Few MPs attend the first climate change debate in two years – the whole story?

A BES policy intern in Scotland delves deeper into the recent climate change debate – find out what she discovered.


The recent media reports of the sparsely attended, first climate change debate in the  House of Commons in two years (see here and here) – received lots of attention in my social media feeds. Since recently starting a placement with the BES – SPG I’m really interested in current environmental-policy issues – so I decided to delve deeper into the details of the debate.

I learned a lot, not just about the debate – but also the availability of resources that let you stay well-informed on current political issues. I compiled some of them into a hyperlink-loaded list points of interest to give anyone new to these topics a starting point to find out more.

  • A transcript of the debate can be read on the UK Parliament Hansard website, and you can watch the whole three-hour debate on UK Parliament TV here.  The Hansard website publishes ‘substantially verbatim’ reports on what is said in Parliament. A search for the term ‘climate change’ brings up details of more than 5000 spoken or written references (that you can read in full) – and even displays a bar chart of daily counts of those references.

Lots of ecological knowledge and evidence was referenced during the debate:

  • Mary Creagh MP mentioned the cascading effects of climate change and biodiversity loss, and the importance of soil health.
  • Ruth George MP mentioned the Peak District’s Moors for the Future project which aims to improve carbon sequestration in the peat moors.
  • Vicky Ford MP mentioned the importance of investing in universities for Britain to lead on how to protect soils.
  •  Zac Goldsmith MP mentioned the importance of funding scientists at Kew Gardens to help developing countries adapt to climate change and to be leaders in restoring ecosystems.

I was impressed by the breadth of ecological knowledge the MPs displayed and their ability to speak succinctly on these complex issues.

  • The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is the UK’s independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008 – set up to ensure emissions targets are set based on evidence and to monitor the UK’s progress towards meeting carbon budget targets.
  • The CCC is due to publish the advice to the UK, Scottish, and Welsh Governments on long-term targets for greenhouse gas emissions and the UK’s transition to a net zero-carbon economy on the 2nd May 2019.