MPs make history by passing Commons motion to declare ‘environment and climate change emergency’

Jeremy Corbyn calls for motion to ‘set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 01 May 2019 20:14 BST
MPs make history by passing Commons motion to declare ‘environment and climate change emergency’

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MPs have passed a motion making the UK parliament the first in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency”.

The symbolic move – recognising the urgency needed to combat the climate crisis – follows a wave of protests launched by the Extinction Rebellion strikers in recent weeks.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for the motion to “set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe”.

He added: “We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to US president Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.”

According to Labour, the respected House of Commons library could not find any examples of a national or parliamentary declaration of a “climate emergency”

The result came in after Theresa May decided not to whip her MPs against Labour’s motion, and instead encouraged them to be out campaigning ahead of the local elections tomorrow.

Introducing the motion on Wednesday, Mr Corbyn called on MPs to recognise the “devastating impact” that volatile and extreme weather will have on all walks of life, as he urged them to “declare an environment and climate emergency”.

“We have no time to waste,” he added. “We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now.

“This is no longer about a distant future. We are talking about nothing less than the irreversible destruction of the environment within our lifetimes.”

During the debate on the motion environment secretary Michael Gove, who met with climate activists at Westminster on Tuesday, also said the government recognises “the situation we face is an emergency”, but stopped short of meeting Labour’s demands to officially declare one.

“It is a crisis,” he added. “It is a threat that all of us have to unite to meet.”

Mr Gove continued: “Five of the warmest years that this planet has endured have happened since 2010. The consequences for all of us are visible.

“While statistics can sometimes be abstract and the impact can seem distant, we can all know that as individual citizens and as parents that the next generation will face the consequences if we do no take action now to deal with climate change.”

The cabinet minister also insisted the legislation will be introduced by the government “shortly” to ensure the UK has the “highest standards of environmental protection” as he claimed it would mark a “step change in how this country tackles the twin challenges of climate change and broader ecological degradation”.

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