EXCLUSIVE: Caroline Lucas sets out five Bills that need to be in the King’s Speech

The Green Party MP has said the PM can use the King's Speech to reverse the damage he's caused on UK climate and nature policy

Caroline Lucas

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has written to the prime minister Rishi Sunak setting out five pieces of legislation the government ought to introduce to address the climate and nature emergencies, Left Foot Forward can exclusively report. The letter, seen by Left Foot Forward, was sent in advance of the state opening of parliament on November 7, when the government is expected to set out its legislative agenda through a King’s Speech.

In her letter, Lucas wrote: “This year has already been one of climate extremes – September smashed through previous records and was a staggering 1.75 degrees hotter than pre-industrial levels, causing profound alarm to both scientists and citizens. We have seen climate impacts, from deadly flooding in Libya, to the Cerberus heatwave in Europe and the devastating wildfires in Maui and, as it stands, 2023 is on track to be the hottest year on record.”

She went on to argue that the government must “take this opportunity to reclaim the UK’s climate leadership and set out a bold legislative agenda that responds to the urgency of the climate and nature emergency”.

The five Bills Lucas has called for are:

  • Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill – also known as Ella’s Law, this would precisely and explicitly enshrine a new human right to clean air in UK law, and would require clean air to be achieved in England within five years. 
  • Renters Reform Bill – with amendments urgently brought forward to include measures to introduce rent controls and require all privately rented homes to reach at least EPC C by 2028. 
  • Just Fossil Fuel Phaseout Bill – to legislate for a rapid end to fossil fuel extraction in the UK, alongside a properly funded Just Transition in which workers and communities are consulted and benefit from the transition to a zero-carbon economy. 
  • Green New Deal Bill – to pave the way for a massive programme of public-led investment in green projects like renewable energy, green home upgrades and nature-friendly farming. 
  • English Right to Roam Bill – to deliver a comprehensive right of responsible access in England with sensible exclusions, coupled with a renewed and strengthened Countryside Code. 

Sunak became prime minister one year ago today, and Lucas has offered a damning appraisal of his record on the environment. Highlighting the government’s approval of new oil fields and the scrapping of plans to require all privately rented homes to meet higher energy efficiency standards, Lucas has accused the PM of ‘setting a torch’ to climate policy in the UK. However, she has also said that it is not too late for the government to change course and that it can use the King’s Speech to do this.

Lucas told Left Foot Forward: “In just 12 short months in the job, Rishi Sunak has set a torch to the UK’s climate agenda – approving new morally obscene fossil fuel projects, ditching vital regulations to improve energy efficiency, and dragging the climate into a dangerous culture war. The King’s Speech is a critical opportunity for the Prime Minister to start reversing this damage and tackling the climate and nature emergencies head-on – our country and our planet can’t wait.” 

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: UK Parliament – Creative Commons

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