This Friday 26th March was supposed to be the date of the second reading of the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill. It was tabled as an early day motion last year but is yet to be debated in Parliament due to Covid-related delays. In place of the reading, a UK-wide day of campaigning has been organised to raise awareness of the bill – so what is the CEE Bill and what can we do to support it?

What is the CEE Bill?

The draft CEE Bill was an initiative that began as a grassroots campaign by members of Extinction Rebellion and Friend’s of the Earth’s Big Ask Campaign (which brought about the 2008 Climate Change act). Its aim was to build an alliance around the proposed legislation. With the help of eminent climate scientists, academics and lawyers, the Bill was eventually tabled as a private member’s bill by Caroline Lucas last September and sponsored by 12 cross-party MPs. 

The aim of the Bill is to enact a impactful UK strategy in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement’s aim to keep global temperature rise to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. This would be achieved by contributing fairly to climate mitigation through taking into account its entire carbon footprint and reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions first and foremost. The Bill also incorporates biodiversity and ecological restoration, and links this hand in hand with the climate crisis – ensuring there is a focus on natural carbon sinks rather than unproved technological solutions. 

What are the Key Points in the Bill?

  • A serious, rigorous plan to keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5oC compared to pre-industrial levels in accordance with the provisions of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.
  • Taking into account our entire carbon footprint – in both the UK and overseas (i.e. imports, exports and all GHG emissions arising from aviation, shipping and land-based transport), and accounting for historical role in global emissions fairly. 
  • Ensuring that the UK restores and regenerates its biodiversity and natural carbon sinks.
  • The active conservation and restoration of nature overseas too, recognising the damage we cause through supply chains and the goods we import.
  • Legislators not to make achieving targets dependent on unproven future technologies, which are used as an excuse for us to carry on polluting. 
  • Using Citizen’s Assemblies to enable representative cross-sections of ordinary members of the population to work alongside government to recommend strategies and solutions. 

Why Do We Need this Bill?

According to the UN, current policies in place will lead to around 3oC of warming by the end of the century but this could easily be more, which could be catastrophic for the future of civilised society. Alongside this, the consequences of human activity outstripping it planetary boundaries is risking ecological collapse unless policy makers take urgent action. 

Although the UK declared a climate emergency in 2019, the 2050 target provides only a 50:50 chance of limiting warming to 1.5oC. On top of this, the UK’s Climate Change Committee’s 2020 progress report shows the government is missing its targets. 

The Bill not only goes much further than both the Climate Change Act and current Environmental Bill, but addresses both crises together, as we know one cannot be solved without the other. It is also more groundbreaking than any piece of legislation we currently have through prioritising global fairness, emissions from consumption, natural climate solutions, ecological damage both here and via supply change, and using Citizens’ Assembly to determine a just transition.

The Bill would also set both a blueprint and a benchmark to drive ambitions ahead of COP26 which is being hosted in Glasgow this November- ahead of this it is imperative the UK Government become the standard-bearer for serious climate and ecological action on the international stage.

What can I do to help?

The Bill now has support from 103 MPs from 7 different political parties, and 78 allied organisations. Although it is true that Private Member’s Bills rarely make it into law, the small number that do are those that have galvanised support from the ground up, with a notable example being the 2008 Climate Change Act. That means for a chance of success – this Bill needs YOU!

  • Read the full CEE Bill here.
  • Find out here if you have a banner drop site near you for the campaign on Friday and see if you can help out! 
  • Record a video to your MP about the bill and join the Twitter storm on Friday! See the briefing doc here.
  • Lobby your MP about the bill, find out how to do this here including a list of FAQs.
  • Watch this XR ‘ask a scientist live’ session to find out more about the bill. 

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