Alistair Carmichael’s Commons First “President-Elect Biden”

Alistair Carmichael had a Commons first today. He was the first person in the UK Parliament to refer to President-Elect Biden.

He was presenting his Bill to tackle plastic pollution. When Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton asked him when it would be debated, he said “Nine days after President-Elect Biden’s inauguration.”

If he has tempted fate, he will be in massive amounts of trouble…

So what is his bill about?

The Plastics Pollution Bill includes:

  • A 2025 target to end non-essential single-use plastics. A ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds came into force in England earlier this month. But other single use plastic items such as plates, cutlery and polystyrene plates and drink containers have not been included.
  • A statutory long-term target to significantly cut plastic waste and pollution by 2042 – by phasing out all but the most essential uses of plastic. The bill also requires plastic waste and pollution to have been substantially and progressively reduced before this date.
  • The establishment of an independent advisory Committee on Plastics Pollution (CPP)- to advise the government on policy measures to achieve statutory targets and develop a list of essential plastic uses that may not be phased out.

The Bill is supported by a cross-party group of MPs and a coalition of organisations including Friends of the Earth, Surfers Against Sewage, Keep Britain Tidy, Tearfund and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.

Alistair reminded us how much we have gone backwards during the pandemic, describing disposable face masks as “the new scourge.”

We need firm action on plastic pollution now, well beyond what we are already doing on climate change. Plastic pollution has not gone away with arrival of the pandemic and in some ways we have reversed progress – we have all seen the new scourge of disposable face masks around town. The pandemic may be with us for months more, but the damage done by plastic pollution and microplastics will be with us for decades, if not centuries.

“Every community – urban, rural, island – is affected by plastic pollution. Much of this plastic ends up in the sea, so we are as likely to find waste on the beaches in the Northern Isles as anywhere else. Still more concerning is the spread of microplastics – pollution that we cannot see.

“Where progress has been made already by government I have supported it but there is far too much still to be done. Plastic pollution cannot be treated like any other form of pollution – it demands a targeted response. The government must take this Bill seriously and consider the proposals for legally-binding targets.

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