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Nearly 1000 people sign petition in Forres calling for Douglas Ross MP to support Climate and Ecology Bill

By Garry McCartney

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Rachel Winter (right), Frances Wardhaugh and John Lardner handing over the petiton to Douglas Ross’ office.Picture: Becky Saunderson
Rachel Winter (right), Frances Wardhaugh and John Lardner handing over the petiton to Douglas Ross’ office.Picture: Becky Saunderson

A LOCAL environmentalist has submitted a petition to Moray’s MP with more than 900 signatures.

Rachel Winters and fellow campaigners have handed the document in to the office of Douglas Ross, requesting he back the proposed Climate and Ecology Bill (formerly the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill), aimed at reversing the climate and ecological breakdown.

Mr Ross claimed previously he had not made his mind up about supporting the bill, and wanted to learn more about how it can help the UK meet its emissions targets.

Rachel said: “I started the petition on October 13, 2020, shortly after the private members’ bill was first introduced to the UK Parliament. I cycled from my home in Kinloss to stand outside Mr Ross’s office collecting signatures for an hour every weekday lunchtime.”

Rachel was joined most days by retired teacher, John Lardner while another retired teacher, Frances Wardhaugh, collected signatures in Elgin. More signatures were also collected via an online petition.

Rachel said: “We want to raise awareness of the bill because, due to rapid global heating caused primarily by burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, humanity is facing what Sir David Attenborough called a man-made disaster on a global scale. Leading scientists advise that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced and nature restored to keep future generations safe.”

Rachel believes the Climate and Ecology Bill offers a comprehensive, joined-up approach to the climate and nature crisis, in-line with up-to-date science.

The petition is calling on Mr Ross to join over 150 UK parliamentarians in backing the bill. After Covid measures delayed the passage of the private members bill through the House of Commons, it was re-introduced this parliamentary session. It received its First Reading in the House of Lords on May 25 and is being debated before moving to the House of Commons.

Rachel said: “We have seen the government back-tracking on commitments made at COP26 to open no new oil and gas fields in the UK. The UK’s growth in total renewable capacity slowed to 3.4 per cent in the year to December 2021, compared with an average annual rise of about 18 per cent over the previous 11 years. This is despite renewable energy now being cheaper than fossil fuels. Expanding it would not only help to reduce our emissions but also save on energy bills.”

She added: “The need is greater than ever to have a joined-up plan to restore nature and limit global warming to 1.5°C that will be legally binding.”

Rachel stopped campaigning in person in April 2021 due to a family situation but the petition remained open online.

She said: “The current version of the bill now specifically says that it will apply in Scotland and the other devolved nations. I hope Mr Ross will be courageous and join the growing list of backing the bill.”

The Gazette asked Douglas Ross’ office if he will now support the bill and explain why the UK Government is pressing ahead with plans to open up more oil and gas field.

He replied: “Rachel has done excellent work generating support for her petition and I will be sending copies to members of the UK Government, seeking a response from Ministers.

“Cambo is an important field and while there continues to be strong demand for oil and gas I want to see that met with the development of sites in the North Sea where we can benefit from the many jobs it creates. Not progressing with Cambo – as advocated by the SNP and other parties in Scotland – would put these jobs at risk and will see oil having to be imported from abroad at greater cost and with an even higher carbon footprint.”

Rachel, John and Frances are also calling on concerned citizens to write to Mr Ross to ask him to support the Bill.

See www.ceebill.uk for more information.

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