UK Youth Parliament is working alongside Friends of the Earth to lobby politicians, calling on the government to address the climate emergency and put a stop to non-essential single-use plastics by 2025. As part of the campaign, Members of Youth Parliament have published an open letter to the Rt Hon Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, the Minister responsible for the Pacific and the Environment.
In the letter, members are calling on the Minister to accept an amendment that asks the government to set a target to reduce plastic in the ocean by October 2022. The amendment, which has the support of a number of Lords already, has been sent ahead of the debates which are set to take place in the House of Lords. The open letter forms part of a public demand for action from a huge cross-section of young people who are passionate about the future of the UK.
Speaking on behalf of UK Youth Parliament, Safaa Shreef, said: “To address the climate emergency, robust and long-lasting action is required from decision-makers in government. Young people have been clear, we must tackle the climate emergency and put a stop to non-essential single-use plastics.
“We’re calling on Zac Goldsmith to not only acknowledge the amendment being put forward for the Environment Bill but welcome it. We have an important opportunity to confront the plastics crisis head-on with a clear target to reduce plastic pollution through this legislation. Let’s not miss this crucial chance to deliver meaningful change!”
Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner, Camilla Zerr, said: “It’s been nearly four years since Blue Planet’s shocking episode on plastics hit our screens and the UK government has yet to take effective action on most of the top ten types of plastic pollution harming our oceans. A recent survey revealed that Brits are more concerned about plastic pollution than ever, with more than two-thirds thinking plastic pollution is just as bad, or worse than it was before the pandemic began.
“Young people are fighting to ensure their future is not suffocated in unnecessary plastics. Zac Goldsmith has a unique opportunity to turn the tide on the plastics crisis by supporting a new target to reduce plastic pollution in the Environment Bill.”
Earlier this year, UK Youth Parliament launched their national campaigns calling on the government to address the climate emergency, mental health concerns and access to higher education. The year-long campaigns are set to challenge decision-makers to do more to ensure young people’s mental health is prioritised in the coming year, to create free, lifelong and inclusive higher education and lastly to stop non-essential single-use plastics by 2025.
Members of Youth Parliament believe the climate emergency remains one of the biggest threats to our planet. Amongst many other issues, members across the country have agreed plastic pollution will have a serious impact on our current and future generations. The group of outspoken young people have stated national and local leaders in government must act to halt the impact of climate change with young people’s voices at the centre of decision making.
UK Youth Parliament’s priorities are informed by its annual ballot of young people across the UK. The ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot, which was coordinated by the British Youth Council and supported by UK Parliament, concluded young people felt the climate emergency was one of their top priorities.
The British Youth Council have supported calls for the Government to take steps to deliver a fairer society by supporting younger people in the housing and employment market.
In a new report published by the House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision, the Government is also asked to ensure local authorities have specific planning policies to meet the housing needs of young people. The Committee also goes on to recommend the Government make substantial increases in funding for Further Education and vocational training to tackle unfairness between those to go onto Higher Education and those who do not.
The British Youth Council also backed calls for make the government to make PSHE a statutory subject that is inspected by Ofsted and includes education about housing and finance matters. The national youth council has made repeated calls for statutory PSHE over a number of years. In a ballot of over 1.1 million young people, which was coordinated by the British Youth Council, a curriculum that prepares students for life was one of the top five issues.
Commending on the report findings, Lewis Addlington-Lee, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council said: “The British Youth Council welcome the findings of the House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision.
“The Lord Committee’s findings make it clear more affordable housing, the introduction of statutory PSHE and investment in services such as youth provision and a Government willing to listen to the needs of young people will help us to tackle international unfairness and importantly build a fairer society.”
The national youth-led charity believes there is a lack of affordable housing for young people in some rural areas; exacerbating the problems that young people face in remaining in or moving into rural areas to work and live. The British Youth Council believe that there is a need to look for sustainable solutions to rural housing problems.