I am aware that as this Bill is a Private Members' Bill, and as such is likely to lapse at the end of this parliamentary session ahead of the King's Speech in November. However, I would like to assure you that tackling climate change is a top priority for the Government and Ministers are committed to leaving the environment in a better state than they found it.
While I have noted the comments about the Ecology Bill, and appreciate the strength of feeling about the Bill and the issues it covers, I am assured that the UK already has a world-leading emissions reduction framework in place. The Climate Change Act 2008 made the UK the first country to introduce a legally binding, long-term emissions reduction target.
In October 2021, the Government published the Net Zero Strategy, building on the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. To oversee progress on achieving net zero, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) provides expert advice to the Government on climate change mitigation and adaptation. I understand that the UK’s 2050 net-zero target was considered, in line with advice from the CCC, to be the earliest feasible date for achieving net-zero carbon emissions.
Further, through the Environment Act 2021, the Government has set four legally binding targets for biodiversity in England, including halting the decline in species abundance by 2030, as well as reversing species decline, reducing the risk of species extinction, and restoring or creating more than 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitats by 2042. The Government set out its plan to deliver on these ambitious targets through the Environmental Improvement Plan, which includes short-term interim targets in addition to those long-term targets. This overall suite of targets will ensure that the policies, actions and commitments in the plan are collectively driving progress towards the goal of leaving the environment in a better place than we found it.
Finally, the UK played a leading role at the UN biodiversity summit, COP15, in December 2022. The agreement made includes a global commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and also protect 30 per cent of land and oceans by 2030. This builds on the actions agreed during the UK’s own COP and G7 presidencies, including securing the Leaders Pledge for Nature last year which commits world leaders to taking action to drive sustainable food production, end the illegal wildlife trade and tackle climate change.
I am assured that the Government has regularly funded public dialogues, which provide in-depth insight into people’s views to inform a wide range of policy areas. In recent years, the Government has run public dialogues on a range of climate and environment issues, such as net zero, heating, transport decarbonisation, hydrogen, food, advanced nuclear technologies, energy and the environment. The Government will continue to engage with the public on the changes needed to deliver net zero by the 2050 target and to listen to feedback.