October 2019 Newsletter from John Howell MP for Henley

Whilst one issue dominates the media, I know that another very important issue concerns many constituents – that of climate change. I have already said that I share this concern and am pleased that this is now given prominence in our national and international debate.

Many reports and papers are being published on climate change issues and I know that people can simply feel swamped with the information. This can lead to inertia. It seems to me that what is important now is not continued debate on whether or not we have the correct figures but polices and action to move us in the direction of net zero. The research will carry on, but we can make a start. If we find that the policies need strengthening, then we can do so.

The independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) advised that 2050 would be an ‘appropriate UK contribution to the Paris Agreement’ that is ‘in line with other climate leaders’ and is an ‘achievable’ target for the UK. The CCC also suggests that this is achievable with known and developing technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives. I acknowledge that it is for Government to drive this forward and I agree entirely with the progress report that decisive cross-cutting action is needed. There is much work to do nationally, internationally and at a local level. 

In order to ensure that we have cross-cutting action I would like to see a new responsibility in government to coordinate the policies of different departments relevant to net zero. This is not something that can be confined to one department. I also believe that investment in research to help bring forward new technologies is a key government responsibility and we are already seeing some of this.  

I am also pleased that we have groups in our communities coming together to work out what each can do in their own lives and what we can do in our communities. I have met with a couple of such groups and enjoyed good discussion. We are all on a journey with this. It is not always possible to make instant changes but we can start to plan for change in the way we do things.

There are, of course, economic considerations. We need to be mindful of the impact of transition on consumers and business and working life. The CCC has said that the target of 2050 is achievable within the economic cost that Parliament accepted when legislating for the 2050 target. There are also economic opportunities. There are currently some 400,000 jobs in the low carbon economy. There is opportunity for many more.

A key aspect of our transition will be taking people with us and also making sure that being ‘green’ is affordable for everyone. In South Oxfordshire we have a good track record on waste recycling, but this is not replicated right across the country. When this was introduced here, some years ago now, there were people who complained about the new system. The council did their best to make it easy for people to recycle and by and large the public has risen to the challenge. We need to do the same now with other initiatives.

If you have initiatives towards this agenda in your community, please do let me know. I am interested in sharing in your learning and hearing what are the most important aspects to you.

Whether on this or something else, if you have an issue that you would like to raise with me please do email me at howelljm@parliament.uk, phone on 0207 219 6676 or 01491 613072 or write to me at the House of Commons (House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA) or my constituency office (PO Box 84, Watlington, OX49 5XD).

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