MPs have historic duty to declare national climate emergency, says Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is calling on MPs to accept their “historic duty” and declare a national climate emergency, in the wake of mass protests.

MPs are set to debate a Labour motion for Parliament to declare an environment and climate emergency and pledge to act “with commensurate urgency” to tackle rising temperatures and wildlife loss.

The move comes in the wake of widespread environmental protests which saw more than 1,000 people arrested, and before the Government’s official climate advisers publish advice on a target to cut UK emissions to zero.

The motion calls on the Government to set a new target to reach net zero emissions before 2050, boost renewables, low carbon technology and green jobs, and bring in urgent measures to restore nature and cut waste.

The Labour leader will tell the Commons there is “no time to waste” as he calls for a reprogramming of the economy to support environmental and social justice.

Jeremy Corbyn was among political leaders who met Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg
Jeremy Corbyn was among political leaders who met Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg

“We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now.”

He will point to the young people who have walked out of lessons and lectures in “school strikes” and activists from Extinction Rebellion who took to the streets calling for a climate and environment emergency.

“Today, we have the opportunity to say ‘We hear you’,” he will tell MPs.

“By declaring a climate emergency, we could set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the world.

“It’s a chance that won’t be available to succeeding generations. It is our historic duty to take it.”

He will also warn of the damage being done to plants, animals and the soil.

But, striking a positive note, he will also argue the emergency can provide opportunities, calling for a “green industrial revolution” which would see huge investment in new technologies and green industries.

“An emergency of this magnitude requires large-scale government intervention to kick-start industries, to direct investment and to boost research and development in the green technologies of the future.

“The solution to the crisis is reprogramming our whole economy so that it works in the interests of both people and the planet.

“This is not a time for despair. It is a time for action,” he will say.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already declared a climate emergency in the capital, Nicola Sturgeon declared one at the SNP party conference in Scotland and the Welsh government has followed suit in Wales.