Green peer: Theresa May deserves credit for sticking it to the climate change deniers

In a cunning trick, Theresa May has locked her Tory successor into doing something about climate change.

The outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May is scrambling to build a legacy after three years of Brexit chaos. It is no surprise – her domestic agenda has up to now fallen flat, and five of her keystone pieces of legislation have ground to a halt in the House of Commons.

At the very least, she can claim to have played her part in attempting to avoid climate disaster, by today announcing that she will put into law a new target for the UK to be zero-carbon by 2050.

The Prime Minister’s pledge to “leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it” has, up to now, fallen completely flat.

Although the government has published endless “strategies” and “plans” making lots of bold, broad brush policy commitments, not a single piece of legislation has put any of it into force.

The Government’s Draft Environmental Bill got chopped in half after Tory MPs complained about the protections for animal sentience that it contained.

The Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill, which were both intended to give effect to the major Brexit promises that leaving the EU will allow us to replace the Common Agricultural Policy with an environmentally focused scheme, have quietly disappeared and show no sign of returning. The government has been held hostage by the extremists in their own Tory Party.

This track record of failing to deliver on the legislation needed to turn big environmental promises into any real action explains why the Prime Minister has chosen the Net-Zero target as her legacy.

Unlike the other measures, which require an Act of Parliament to pass through her unruly House of Commons and the sticklers for detail in the House of Lords, the Prime Minister can change the UK’s carbon targets using a statutory instrument.

Statutory instruments are subject to very little parliamentary scrutiny: they aren’t routinely debated and, although Parliament can vote them down, this is a once in a generation event.

We are left in a rather ironic position. A lame duck Prime Minister circumventing her rebellious Tory MPs using secondary legislation to implement one of the most important policy decision in UK history.

Net zero by 2050 is too little, too late; and dumps the real work of implementation on her successor’s head – but it’s a huge step forward which would have been politically unimaginable if she didn’t seize the moment in the way she has.

I’m not sure whether history will remember Theresa May for it, but at least she has set a baseline target from which Greens and future governments can continue to improve on as we work towards a sustainable future for humanity and our one Planet Earth.

In contrast to the ongoing Brexit chaos, the Prime Minister has set our country on a clear path to a better future.

Jenny Jones is a Green Party peer in the House of Lords.

See also: Extinction Rebellion brand Theresa May’s new zero-carbon target a ‘death sentence’

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10 Responses to “Green peer: Theresa May deserves credit for sticking it to the climate change deniers”

  1. nshgp

    Greens should register themselves as green.
    Then we put a ban on their use of flights.
    We prevent them from using cars that use fossil fuels. They can certainly by Teslas.
    Smart meters should be forced on them. Those meters should be connected so that when the wind isn’t blowing, their electricity gets cut off.
    They should be the test subjects for their own policies.

  2. Patrick Newman

    nhsgp – you are an idiot and now we have in writing.

  3. Patrick Newman

    “the Prime Minister has set our country on a clear path to a better future.” – this is a joke, surely! She is a dead duck Prime Minister soon to be replaced by a climate change sceptic (probably). Statutory Instruments can be used by governments equally to prolong timescales or suspend action. There is nothing in the primary legislation that guarantees SI’s can only be used in one ‘direction’.

  4. Tom Sacold

    Just goes to show what a bunch of tossers the Tories really are. Jumping on the trendy middle-class virtue-signalling bandwagon to destroy British working-class jobs.

  5. Patrick Newman

    Tom you are not a very well concealed climate change denier.
    It is one thing to set a target for 30 years ahead for zero emission but what credibility is there for this when the government has gone backwards on measures to combat climate change.
    The potential for the microgeneration of rooftop solar panels is enormous but the government ended the Feed-in Tariff last March killing the solar panel market. The government are sympathetic to fracking and are prepared to overrule councils refusing planning permission. They have virtually frustrated the onshore wind turbine potential, they have not used the fuel escalator since 2010 and the initiative to insulate older houses is dead. At the same time, they are facilitating the development of the third runway at Heathrow, etc, etc. How much faith can the public have in May’s 2050 target if the government has been seriously dragging its feet on simple measures that will reduce emissions?

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