Today is World Environment Day and a great opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of our relationship with the environment to our health, prosperity and security.
As we begin to move out of the coronavirus restrictions, now is the time to reflect on how we want to build our recovery and harness the incredible spirit of cooperation and innovation that we have seen across all sectors of our society over the last few months
There has been a massive increase in the collaboration between Government and businesses, with production lines being turned around at incredible speed to produce ventilators, PPE and medical equipment. Rival Formula One teams have worked together to innovate and produce non-invasive breathing aid technology to help in the treatment of Covid-19 patients. We have all been inspired by the vast numbers of volunteers that signed up to help protect the vulnerable, including here in Rushcliffe, and deliver a real social impact.
We have enjoyed noticeably cleaner air and the sound of birdsong as normal human activity reduced. This pandemic has highlighted our closeness to, and reliance on, biodiversity and the wider environment.
Our recovery plan going forward should capture this collaborative spirit and protect the environment we enjoy.
At an economic level, the opportunity to invest in green technology and to build back better has never been greater. In my first virtual PMQ last month, I argued that we should invest in building a greener economy. Studies show that green investments broadly outperformed other economic packages in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In my work for the Conservative Environment Network, I have joined colleagues in exploring creative solutions for creating high-quality, green jobs and boosting business and Government support in areas such as electric vehicles.
The decommissioning of the Ratcliffe on Soar power station in a few years’ time is a fantastic opportunity to transform the site into a green tech park complete with a training academy, bringing high-quality jobs and a share of this green future to Rushcliffe.
Stemming from the present need for many of us to stay at home, I believe we may see permanent changes to the way we live, work and commute. Sustainable connectivity, facilitated by better broadband in our homes, will allow many of us to do our jobs remotely with less frequent need to drive anywhere. Levelling up our low carbon public transport – particularly in rural communities – will take cars off the road, reduce local congestion and air pollution, and increase the opportunity for work and leisure.
I recently started a bid for Government funding to improve services on the Nottingham to Grantham line, connecting Radcliffe on Trent to the city of Nottingham and into Lincolnshire. This will encourage more people to take the train and hopefully cut car journeys further.
Protecting our environment, improving air quality and promoting biodiversity will also bring huge benefits for our health. Here in Rushcliffe, the local council have already made great strides towards improving biodiversity, designing projects to protect existing habitats and create new ones.
As a member of the Environment Bill Committee – a landmark Bill with provisions to halt and reverse destruction of wildlife habitat – I’m keen to see sustainable changes implemented in upcoming legislation.
We must continue to promote green recovery as a global goal. The UK is responsible for roughly 1% of the worlds CO2 emissions, so part of the challenge is to urgently address the changes all countries need to make to their societies and economies. The UK has a great opportunity to do this through its presidency of the G7 and COP26.
I will continue to work with my colleagues in Parliament to promote a green social and economic recovery from Covid-19. In the meantime, my team and I will continue to support residents across the constituency. You can find more information on my website and can stay up to date with the latest updates from me by signing up to my e-newsletter.