Having written at the beginning of June about the initial stages of the Conservative leadership election, when thirteen candidates were still in the running, we start July with the final two candidates – Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson – ready to face the ballot of Conservative Party members. By the beginning of August a new leader, and Prime Minister, will be in position. Amongst the challenges they find waiting for them is the next stage of the UK’s battle against climate change.
With the intensity of the “knock-out” rounds of the leadership election still ringing in our ears, it was something of a relief for many MPs to get out of the Palace of Westminster into Parliament Square to meet campaigners who came up to London last week for a lobby about climate change under the banner “The Time is Now”. I was pleased to find several people waiting to meet me – some of whom have corresponded before about their concerns, and others who were in London to chat with me for the first time.
As I discussed with them, there are three broad areas in which work needs to be done. The first is how government can change the behaviour of the country.
As I have noted on these pages before, the Government is introducing a necessarily ambitious legally binding target to end the UK's contribution to global warming entirely by 2050 - a net zero target for carbon emissions. Second, there is a need to encourage people to change their own behaviour. To reduce their use of plastics, to be less wasteful of energy and food, and to be demanding, eco friendly consumers. And third, there’s the need to invest in the technology which will help us reverse pollution and climate change and enable us to do more with less.
There is no lack of enthusiasm in our Brentwood and Ongar constituency to make a difference. I have written before about the enthusiasm of Larchwood Primary School’s Year 6s to do more to re-use and recycle. Brentwood is signed up to the ReFill project where local businesses offer free tap water refills when your reusable drinking bottle is empty. You can find out more here: https://refill.org.uk/ We all need to do our bit to reduce the resources we use – if you’ve got any good ideas, let me know.