Welcome to the rebuttals database, challenging incorrect claims made by MPs when responding on the CEE Bill, linking you to reliable independent scientific advice.
Incorrect claims made about the CEE Bill
Click on a claim to see why it is not right.
The bill was in fact developed by a coalition of eminent scientists, academics and lawyers as well as campaigners, and is attracting wide support from concerned citizens and organisations from across the political spectrum. List of expert contributors. So the claim above is incorrect.
The often repeated claim is:
"I understand that this Bill has been developed by campaign members of Extinction Rebellion, Big Ask and Power for the People."
But the Big Ask Campaign actually has not existed since 2008, and Power to the People don't even campaign on the CEE Bill.
Quick answer: Independent scientists (the IPCC) told the world in 2018 we would burn through our remaining carbon allowance by 2030 unless we made 'ambitious near term' emission cuts. But the world ignored the science. By 2050, catastrophic climate change will now be well under way and probably beyond control. This claim is incorrect.
The Committee on Climate Change (the government’s own independent advisors) stated in their May 2019 report that a 2050 target:
'if replicated across the world, and coupled with ambitious near-term reductions in emissions, would deliver a greater than 50% chance of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C.'
Firstly, it's difficult to argue that an 'as likely as not" chance on a matter so serious is anything but reckless. But more serious is that the 'ambitious near-term reductions' called for have not happened. A vital element of the UK's 2050 target was the need to cut emissions immediately and dramatically to buy ourselves time. Having failed to act, we have used up more of our remaining carbon allowance than intended. We now must cut emissions much faster to avoid temperatures rising beyond 1.5ºC.
We know that many poorer nations cannot afford to transition as quickly as developed nations like the UK. And those countries will inevitably see some growth in emissions as they reduce poverty (hence increasing consumption). This, coupled with the UK's additional responsibility for its historic greenhouse gas emissions (all still in the atmosphere), means the UK must set an even more ambitious trajectory towards net zero. UK's cumulative emissions are amongst the highest in the world. This places a particular moral obligation on us to act fast to clean up our act and lead the way. Global co-operation will not work unless we bear our fair share of the cuts. Check out this animation from The Carbon Brief showing how emissions grew since 1750.
Yes, making rapid cuts now would be an enormous endeavour, but it is no more impossible than our rapid manufacturing transition at the outset of WWII or our response to covid-19. Complacency now will result in economic disaster and suffering on a massive scale over decades to come. We are already seeing the effects of our inaction. Read more from NASA and WWF.
We must act now, without delay, according to the scientific advice.
Quick Answer: Would we accept this thinking from a child about dropping litter? UK is hosting the international COP26 climate talks later this year. How can we expect China to listen to us about its coal power station program if our house is far from being in order? And what's more, we really aren't small, and we have a major responsibility for historical emissions. We still have the opportunity to set an example and help lead the way out of this crisis - but the window for acting is fast closing.
The UK is the 17th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world (of 195 countries), so we aren't insignificant at all. We are a major developed country and hence a high emitter. When you look at emissions per person, we're even nearer the top at 8th in the world as the graph below shows. And if you account for cumulative emissions from the start of the industrial revolution, we are 5th: don't forget, most the greenhouse gasses emitted since then are still in the atmosphere, or, just as bad dissolved into the oceans, raising acidity.
In Nov 2021, the UK is hosting international climate conference COP26. The world's spotlight will be on UK in its role as conference president, and opportunity for UK to really make an impact on the world stage post-Brexit.
Quick answer: Scientists warns us that the UK is falling far short of what's required to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. The two problems are intricately linked and both in urgent need of a clear policy direction, which is why the CEE Bill is needed and the claim above is wrong.
MORE INFO - CLIMATE
A study by The University of Manchester found that the UK's planned rate of emissions cuts is less than half of that required, with the scientists suggesting a minimum for the UK of 10% each year, starting in 2020.
The government’s own independent climate science advisory body, the Climate Change Committee lists numerous areas in which the government is falling short of its own inadequate ambitions. Refer to pages 18-20 of their report - Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament
It is clear from list of areas where emissions are either increasing or not being cut that the latest UK plan is far from credible. See Roger Harrabin's article for the BBC. He says: ‘But while Mr Johnson creates jobs and cuts carbon dioxide with one hand, he's either increasing emissions - or leaving them uncut - in at least 10 other areas. These are road-building, SUVs, high-speed rail, aviation, overseas finance, oil and gas, coal mining, farming, meat-eating and peat.’
Rishi Sunak has promised a £4bn green investment package, but HS2 is going ahead at a cost of £100bn+, with environmental destruction, huge embedded CO2 and increased emissions over existing transport links. We cannot address the enormous challenge of climate change, including transitioning people into new green jobs, with funding at only a tiny fraction of that allocated to a new railway.
The recent increase in targeted emissions cuts to 68% by 2030 has not been accompanied by any policy to match, and so far is no more than a newspaper headline.
MORE INFO - BIODIVERSITY
We have witnessed an extraordinary decline in biodiversity and in the ecosystem services essential to life over recent decades. From pollination & natural flood prevention, to crop nutrition provided by soils, we depend on a healthy biosphere. Humankind is part of the circle of life, not outside of it. Yet for decades, human activity has outstripped safe planetary boundaries, resulting in what scientists now define as the arrival of the sixth mass extinction event. Experts now warn of looming ecological collapse if policymakers fail to take emergency action - see World Wildlife Fund article.
The RSPB's 2019 State of Nature report on the UK’s biodiversity states:
- 41% of all UK’s species have declined since the 1970s (hedgehogs have declined by 95%)
- 26% of the UK's mammals are at a very real risk of becoming extinct
- A third of the wild bees and hoverfly species have sustained losses, likely due to pesticides, habitat loss and climate change
- 97% of the UK’s wildflower meadows have been lost in the last century. Read more from Kew Gardens on why wildflower meadows are so important to biodiversity.
There is nowhere near enough Government focus on this issue, which is inextricably bound up with tackling climate change. This is why we need the CEE Bill which looks at the whole picture.
The good news is that nature can heal quickly if we just give it the chance. Read about the groundbreaking wilding project at the Knepp estate in Sussex.
Quick answer: Failing to limit temperature rise to 1.5% risks unleashing tipping points which will accelerate global warming and threaten civilisation. Yes, it will be expensive to tackle climate change, but the cost of inaction will be much higher.
Economic studies show that, though expensive, it is significantly cheaper to act to limit climate change than face the costs of ignoring it. For example, see Nature editorial 2018.
Christina Figueres writes in the Financial Times:
"The next 10 years will determine whether we stand any chance of preventing the worst impacts of climate change, orders of magnitude worse than the Covid-19 disruption. If by 2030 we have not cut greenhouse gas emissions by half globally, we will not be able to avoid devastating tipping points that would shatter the global economy and pose existential human threats. The costs of inaction are staggering — $600tn by the end of the century."
Quick Answer: We currently ignore emissions caused by manufacturing our products overseas, as well as international shipping and aviation. Together, these account for nearly half our entire carbon footprint! (see WWF report) The goals mentioned above are nothing to do with this so the claim above is wrong.
International Climate Finance is a UK commitment to support developing countries in responding to the challenges and opportunities of climate change. It has no bearing on the C02 emissions embedded in the UK’s supply chain.
The CEE bill would commit us to accounting for the emissions we cause when ordering products to be manufactured overseas. It's basic fairness that we take responsibility for climate pollution resulting from our consumption. Accounting for such emissions will help to drive change, including encouraging more manufacturing to happen here in the UK.
Quick Answer: Business-as-usual has failed for decades to deliver action. A Citizens Assembly giving ordinary people a say would help raise public awareness whilst giving the Government the mandate it needs to tackle difficult decisions quickly. Not all assemblies have worked, but many have. The claim above is misleading.
Citizens Assemblies have been demonstrated around the world to be a very effective way to find consensus on difficult national challenges. Democracy is more than just a general election every 5 years and we need to be creative and bold in engaging the public to find the answers. You will know that there are many different views on how to tackle climate change so let’s enhance our democracy and find a way forward that can complement the existing policy making mechanisms and restore a bit of trust in our politics. We can probably all agree that our established confrontational political system has not delivered the action needed on climate change over recent decades.
The Canadian Citizens’ Assemblies referred to were very badly publicised and hence the uptake on the subsequent referendum was lower than required to pass. This reflects more on the Canadian Government’s lack of commitment to the process than the worth of the process itself. Other Citizens’ Assemblies have produced excellent results, particularly the Irish Assembly on Abortion 2018 which broke years of political deadlock. The 2020 French Citizens’ Assembly followed many months of ‘gilets jaune’ civil unrest. Many radical recommendations were made which are now in the process of being considered to enter law. As long as Government acts to take the recommendations seriously they have every possibility of producing impactful, long lasting results.
Important note - the Citizens' Assembly proposed in the CEE Bill would NOT in any way circumvent parliament. MP's would still have the final say over recommendations from the assembly. The bill simply requires that the assembly's recommendations are put before Parliament not swept under the carpet. Parliament would remain sovereign.
A short video on the benefits of citizens assemblies from the Economist:
Quick Answer: The Citizens Assembly of 2020 was a half hearted affair with no obligation on Government to even debate its findings, and very little publicity. It needs re-running properly with the backing of Government.
Six parliamentary committees jointly commissioned the Climate Assembly UK (CA UK) in 2020. This was a worthy attempt, but without Government engagement, CA UK’s remit fell well short of the scale and scope required to address the climate and ecological emergency. In particular:
- there was no obligation for recommendations to be debated by parliament and a large number were simply ignored;
- members were tasked with identifying a pathway to the UK’s entirely inadequate 2050 net zero emissions target with no mandate to question the target itself; and
- the assembly was not called upon to consider adaptation or biodiversity.
The Citizens' Assembly proposed in the CEE Bill would NOT in any way circumvent parliament. MP's would still have the final say over recommendations from the assembly. The bill simply requires that the assembly's recommendations are put before Parliament not swept under the carpet. Parliament would remain sovereign.