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Councils back climate and ecological emergency bill

Words: Huw Morris
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More than 100 local authorities are supporting the climate and ecological emergency (CEE) bill, which demands that the UK steps up its contribution to fighting the environmental crisis.

The bill, which is set to be debated in Parliament next month, would see the UK aim beyond its 2050 net-zero target by accounting for its entire domestic and overseas greenhouse gas footprint.

This would include aviation, land-based transport and passenger shipping as well as emissions that take place overseas in the manufacture, transport and disposal of goods consumed in the UK.

Under its proposals, the UK nations would adhere to national, legally binding carbon budgets set each year rather than five years. The bill would also impose a strict target for the recovery of nature by 2030 in line with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, protect ecosystems that act as resilient natural carbon sinks and give greater powers to the citizens’ assembly on climate change.

A total of 104 authorities are now backing the bill and are lobbying ministers and officials to pass it into law.

The move follows widespread concerns among councils about meeting public commitments to reaching net-zero, with a third complaining they did not have sufficient data and information to set out detailed roadmaps, according to a poll by independent, non-partisan non-profit Icebreaker One last year.

“We are already gathering support and acting at a local level on the aims of the CEE bill,” said Andrea Davis, Devon County Council cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport. “To enshrine the aims in law would provide even greater focus on the climate and ecological emergencies and give a greater mandate for national policy and resources to be aligned, to have the necessary impact on these most pressing of issues.”

The proposed legislation was originally a private member’s bill introduced by Green MP Caroline Lucas last September. The bill was reintroduced by a group of MPs in June as a presentation bill – a type of private member’s bill introduced without debate in the House of Commons – and is set to get its second reading in September.

Image credit | Jim Peters-Shutterstock