Here are the climate-related sections of speeches by MPs during the Commons debate Environment Bill (Ninth sitting).
14:45 Alan Whitehead (Labour)
Let us look at actions in various other areas of Government. The imperatives on net zero and climate change that we just passed through the House effectively apply to decision making in all Departments. Departments are not supposed to make decisions about their activities and spending without reference to those imperatives. Yet what we have on this piece of paper—I am sure it was assiduously drafted by someone seeking to defend this particular exemption—appears to drive a coach and horses through that consideration, let alone other considerations. Apparently, in taking its decisions on larger matters, the Treasury does not have to be bound by considerations on environmental protection.
The Treasury would have had that leeway, because of the phrase “have due regard”. There are clearly circumstances in which emergencies or other issues mean that Ministers may at particular stages have to draw away from their environmental or climate change imperatives and responsibilities. However, the important thing about having due regard is that if they do so, they have to explain why and under what circumstances they are taking the decision. Clause 18 will do exactly the opposite: Ministers will not have to explain anything—they can just not do anything that they do not feel like doing. I hope that Conservative Members will join us in saying that that is not good enough and is not what the Bill should be doing.
16:15 Anthony Browne (Conservative)
The schedule gives us no confidence that the Government even have a plan for where we are going with this. I hope the Minister can give us some reassurances, because many of my constituents—and, I suspect, many constituents of other Members—are really worried about these issues. At a time of climate crisis and biodiversity emergency, how can we possibly be setting an example to the rest of the world as we approach COP26 when we are in this shambolic position, with the suggestion that this so-called independent agency should effectively be run by the Secretary of State?