Theresa May and the Liberal Democrates would like this election to be about Brexit, but whatever your view on that, this is a crucial time to tell politicians you care about the environment.
Politicians are in listening mode. They are keen to get your vote and should be present in their constituencies at hustings and surgeries in the coming months. This is an opportunity to raise issues about the environment in person, by email, or letter. You can see who your MP is and how to get in touch with them here.
4 Top Questions to ask your MP and Parliamentary Candidates:
We know that London broke its annual air pollution limits by 6th January 2017 and has been ordered by the High Court to produce a draft Air Quality plan by Monday 24th April. It will be interesting to see if that materialises. In the meantime, anyone with a cardiovascular illness is likely to die 2 years before they would have done otherwise. Client Earth who sued the government about their failure to act on this issue say:
“We need guarantees from all party leaders that whoever is in power after the election will introduce a national network of clean air zones and act to keep the most polluting diesel vehicles out of our towns and cities.”
2. How do you plan to reduce our reliance on Fossil Fuels for Heat?
Another EU target was to meet 15% of our energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. We are on track to meet the electricity portion of this target, but the Energy and Climate Change Committee has warned the government that it will not currently meet the target for heat or transport.
There were rumours in the press recently that the government is going to drop this target once we leave the EU. This is not good enough. Heating our homes accounts for 14% of all UK CO2 emissions. These CO2 emissions cause climate change and we need to know what the next government is going to do about this.
3. How will you improve Energy Efficiency for New Buildings?
The carbon emissions of new buildings have increased by 29% since 2006. From the time the Coalition Government took office, legislative requirements on developers continually weakend until George Osbourne axed the zero carbon homes policy altogether in 2016.
I have worked with a few developers and my experience is they value reducing build cost above almost everything. The price of land in the UK is so high, that anything which increases build cost and does not directly and obviously add sale value to the property will be resisted strongly. The only way to deal with this is to legislate and provide a level playing field for all developers.
4. Will the UK continue the EU ban on Neonicotinoid Pesticides following Brexit?
The battle over banning neonicotinoid pesticides still rages and our bees will be in an even more precarious position following Brexit. Read here for why we should keep the ban, but in short Dr Penelope Whitehorn of Stirling University, who produced one of the key studies that prompted the current restrictions, says:
“The scientific evidence now clearly shows that neonicotinoids are causing massive harm to bees and other species that we all depend upon. These chemicals should go the way of DDT and be permanently discontinued.”
Contrast this with the Conservative government who applied to lift the ban temporarily in 2015 and 2016, although in 2016 their own scientific advisors refused the lifting. To make matters worse, recent evidence has come to light that Owen Paterson’s Defra encouraged massaging of data to make the pesticides appear less harmful to bees in order to influence the ban’s imposition in 2013.
However you vote and whether you live in a constituency where progressive candidates are an option or not, you can still send your MP back to the House of Commons on the 9th June with a firm message that Brexit should not be at the expense of the environment.