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Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill - Panel Discussion on 9th November 2020

November 16, 2020 10:07 PM
By George Miles

The Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill is a Private Members' Bill, and taking it through parliament will be a hard-fought process but it has been done before with major climate legislation. This is an alliance bill that has been written by scientists, lawyers and activists; it is gathering support from a broad range of campaign groups, businesses, charities and individuals. The bill has the potential to become the most significant move forward since the Climate Change Act 2008.

https://www.ceebill.uk/


Their document " Executive summary of the CEE Bill (2 November)"

at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NpnBJ-1HCjNkK1W1kVBAcuO4n66O7TmO52qimFr38Fk/edit#

says:

Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

Executive summary

This document acts as a summary of the key aims and themes of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill ('the Bill').

It has been prepared by the CEE Bill Alliance, which is a team of scientists, academics, lawyers and campaigners working together-and guided by current science-to call for urgent, far-reaching and necessary actions from the UK Government to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.

The full text of the Bill may be found here, online - here - alongside our accompanying briefing note. To contact the CEE Bill Alliance, email info@ceebill.uk and visit ceebill.uk for further information.

Aims
What will the CEE Bill do?

The Bill will set an emergency path for the UK to follow. It will see the creation of a Citizens' Assembly that will put forward recommendations, contributing to the work of both the UK Government and UK Parliament in delivering an essential climate and ecological emergency strategy. This objectives of the Bill are to:

In order to meet the bill's objectives, a (temporary) emergency Citizens' Assembly will help the UK Government and UK Parliament decide the measures to include in the strategy. The Assembly will empower MPs to take the necessary decisions, and also allow people to have a real say in the pathway of a fair and just transition to a zero carbon society, enriched by a thriving, natural world.

Context
What is the climate emergency and why does it matter?

In 2015, the historic Paris Agreement was signed, holding world governments to keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C. As a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 showed, just that extra half a degree of heating could:

'...expose tens of millions more people worldwide to life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding. Half a degree may mean the difference between a world with coral reefs and Arctic summer sea ice and a world without them.'

Alarmingly, we are not even on track to limit temperature increases to 2°C. According to the UN, current policies will lead to around 3°C of warming by the end of the century - but it could easily be 4°C or more. These levels of global heating would open us up to unacceptable risks, including the loss of the Amazon rainforest, simultaneous failures of staple crops and multimeter sea level rise. Many scientists believe 4°C would be 'incompatible with any reasonable characterisation of an organised, equitable and civilised global community'.

There is still time to prevent these catastrophic levels of heating, but only if we are prepared to take unprecedented action now.

What is the ecological emergency and why does it matter?

There has been a massive erosion of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services, such as pollination, food, water resources, flood prevention and decomposition, all essential to civilization and human wellbeing. This 'biological annihilation' underlines the crisis for humanity. Indeed, the consequences of human activity outstripping its planetary boundaries have resulted in what scientists now define as the arrival of the sixth mass extinction. The scientific evidence is irrefutable as scientists have warned of looming ecological collapse if policy-makers fail to take emergency action.

Whilst this is the global perspective, the State of Nature report, 2019 on the UK's biodiversity states:

Why ecological collapse matters is captured in the single reality that our biodiversity is the steward of our life support systems.

Isn't the UK already taking steps to address the crises? Why is 2050 too late?

According to the UN IPCC's 2018 report, 'rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society' are needed if we are to stand a chance at limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

If global emissions of carbon dioxide are halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, it gives us a roughly 50:50 chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C, according to the IPCC. The Climate Change Committee (CCC), which advises the UK Government, has taken this recommendation and applied 2050 as an appropriate net zero target for greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. However, any serious consideration of equity, as enshrined in the Paris agreement, shows that the UK needs to reduce emissions faster, by at least a factor of two.

In May last year, MPs passed a motion declaring a climate emergency. This, along with the Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order, seemingly calls for urgent action, yet this took place over a year ago.

Since then, the CCC's 2020 Government progress report has said that "policy implementation has not yet met the required ambition". Hence, we are not even on track for the current 2050 Net zero target.

A new approach

How the Bill could be groundbreaking

This section demonstrates how the Bill responds to the present governmental status quo in order to drive for a more rigorous and ambitious approach.

Global fairness
Consumption emissions

Natural climate solutions

Negative emissions technologies

Abundance and health of ecosystems

Protecting ecological systems damaged by supply chains
A Citizens' Assembly to determine a just transition

Looking ahead

The Bill sets both a blueprint and a benchmark to drive ambitions ahead of COP26. In the light of the UK co-hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021-and the imperative for a robust and profound green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic-the UK Government must become the standard-bearer for serious climate and ecological action on the international stage. Indeed, it has a responsibility to lead by example by addressing the climate and ecological crisis with groundbreaking policies to avert the deepening of our planetary emergency. .

"The urgency and scale of the response required to tackle the emergency facing life on Earth is in this Bill. Those who are vulnerable are already suffering, the Bill provides a route for these communities to define the actions needed to protect them and all that they cherish. The Bill defines the path needed to avoid the catastrophe outlined by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in 2018. Based on the accepted science of the IPCC, it is farsighted, aiming to protect those at risk now and in the future".

Kumi Naidoo

(former Executive Director, Greenpeace International and Secretary General, Amnesty International;

chair, Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity)