Jeremy Corbyn has demanded a green industrial revolution to tackle the climate emergency.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove acknowledged that MPs face a climate “emergency” during an Opposition Day Debate, although he stopped short of meeting Labour demands to officially declare one.
Addressing a rally on Parliament Square, Labour leader Mr Corbyn said he was pleased Parliament had agreed to take action on climate change after Labour’s call.
“But that’s not the end of it,” he said. “Merely declaring an emergency indicates we understand what the emergency is.
“It’s what we do next – it’s about a green industrial revolution, it’s about a green new deal… but instead of the benefits of previous industrial revolutions going towards the agglomeration of capital amongst a few, instead the benefits go to everybody.”
Mr Corbyn said the next steps should include holding the UN climate change conference, Cop20, in London, and the Government must come back “within six months” with proposals to develop a sustainable economy.
He added: “Protecting our natural world… is not a threat to the living standards of people – it is an opportunity to develop good quality, well-paid, high-skilled jobs in renewable energy for example…
“Today is a very, very important milestone, it’s a huge step forward, but a step forward of itself won’t achieve change.
“What will achieve change is a concentration of energy and effort in making sure the change we want actually happens and the mindset of preservation of our natural world and our environment, and the equality that must go with it, is centre to what we do in our politics from now on.”
Earlier in Parliament, the Labour leader tabled a motion which urged the Government to aim for net zero emissions before 2050 and deliver a “zero waste economy” within the next six months.
Opening an Opposition Day Debate in the Commons, he said: “This House must declare an environment and climate emergency. We have no time to waste.
“We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now.
“This is no longer about a distant future. We are talking about nothing less than the irreversible destruction of the environment within our lifetimes.”
Mr Gove said the Government intended to bring the Environment Bill before the Commons “shortly”, which would mark a “step change in how this country tackles the twin challenges of climate change and our broader ecological degradation”.