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“Portsmouth needs to do more to tackle climate emergency “ – states city MP

Friends of the Earth have produced detailed, local authority specific data for the ranking of councils across Britain on their record of tackling climate change.

Portsmouth has finished low down in the bottom quarter with just a 60% rating, putting it amongst some of the nation’s lowest-scoring. The data release coincides with national media coverage this week outlining how Portsmouth clean air charging zone is being scaled back.

Considering recent developments on the clean air zone, Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth is in the midst of an air pollution crisis that has been described by experts as ‘dangerous’. The fact that the centre of Portsmouth could become a chargeable clean air zone – rather than the whole of Portsea Island – is the manifestation of the Council Leader’s indifference to the matter.

We know as a result the 11,000 people in this city who live with heart conditions are at greater risk of stroke and heart attack and our children’s lung capacity is heavily reduced. We need a radical overhaul of the way we tackle air pollution, not this lack-lustre tokenistic gesture.”

City MP, Stephen Morgan has for some time been speaking out against the ‘reactionary’ approach taken by the city council to datel in tackling climate change locally and has cited the air pollution crisis as a testament to the current council administration’s indifference to the issue.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

The reason that the council is performing so poorly when it comes to tackling climate change is simple. The current administration is not taking the issue seriously enough.

The Lib Dems are presiding over an avoidable air pollution crisis, which has been allowed to reach highly dangerous levels and meant the Council Leader has subsequently gone to beg at the feet of Government for help.

We have some of the worst recycling rates, which is again one of the lowest in the country at 24%. There has been a failure to take any action over implementing a cycle hire scheme. We have some of the lowest tree coverage in the country. Our city really does deserve much better.

Climate Change is not something that you can shirk or avoid. These helpful findings from Friends of the Earth remind us again that the administration’s ‘dog ate my homework’ approach is not the bold attitude we need to address the biggest issue our city and our planet has ever faced. This report must now act as a wakeup call to the Council Leader to do better.”

In March Portsmouth Labour worked with community activists to force the council to declare a climate emergency. Since then, Labour councillors have been working hard to push the council into action.

The city MP added:

“It was the Labour Group, under my leadership, who pioneered the movement locally to declare a climate emergency. It was Labour who tabled the motion nationally to declare the same in Parliament.

Local authorities have an important and often over-looked role in cutting carbon emissions and solving the climate crisis. But they can’t do it all themselves, which is why I am pushing for more powers and finance alongside government action.

Since joining the shadow front benches, I have been visiting local authorities leading the charge when it comes to climate change to formulate party policy on best practice. In seeing these trailblazers, it made was apparent that Portsmouth must do so much more.

I will continue to put pressure on the government and council to place the climate emergency at the front of all decision making. Change starts at home”.

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Portsmouth MP sets out changes needed to combat climate change during Queen’s Speech debate

Stephen Morgan MP has delivered an impassioned speech to parliament today setting out what needs to be done to tackle climate change and applying scrutiny to the Government’s ropey track record on the issue.

The MP spoke out on the 4th day of debates relating to the Queen’s Speech and called on his colleagues to regard climate change at the top of the parliamentary agenda and to work together to achieve progress.

While delivering the speech, Mr Morgan said:

“The mildly technical nature and distant-sounding threat of ‘climate change’ may not be enough to invoke people to come out fighting from their beds.

But pretty much all of us would do so to protect our loved ones, our homes and our livelihoods, and to build a better world.

Why should defending against climate change be any different?

So, let’s be honest about the challenges we face, let’s tackle it together, and let’s redouble our efforts.”

Responding to Ministerial statements after the speech, Mr Morgan highlighted the Government’s poor track on climate change.

Mr Morgan said:

This Government, led by an ambassador of climate change indifference, is falling far short of the mark.

Failure to deliver on 24 out of 25 emissions-reducing actions recommended by the climate committee in 2018.

Just 7 of 24 indicators showing the UK’s underlying progress towards its climate goals being met.

Missed targets for the fourth and fifth Carbon Budgets, even more than predicted in last year’s official update.

We need to see a party in power that set aside serious proposals for tackling the world’s most pressing issue.”

Mr Morgan has also stressed the need for robust legislation and binding agreements, which experts such as Friends of the Earth have warned are essential in formulating an appropriate climate change bill.

On the introduction of a new environment change bill, Mr Morgan said:

“We must see an environment Bill strong enough to create change throughout Government, industry and society.

Allowing this Bill to be consumed by the Brexit shadow would be a fatal mistake and it is integral that we see an end to toothless scrutiny and non-binding legislation.”

The MP’s actions in parliament today are part of a broad campaign aimed at raising the profile and rate of action over tackling climate change. Mr Morgan regularly meets with Friends of the Earth, lead the Labour Group locally to declaring a climate emergency, has consistently voted in favour of climate legislation, hosts meeting with local activist and speaks out regularly in Parliament.

Mr Morgan also used the opportunity to lobby Government over illegal air pollution levels in the city and need to meet in Southsea Sea Defence Scheme.

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City MP joins tree planting in bid to get to root of climate change

The city MP today joined climate protestors from Extinction Rebellion and environmental consultants, Rising Forests outside parliament as part of a nationwide tree planting scheme.

Stephen Morgan MP accepted a hickory tree from activists and is currently engaging with residents over where best to plant the fledgling plant.

The MP is no stranger to tree planting in his patch and has already planted 100 across Portsmouth South, a joint operation that both paid tribute to suffragettes and combatted local air pollution.

Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth faces an air pollution crisis that both the council and Government must do better on.

Trees will play a major role in mitigating against this problem as they absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, reduce temperatures locally and help foster biodiversity.

Portsmouth only has 8% tree coverage which is way below the national average, I am not wasting any time in proactively changing this. I have already shown leadership by planting over 100 locally with many more to come but I welcome the contribution that the council can make to this project.”

Extinction Rebellion alongside other climate activists formulated 1000 British trees in the shape of the British Isles next to Parliament square for MPs and senior bodies to collect and plant in their local areas. Mr Morgan joined them today to discuss strategy and the actions he is taking Portsmouth.

On the scheme, Mr Morgan said:

“Sadly, UK forest coverage is just 10% and we need to see a 200% increase if we are to come in line with our European neighbours, the project run today as part of XR Global Rebellion is tackling this issue head-on.

Recent studies have shown that global tree restoration is our most effective climate change solution to date, and I will continue to support and advocate for this strategy of getting out and planting trees.”

Today’s action by the Portsmouth South MP is mirrored by his party’s policy, Labour plan to plant an ‘NHS forest’ of a million trees at hospitals and firmly support tree planting as one of many solutions in tackling climate change.

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“Tackling Climate Change must always be our priority” – City MP speaks out after his action at conference

The 2019 Labour Party Conference, held in Brighton, came to an end last week. City MP, Stephen Morgan honed his focus on climate change issues and acted on matters including urban green spaces and the role that local authorities play in tackling climate change.

Mr Morgan’s long running commitment to climate activism was the reason for his invitation to a number of strategy sessions targeting climate change.

Climate Change has been a major focus within the Labour Party for time eternal, with the party pioneering a Climate Change Emergency in Parliament and making ground-breaking developments at local authority level.

City MP, Stephen Morgan said:

“Undeniably climate change is the greatest threat we face. It must always be at the forefront of our agenda.

Children teaching Westminster a lesson by striking, Portsmouth people staging protests, pressure from activists such as Greta Thunberg –there is an atmosphere of change at a grass roots level and I believe that politicians have a responsibility to mirror this.

Party Conference is always high-intensity which is why is why I ensured that my main focus was orientated around acting at climate related events and meeting field experts to learn more about how we can tackle the most pressing issue the world faces.”

Mr Morgan took part in an event orientated around urban green spaces and the impact they have on the local community. The event, organised by The New Statesman, included representatives from The National Trust, Lord Kerslake and other key figures.

Following the event, the Shadow Communities Minister said:

“Park usage is up by 25% and 37 million of us use parks per year, they are integral to our communities.

Urban green spaces are a garden to many who do not have their own. They hugely improve the health and wellbeing of residents, extensively contribute to improving air quality, reduce strain on our NHS and off set carbon emissions.

But as the Select Committee and the experts who joined me on the panel said, “parks are at tipping point” because of the viscous cuts the Government has forced on Local Authorities.

I am committed to working in my role as Shadow Communities Minister to ensure the introduction of new parks, maintenance of urban spaces and protection of our open green areas.”

Mr Morgan also spoke out strongly in favour of giving more support to local authorities at an event organised by the University of Manchester orientated around cities.

“As someone who has spent over 15 years working in local authorities and now has the same sector in my parliamentary brief, I know how intrinsic councils are in fighting climate change.

From setting clean air targets and combatting local air pollution to promoting active travel – the role that local authorities play is undeniable.

At a time when they have had 60 pence out of every pound slashed from their budgets and are feeling the squeeze of Tory austerity, it is essential that they remain at the core of conference conversations.

I am committed to being an active voice when it comes to standing up for our councils and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that they can continue to bring about change when it comes to climate change.”

This year’s conference saw ground-breaking wider policy moves made by Labour. Including the promise to build 37 new wind farms and a commitment to spending £300m buying a fleet of 30,000 electric cars for hire.

These policy announcements form part of the party’s push for a Green Industrial Revolution that would majorly reform the way we think about climate change.

 

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“We need less talk and more action” – City MP says at Portsmouth Climate Strike

In delivering his rousing speech as the only MP present, Stephen Morgan joined over a thousand attendees in urging more decisive action when it comes to tackling the worlds most pressing matter – climate change.

The event, which took place in Guildhall square in blazing sunshine unusual for September, is part of a nationwide demonstration of direct action specifically calling on Government to do more.

Speaking to the people, Mr Morgan said:

“We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid action now.

As one 8-year-old constituent said to me, “there is no planet B”. We are talking about nothing less than the irreversible destruction of our environment in our life time.

We must all stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and turn words into action.”

Taking a leading role in declaring a climate change emergency locally and consistently voting in favour of legislation in parliament – Mr Morgan is no new-comer to acting decisively over climate change.

The City MP regularly meets with organisations such as Friends of the Earth and in his first month on the frontbenches utilised his time taking learning best practice from local authorities paving the way for going greener.

Mr Morgan said:

“We cannot afford to be complacent. If we do not work together to fight climate change now, the shockwaves will destroy generations to come.

As a coastal community, it will be us who is disproportionately affected by climate change. The Prime Minister is a proven ambassador of indifference when it comes to climate change – presiding over a department while at the Foreign Office that saw 60% of climate attaches cut and receiving tens of thousands of pounds in donations from climate change denying pressure groups.

It is up to us, the people, to be the decisive voice of change. While Westminster is often the last place to understand this, as your MP I want you to know that I stand with you.”

 

 

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“We need a serious overhaul of the way we think about waste” as City MP signs Manchester Declaration

Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP has pledged support for a fresh, green campaign aimed at making our household goods easier to repair and less disposable. 

Mr Morgan is one of the first MPs to add his name to “The Manchester Declaration”, an open letter aimed at manufacturers, policy makers and designers seeking to make items less disposable and easier to repair.

Mr Morgan said:

“From phone batteries that cannot be easily replaced to cables that are deliberately given a short life span, coaxing the public into spending more hard-earned cash – everywhere we look is the unnecessary disposal of goods.

If we are to address the climate emergency, it will require a serious overhaul of the way we think about waste. Support for this campaign ties in with a great deal of the other work that I am doing to tackle climate change.

Whether lobbying for better active travel in Portsmouth or meeting with Friends of the Earth and voting in favour of a climate emergency – this issue will remain a priority.

The Manchester Declaration, orchestrated by grass roots community repair movements, is a major first step on the road to reducing excess. I am proud to be one of the first MPs to add their name to the declaration and look forward to raising the awareness of this valid campaign in Parliament.”

Stephen Morgan MP is no stranger to taking a proactive stance to tackling climate change.

The city MP regularly holds green coffee mornings, is involved in local beach plastic collections, played an instrumental role in declaring a Climate Emergency locally and nationally, has close ties with Friends of the Earth and has lobbied Government hard over Portsmouth’s poor air quality.

Clare Seek, Founder of Repair café Portsmouth said:

“I am delighted that Stephen Morgan MP is one of just five MPs to add their name to The Manchester Declaration.

Whilst the strength of this movement lies in its grass-roots mentality, it is essential that politicians get on board and promote this push for sustainability, including legislative change to bring us a real Right to Repair.

I hope that Stephen, taking this proactive stance to tackle the climate emergency, inspires other MPs and community groups to get involved.

I look forward to continuing to help the people of Portsmouth keep their products lasting longer; saving them money, saving the planet, sharing skills and having fun along the way.”

The movement was born out of the 2018 FixFest, a regular global gathering of repairers, activists, policy makers and companies from all over the world.

The aim is to ensure that appliances that fail prematurely can be fixed rather than disposed of.

The UK repair community largely offers collaborative repair opportunities in the form of community café’s in easy to access spaces. The idea is spreading across the nation and most cities across the country offer the service.

The City MP said:

“Not only is the campaign helping our communities go greener and saving us money, it is spreading new skills in a fun way.

Learning to fix an electrical appliance in a safe environment could be the spark that ignites an interest in engineering or mechanics. This coupled with the fact these events are in open local spaces fosters a community spirit and gives people the chance to meet others who share their interest.”

Portsmouth’s Repair Café is on the 3rd Saturday of each month, from 10.30am to 1pm at Buckland URC, 174 Kingston Road, Fratton. Find your nearest Repair Café at https://repaircafe.org/en/visit/

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“Climate change should be a core module in schools” – environment priority needed in curriculum says City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has set out demands to the Education Secretary that would see climate change taught as a core module across the UK.

The city MP’s calls for change come at a time when unprecedented numbers of climate change disasters have taken place and school children have flocked to the streets in protest against lack of Government action.

Mr Morgan said:

“Over 5,000 miles away the Amazon is ablaze, 20-30% of species are teetering on the edge of extinction and we are seeing record temperatures soar year on year. This is not some distant or disputed problem, this is happening right now.

If the Government does not take decisive action, there will be catastrophic consequences. I have written to the Education Secretary urging that climate change becomes a core module because it is his responsibility to equip the future generations with the skills to tackle climate change and the knowledge to live sustainably.

The current PM’s environmental track record has been flaky at best, while at the Foreign Office he presided over a 60% cut in climate attaches and his leadership campaign had close ties with the UK’s leading climate change denial group.

The Government must prove it is serious about tackling this issue and making climate change a core module in UK schools is a good place to start.”

Over 80,000 people have already signed a petition agreeing with Mr Morgan’s policy suggestion and it has been confirmed that the Labour Party would implement this change if elected.

Under the Labour Policy, the curriculum would focus on the skills and knowledge young people need to deal with the changing world, particularly in renewable energy and green technology jobs.

Stressing the importance of these curriculum changes, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“While issues surrounding climate change are taught up to 16 in Geography and Science, this does not go far enough.

School is about preparing the next generations for adult life, preparations and education around climate change should be a key pillar of that.

When dealing with issues of this magnitude, we need to work shoulder to shoulder and put party politics to one side. Yes, this is a Labour Policy, but is in the interests of everyone no matter their political perspective.”

Shadow Secretary of State, Angela Rayner said:

“We need to equip people with the knowledge to understand the enormous changes we face, and skills to work with the new green technologies that we must develop to deal with them.

“That must be part of a broad education and that prepares pupils for adult life. Climate change should be a core part of the school curriculum, and under a Labour government it will be.”

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Hundreds flock to City MP’s bus bolstering local roadshow

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, has held a public consultation alongside First Bus for Portsmouth residents so that community members share their views. The event comes at a time when across the country people voice concerns over dwindling routes, soaring fares and reduced access.

The roadshow, which took place on Commercial Road, involved a static bus where residents could meet with the Portsmouth South representative and senior members of the First Bus team and saw people attend in their hundreds.

Mr Morgan said:

“Bus services are a vital lifeline for many within our community here in Portsmouth. Whether it is helping elderly people visit friends and family or providing those who live with a disability with independence – buses play a crucial role in connecting communities and fending off social isolation and loneliness.

This roadshow gave the people who use the services a platform to speak on the matters that concern them and ensured their voice is heard. As someone who does not drive and uses either buses or bicycle to get around our city, I know how important this is.”

Mr Morgan’s action on bus access comes at a time when the sector is under strain. Across the country over 3,000 bus routes have been cut or withdrawn while fares have risen at over twice the rate of wages, hitting the poorest hardest and particularly affecting the young, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The local MP said:

“This event was as useful to me as it was for my fellow community members. Not only did it provide them with the means to relay feedback, it has produced vital information on the key themes affecting local residents with regard to buses.

I am committed to ensuring that this feedback is utilised by First Bus and is taken back to Westminster where it will feed into correspondence with the Department for Transport and help influence my work as Shadow Communities Minister.

Portsmouth has seen 17% less bus journeys in the space of just one year making it the second worst affected city in the UK. I am a firm believer in getting out and speaking to people, that is the best way to address a community issue.”

At a time when the Conservatives have seen 3,000 routes cut, Labour has expressed a will to subsidise non-profitable but socially important bus routes, simplify ticketing options and make all bus travel free for under 25s.

Mr Morgan said:

“Our city has an issue with air quality, congestion and environmental degradation. Sustainable travel offers a viable solution to these problems.

I am committed to ensuring that access to buses for Portsmouth peoples remains high on the Labour agenda both in our city and in Parliament.”