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The climate emergency: Government must act with far greater urgency and ambition

Portsmouth people know that I very much agree that we need urgent action on the climate and ecological emergency. That is why it is a priority for me in the work I do locally for Portsmouth and in Parliament. And with the challenges we face and with the climate emergency we have declared in our city, we need more than words, but deeds.

The flash floods, deadly landslides, and wildfires we have seen over recent years make clear that climate breakdown is not a distant threat but something that is happening here and now. Yet while Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency in May last year, our government are simply not responding as the situation requires.

The Government maintains that it intends to decarbonise the UK economy and that it is taking steps to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But as the Committee on Climate Change’s most recent progress report makes clear, the gulf between the government’s rhetoric on climate action and the reality is vast. Not only are Ministers set to miss the 2050 target that Parliament legislated for just over a year ago, they are not even on track to meet the less ambitious one that preceded it.

Confronted by this unfolding emergency, I am clear that 2050 is too late for the UK to end its contribution to climate breakdown and runaway global heating. According to the UN, we have less than ten years left to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change. The government must act with far greater urgency and ambition.

Labour is determined that the UK must show global leadership on this issue, and that means starting with ambitious action at home. I believe we should aim to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 and that we need to do so through a world-leading Green New Deal.

As such, I support many of the aims set out in the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which, as you may know, is a Presentation Bill (one that does not involve a debate or a vote in parliament, but is a way of drawing attention to an issue that requires a change in the law).

Labour will also be developing our own parliamentary agenda on the climate emergency, in consultation with our members, the climate movement, trade unions, businesses, and communities across the country, which will include many of the principles laid out in this Bill.

More immediately, my focus is on ensuring that the government seizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity presented by the need to rebuild in the aftermath of the pandemic to rapidly decarbonise our economy through a green recovery. Seizing that opportunity, as other advanced economies are doing, requires more than rhetoric from Ministers. It requires a plan.

We need that plan now so that we can invest in the green industries of the future, put people back to work in good, green jobs across the country, and support workers and communities as we make the transition to a low-carbon and socially-just economy. With a plan like that, we can raise our domestic climate ambition with a significantly enhanced 2030 emissions reduction target and demonstrate real leadership as the host of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.

Whilst Labour will be outlining a vision for a Green Recovery in the coming months, I can assure you that I will continue to push for the above, and more widely for bold action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency at every opportunity.

It is what the people of Portsmouth, and future generations, expect me to do. If you have views or ideas to help make this a reality, as always, please get in touch.

Stephen Morgan MP

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Stephen Morgan MP calls for local fishing communities’ interests to be placed at the heart of Fisheries Bill

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the government to ensure that it delivers on its promises to UK fishing communities in making the UK fishing industry economically & environmentally sustainable. This comes ahead of the Fisheries Bill debate scheduled in the House of Commons today.

The Fisheries Bill establishes the legal framework for managing UK fisheries as an independent coastal state under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, after leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy at the end of the Brexit Transition (11pm on 31 December 2020).

In the UK, we export most of what we catch and import most of what we eat (80% of UK fish landings are exported).

The Government has always had the power to redistribute share of UK’s quota but has chosen not to, despite small vessel owners facing severe financial hardship over the years.

For example, 50% of the English quota is held by companies based overseas; the small scale fleet holds only 6%; and the five largest quota-holders control more than a 1/3 of the UK fishing quota, with four owned by families on the Sunday Times Rich List.

Mr Morgan said:

“This government has left our coastal communities – like ours here in Portsmouth – suffering for too long from poor transport infrastructure and lack of economic opportunities.

It’s high time these treasured communities see a coastal renaissance and get the deal they richly deserve.”

Reportedly, Covid-19 hit seafood export markets hard. The price of fish fell through the floor, in some cases by 85%, leaving fishing businesses facing huge financial hardship.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“With the impact of Covid-19 having a particular heavy impact on fishers, it is now more important than ever the government get this right and ensures the industry is economically and environmentally sustainable.”

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP backs crowdfund for local start-up ‘Squidmoo’ to make Portsmouth plastic free

Stephen Morgan MP has backed Squidmoo, a local start-up that is running a crowdfunding campaign to create sustainable everyday products, in its mission to help make Portsmouth plastic free.

Squidmoo’s long-term vision is to be able to provide grants to support local businesses, charities and organisations to become plastic free and be part of the ‘plastic free employer scheme’. However, this is reliant on the stretch fund being successful to be able to invest into this part of the project.

Squidmoo has also been working in close partnership with Portsmouth City Council in supporting its plans and future project ideas.

The Portsmouth business currently manufactures bamboo and stainless-steel water bottles and lunch containers, as well as yoga mats, knives and sunglasses. In addition, the sustainable business is also looking to provide local businesses and organisations with plastic free consultations and workshops.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

The work that both Thomas and Alex are doing is simply fantastic. What they and Squidmoo are doing is an important reminder that whilst we are facing a new global challenge, it does not mean the others have simply disappeared.

“It is why I’m more than happy to back their campaign to reduce the use of single use plastic to zero in the UK by 2030, and their crowdfund to help achieve this here in our great city of Portsmouth.”

According to a government report, in the UK it is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used every year, nearly half of which is packaging. The government had planned to bring in a ban on single use plastic earlier this April, including single-use plastic and plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, but has now delayed the ban until October due to the pandemic.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“Sustainability and tackling climate change are now more important than ever, and Portsmouth South is neither insulated to the effects of climate change, nor has less of a responsibility to tackle its causes than anywhere else.

“Instead of delaying, the government should be seeing this period as an opportunity to hit the reset button and quite simply: build back better.”

This is not the first time Mr Morgan has been an advocate of tackling climate change initiatives, including previously hosting online climate change event Time is Now, and backed the local Pompey Street Space campaign.

You can find out more about Squidmoo’s work and their crowdfunder here.

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Portsmouth’s Package Free Larder officially opens up to public

After years of preparation, a local group of campaigners have spent the last few months labouring away to create a Package Free Larder in a beautiful space on Elm Grove, funded by over a thousand people donating to the project on Crowdfunder.

The Package Free Larder opened its doors today, Saturday 11 July 2020, as a not-for-profit, affordable ‘zero-waste’ shop, allowing customers to bring and refill their own containers with grocery staples to reduce their plastic waste, protect the environment, and work towards a cleaner Portsmouth.

The official opening took place this afternoon with city MP and project backer, Stephen Morgan MP.

A committee of 9 local volunteers behind the project collectively said:

“This shop is the definition of community love and solidarity and we couldn’t be more proud of everyone that has helped us get to this point. Built for Portsmouth, by Portsmouth.

Thank you for believing in us. Now let’s make some waves and say NO to single-use plastic, NO to rubbish on our beaches and NO to unnecessary waste”.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South speaking at the event said:

During lockdown we all heard the birds sing louder, enjoyed seeing the sea clearer and were relieved to be breathing cleaner air. It was a reminder of how precious our environment is, and how through collective action, we can make a big difference in our communities. 

As our city and country gets on the road to recovery, we must build back greener, fairer and stronger. The Package Free Larder is a shining example of that in action – the community coming together to give something back and help protect our planet. 

My huge thanks to Delphine as founder, the dedicated team behind the initiative, all the volunteers who helped and nearly 1,000 local people who donated to make the big dream of a Package Free Larder for Portsmouth a reality. You’ve all done our city proud. With the challenges our city and country now face your efforts are more important than ever”. 

A Click and Collect system went live on the website on 8 July, 3 days prior to the official store opening where customers can now visit the shop to collect their first orders.

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City MP renews pledge to prioritise climate change at online The Time Is Now event

At an event organised by the Climate Coalition, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan reaffirmed his commitment for the three principles of The Climate Coalition Declaration.

The national event, called The Time Is Now, saw thousands participate across the country by engaging with local MPs via localised virtual meetings. Constituents had the opportunity to both hear from Stephen in terms of his climate change actions and pose questions about future strategies.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“As Britain gets on the road to recovery from this pandemic, we should aim to build back better, which means acting now to lay the foundation blocks for long term, sustainable growth and creating large numbers of good green jobs.

As Friends of the Earth has said, Labour is the most ambitious party in parliament backing strong climate change action. I am delighted to sign up to The Climate Coalition’s Declaration which chimes precisely with the aims and objectives of the Labour party.

The key commitments that Stephen Morgan MP signed up to include:

  • Unleash a clean energy revolution that boosts jobs across the UK, making our transport, power and housing fit for the future
  • Protect, restore and expand our green and wild spaces; allowing nature to thrive, taking carbon from the air and boosting the nation’s health
  • Leave no one behind by increasing support to those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change at home and abroad

This event comes the same day that Labour’s consultation on a Green Recovery closes. The Green Recovery report is being written as we speak and will be published shortly.

Mr Morgan added:

“I am pleased that so many constituents want to reach out and talk to their MP about climate change which is one of the greatest challenges we face.

Individuals from Portsmouth have shown outstanding leadership in tackling climate change, from the Pompey Street Space Campaign to recent uptake rates in active travel.

What we now need to see is government match this ambition. The UK must lead the world by ensuring our recovery gets us on track to net-zero emissions and limits the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees C. Our best chance of building a resilient economy goes hand in hand with tackling climate change.”

The Portsmouth South MP has long held tackling climate change as a key priority. This month alone he has grilled Ministers to encourage green international trade, submitted written questions, taken action to support Pompey Street Space in achieving increases in active travel uptake and written to the Transport Secretary to push for greener travel.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP backs ‘Pompey Street Space’ campaign and wastes no time promoting the plan in Parliament

Backing efforts by local groups and community representatives, Stephen Morgan MP today took action in support of the new Pompey Street Space campaign as part of his ongoing work to tackle the city’s climate emergency

Launching this morning, the Pompey Street Space is a newly formed campaign calling for the council to make our city safe for residents to walk, wheel, shop and cycle whilst keeping 2m apart. Since the lockdown the number of residents walking and cycling has risen hugely. The cleaner air, more audible bird song and peaceful streets have been a revelation for many of how our city could be.

The city MP is encouraging Government through the hybrid-Parliament to ‘lock-in’ the emission reducing practices that the city has adopted amid Covid-19. 

While Mr Morgan has been taking action to promote active travel in the city for some time. Today he threw his weight behind the Pompey Street Space campaign in signing a collective letter to the local authority and raising the community campaign in the House of Commons.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Active travel uptake amid this crisis has increased by up to 125% on some days. This shows that our city is capable of making decisive efforts to change behaviours and in turn, tackle climate change.

Now it is up to government to seize the opportunity and ensure Portsmouth people can continue to use green travel free from fear and with confidence. That means putting an end to the piecemeal approach to transport infrastructure and allowing councils rapid access to new vital funds.

Social, economic and environmental returns to active travel investment will be seen almost immediately. I will continue to take action with others to promote greener travel and look forward to supporting the work of Pompey Street Space to make this vision a reality.”

Active travel – such as walking and cycling – has soared amid the pandemic while traffic has seen around a 60% decline, slashing harmful emissions.

Portsmouth is the fourth most congested city in the UK and one of the worst outside London. Organisations such as the World Health Organisation have deemed current city pollution levels as ‘illegal’, while Friends of the Earth have described them as ‘Dangerous’. This means an increased risk to 11,000 people living the city who have heart and respiratory conditions.

Local climate activist Nick Sebley said:

“Stephen has been a solid ambassador on climate issues since his election and we welcome his support for the Pompey Street Space campaign.

We are presented with a unique opportunity to make our community fitter, healthier and greener. Portsmouth people have shown they have what it takes to be pioneers in addressing the climate emergency, it now falls on government’s shoulders to ensure the continuation of these practices.”

The community-led campaign is calling for the council to take three important steps immediately:

  1. Widen narrow pavements in busy streets so that people can keep two metres apart whilst walking, queuing for shops etc.
  2. Create a comprehensive city-wide network of roads that give priority to cyclists and pedestrians
  3. Create more commuter cycle routes to allow people who usually travel by public transport to get quickly and safely to work by bike.

Mr Morgan added: 

“As we emerge from this crisis, we cannot go head first into another. Climate change poses a real and severe threat to life that disproportionately effects people in our community.

Government has a duty to listen to the calls of trailblazing campaigns, like Pompey Street Space, to create the right conditions in communities that will allow green and active travel to continue to thrive. For that reason I wanted to flag this new initiative from our city to Ministers today.

According to the Government’s own research, at least £6bn of extra funding is required to meet their own targets of doubling cycling by 2025.

If Ministers are serious about active travel, then they need to get serious about investing in communities like Portsmouth”.

Stephen Morgan MP has a long running history of climate change action. He has hosted Brompton along with Keir Starmer in Portsmouth to promote active travel, hosted major public events with expert speakers to share best practice, regularly speaks out at local events, has worked in conjunction with XR and Friends of the Earth and continues to raise issues in Parliament.

 

 

 

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“Job security does not need to be at odds with climate security” says city MP lobbying over plans for Britain’s recovery

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan is urging Government to ensure that Covid-19 does not hinder progress towards tackling the climate emergency.

Writing to the Transport Secretary and submitting a string or parliamentary questions, Stephen Morgan MP has been listening to the views of constituents and local green groups by stressing to Government that support to the transport industry should also help secure targets focusing on reducing emissions.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“As a gateway to the UK from continental Europe, our city has a proud and long association with the maritime sector and wider transport infrastructure for our country. I want to see this tradition continue for the future prosperity of the UK but also for the sake of local jobs and our city’s economy.

Government is currently being lobbied over deals for the aviation and maritime sectors so that these services can weather the Covid-19 storm, there is no reason why any packages of support should be at odds with continued efforts to tackle climate change. The Transport Secretary must ensure that his department’s assistance sits alongside important commitments to cut emissions”.

Stephen Morgan MP is not alone in his calls. The Government’s top climate advisers have also urged a focus on low-carbon work programmes as the economy restarts and people get back to work.

This mirrors the findings of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, who have outlined that fulfilling the UK’s need for low-carbon infrastructure, from electricity networks to cycle lanes, would create jobs in the short term, while government money could also be used to encourage advances in science and innovation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future.

Writing to the Transport Secretary based on these important findings, the Portsmouth South representative added:

“In 2018, the transport sector became the biggest contributor to climate change. Government must be the driving force behind enabling a culture and practice change, and in planning Britain’s recovery from Covid-19, it has that opportunity.

I therefore urge you to seize this opportunity that Government has to ensure that climate change is at the heart of your departmental decision-making. There is no reason that sector and job security need to be at odds with tackling climate change.

Many of my constituents expect any government financial assistance to the transport sector to recognise the climate emergency. There is no merit in dealing with a crisis today, by creating one for tomorrow.”

Other major organisations joining the city MP, the Select Committee and the top government advisers calling on Government to take equity stakes include Greenpeace, Flight Free, the IPPR and New Economics Foundation thinktanks, and Tax Justice. The Portsmouth South MP has also vowed to push for investment in active travel solutions as part of thinking on recovery plans for the region.

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Stephen Morgan MP’s action update on Covid-19

As we approach the fast growth part of the virus curve and tragically the UK death toll rises to 53, I have been taking action in parliament to ensure Portsmouth people are as protected as they can be.

As measures are put in place by government there will be a number of economic, social and health implications in our community. Each day I will be working hard to see to it that voices are heard, and issues raised.

Actions I have taken in the House of Commons today include:

  • Putting pressure on government to stop evictions – I today wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government demanding an eviction ban for renters affected by Covid-19. The proposal I made would safeguard more than 20 million people – eight and a half million households – who rent their homes from private, council or housing association landlords, including three million households with children.
  • Working to secure a joined-up volunteer response – Volunteers will help deal with everything from delivering shopping to tackling social isolation. I have reached out to Hive Portsmouth, responsible for coordinating volunteers in our community, to urge them to provide information on their volunteer strategy as we progress.
  • Being a voice for older community members – Following the Health Secretary’s advice for over 70s to isolate, I have taken action to tackle potential loneliness. I have today put pressure on the Culture Secretary to delay the introduction of TV licence fees for over 75s. It is imperative that our older community members have a timely flow of information throughout this crisis.
  • Raising our communities’ issues in parliament – As an MP I have the power to raise concerns immediately through written questions. I have today submitted targeted questions seeking government funding for council tax relief for those affected by Covid-19, applied pressure on how they will combat the stockpiling crisis, what role our armed forces will play and a host of other areas.
  • Being a strong voice for our armed forces – Part of tackling the Covid-19 crisis is safeguarding issues of national importance. Today I worked to ensure that action is taken to combat growing cyber security threats. We cannot afford to have another NHS cyber attack during the Covid-19 crisis.

These are the key actions I have taken today. I will continue to stand up for Portsmouth in the face of Covid-19 and will provide a regular update on actions. We are a resilient community made of tough stuff. Side by side by side we will overcome the Covid-19 crisis.

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After a ‘decade of decline’ Budget brings more disappointment for Portsmouth people

Today (Wednesday 11 March 2020) the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered this Government’s first Budget. Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has slammed the Government’s budget for not ensuring an end to austerity and no real investment for the city.

Mr Morgan unpicked the Chancellor’s fiscal plans and called out the fact Portsmouth and the South East continue to be neglected with no robust plans to redress the inequality caused by Tory austerity.

Mr Morgan said:

“Over the last ten years we have seen a decade of decline. Cuts to public services we all rely on as we pay more, but get less, and infrastructure holding our city and our region back.

In today’s budget I know Portsmouth people were hoping for real investment for the city and an end to austerity.

Instead we saw a political panto in the House of Commons, with soundbites with no serious consideration of the challenges our city faces.

We now risk another five more years of more disappointment for Portsmouth”.

The IFS have said that cuts to funding from the government have led to a 17% fall in councils spending on local services since 2010. This has pushed local government to become reliant on local taxes for revenues, in particular council tax.

The Government’s financial plans also received heavy criticism on their failure to address national issues. No real solutions have been put forward to address the climate crisis through infrastructure projects, austerity has not ended and the NHS is creaking ahead of a potential coronavirus strain.

On the national picture, Mr Morgan said:

“In recent weeks, Government has utterly failed to provide leadership in response to storms, flooding, and the coronavirus outbreak.

Is this the budget that will combat issues of international significance such as Coronavirus, the Social Emergency, and Climate Change?  Regrettably there is no evidence to suggest it will.

It seems yet again Mr Johnson has delivered on nothing but empty promises and left the people of Britain to deal with the consequences.

The city MP has long been lobbying for a fairer funding formula for Hampshire Constabulary, calling out government cuts to city schools, championing the need for proper investment in Portsmouth Naval Base, calling for a solution to the social care crisis and the need for the black hole in Ministry of Defence funding to be addressed. The Budget today made no effort to combat these issues.

 

 

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Keir Starmer joins Stephen Morgan in backing Portsmouth’s green initiatives

Stephen Morgan MP hosted Labour leadership front-runner Keir Starmer in Portsmouth to broadcast the benefits of active travel in tackling climate change.

Joined by senior Brompton representatives, the two parliamentarians spent time at the Cycle Hire Hub at Portsmouth Harbour Station.

The current air pollution crisis in Portsmouth, need for more government investment in active travel infrastructure, and Labour’s plan for a greener future were discussed.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Key to tackling climate change is ensuring people have the tools to make changes to their everyday routine. Active travel is a major part of that.

In Portsmouth we face some of the worst air pollution rates in the country. Children choking on fumes is not what this city deserves.

That is why I support Brompton’s Cycle Hire Hub, which makes green commuting easier and takes polluting vehicles off our roads.

Keir’s support for this initiative coupled with his pledge to put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything Labour does, secure him as the only Labour candidate able to bring radical solutions to the climate problem.”

Keir Starmer MP said:

“The recent extreme weather is further evidence that we are living through a climate emergency.

“It is fantastic that Stephen has shown leadership in Portsmouth on this issue by backing Brompton’s bike scheme, organising community events and leading the charge to declaring a climate emergency in the city.

“If elected Labour leader, I would support a Green New Deal and also a Clean Air Act – to ensure that dangerous levels of air pollution are tackled.”

Julian Scriven, Managing Director of Brompton Bike Hire said:

“Brompton is committed  to changing the way people move around cities. We are delighted that both Stephen Morgan MP and Sir Kier Starmer MP share this vision and are demonstrating a real drive at both a local and national level to promote active travel”.

Stephen Morgan MP has a record of delivery when it comes to tackling climate change. From leading the Labour Group locally in declaring a climate emergency and orchestrating major Portsmouth events to voting in favour of legislation In the House of Commons, he has shown leadership from Portsmouth to parliament.

 Keir Starmer and the city MP were joined by a number of Labour councillors and campaigners for more ambitious action by the council to tackle the climate crisis.