Last Wednesday Sally-Ann Hart the Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye opened a debate in Westminster Hall. The title of the event was Climate Change and Biodiversity and sadly even though this was published in the previous week no other Sussex MPs participated in that debate. However thankfully there were several MPs who did take part in the session which included another 7 Conservative MPs and 3 Labour, 3 Liberal Democrat a SNP and a DUP MP. Given that the SNPs represent Scotland and the DUPs the Northern Ireland area it is very encouraging that these MPs represented most of the UK. Sadly, there was no one involved from Wales which is very disappointing. Along with the statements from these MPs there are a number of other agencies that are currently focusing on this subject. Given the modest aspect in the Westminster Hall that took place last week we clearly need the rest of Parliament to participate on this debate and to follow up some themes from the COP26 and COP27 debates. The Royal Society is one of the agencies that has raised this theme and they have published a piece on their website entitled How does climate change affect biodiversity? The first few words on their piece is
The environmental changes being driven by climate change are disturbing natural habitats and species in ways that are still only becoming clear. There are signs that rising temperatures are affecting biodiversity, while changing rainfall patterns, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification are putting pressure on species already threatened by other human activities.
They go on to explain that “If current rates of warming continue, by 2030 global temperatures could increase by more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) compared to before the industrial revolution.” Other groups that are raising this theme are United Nations that have a piece entitled Biodiversity – our strongest natural defense against climate change on their website and Unesco publishes a call for Biodiversity and climate change and they go on to say
Climate change is a major driver of biodiversity erosion, and loss of biodiversity also accelerates climate change processes, as the capacity of degraded ecosystems to assimilate and store CO2 tends to decrease. Humanity therefore has a global responsibility to address these two challenges and the interactions between them.
The debate that took place last Wednesday began with these first few words from Sally-Ann
I beg to move, that this House has considered climate change and biodiversity. Climate change has triggered more extreme weather conditions, causing heatwaves, droughts, high precipitation and flooding. Adapting to the impacts of climate change in the UK and around the globe is necessary to keep the human population safer. Taking steps now to adapt to future change will make us more resilient and less vulnerable to its impacts. Adaptation can include traditional engineering projects, such as sea walls or other coastal defences as sea levels rise, but the natural environment also has a significant role to play. Adaption covers everything from water storage to drought resistant crops, from green urban areas to protecting and restoring natural, indigenous ecosystems.
At the end of the initial speech from Sally-Ann the next voice was the Labour MP for Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy who stated
I agree with everything the hon. Lady is saying. I have two points to make about attracting private-sector investment for these nature-based solutions. First, we have to be very clear about the carbon offsetting value of the projects. Secondly, when the biodiversity net gain details of that strategy come forward, we need to be clear that they are creating more diversity. Does she share my concern that we are not really at the stage where we can properly measure the multitudes of benefits of investing in such schemes?
and Sally-Ann responded
I completely agree with the hon. Member’s question. We need to measure metrics and outcomes more thoroughly as part of the process of using nature-based solutions to adapt to climate change. That is absolutely spot on.
Later Samantha Dixon, the Labour MP for City of Chester started with “I congratulate Sally-Ann Hart on securing this debate.” A bit later Tim Farron the Liberal Democrat from the Lake District begins with “I congratulate Sally-Ann Hart, who made an excellent speech, on securing what is a really important debate.” When Jim Shannon from DUP stated later, he began with “I congratulate Sally-Ann Hart on setting the scene so well. I am a huge supporter of biodiversity and, where appropriate, rewilding. I declare an interest as a landowner and a member of the Ulster Farmers Union.” Another contribution was from John McNally from SNP who began with “I thank Sally-Ann Hart for securing this important debate.” All of these MPs raised many issues and we clearly need the Government to pick these up.