13 APR 2019

Speech at Council of Europe on Sustainability

Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom) –

I thank the rapporteurs for an absolutely fascinating report. One of the most important things it does is to stress the need to involve all stakeholders in the process. This is not just a question of the involvement of central governments or organisations such as the Council of Europe; it is necessary to bring in a whole range of others. As a result of reading the reports, I am inspired to try to create a debate in my own parliament so that we can help to provide some scrutiny of the issues. However, in order to do that, we need to ensure that we act in the round; a debate in itself is probably not a very helpful thing. There may be a view on the problems that exist, and a debate may even help to provide some scrutiny, but we need to look at this issue in the round to ensure that we use all the parliamentary activities we possibly can.

I was interested to see that the report mentions the work of the International Development Committee in my own parliament, which had called for all of this activity to be brought together across government. However, as I have said, this is a process that needs to bring in all the different activities across parliament. Indeed, the report mentions that.

I will draw attention to goal 13, which is about controlling climate change. In my own constituency, I am working on an initiative called Young Climate Warriors, which brings schools and the Church together, and empowers children to help resist climate change by reducing our total carbon footprint. What the initiative does is to work on trying to create collective action across schools, so that children undertake similar activities on a set day and therefore have a feeling of belonging.

We should not forget how far we have come. I am aware that in my own country wind farms generated more electricity than coal plants on 75% of days in 2017, and that renewables – particularly solar power – outperformed coal for more than half the time. That is a very strong position for renewables. When that is combined with other factors, the result is that since 1990 – I know that is a long time ago – we have cut emissions by 40%. That shows that the £52 billion that we have spent on renewable energy since 2010 has been money well spent.

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