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Reporting on the Environment Bill

Last year, you may remember our efforts to add two new clauses into the Environment Bill (NC28 and NC29) as part of our cross-party push to improve and strengthen the Bill. You can read our previous blog post about this, here.

We were grateful to the 39 MPs who backed NC28 and NC29, which directly linked the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.

NC28 aimed to outline a clear objective for the Environment Bill to achieve and maintain a healthy, resilient and biodiverse natural environment that supports human health and to emphasise the sustainable use of resources.

This was to be achieved in line with key commitments such as the Climate Change Act 2008 and the UN Leader’s Pledge on Nature.

NC29 would have required the Secretary of State within six months of the Bill becoming law to report on the adequacy of current environmental law and policy in meeting the climate and ecological challenges the UK faces.

Supporting our amendments, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Daniel Zeichner MP said:

“We’ve taken a number of these ideas from the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which we believe is right to place emphasis on the importance of expanding and enhancing natural ecosystems and agroecosystems, as well as on the need to restore biodiverse habits and their soils.”

Unfortunately, these amendments were rejected by the Government at Committee stage.

As the Environment Bill enters Report Stage (the stage before Third Reading and the Bill’s passage into the House of Lords) on 26 January, we continue to work with MPs from all parties to make sure the Bill combines climate and nature strategies under key environmental objectives.

That’s why we’re supporting NC9 – which is a CEE Bill Alliance proposal – at Report stage in the Commons. It has been tabled by Ruth Jones MP and is supported by Labour’s Frontbench team.

NC9 is our second attempt to include clear objectives within the Environment Bill to create a healthy, diverse natural world fit for human life.

It restates that anyone exercising responsibilities in relation to the Environment Bill must comply with broader commitments, including any that come about from the vital UN biodiversity and climate change conferences, COP15 and COP26, this year.

The full text of the amendment can be found here.

Through this amendment we hope to make sure that, at the very least, the Environment Bill commits our leaders and public servants to creating a healthy environment that focuses on our wellbeing and planetary sustainability; and does so in line with key climate and nature obligations that the UK as a nation has signed-up to.

There will be more opportunities to improve the Environment Bill as it enters the House of Lords, where we are also leading an initiative to have the CEE Bill debated in order to draw greater attention towards the climate and nature emergencies.

We continue to remind all MPs that the CEE Bill offers the best – and perhaps final – opportunity for the UK to take a world-leading role in creating appropriate climate legislation; just as it did with the Climate Change Act 2008.

2021 is a crucial year for our planet. Let your MP know that we must redouble our efforts to prevent the irreversible damage to our communities posed by global heating rising above 1.5 ºC and the destruction of the natural world.

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