welcomed the Environment Secretary Michael Gove's speech at Kew Gardens outlining his vision for future action on ocean conservation, action to tackle air quality, and leadership on climate change both at home and abroad.

Sam Richards, Director of CEN said: "Today’s speech by the Environment Secretary sets out the scale of the challenge we face and the ambition needed to meet that challenge. From new legal limits on our toxic air to global leadership on climate change the breadth and depth of today’s speech builds on the excellent work he has done so far at Defra - and of course on the ideas set out in the CEN Manifesto. I hope that the next Government will take this as a blueprint for future environmental policy in order to ensure that we restore our countryside and protect our planet for future generations."

The speech touched on the political, economic and moral need to act to tackle climate change, as the Environment Secretary acknowledged that 'time is running out to make the difference we need'. The speech comes barely a month after the UK adopted a net zero emissions target by 2050.

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, who led the campaign from Parliament for net zero said: "Climate change is the biggest threat we face, and we have a duty to future generations to address it. Net zero was the first part of that important commitment, to end our contribution to climate change altogether by 2050. The Environment Secretary is absolutely right that we must unite globally to solve this issue, we cannot do it alone. And we cannot miss the vital opportunity of the UN Climate Summit COP26 next year. As one of the host countries the UK has an important role to lead global action."

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, who recently introduced a Bill to improve home insulation and energy efficiency welcomed the acknowledgement of the importance of greater action at home in the UK, as well as international leadership on climate change. She commented: "the net zero target was an amazing commitment, but we know that we need to do more to get there. The Committee on Climate Change only recently highlighted several policy gaps and outstanding questions, which the recently published CEN Manifesto aimed to answer. We have pledged to introduce a world leading Environment Bill - and it's great to hear more detail from the Environment Secretary on that today, reaffirming his commitment to it. This should send a strong signal to both leadership candidates that the future Prime Minister must make tackling climate change, and other environmental challenges, a priority.”

The Environment Secretary outlined how the Environment Bill, the first in 20 years, would 'set a trajectory for environmental improvement for decades to come'. This includes greater measures to tackle air pollution, following on from the Government's Clean Air Strategy, by pledging to include World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for air quality in the upcoming Environment Bill.

Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham, who recently hosted a reception with the Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP who declared that air pollution constituted a 'health emergency', stated: "I warmly welcome the Environment Secretary's remarks today, aiming to tackle the vitally important issue of air quality. We cannot let our constituents - indeed our children - continue to breathe dirty air. We must take strong action to tackle it, and the Environment Secretary has highlighted the importance of that action being locally led, to better respond to local circumstances. The Health Secretary has called this a health emergency, and the Environment Secretary has rightly responded strongly by adopting WHO targets."

The Environment Secretary also highlighted the significance of conservation goals alongside climate action, including the importance of protecting the world's oceans.

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, a lead campaigner for the expansion of the Blue Belt programme commented: "As the Environment Secretary has highlighted before, the oceans are not only vital for the marine life they support, they are also the lungs of our blue planet, and a massive carbon sink. This is why the UK has pledged to protect 30% of our oceans by 2030, and called for this ambition to be adopted globally as well. I'm delighted that we're going to be pushing for this target even further at the vital UN Ocean Summit next year. 2020 is a key year for global action on conservation and the Environment Secretary has been clear that we will continue to embrace our responsibility as a world leader."

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CEN launches a new conservative environmentalism manifesto - and an environmental declaration backed by 41 Conservative MPs

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Today (2 July 2019), the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) will launch the CEN Manifesto in Committee Room 14 in Parliament at 5pm. The launch event will feature contributions from both Conservative leadership candidates, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, as they set out their vision for a greener UK. Secretary of State Rt Hon Michael Gove MP will talk about his view of conservative environmentalism, followed by a panel of Conservative MPs who will discuss the new document.

The Manifesto recognises the scale of the environmental challenge, but argues that tackling climate change and broader environmental breakdown can provide a new unifying mission for the nation. It sets out a path to a new era of green infrastructure that will deliver economic regeneration alongside natural restoration right across the country. It also champions the successful environmental achievements of previous Conservative governments in the UK and in other parts of the world. 

Commenting on the Manifesto, CEN Director Sam Richards said, “the manifesto aims to present a set of ideas that, if adopted, offer the next Conservative Prime Minister an exciting opportunity to set the UK on a new path that could unite a divided country and secure the prosperity of future generations. We have a record to be proud of, as one of the leading countries in the world in tackling climate change. But we know there is more to do, and the manifesto aims to present a space to discuss these potential future pathways in greater detail.”

Accompanying the Manifesto is ‘The Declaration’ - a set of five principles supported by the 41 MPs in the CEN MP Caucus, which the manifesto seeks to explore in greater detail. The 41 MPs, from all sides of the Conservative Party, have called on leadership candidates to show even greater ambition for the environment by considering the manifesto policies. The Declaration also sets out the Caucus’s belief in market economics and its ability to secure a prosperous future for the UK - in contrast to Corbyn’s plans for renationalisation. 

CEN’s Chair Ben Goldsmith, writes in his foreword for the Manifesto: ‘Stewardship of the natural world, responsibility towards future generations, the search for resilience, these are core tenets of conservatism...it is more important than ever that conservatives rediscover and champion their inherent affinity for looking after the natural world. This manifesto lays out a series of over-arching ideas for doing just that.’

The Manifesto will also celebrate past Conservative victories for nature, from the Ivory Act to a new 2050 net zero emissions target and the UK’s longest ever coal-free period. 

Major policy considerations for the next Conservative government include:

  • Subsidy-free onshore wind and increased ambition on offshore wind - the cheapest source of power allowed to compete in CfD auctions, putting us on track to 75GW by 2050.

  • Planning reform - a Royal Commission to deliver the sustainable homes we need.

  • Investment in regional transport networks - to unleash productivity outside London.

  • Road pricing - a data-smart replacement for fuel duty when we shift to electric vehicles.

  • A world leading Environment Act - legally-binding targets and a new, locally-led nature recovery network to restore the British countryside.

  • Sustainable land and fisheries management - replace CAP  with a system that brings public and private money into a single market-based scheme for natural capital restoration, and CFP with new, properly enforced maximum sustainable yields.

  • Fracking ban - prevent stranded assets in an unpopular, uneconomic and out-of-date industry.

  • Commonwealth Alliance for Nature - using friendships to achieve unique partnerships.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The CEN MPs support the Declaration but do not necessarily endorse each of the policies included in the Manifesto, which is intended as a platform for debate.

CEN is an independent forum, MP caucus and membership organisation for conservatives who support conservation and decarbonisation. Find out more: https://www.cen.uk.com/our-work2

Manifesto background:

  • Backing up The Declaration, the manifesto says that the breakdown of the natural world is not irreversible. Tackling its causes and effects will be challenging, but will offer a divided UK a path to national renewal.

  • To reach net zero by 2050, businesses and individuals will have to find new ways of living and working, but that is what humans are best at - and where the best ideas come from. 

  • We cannot save nature by ourselves, but world-changing leadership on historic issues gives the UK unique influence on the global stage and it is our duty to use it.

  • This unifying national project will bring economic regeneration and natural restoration to all parts of the UK, making us the Saudi Arabia of wind power and home to the world’s biggest and best nature recovery network - including 1.5 billion new trees by 2050. 

Conservative MPs welcome Prime Minister's decision to legislate a net zero emissions target

Today Conservative MPs from the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) Caucus celebrated new legislation to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. MPs welcomed the Prime Minister’s new environmental legacy and future-focused policy by reflecting on opportunities for world leadership and environmental stewardship.

CEN MPs have consistently pushed for a net zero commitment from the Government, and CEN hosted a conference in November to outline the policy opportunities of a net zero target. UK targets will now be brought in line with the Paris Agreement by adopting the advice published by the Committee on Climate Change in May 2019.

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, wrote to the Prime Minister alongside over 190 MPs calling for a net zero target. He welcomed the news, stating:

“Ambitious plans are needed to tackle climate change - our planet demands it. Today’s announcement has proven a commitment to exactly that. By enshrining this target into law, the Prime Minister has shown that the UK can and will meet the challenges of climate change and play our part to limit global warming to 1.5 °C.”

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton added:

“As the first country to introduce long-term legally-binding carbon reduction targets (in 2008), the leading nation in the G20 for cutting emissions, and with a low-carbon sector that already supports almost 400,000 jobs nationwide, the UK can be proud of our action to tackle climate change so far. However, we know that there is more to be done, and today’s important legislation is the right step forward, presenting an important opportunity to invest, innovate and grow our clean-tech industries.”

Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham, who introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill legislating for net zero by 2050 in April, praised the new target:

“I’m delighted that the UK has taken action on climate change by enshrining a net zero emissions target into law. This is the decisive action that both our nation and our planet needs. Without it, and the policies now needed to meet this goal, we risk losing virtually all of the world’s coral reefs and put 20-30% of species at risk of extinction. I am grateful to the Government for being conscious of our role to prevent the worst effects of climate change and embrace the UK’s role in climate leadership.”

James Heappey, MP for Wells, added:

“Alongside innovation and investment opportunities, clean growth offers the jobs and skills of the future. A decarbonised economy could generate more than 65 million new low-carbon jobs worldwide by 2030, while increased investment in energy efficient, low-carbon homes will lower consumer bills as well as emissions. Today’s net zero target is a step towards the next stage in British business and development: the zero-carbon future.”

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park commented:

“The UK can now set the gold standard on climate leadership and responsibility. As we work towards a zero-carbon future, we can also take the opportunity to promote clean growth with our global partners. The fight against climate change can only be tackled by global cooperation. As the first major economy to set a net zero emissions target in law, this new target offers the UK the prospect to lead worldwide concerted action.”

Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford said:

“Climate change is the biggest challenge our world faces. Recent polling shows that 70% of the public support reducing greenhouse gases to zero. Today’s powerful commitment shows that the Government is listening to calls from the public and business, and responding to the needs of the planet. Margaret Thatcher was the person who first put climate change on the world agenda and Theresa May is going to be the Prime Minister who has taken it to its next decisive step.”

Antoinette Sandbach, MP for Eddisbury said:

“The Government has submitted a bid to host the vital UN Climate Summit COP26, to lead the world in negotiating the next stage of the Paris Agreement. This is the first step in demonstrating that leadership - setting a net zero goal and encouraging all countries to follow our lead, just as they did following the Climate Change Act in 2008.”

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury commented:

“This legislation could not have come at a more pressing time. By 2030, 43 million people could be pushed below the poverty line because of climate change. Furthermore, by 2050, climate change could cause 86 million people to migrate, and crop production to drop by 10%. World-wide action must be taken, and today the UK has responded.”

David Warburton, MP for Somerton and Frome said:

“Of course the UK already has an environmental record to be proud of. However we know that we must go further, and with this new law we can confront the challenges of climate change, and leave the natural world in a better state than we found it. I thank the Prime Minister for bringing in this historic piece of legislation today.”

Robert Courts, MP for Witney commented:

“Only last week over 120 British business leaders including BT, Unilever and the CBI employers’ lobby, urged the Prime Minister to ‘immediately’ legislate for a net zero emissions target by 2050. They got their wish. Just as big business supports net zero and believes in its growth potential, as the party of business and innovation, we must stand by this ambition.”

Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester added:

“Net zero emissions will not only protect the natural environment, it will also significantly benefit human health. Currently, air pollution is estimated to cause 64,000 premature deaths per year in the UK, and is particularly dangerous for children. This net zero target means a commitment to cleaning up our air, safeguarding our children’s health and saving money for our NHS.”

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth said:

“This is the news we’ve been waiting for - the UK has adopted a world-leading net zero emissions target. I congratulate the Prime Minister on this momentous piece of legislation which will not only protect crucial biodiversity, but will also set the UK on track to be a world leader in low-carbon jobs and technology. It will be a strong part of her lasting legacy.”

ENDS

'Lets go net zero' call Conservative MPs in response to committee advice

MPs from the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) Caucus have today welcomed the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, and called for a net zero by 2050 target to be enshrined into law as soon as possible. The Conservative MPs also showed their support for strong policies to help achieve this target, grow the UK's low carbon economy and support new green jobs.

Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane, welcomed the advice, saying, "the Government's independent Committee on Climate Change has delivered a clear message - we must reach net zero by 2050, and ensure that we have the right, strong and ambitious policies to help us get there.”

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has led a cross-party letter to the Prime Minister signed by over 190 MPs calling for a net zero target. He commented, "I'm delighted that this report further supports the case for net zero. It also shows that we need a clear suite of policies to help us to reach this goal, from bringing back onshore wind to supporting new technologies like carbon capture in my constituency."

Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham, introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill mandating for net zero by 2050 on Tuesday. He said, "climate change is the biggest issue of our time, and one we need to take seriously. We were the first country to set legally binding emission reduction targets in the Climate Change Act, and we can be the first in the G20 to introduce net zero into our law as well."

Recent polling, carried out by Opinium for CEN, showed that 70 percent of the public believe it is important that the UK Government reduces greenhouse gas emissions to zero. Robert Courts, MP for Witney said, “it’s clear that the public want to see us take greater action and net zero can benefit industries across the country. This can bring us all together for a national project of economic transformation, centred on the internationally significant goal of tackling climate change.”

Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid Worcestershire and the Conservative Party's Vice Chair for Youth added, "students have been striking across the country, calling on us to do more. They want us to protect their world, and this is how we should respond. The scale of this issue deserves a similarly massive commitment from the government, and ending our contribution to climate change is the right way forward."

Oliver Letwin, MP for West Dorset said, "We've submitted a bid to host the vital UN Climate Conference in 2020, setting out the next stage of the Paris Agreement. We should go into this conference with a net zero target set out in legislation to encourage others to make this important step too."

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton said, “Net zero isn’t just about reacting to the seriousness of climate change, it’s also about embracing the amazing opportunities for clean growth for British jobs and industry. From offshore wind to hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, many areas of the country will be revitalised by this economic revolution as we go for net zero.” 

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth commented, "Great British innovation has helped us to create a world leading offshore wind sector which has halved in cost in the last two years, and in Cornwall we're developing the next phase, with floating offshore wind. We are also learning more about deep geothermal power too. Net zero is an exciting opportunity for our great minds to find new answers for many environmental questions."

Luke Graham, MP for Ochil and South Perthshire also welcomed the news for Scotland, adding, "Net zero is not only about keeping the promises that we made to the world in Paris, it's also the next step in our economic development, promoting sustainable growth with better social outcomes. Today the CCC was clear that every nation of our United Kingdom needs to work together to make this ambitious pledge a reality, with the UK government taking the lead."

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston said, "the science is clear that if we reach two degrees warming we will devastate our wildlife, losing nearly all of our coral reefs and other vital habitats. If we are to save our natural world we must reach net zero by 2050, and enshrining that into law is the first step.”

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury said, “we can achieve net zero if we invest in the right technologies, as well as increasing our tree cover to soak up more carbon from the atmosphere. An ambitious programme of tree planting in the right places can only benefit us, giving us more green spaces and cleaner air too.”

Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford said, "“The science is clear, we must reach net zero or we will hit two degrees warming. Two degrees means more flooding and extreme weather events, more air pollution, and greater conflict for many regions of the world. We owe it to future generations to act, and so we must go for net zero.”

18 MPs from the CEN Caucus have filmed a short video summarising their views. The MPs included in the video: Rebecca Pow, Alex Chalk, Oliver Letwin, Nigel Huddleston, Matthew Offord, David Warburton, Antoinette Sandbach, Robert Courts, Sarah Newton, Philip Dunne, Mike Penning, Simon Clarke, Richard Benyon, Kevin Hollinrake, Tim Loughton, Vicky Ford, Richard Graham, Luke Graham.

MP launches Bill mandating the UK reduce carbon emissions to net zero

Alex Chalk, Member of Parliament for Cheltenham, will be tabling a 10 Minute Rule Bill on the 30 April mandating that the UK reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Alex has today launched his Net Zero Bill with a video for social media (below) explaining his campaign and why it's important that we reach net zero. 

Alex Chalk MP commented, "Our children have been striking, calling for change, and a net zero target would acknowledge how seriously we take their concerns, by committing the UK to doing our bit to halt climate change. 

“We were the first country in the world to set legally binding emission reduction targets in the Climate Change Act, and we should now update these targets to support the latest scientific evidence - that we need to reach net zero by 2050 if we are going to stop the planet from reaching devastating tipping points. 

“We need to acknowledge the risks of not acting, as well as the exceptional opportunities from growing clean British industries. We have led the G7 in reducing our emissions the fastest while growing our economy the most." 

In 2008, the UK passed the Climate Change Act committing the UK to reducing our emissions by 80 percent by 2050 (on 1990 levels). Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report which outlined why it is so important to limit warming to 1.5C.  The UK Government has since instructed their independent statutory adviser the Committee on Climate Change to look at this in more detail, and is expected to report back on 2 May on how the UK can reach net zero emissions.

Alex wants his Bill to commit the UK to reducing its greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 which means any lingering emissions are balanced out by, for example, planting trees which suck carbon out of the atmosphere as they grow.

The 10 Minute Rule Bill has the support of key Conservative Backbenchers, including Simon Clarke MP who led 190 MPs to write to the Prime Minister calling for a net zero target. The MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland said "Over 190 of my colleagues in Westminster from all parties agree that we need to reach net zero before 2050, and this Bill will set this target in law. So I’m delighted to support Alex’s Bill.”

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, commented, “Climate change is the most important issue of our time, and this Bill from Alex acknowledges that we need to end our contribution to climate change as soon as possible, and has my complete support.”

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, also gave his support, stating, “We all rely on our environment for food, water and air - it’s not separate from us. Climate change threatens all of that, and if we hit two degrees then we will likely see irreversible changes impact our planet. Alex’s Bill is a vital step to end our contribution to climate change.”

Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford, said, “The science is clear, we must reach net zero or we will hit two degrees warming. Two degrees means more flooding and extreme weather events, more air pollution, and greater conflict for many regions of the world. We owe it to future generations to act, and so we must go net zero.”

Globally, bold action on climate change could deliver £20 trillion (US$26 trillion) in economic benefits through to 2030 (New Climate Economy). Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, commented, “Net zero isn’t just about reacting to the seriousness of climate change, it’s also about embracing the amazing opportunities for clean growth for British jobs and industry. From offshore wind to hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, many areas of the country will be revitalised by this economic revolution as we go for net zero. I look forward to supporting Alex’s Bill in Westminster.”

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, also supports the Bill, adding, “We have a record to be proud of when it comes to climate change, having decarbonised faster than any other leading economy. But our children have been striking and calling on us to do more, and net zero is how we should respond. So it’s great to see Alex’s Bill being introduced to Parliament.”

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

You can find Alex Chalk's social media video here: https://www.facebook.com/alexchalkchelt/videos/625048814635156/

Alex Chalk will present his Bill in Parliament on 30 April. The text will read:

Climate Change (Net Zero UK Carbon Account) Bill

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require that the net UK carbon account by the year 2050 is zero.

Alex will be available for interviews on Monday 29 April and the morning of the 30 April prior to the reading of his Bill. 

72 percent of UK adults have said they are concerned about climate change (Opinium) and 70 percent think we should aim to cut our carbon emissions to zero in the next few decades (CEN/Opinium). A coalition of 16 major corporates including Heathrow Airport, Tesco and Unilever also backed a move to go net zero alongside professional medical bodies such as the Royal Colleges of Nursing and General Practitioners. 

For more information and to schedule an interview, please contact:

Ben Carlton, Office of Alex Chalk MP

020 7219 8087 

ben.carlton@parliament.uk

Conservative MPs “inspirational” school climate strikers

- New poll shows only 15% of public oppose strikes –

A survey released today shows that UK public support for the young people’s school strikes over climate change outweighs opposition by more than three to one. This Friday (15 March), strikes by young people are expected to take place globally in over 90 countries - including the UK.

The poll, carried out by Opinium for the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), shows that 53 percent of British adults support children taking time out of school to voice their concern about the impacts that climate change will have on their futures, with only 15 percent opposed to their actions. Young people are even more supportive with 60 percent of 18-34 year olds backing the strikers.

The polling also shows that 70 percent of the public believe it's important that the UK Government reduces greenhouse gas emissions to zero. The UK Government has committed to setting a net zero target; recently asking the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for their advice on how to reach net zero. The CCC will report back on May 2nd, and the UK is set to become the world's first major economy to commit in law to ending its contribution to climate change.

At 5pm this Thursday (14th March), a large group of Conservative MPs, including Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, and Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, alongside members of the Conservative Environment Network MP Caucus, will release a video praising the "inspirational" strikers, highlighting the UK's world-leading record on emissions reduction, and pledging to do more to tackle climate change. The video will be hosted on the CEN website.

Commenting on the findings, Rt Hon Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury said: “The extraordinary passion of the school strikers is inspirational. These are young people whose lives will be much more affected by climate change than the generations leaving them this legacy.

“It is a threat like no other; indeed, security planners at the Pentagon describe climate change as a risk escalator, that increases pressures on migration and instability in vulnerable states. Of course young people don’t want to inherit a more unstable, environmentally degraded world.

“But the strikes also highlight the need for us to better inform people about what action has been and is being taken. In Britain we have a good record but there remains more to do if we want to retain our position as a world leader.”

Since 1990, the UK has cut its emissions by 42 per cent, while its economy has grown by two thirds - meaning faster emissions reduction and better economic growth than any other G7 nation. The Paris Agreement requires nations to set stronger emissions reduction targets, and reach net zero.

Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford said: “We have to commit to a net zero emissions target if we are to stop climate change for the sake of ours and younger generations, and to achieve this we need to harness the powers of science and technology and unlock the opportunities from new clean technologies for our country.

“We lead the world in sectors like renewable energy, which now supplies about a third of our electricity supply, but we must continue to support this sector. That includes opening a pathway to market for onshore wind again, developing nascent technologies such as batteries and smart grids, and boosting the energy efficiency of homes.

“The recently published offshore wind sector deal shows the ambition of what we can do, but to achieve a net zero emissions target by 2050, or earlier if possible, we must do more to harness new technology.”

A recent joint letter, from Simon Clarke, together with 182 MPs, asked the Prime Minister to back a UK net zero emissions target ahead of 2050.

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland said: “I've led the charge in Parliament for the UK to go net zero emissions on climate change before 2050 and am immensely proud that 182 of my colleagues from across the House have joined me in backing a step that will fundamentally improve the lives of young people in the future.

“This polling shows that a net zero target is not just necessary but hugely popular, and not just within Parliament - over 70% of British people support us in our argument that the UK should aim to cut its carbon emissions to zero in the next few decades.

“We have also seen support from key sectors like farming, with the National Farmers Union pledging to reach net zero emissions. Setting this goal in law will set us on the path to delivering a cleaner, greener country, putting us at the forefront of the race to develop clean technologies and jobs around the UK.”

A report by the IPCC last October highlighted the necessity of reaching net zero emissions - and the difference in risks between 1.5 and 2 degrees of global warming.

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park said: “Globally, the signs showing the extent and frequency of the impacts of climate change on the natural world are alarming. Heat records are being made, ecosystems are undergoing extraordinarily rapid changes, lands are becoming harder to farm, and the spectre of a global refugee crisis is looming.

“Last year’s IPCC report also tells us that the difference between limiting warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C is dramatic, with lower numbers of people exposed to water stress, fewer at risk of climate-related destitution, and at least some of our coral reefs preserved.

“In this light, it seems absurd and mean-minded to admonish children for missing school to ring the alarm bells. This challenge is gigantic and, despite the progress we have made, we still have a long way to go.”

Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane said: “Climate change is an issue that affects all of us, but some groups more than others. Women, young people and the poorest people in societies globally are the most vulnerable to climate risks, so it’s understandable young women in particular care about this.

“A stable environment is also fundamental for wider social equality. Well-designed homes can reduce emissions along with people’s bills, and create a healthy environment to live in. Restoring natural habitats is good for the climate and can help to improve people’s wellbeing.

“As Conservatives, caring about passing on a better world for future generations is fundamental to our beliefs, and tackling climate change is an essential part of that.”

Polling has previously demonstrated that the number one issue younger voters wanted politicians to discuss more was climate change - and the Conservatives have made tackling climate change a key plank of their offer to younger voters.

Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid Worcestershire and Conservative Vice-Chairman for Youth said: "The school strikes show how much young people care about the environment and challenges like climate change.  They care about the future of the planet. And so do we.

“Conservatives have a proven track record in tackling climate change and expanding renewable energy.  We must be clear about what actions we have already taken, but also listen to the concerns and views of young people about what more we can do.

“Students should not be reluctant to contact their MPs and let their views be known - and the government has also launched projects alongside the British Youth Council to give young people a greater voice in the development of national policy and I hope climate change will form a major part of that."

Notes to editors:

Cross-party MP joint letter on setting a net zero emissions target: https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/joint-letter

Friday’s for Future: https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/events/list

Conservative MPs welcome suite of green measures in Spring Statement

-Long list of environmental announcements included new funding for marine protection and phasing out of fossil fuel heating for new homes–

 

MPs from the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) Caucus have warmly welcomed a suite of green measures announced in today's Spring Statement. The commitments delivered on long-held CEN objectives, including the introduction of "biodiversity net gain" - a measure to protect habitats while delivering new housing developments - and the establishment of a Marine Protected Area around Ascension Island. MPs from the CEN Caucus recently met with Secretary of State Michael Gove to press the case for the protection of this precious habitat of marine life. 

Commenting on the Ascension Island announcement, Richard Benyon MP said,

"In the week that we celebrate Commonwealth Day it's right that we acknowledge the wealth of marine life in our Overseas Territories. Ascension Island is a prime example of this, and so I'm delighted that we will be supporting the Island council with funding to protect their waters. CEN MPs spoke to the Environment Secretary about this vital habitat, and the amazing marine creatures that call it home, so it's great to see this funding announced today."

Zac Goldsmith MP added,

“Not everyone has heard of Ascension Island, but it is a biodiversity hotspot which deserves protection. I am delighted that the Government listened to our campaign and will now protect Ascension’s waters in full. As custodians of one of the largest marine estates in the world, we have a duty to defend our oceans from the huge threats of overfishing and climate change – this is an important step to make that happen.”

On the plans to shift away from fossil fuel heating systems within the next six years, Antoinette Sandbach MP said,

"High energy efficiency standards are vital not only to ensure that everyone has a warm place to live, but also to reduce our carbon footprint. We need to make sure that every home, new or old, is fit for the future, and today's announcement on green gas has shown the Government takes this task seriously. I've been working to raise awareness of this issue in Parliament and to my constituents, and we now need to make sure these measures are accessible and affordable to all homeowners."

The Government also announced a review of global biodiversity. Zac Goldsmith MP commented,

"This Government has pledged to leave the environment in a better state than we found it - and to do that we need to fully understand the scale of the loss of species that is currently underway. It means acknowledging that every day here in the UK we are losing more birds, hedgehogs, pollinators and other wildlife - while globally, charismatic species from lions to tigers to rhinos could soon be extinct in the wild. We'll be taking serious steps to combat this deeply worrying trend in Britain with the Environment Bill, and this review will underpin our global efforts to restore nature, so I strongly welcome the Chancellor's announcement today of the review to be chaired by Sir Partha Dasgupta."

Rebecca Pow MP added,

"Alongside the other brilliant policies announced today, the review of global biodiversity could achieve what the Stern Review did for climate change - driving nature up the political agenda and galvanising politicians to action. Today's raft of announcements is yet another example of how the Conservative Party are the true conservationists."

Sam Richards, CEN Director added,

"Today's package of announcements is a real step in the right direction towards fulfilling the promise of the Clean Growth Strategy and 25 Year Environment Plan. Environmental protection and economic growth go hand in hand - today the Chancellor fully endorsed CEN's message that a combination of market mechanisms and, where necessary, the right nudges from Government is the best way to protect our environment."

Conservative MPs welcome major boost for offshore wind industry

MPs from the Conservative Environment Network Caucus have welcomed a new partnership between Government and industry that is set to treble the number of "green collar" jobs by the end of the next decade. 

Commenting ahead of the launch of the sector deal, Sir Roger Gale MP said, "Thanet (home of Vattenfall in the U.K.) already benefits from jobs and energy generated by our about-to-expand wind farm.This benefit will grow as storage technology and capacity increases. The more offshore wind the better".

The offshore wind "sector deal" will also boost the number of women and young people working in this growing UK industry.

Rebecca Pow MP said, "It’s great to see the offshore wind sector setting ambitious targets to recruit more women into this dynamic green industry, especially in the lead up to International Women’s Day. I hope this will encourage more women to consider a career in STEM and go for these exciting apprenticeship opportunities."

Renewables generated over 30% of UK power last year, and the shift away from coal to other sources of electricity generation has been a key factor behind the UK's record on emissions reduction.

Robert Courts MP commented, "Offshore wind will play a crucial part in the world's future energy mix. As other countries follow our lead in shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy they will need this new technology - so this sector deal helps us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and secure the jobs of the future."

Since 1990, the UK has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent while its economy has grown by two thirds. Pupils from around the world UK recently went "on strike" as part of a global campaign for action on climate change.

Richard Graham MP said that the sector deal offered "great opportunities for climate change marchers to find jobs in Europe’s fastest growing green economy, under a Conservative government."

Despite the new offshore wind sector deal, the route to market for the cheapest new source of electricity generation - onshore wind - remains closed.

Simon Clarke MP said, "The recent cost reductions in offshore wind show that not only will power generated by wind help us to tackle climate change, but that it can cut household bills and make industrial energy costs more competitive. We can become the Saudi Arabia of wind power - to make the most of this huge potential the Government should now also provide a route to market for onshore wind developments where there is local support."

NOTE TO EDITORS

 - Details of the offshore wind sector deal can be found here

 - For more information contact Sam Richards on 07745499915.

CEN brings good news about subsidy-free onshore wind to Parliament

CEN teamed up with Vattenfall UK and 10:10 Climate Action group to bring constituents and supply chain businesses to Parliament to talk to MPs about the cheapest source of electricity generation: onshore wind.

Sam Richards, Director of the Conservative Environment Network said, “we know that we need more renewables to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable energy, and we should make sure we utilise it where communities want it.”

Ellie Roberts from climate change charity 10:10 Climate Action said, “we had over one hundred constituents in Parliament calling on their MPs to bring back onshore wind - and tens of thousands of people from across the UK have written to the government stating their support. Over three quarters of the British public back onshore - we’re here to make sure MPs realise it.”

Danielle Lane, UK Country Manager at Vattenfall, the Swedish energy company said, “Low-cost, popular, reliable, jobs-boosting onshore wind, free from fossil fuels, deserves the support of the UK Government. It offers a great deal for the British consumer and the economy and investors like us are determined to deliver on the sector’s great potential.”

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Green conservatives launch new Westminster caucus

CEN has launched its new MPs' Caucus and Membership to give conservative environmentalists a platform to drive their agenda in Westminster. The two groups formalise CEN's structure and offer opportunities to get involved with the Network. Made up of a wide range of Conservative backbenchers including former Cabinet Ministers, current Select Committee chairs, and rising stars from the 2015 and 2017 intakes, the CEN caucus will work together to support bold action from the Government on decarbonisation and conservation.

Sam Richards, Director of CEN said,

"Many MPs have been working for years to promote centre-right environmentalism, but with a dynamic new set of Ministers, and the environmental opportunities from leaving the European Union, interest has grown rapidly in the past year. We're now formalising our network of parliamentary supporters with our Caucus of MPs to drive the agenda forward in Westminster, and our Membership for advisers, researchers and anyone else supportive of conservative environmentalism.

This is the next step in CEN's growth as we promote conservative answers to environmental questions. The Government has made great progress on protecting our environment - from the 25 Year Environmental Plan to the Government's recent net zero commitment - but while there is a lot to celebrate, there's still much more to do to ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we found it."

Ben Goldsmith, the Chair of CEN's Board said,

"As we leave the European Union we have a golden opportunity to protect and enhance our natural inheritance. This new Parliamentary caucus will bring together CEN's wide network of MPs to deliver on our ambitious environmental plans."

CEN MPs have signed up to support action on seven core principles on the natural environment, rural areas, climate change, clean growth, housing, conservation and air pollution.

CEN MP Rebecca Pow said,

“I’m looking forward to working with my CEN colleagues to make progress on a range of issues, from plastics to conservation, land use issues, clean technologies to reduce greenhouse emissions and much more besides. CEN is a space for ideas to grow and campaigners to come together, and there’s never been a better time for action."

Ben Stafford, Head of Campaigns at WWF said,

“We welcome this commitment by Conservative MPs to make progress on environmental issues. Tackling climate change and reversing nature’s decline are two of the challenges of our generation and we need political champions to ensure they stay high on the agenda. WWF works across the political parties, and hopes this initiative can be part of a race to the top among our politicians to make the UK a global environmental leader.”

Leading the Membership side of the Network will be the CEN Ambassadors, leaders in their sectors who will focus on specific policy areas.

CEN Ambassador Barnaby Wharton, the Head of Policy at RenewableUK, heads up the Renewable Energy brief. Barnaby said,

"This is an exciting next step for CEN, bringing together conservative environmentalists looking to make a difference. There are lots of Conservatives working in this space and it’s vital that the party, at all levels, is talking about leadership on climate and how we best protect our environment. CEN is the perfect platform for that."

NOTE TO EDITORS

The MPs Caucus includes: Peter Aldous, Heidi Allen, Richard Benyon, Alex Chalk, Simon Clarke, Robert Courts, Vicky Ford, Zac Goldsmith, Richard Graham, James Gray, James Heappey, Kevin Hollinrake, Oliver Letwin, Tim Loughton, Scott Mann, Matthew Offord, Rebecca Pow, Amber Rudd, Henry Smith, Sir Nicholas Soames, David Warburton and Sarah Wollaston.

Anyone interested in becoming a member can sign up via CEN's website. Membership costs £20 a year and includes access to CEN's fortnightly newsletter, regular events with MPs, Ambassadors and other members.

CEN supports Green Great Britain Week

Comment on the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference

CEN Director Sam Richards has commented on today's Illegal Wildlife Conference in London, saying:

"This summit comes at a crucial time. We are responsible for pushing some of the planet's most magnificent and majestic creatures to the brink of extinction. Our children could grow up in a world without elephants, without rhinos, without lions, without tigers - we need to act now to prevent the annihilation of species that is currently underway."

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CEN Director comments on the IPCC report

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Conservative Environment Network (CEN) Director Sam Richards has commented on today's special report from the IPCC on Global Warming of 1.5°C, saying:

"Today’s IPCC report shows how important it is that we take action to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The science is clear - beyond 1.5°C the world risks reaching tipping points that would make it extremely difficult to regain control of our climate - and the fires and heatwaves we saw this summer would become increasingly common. Thankfully, with electric vehicles and cheap sources of renewable power like onshore wind, we have the technology to avoid this fate. The Government should set a net zero emissions target to deliver a 1.5 world, and put in place the policies necessary to hit this goal."

CEN welcomes today's government commitment to Net Zero

The Conservative Environment Network (CEN) has welcomed the Government's announcement that it will join the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

The Government published a press release this morning stating that the UK will be 'joining the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, an initiative led by New Zealand and the Marshall Islands that will promote long-term planning and ambitious action in support of the Paris Agreement’s collective goals of net-zero global emissions by the second half of this century.'

CEN has been campaigning for a commitment to Net Zero, led by CEN MP Simon Clarke, and has welcomed the news today. Sam Richards, Director of CEN said, "It's fantastic news that the UK will join the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and work alongside allies in the fight against climate change like New Zealand to go net zero by 2050.

We know that in order to stop climate change we need to reach net zero by 2050. Leading the way offers the UK the chance to secure good green jobs - such as manufacturing electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines - while restoring our countryside to act as a sink of any remaining carbon emissions.

A net zero target is hugely popular - a recent poll showed 64% of voters want to reduce our emissions to zero in the next few decades. This bold commitment from the Prime Minister is welcome news for our country and our planet."

Simon Clarke MP delivered a letter to Number 10 on the 11th September signed by 132 MPs calling on the Government to commit to Net Zero by 2050. On submitting the letter, Simon wrote, 'We need to make sure we pass on our planet in good condition to our children and grandchildren. That’s why I was proud to go to 10 Downing Street to submit a letter I have organised this summer, signed by over 130 MPs from all parties and over 50 peers, offering our support to the Government to deliver “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050. This would mean the end of carbon pollution in the U.K. - and would be a huge step towards saving the planet. The falling costs of renewable energy mean we can achieve this goal without imposing higher costs for consumers.'

NOTE TO EDITORS

The Government press release can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-expertise-to-help-developing-countries-tackle-climate-change-and-move-to-cleaner-energy

For more on the MP letter: https://www.simon-clarke.org.uk/news/protecting-future-our-planet

Sam Barker RIP

CEN's Director, Sam Barker, died on August 6 after an 18 month battle against cancer.

Sam was CEN's director from May 2016 until this summer. He was a superb colleague and a great friend. His humour, intelligence and kindness were an inspiration to us all, as was his gentle determination to make the world a better place.

Sam was a highly effective campaigner for social justice and environmental stewardship and was very popular around Westminster and beyond. We will all miss him greatly.

The Conservative Environment Network will commemorate Sam’s contribution to politics and the environment through a Memorial Lecture and prize for Green Conservative of the Year.

We hope to host the first lecture and prize in 2019 and intend it to serve as a reminder of Sam's contribution and the continuity of his legacy.

We send our deepest sympathy and condolences to Sam's parents, his wife Xanthe and their two children, Alethea and Nathanael.

CEN Board

Ben Caldecott

Adrian Gahan

Ben Goldsmith

Isabella Gornall

Benet Northcote

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CEN Chairman Ben Goldsmith celebrates a successful year and welcomes new director

The Conservative Environment Network welcomes its new Director, Sam Richards. Sam, a long time campaigner for conservative environmentalism, joins from roles in Parliament, Nissan, and most recently as Head of Strategy at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

He takes over from Sam Barker who has been working part-time, and is now leaving the organisation as he continues treatment for cancer. Mark Holmes, who has been acting as Interim Director for the last 12 months, is also leaving at the end of the month to pursue other opportunities.

Ben Goldsmith, CEN’s Chairman, said:

“I want to pay the warmest possible tribute to Sam Barker and Mark Holmes. Sam brought full-time professional leadership to the organisation. Sam’s insights and experience have set the bar high for our organisation’s work. His decade of experience in public policy and civil society has added immeasurably to our work and to the conservative environmentalist cause. We all wish him well as he continues to undergo treatment.”

“Mark has had a tremendous impact in the 12 months he was leading CEN’s work. Through his engagement with a wide network of Ministers, advisors, MPs and UK civil society we have helped to secure significant wins for the environment. He has facilitated high profile print, TV and radio coverage of our work, praise from the Prime Minister at PMQ’s and a string of highly successful events. Mark’s excellent political judgement has been invaluable in turbulent times and we wish him well for the future.”

“I’m delighted that Sam Richards is joining CEN as our permanent Director. We’re lucky to have him and I look forward to supporting his leadership of CEN going forward.”

Sam Barker said:

“CEN has always set the standard for Conservative Environmentalism. It has been a privilege to be part of that.

I’m proud of the legacy our work is creating in Government. Michael Gove’s dynamism at Defra is legendary. Greg Clark and Claire Perry are fighting for a future-focussed industrial strategy, for decarbonisation and ending dirty coal use, Boris is working to expand Marine Reserves. The Prime Minister is committed to fighting plastic pollution, and to protecting the Paris agreement. All this depends on a groundswell of support from conservative activists, councillors, MP’s and peers, with whom it has been a privilege to work. CEN publications and events have provided the impetus for much of this change. It is great to be handing over to a talented operator like Sam Richards.

Finally I would like to pay tribute to the board and the many others who have supported me and my family in a crazily unexpected situation. Life throws odd curveballs, but the support of friends, and the opportunity to keep campaigning has brought lots of joy!”

Mark Holmes said:

“It has been a pleasure to work across UK politics and civil society to promote conservative environmentalism through the Conservative Environment Network. CEN has helped shape the debate both in and out of government and bolster the argument for higher environmental standards and innovative approaches to policy making. I would particularly like to thank the CEN team and our champions in parliament for their support. I wish Sam Richards every success leading CEN. ”

Sam Richards said:

“I’m thrilled to be joining CEN at such an exciting time for the organisation and the conservative environmentalist movement. As the UK leaves the European Union and looks to strengthen its climate targets, there are huge opportunities to change how we approach environmental issues in the UK and beyond. I’m looking forward to continuing CEN’s unique position at the heart of the UK environmental movement.”