Youth campaigners are urging Rishi Sunak to help reverse the decline of UK nature by supporting the Climate and Ecology Bill.
Introduced to Parliament by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas three years ago, the Bill is intended to guide the UK towards cutting emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and reversing nature loss by 2030 while creating a citizens’ assembly to guide policy.
It is supported by 175 MPs and peers from all parties, 238 local councils plus the London Assembly and Mayor of London, as well as 500 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and 30,000 members of the public, the campaign group Zero Hour said.
Youth representatives from Zero Hour, which is pushing for the Bill to be passed, handed over a petition signed by 15,000 people to Downing Street on World Environment Day.
Activist Tori Tsui, influencer Sam Bentley, UK Youth for Nature co-director Ellen Bradley, Friends of the Earth mentor Noama Chaudhry, farmer Ursula Guy and Co-operative Bank trainee Alaan Ali made up the delegation.
Ms Bradley, said: “This is the last call for UK nature. With the catastrophic situation of sewage in our rivers, vanishing wildlife and polluted air, we need bold, new legislation – the Climate and Ecology Bill – to make sure we stop tinkering around at the edges and achieve the transformational changes we need to restore our natural world.
“The Government has already agreed to reverse nature loss by 2030 at the UN biodiversity summit – Cop15 – and now we need the prime minister to agree to lock this target into national legislation by enacting the Climate and Ecology Bill.”
The petitioners were joined by Ms Lucas as well as Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper, Colum Eastwood of the SDLP in Northern Ireland and Labour’s Bell Ribeiro-Addy.
Ms Lucas said: “Halting and reversing nature’s decline is essential, with huge benefits not only for our natural world and our climate but also improving our health, supporting the economy and creating thousands of skilled jobs to regenerate local communities.
“The Climate and Ecology Bill, which I first introduced into Parliament in 2020 and have championed ever since, is the critical framework we need in place, now, to keep 1.5C alive, and protect our precious natural world before it’s too late.”
On the same day, Zero Hour also launched an “origami action” campaign sending folded paper models to elected representatives and demanding “no more paper-thin promises”.
Designed by artist Tina Luo, the origami models are of three at-risk species – the common nightingale, the red helleborine orchid and the northern pool frog.
Dr Mya-Rose Craig, Zero Hour ambassador and ornithologist who is fronting the campaign for the Bill, said: “It’s ridiculous that the UK Government pretends to be a world leader on the environment, when 30 million birds have vanished from our skies in the last 50 years, 97% of wildflower meadows have been eradicated since the 1930s and a quarter of all mammals are at risk of extinction.
“You’d think this would send alarm bells ringing with ministers but it isn’t.
“I’m asking the Prime Minister to deliver the nature positive future he’s promised by backing the Climate and Ecology Bill.
“The public are sick and tired of paper-thin promises. It’s time to save our precious natural world.”