Category: Climate Crisis

Trade Bill

My Lords, I will speak in support of Amendment 40. As we deepen and strengthen our global trading relations, we cannot ignore our environmental commitments. I support this amendment because it means that our environmental obligations, as outlined by international law, cannot be undermined by future trade deals.

 

This must be a green Brexit. The Government’s election manifesto stated that they will not compromise on our high environmental protections in any future trade deals. Without this amendment, these are promises without actions. The international agreements laid out in this amendment are about not just environmental protection but our health and well-being, and are for the benefit of generations to come.

 

In the interests of time, I will outline only three of these international agreements. First, the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution has helped reduce pollution levels across borders and improve human health. As we have seen during lockdowns, the rapid decline in air pollution has had a positive impact on the health and well-being of people and nature in the UK and internationally. By honouring our commitment to this convention in this amendment, we can continue to protect the health of people and ensure that we do not undermine the improvements made as we recover from the pandemic and restart the economy.

 

Secondly, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is included in this amendment. It is about not just maritime jurisdiction but managing resources in a sustainable manner. The issue of fish stocks in UK fishing waters has been a prominent debate in Brexit. By continuing our commitment to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, we can ensure that the quality ?and productiveness of our fish stocks are maintained. It is essential for both our biodiversity and the long-term livelihood of our fishermen.

 

Thirdly, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is a key mechanism for monitoring greenhouse gas contributions and plays an important role in reducing emissions in the fight against the climate crisis. Global trade has an environmental footprint. For instance, 30% of carbon dioxide emissions are from freight transport. As we develop trading relations, we must ensure that we stay on the path to net zero emissions by 2050. This amendment means that we will continue to protect the environment in a way that does not restrict trade. It is an opportunity to make trade more sustainable by supporting investment in greener sectors and turning away from polluting industries to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

 

This amendment would also ensure that, within 12 months of making regulations or ratifying a trade agreement, a report assessing the impact of regulations on our environmental obligations is presented to Parliament. This is key in ensuring that we are held accountable and have fully considered the implications of any deal. If the UK is to be a leader in sustainability, this amendment must be supported. Without it, we lack a meaningful commitment to tackling the climate crisis.

 

The Government assure us that they are putting green at the heart of the coronavirus recovery. The Prime Minister has said that he wants the UK to be seen as a leading example in enabling a global green industrial revolution. Supporting this amendment would enable us to be an effective environmental leader, especially as we prepare to host COP 26 next year.

 

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Trade Bill

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on his appointment and excellent maiden speech. He brings a breadth of experience and expertise to your Lordships’ House.

I support this Bill, which, while being fundamentally about continuity, is also about redefining and strengthening our trading relationships across the world. Today, I am particularly interested in what this means for the emerging and frontier markets that are among our growing trading partners.

I have been actively involved in promoting trade and investment with other countries and have volunteered to deliver keynote speeches at multiple high-level ?conferences organised by DMA Invest in London, including with the Governments of Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea.

I have witnessed an appetite to do business with the United Kingdom on the part of overseas countries. Following my visit to Tajikistan last year, where I was a guest of our ambassador, we have begun organising the first Tajikistan summit for next year. We have a series of engagements with the Government of Nepal beginning with a great conference this month, and I would be pleased if my noble friend the Minister would accept my invitation to speak at it. We are also in discussion with two other embassies about the possibility of future events.

Over the past few years, the importance of economic co-operation and bilateral relations has become more prevalent. The UK is a leader in development and a powerhouse of trade and diplomacy. We have 280 overseas missions, including embassies and high commissions. On my visits overseas, I have seen how the DIT is increasingly geared to actively promote trade and deliver excellent training of people’s business skills.

Following the recent merger of DfID and the FCO, this Bill enables us to streamline our global strategy further, focusing in particular on how we can tackle the climate crisis, inequality and the pandemic collectively. This Bill will reflect our commitment to fair trade and improving access to markets for developing countries. We need to ensure that we have the correct tariffs to support the import of added-value products successfully and fairly.

In making it easier to do business, we cannot ignore our environmental commitments. We must promote green energy, the development of green technology and green skills. That is how we can inspire environmental incentives not just to maintain standards, but to improve them, and accelerate our environmentally friendly business activities in the UK and abroad. We have a great deal of knowledge and expertise on Islamic finance, and we must actively promote the industry overseas, which would result in mutual benefits. In this regard, I declare that I co-chair the APPG on Islamic finance.

In conclusion, the Trade Bill is about opportunity—the opportunity to achieve inclusive growth by building deeper partnerships with emerging markets, to strengthen our involvement internationally and to commit meaningfully to sustainability.

 

Link to full debate on Hansard.

Covid-19: Recovery Strategies

My Lords, the conditions created by the pandemic and the lockdown will probably result in this year representing the largest annual reduction in carbon emissions. The crisis and this result should, with the right approach, enable us to achieve reductions in our emissions to zero by 2050, stimulate the economy and create jobs. The crisis should be a springboard to achieving these objectives. It is anticipated that our GDP will fall by 12.8% and unemployment will be at about 7.3% by the end of 2020. My concern is that there will, in addition, be regional inequalities, which our Prime Minister is keen to level up. Therefore, it is important for us to take appropriate and immediate medium-term measures. During the pandemic, there was a need to spend, spend, spend. Now that we are coming out of the crisis, our motto must be to think green, to achieve growth and to create jobs. I commend the Prime Minister for his commitment to spending £2 billion investing in greener transport, including providing walking and cycling facilities.

We must all ensure that all the BAME communities are fairly treated in all aspects of the country, including the business sector, as part of our future strategy. This is a wake-up call for us to do so. What is the Government’s reaction to the two letters sent to the Prime Minister by 200 business leaders and the Committee on Climate Change, and how are the proposals being considered?

Link to full debate on Hansard.