Matt Rodda at the Turbine House

Matt Rodda MP at the opening of the ‘In Reading Gaol by Reading Town’ exhibition at the Riverside Museum at Blake’s Lock

Matt Rodda (Labour MP for Reading East) took part in a parliamentary debate this week to consider a public petition called Demand the EU & UN sanction Brazil to halt increased deforestation of the Amazon.

The debate was opened by Daniel Zeichner (Labour MP for Cambridge and a shadow transport minister). Matt Rodda spoke three times about climate change and the need to take action, including an end to deforestation.

The House of Commons Petitions Committee had decided the petition needed debate because it had received more than 100,000 signatures. It took place in Westminster Hall on 7 October at 4.30pm. The full debate can be watched on Parliament TV.

Catastrophic climate change

Mr Rodda, who is also a shadow minister for buses, mentioned Reading and Woodley in relation to the risk of rising sea levels caused by melting ice sheets:

Does my honourable friend [Daniel Zeichner] agree that we are approaching a very dangerous tipping point in the context of climate change and that the wider world faces catastrophic climate change if urgent action is not taken? That action must include an end to deforestation, radical action to reduce the consumption of meat in the western world, and Government intervention in markets.

[see context]

Mr Zeichner replied:

That is the important point: the sense of urgency. Of course, this Parliament has declared a climate emergency, not that one would necessarily guess that from the Government’s actions, and actions are what count.

[see context]

Sea level change risks to Reading

Mr Rodda continued:

It is vital to consider where we are with climate change, to look at the term ‘climate emergency’ and consider what it really means, and then to look at the range of potential responses available to Governments around the world…

We now sit on the edge of the abyss, and we have to do something about that. I think that it is perfectly reasonable and responsible to do so, given the situation that we now face, which is demonstrated by the melting and the threat of melting of great ice sheets…

Many coastal cities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and towns next to rivers, such as Reading and Woodley in my constituency, could be very seriously affected by this level of change [in sea level]. Admittedly, that would be over many decades, but it would mean saying to our children in our old age, “we failed, and we failed very seriously.”

In that context, I think it is perfectly reasonable for protestors outside, and for us in this House, to use the term ‘climate emergency’. We should not shy away from it. I am sure the Minister [Christopher Pincher MP, Minister for Europe and the Americas] will address that with the level of gravity that this serious situation demands.

That is my first point. I am grateful to colleagues who made points clearly in support of that and highlighted the particular issues in Brazil, where the Amazon is greatly important. It is a huge carbon sink, but it is under threat from the dreadfully irresponsible fires, which the Government of Brazil have so wrongly allowed to take place.

[see context]

The need for action

There is a need for urgent and sustained action…

As people in the developed world, we should not shy away from taking a clear stance with people in the developing world, however awkward that might seem.

I take the point made by the hon. member for Fylde [Mark Menzies] about the need to engage with civil society in Brazil, but we can do that by reinforcing the voices of those in Brazil who are calling for change and addressing the deep mistakes of that Government.

In that context, this petition is absolutely right and we should take it seriously. I hope the Minister will address it and take it on. I urge him to take the matter very seriously, to leave no stone unturned and to consider this form of action. We should not take this potential policy lightly; it is necessary, given the situation, and I urge him to address the matter clearly.

[see context]

Is £10 million enough?

Christopher Pincher (Conservative MP for Tamworth), a minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that the Prime Minister had “pledged a further £10 million for our international climate finance work to support the longer-term efforts to tackle deforestation in Brazil.”

Mr Rodda responded:

It is interesting to hear him tiptoe around some of the issues in this important debate. Given the scale of the challenge that we face across the world, does he feel that £10 million is enough money to deploy on this important issue?

[see context]

Mr Pincher clarified that the government was spending £120 million rather than £10 million.

  1. Hansard Online
  2. Parliament Online
  3. Register of members interests
  4. Amazon Deforestation
  5. Petition: Demand the EU & UN sanction Brazil to halt increased deforestation of the Amazon
  6. Parliament TV
  7. Matt Rodda home page, at Hansard and They Work For You
  8. MP expenses at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority