Last week, 265 Conservatives, including three from County Durham, voted to block the Environment Bill from placing a legal duty on water companies in England and Wales “to make improvements to their sewerage systems and demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage.”
After the vote, Conservative MPs took to social media to defend their decision, declaring the safeguards already exist or that new measures to prevent sewage dumping would cost billions.
The principal stand of Conservative MPs lasted 24 hours as a day later, following a social media storm, the Government dumped their position (and their MPs), by announcing they would now introduce a legal duty on water companies.
The devil is in the detail, and it is not quite victory yet, as Government Bill amendments are usually more watered down than the sewage they are ‘trying’ to prevent.
While the Prime Minister is lecturing the world about the environment and climate disaster, he is head of a government that allows our rivers and coastal waters to be pumped with sewage, last week’s budget cut the cost of flying and did nothing to address the cost of rail travel, and Boris Johnson dithers on whether to allow the opening of new coal mines and oil drilling in the North Sea.
The Prime Minister was apocalyptic when he kicked off COP26 warning the world we are one minute from midnight and climate disaster. To have Boris Johnson heading global climate change efforts is the moral equivalent of letting big tobacco tackle smoking rates.
The hypocritical position of the Government, allows global leaders and the world’s biggest polluters a free pass, a get out of jail card, how can the UK demand others to take actions we are not willing to do ourselves?
I hope it goes without saying, but privately educated Etonian, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, may be Prime Minister but is certainly not representative of the wider country. The British people want fresh air, clean seas and big polluters to be held accountable. We want targets and urgent action to end sewage overflows and stop pumping carbon into the atmosphere.
The implications of climate change for the planet, wildlife and the human race are frightening, and with all the goodwill in the world (which there isn’t), the current crop of global leaders are not up to the challenge. In the last seven days, our Prime Minister has shown he is not fit to manage the climate crisis, and the last year has shown he is not fit to manage any crisis.
I hope and pray I am wrong. I want COP26 to be a historic turning point, the event people will point to and say that was the start of the world winning the fight on climate change. However, the state of foreign relations is such that the leaders of two major economies, China and Russia, are not present in Glasgow.
We need unprecedented action, international co-operation and the single biggest global effort of humanity if our children, grandchildren and those who come after are to have a habitable planet Earth.
The scale of the challenge is daunting, and when you consider that we are unable to get our Government to be fully committed to stopping untreated sewage from being dumped in our rivers and coastal waters, what are the chances of getting nearly 200 countries fully committed to tackling climate change. Unfortunately, we were not even able to achieve getting them all to show up at COP26.