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Reflections on outcomes of COP26 – Stephen Morgan MP

We all needed the government to succeed in Glasgow, but I’m afraid to say that despite some modest progress, we are miles from where we need to be to secure the emissions reductions necessary to keep 1.5C alive.

That aim is on life support after this summit. We needed transformational change, and we got little more than more of the same. Despite the inclusion of coal in the final agreement, and some side deals on issues like methane, deforestation and finance, Glasgow did not achieve what we needed it to.

The respected Climate Action Tracker, and the UN Emissions Gap report update, both show that there was not enough progress to halve global emissions to 2030, and that we are 20-25 per-cent of the way to this goal at most.

Whilst COP26 took place in the context of difficult global geopolitics, Boris Johnson and his government bear some of the responsibility for the failure of this summit to do more. We have long argued that he should have treated it with the seriousness it deserves, and had a proper plan for success.

The government undermined its own negotiating position by facing both ways in many cases. They called on countries to phase out fossil fuels and power past coal, whilst licensing a huge oilfield at Combo and flirting with a new coal mine in Cumbria. They called for finance for developing countries whilst cutting our aid budget – the only G7 country to do so. They even let big emitters off the hook, like Australia, by removing temperature commitments in our trade deal with them.

The government must now do better. We remain the COP President until Egypt next year, and it is vital government learns the lessons of their failure and finally delivers climate action and justice at home and abroad. I will continue to press government to tackle the climate emergency, and make the right choices for Portsmouth, Britain and the world.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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Stephen’s Solent Sewage public meeting

Thank you to all those who attended Stephen’s Solent Sewage public meeting. It was a positive discussion with lots of ideas for everyone to play their part in ending sewage pollution. 

If you were unable to attend, you can watch the event via Facebook at the link here.

Please click here for a briefing from the Environment Agency as requested by Stephen for the meeting.

You can also take a look at the slides shared from some of the panelists:

Stephen will be continuing to take action both locally and in Parliament on the key issues raised. If you have practical ideas or suggestions of how you can help, please get in touch.

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Solent Sewage: Calls grow to address ‘dirty water crisis’ as City MP brings community together to find way forward

Stephen Morgan MP has led calls to address the ‘dirty water crisis’ at a public meeting held in the constituency for people from across the region to have their say.

Hosted by the Portsmouth MP, panelists included Professor Alex Ford, Director of Research Degrees at the School of Biological Sciences for the University of Portsmouth; Bianca Carr, CEO of Final Straw Foundation and; Louise MacCallum, Environment Officer of Langstone Harbour Board.

During his presentation, Professor Ford underlined the importance of local data to build a greater understanding of the impact sewage pollution is having on local bathing waters. Professor Ford told the meeting Southern Water has repeatedly refused to share key research data for Langstone Harbour, despite the water company releasing similar data for Chichester Harbour.

Meeting attendees also raised concerns around the lack of scope and powers regulators have to target and fix sewage pollution, with heavy fines only forming part of the solution.

Young members of the audience also voiced their frustrations that their generation will have to grow up during a period where they are not able to experience local wildlife and habitats in their former glory, but will have to repair the damage caused by historic pollution problems.

Earlier this week Mr Morgan voted in Parliament to amend the Environment Bill for tougher measures to hold water companies to account over sewage discharge, including by placing a legal duty on firms. Regrettably local Tory MPs did not back the cross-party proposals.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said,

“It has been excellent to see so many different parts of our community coming together to share views and concerns and find a way forward to fix the dirty water crisis our city faces. My thanks to all those who attended and panelists for the expertise they shared.

“Government, local Tory MPs and industry continue to drag their feet and refuse to face up to the reality of what we are seeing. Urgent action has now got to be taken. It cannot be right that the next generation will have to pay the price because of the failures government and industry are making today.

“It’s clear from what we heard at my Solent Sewage summit that greater transparency from industry and more targeted, forceful intervention is needed to preserve our precious local environment.

“I will be taking our city’s concerns, and many others, back to Parliament.”

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The government can’t let COP26 be a cop out

As world leaders gather in Glasgow to discuss the biggest challenge our planet faces, it’s vital that the government leads by example at home and abroad and delivers for people and planet.

As hosts of COP26, Britain has a special responsibility to act. It will take serious and sustained leadership from across government for this summit to succeed, yet it continues to treat this summit as more of a photo opportunity than bring with it the diplomatic acumen it requires.

Success at Glasgow is all about the maths. In Paris the world agreed to limit global warming to 1.5C. This means reducing global emissions by half, but as this summit started the government had only achieved commitments to just 7.5 per-cent. Whilst we’ve seen a little progress so far at COP, we are miles from where we need to be.

When we needed the government pulling in the same direction, we’ve had infighting and undermining of the UK’s moral authority. They’ve been telling countries to end coal use, but are flirting with a new coalmine in Cumbria. They want the world to go fossil free, but are licensing a massive new oilfield off the Scottish coast. They’re calling for countries to invest in green transitions at home, whilst failing to provide the investment and support for households and businesses to decarbonise.

Labour has set out a series of demands on government to Keep 1.5C alive and deliver for people and planet this decisive decade. The government now needs to end the double talk on climate and tell the truth about where we are.
That means climate action at home. We should be investing £28bn additional every year until 2030 to tackle the climate crisis, creating secure jobs in the UK and supporting the most vulnerable by reversing the overseas aid cut.

Government has got to be focused on pressuring the big polluters. That starts by calling for 1.5C-aligned targets from the big emitting countries, phasing out fossil fuels, and ensuring a just transition for workers. Instead of dragging their feet on this, they should be taking concrete action to mobilise private finance behind climate action by requiring financial institutions to publish their carbon footprint and, crucially, adopt credible 1.5C-aligned transition plans by 2023.

The government failed to lay the ground for success at Glasgow, but we must not give up hope. I will continue to press the government to keep 1.5C alive, and deliver for the people of Portsmouth, Britain and the world.

Stephen Morgan MP

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COP26: City MP calls for government to ‘come clean’ on its climate commitments in UK trade deals

Stephen Morgan MP grilled ministers in the House of Commons today on whether the government’s commitment to tackle climate change is serious, after a leak last week suggested it would prioritise economic growth over climate protection.

It comes as the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, is set to begin in Glasgow next week.

The leaked document was drawn up for a cross-Whitehall working group and circulated around 120 Whitehall officials in recent days.

It’s reported to say, “HMG (the government) should not refuse to liberalise on products of environmental concern where there is an economic case for liberalisation, or partner interest is so strong that not doing so would compromise the wider agreement.”

Following his question to the Secretary of State for International Trade in the House of Commons this morning, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“The government is happy to talk up its supposed commitment to tackling this generation’s greatest challenge, but behind closed doors, it’s comfortable to roll back on it.

“With just over a week away until Britain hosts the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement, we should be showing leadership, not breaking our promises.

“Government must come clean and not waste next week’s critical opportunity to tackle climate change and I will continue to hold Ministers to account on this.”

The City MP has vowed to continue to keep pressuring government to ensure it lives up to its climate commitments and seizes the chance to finally get a grip of the climate emergency at COP26.

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Statement from Stephen Morgan MP – Stop the Sewage Protest

A statement from Stephen Morgan MP was provided today at a protest in Eastney, demonstrating against Southern Water’s continued discharges into the Solent.

“What we saw last weekend is deeply concerning and the quality of our bathing water is a severe concern for many of us.

“There seems to be a clear difference between what Southern Water is sayingand the water local people were witnessing, which is why I wrote to the Environment Agency earlier this week demanding answers over last weekend’s ‘abnormal situation’.

“The government and its regulator need to provide assurances to the people of Portsmouth that our local environment is being properly protected and that industry is living up to its responsibilities.

“It’s vital we get to the bottom of this ‘abnormal incident’ quickly to understand the cause, lessons can be learnt to prevent it from happening again and those responsible can be held to account. Any wrongdoing must be dealt with
robustly.

“But the scenes from last weekend were just the tip of the iceberg.

“The evidence we have seen over recent months and years demonstrates we have a system that wilfully ignores the worst pollution events in our country.

“Water companies continue to legally pollute UK waters, exposing all-water users, as well as our delicate ocean ecosystems to harm.

“Consequently, our water quality remains at the same dire level as it was in the 1990s, placing the UK a pitiful 25th out of 30 EU countries for coastal water quality.

“Natural spaces such as Langstone Harbour and the Solent are crucial for the health and wellbeing of society and should be highly protected, not used as a dumping ground for big business.

“That is why I have been calling on the Government to end sewage pollution to protect UK waters, help restore our rivers and ocean, and working with others to hold Southern Water to account to ensure the health and wellbeing of the public.

“I’ve met with key bodies, raised concerns with the water company, asked questions of Ministers and called on Government to take urgent action to fix long-running local sewage pollution.

“I will be taking further action over the next few weeks, urging Government to do more, and do better”.

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City MP catches up on progress of Southsea Coastal Defence Scheme

Stephen Morgan MP has visited the Southsea Coastal Defence Scheme to catch up on its progress.

The Southsea Coastal Scheme is the UK’s largest local authority-led coastal defences project, worth more than £100M, which the city MP helped secure from various funding sources.

It will stretch for 4.5km from Old Portsmouth to Eastney, and help to reduce the risk of flooding to more than 10,000 homes and 700 businesses.

Phase one of six of the Southsea Coastal Scheme started in September 2020.

In its latest update, the project shared bay five of eight has now been completed, as well as continuing work on the west of Spur Redoubt, section by section, digging out, attaching beams and backfilling once complete.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It was really good to be on-site today and see how this critical infrastructure is progressing.

“The project team is working hard to engage with local businesses and community groups to avoid any disruption it may be causing now and in the future as the scheme progresses and it was helpful to share some of the feedback I have received from local residents.

“It’s vital we get this once in a lifetime opportunity to protect our city and help avoid the risk of flooding to local homes and businesses. I am keen to ensure the team delivers this scheme on budget, on time and to the highest standards our city expects.

“I will continue to work alongside the council to ensure Southsea Coastal Defence Scheme delivers the very best for our city and the public realm Portsmouth deserves.”

Mr Morgan has previously spoken in parliament on the importance of Southsea Coastal Defence Scheme and similar projects, to ensure they get the support they need from government to protect communities across the UK from material flood risks.

The city MP has committed to continuing to raise of the need for flooding protections in order to safeguard the interests and livelihoods of constituents.

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Langstone Harbour: Portsmouth MP tours ‘valuable’ local Marine Biology Institute at University of Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has toured the University of Portsmouth’s ‘valuable’ Institute of Marine Sciences as he continues to work with others to protect the local environment and tackle sewage pollution.

The city MP met with Professor Alex Ford, Director of Research Degrees at the School of Biological Sciences for the University of Portsmouth, as he was shown around the Institute of Marine Sciences.

Professor Ford explained what the School of Biological Sciences is doing with respect to pollution, nitrates and habitat restoration in the city’s local harbours.

Mr Morgan has been liaising with the Environment Agency and lobbying Government and Southern Water, urging the water company to set out its plans to address treatment capacity and tackle excessive sewage discharges, particularly in and around Langstone Harbour.

According to a recent report from Surfers Against Sewage, only 16% of inland waterways in England meet “good ecological status” and none of them pass the chemical tests.

In the same report, Surfers Against Sewage said recent Government and water company commitments were welcome, but do not go far enough to tackle the root causes of sewage pollution.

They also warned the widespread and routine use of Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) and the growing popularity of water sports as summer approaches, risks deepening a public health crisis.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It’s helpful to see the work our local university is doing to understand the impacts of pollution on our local marine environment, as well as the wider research the Marine Institute is conducting too.

“Students in Portsmouth are incredibly fortunate to have such a valuable place to learn and I am really grateful to the university and Professor Ford for what they have been able to develop here.

“Our local water environment is one of our most prized assets for us as a city, including places like Langstone Harbour, so I welcome what Alex’s incredible insight into what challenges it is facing and what more can be done to protect it.”

Professor Alex Ford, also said:

“We are delighted to be able to show Stephen Morgan MP around the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Portsmouth where we have a number of important projects looking into the impacts of pollution entering the local harbours, and importantly, our efforts to restore key marine habitats including oyster reefs, seagrass, saltmarsh and kelp forests.

“We are fortunate to be living around internationally important coasts of wading birds and nursery sites of fish and shellfish.

“For these wildlife communities to thrive we need to better infrastructure, live more sustainably and adapt to climate change.”

In addition to lobbying Southern Water and meeting with Professor Ford, Mr Morgan has engaged with the Solent Protection Society, Hayling Sewage Watch, the Environment Agency, submitted parliamentary questions and met with local campaigners to improve the quality of local bathing waters.

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City MP calls for Clean Air Act at landmark environmental summit

Stephen Morgan MP has joined Labour’s call for a Clean Air Act in a bid to combat the impact of air pollution, following the Official Opposition’s first Clean Air Summit today.

The first summit of its kind to be hosted by a major party, Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, set out the Party’s demands for a Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act would establish a legal right to breathe clean air by ensuring the law on air quality is at least as strict as WHO guidelines, with tough new duties on Ministers to enforce them and grant new powers to local authorities to take urgent action on air quality.

Even before the pandemic, air pollution represented a national health emergency resulting in an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year, costing the UK £20 billion annually.

Meanwhile in Portsmouth, there have been historic issues with dirty polluting air and campaigns to stop the Lib Dem-run council from rolling back the proposed clean air zone plans to finally address the challenge in the city.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“We have had historic issues with air pollution in our city and Labour is taking national action to resolve this chronic issue we all face.

“The pandemic has shown us that public health is more important than ever. We need to take every step we can to improve the health of our nation, and that starts with cleaning up our polluted air.

“Our Clean Air Act would give public bodies the powers they need to take even further action and clean up our air for good.”