Climate Change Emergency: MP calls for all plastics sold to be recyclable

1st May 2019

Speaking in the debate on declaring a climate change emergency, Sir Mike Penning called for all plastics sold in this country to be recyclable.

It has been a pleasure to sit in the Chamber for this debate, and I am really pleased about the consensus across the House today. The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) must have had a heart attack when I signed her early-day motion on 13 March, which called for a UK-wide climate emergency. I did so because I passionately believe in the need for that. My daughter was home from Australia. She is a marine biologist, and she told me in no uncertain terms what daddy should do. She is 30 years of age, and I often listen to her. I have been involved in this campaign since I joined the World Wide Fund for Nature and adopted a dolphin for my daughter when she was nine years of age. She is now working in the environment, which is not the highest-paid job.

It is the young people who have driven this campaign, and not just today but for many years. There was movement in this House before the demonstrations took place around the country. This is part of the movement. Before the young lady came over here—an unbelievably clever, intelligent and fluidly speaking young lady—the movement was going on in this country, and perhaps we needed that extra nudge.

This might sound strange, but I am disappointed that we are not going to vote this evening. I understand why the motion will be agreed and why those on the Government Benches will support it, but we should have put a marker out there. Perhaps on another day, when not so many Members on both sides of the House are away preparing for the elections tomorrow, we can come back and do this again and again.

There are two parts of most of what I have heard today that need to be touched on again. One is people’s trust in us that what we are telling them to do is good for them. We told the British public to go and buy diesel cars. That is what the experts and the scientists told us, and we did that and that was driven forward across Europe and across the western world. We are now telling them to scrap them, and that they are nasty, horrible, dirty things. People do not just switch. For people on a low income who have invested in a car, that is their freedom: it is what they need on a daily basis. For me, this issue is rightly important, and we have to make sure that we get right what we tell them to do.

The other issue is plastics. Why are we selling plastic in this country that is not recyclable? The Government could do something about this tomorrow. I am sure there would be consensus to do so, and we could make sure that we recycle all plastic sold in this country.


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