Today is the second day of a vital event for the whole of the World that is taking place in our nation. COP26 is taking place in Glasgow which is a very significant city in the UK, it is a fantastic place despite the many challenges that it has faced in the past and that it still has to deal with. COP26 began yesterday and it will continue until the end of next week on Friday. It was originally due to take place last year but COVID has delayed it until now. Over the next two weeks there will be many issues that will occur hopefully inside COP26 and certainly outside of it. Let us hope that it will have a significant positive impact on our lives and the 8 billion people in our world. It is clear that many people here in Sussex are treating it as very significant for themselves and for the world. Over the last few days there have been a significant number of messages from Councils such as West Sussex, from Faith groups such as the Roman Catholic Diocese called Arundel and Brighton and also from locations such as Eastbourne representing a number of Christian groups. Inevitably there will have been many more publications from people who are aware of the significance of COP26 and who are working very hard for all of us. Sadly, eleven days ago there was no indication that the Government was conscious about COP26 that they are hosting today when they forced their political party to destroy an amendment that the House of Lord established to try to end Sewage Pollution in our nation. Thankfully a number of Sussex MPs voted against the Government including several from within the Conservative Party. The next stage was when thousands of people criticised the Government and the MPs who had voted to close down the amendment. Many of these people were clearly very aware of COP26 and its potential to change our nation and the World. I was very grateful that last week the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) finally reacted to the responses from thousands of people and they have reversed their decision on Sewage Pollution.
Sadly at the end of last week there was another challenge that many of us are very upset about and which we also need the Government to respond to. The private members Climate and Ecology Bill that was set out by Caroline Lucas was first read last year when COP26 was due to take place and it was due to have its second reading a few weeks ago in September and then it was transferred to the 22nd of October. It was then shifted to last Friday but sadly it was the 11th on the list of the private members bills that were due for their second reading on Friday so it had no prospect of being read. Caroline has now called for it to be higher up on the list on the next opportunity which sadly is now due to take place in early 2022. It would clearly be very significant for the bill to be treated with a great deal of more support and indeed given that COP26 is taking place at the moment we clearly need our government to consider raising up on the list of priorities.
Another element that emerged last week from the Government was nearly 50 projects that they will fund in the UK. It is significant that five of these are located in Sussex with some valuable elements. Our nation as a whole and indeed Sussex as a whole has many areas that require support. The Local Government agencies have understandably been very unhappy that over 85% of these projects will reflect Conservative MPs. Here in Sussex there are five projects and one is due to take place in Hove under the title of Kingsway to the Sea. There are two in the Arun Council area, one in Bognor Regis and one in Littlehampton, and another in Newhaven and also one in Eastbourne. We clearly need a way for collaborative local decision making to take place rather than for the Government to be in charge of such themes. Perhaps we also need local Councils to work together to connect with the Universities in our area. It is very sad that what is currently being proposed is to close down the link between the University of Brighton and Eastbourne, 45 years after it was first formed. Clearly all Universities are all facing many challenges as a result of Government policies. However we clearly need local Councils and community groups to be able to work together on these themes as well as on the local projects funded through the Government and the impact that lies behind the COP26 event.