Parliament returns next week after the summer recess and the coming months of legislative business will be crucial for our planet. As wildfires ravage the Mediterranean and floods drown the American coastlines, the UK will brace itself for a winter where we will see more extreme weather events and resulting strains on public services. Climate and nature will remain at the top of the political agenda, no less so because COP26 is to be held in Glasgow in November and world leaders will look to secure international agreements to address the unfolding emergency. 

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is scheduled to have it's Second Reading the first week back on Friday 10 September. However, like the previous Second Reading, it is very unlikely that the Bill will get a hearing in the House of Commons. Again, we knew this would happen. This inane process says a lot about our parliamentary system which allows a bill with the support of nearly 150 Parliamentarians to stall at the early stages of the legislative process. We are in conversation with the CEE Bill’s primary sponsor Caroline Lucas MP about a possible new date for another Second Reading and to decide on the next steps. As ever, we will let you know of any updates regarding the Bill’s progress. 

In light of this, the Zero Hour campaign will shift focus towards COP26 in November and COP15 which has been delayed (again) until Spring 2022. As we rapidly approach COP26, the most important climate summit since Paris in 2015, all eyes will be on the UK as the host nation. The UK Government will need to use this moment to foster bold action from all major powers to seriously address climate change and ecological breakdown before it is too late. 

Ahead of the two summits, Zero Hour has taken key elements from the CEE Bill and put them forward as our three COP outcomes—outcomes we can’t live without: 

  1. Tackle the climate and nature emergencies together (COP26 and COP15)
  2. Commit to a global carbon budget to limit warming to 1.5°C (COP26)
  3. Go nature positive by 2030 (COP15)

In September we will be hosting an event for MPs, Peers and key policymakers to explore these desired outcomes alongside some of our expert Zero Hour scientists. We are also planning a memorable lobby event to follow this, so keep an eye out for how you can get involved. 

In Parliament, we will be pulling every lever and working closely with our supportive MPs and Peers to get these key aspects of the Bill debated in Westminster—including in the Environment Bill which reaches Report Stage in the House of Lords next week where we’ll be looking to our supporting Peers to call on Ministers to make the bill fit for purpose.

Looking further ahead, it remains to be seen if the all-important COP26 and COP15 summits will create the above outcomes. We must prepare for the fast-approaching possibility that COP26 will not deliver the goods. If this happens the time after COP26 will be the moment to hammer home that the CEE Bill is the legislation desperately needed—and a blueprint for every other nation to make a serious environmental action plan. The Bill is the only viable legislative plan before MPs that will ensure that the UK keeps within its fair share carbon budget in line with 1.5°C and tackles the climate-nature emergency via a joined-up approach. 

When the time comes, it will be up to us, working together, to campaign for the CEE Bill to be taken up by our leaders as a key outcome of COP26.

Mike Wood, Zero Hour Parliament Team.
[email protected]