• Environment

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    28 April 2019

    It is hard not to be impressed by Greta Thunberg – the 15 year old student from Sweden who has captured the imagination of so many in her fight to encourage all of us to tackle climate change. Initially by sitting outside the Swedish parliament and handing out leaflets explaining “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future” and more recently by speaking in London. All good I say although a shame about the language perhaps. Greta does have a real point – if we do not keep up the pressure on reducing carbon we will end up in a bad place. Greta’s protest has been coincident with the rise and fade of Extinction Rebellion which targeted traffic and businesses in London recently unfortunately bringing some misery to those who were trying to get on with their daily lives or hold together a business or who were unfortunately reliant on emergency services that got bogged down in traffic and yet making a vital point at the same time. Had they brought Heathrow Airport to a standstill over Easter I am not sure that countless thousands of families would have forgiven them. That said they raised important issues. As a government we have played our part in looking after the environment. In addition to pressing ahead with carbon reduction - we are well on the way to meeting our international obligations - we have done the also focused on the following. Tackling plastics. Consulting on the introduction of a deposit return scheme. Calling for evidence on single use plastics which will enable us to examine changes to the tax system or the introduction of new charges. We have legislated to ban microbeads to protect our oceans. We have required large retailers to charge 5p for single use plastic carrier bags. The number of plastic bags being distributed has fallen by 83 per cent. We are improving air quality by supporting local authorities with funding worth more than £260 million to tackle the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots. We are calling for evidence on cutting harmful emissions caused by the burning of fuels. New regulations are expected to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 43 per cent – helping the UK meet its 2030 targets. We are introducing a one-off tax on diesel cars. We are introducing stronger protections for animal welfare. Tougher sentences for those who abuse animals and we are increasing the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty tenfold. We are recognising that animals are sentient beings in primary legislation. That they feel pain and suffering – a principle that we are writing that into law. We are also introducing mandatory CCTV into slaughterhouses. This will ensure standards of treatment are upheld. We are banning ivory sales with a ban that will be one of the toughest in the world. We are calling for evidence on banning third-party puppy sales and much more as part of our commitment to animal welfare and the environment. More from Mel on twitter @MelJStride.