There has been consternation at the sight of recent disruptive demonstrations on the M25, where people have put the lives of themselves and of others at risk by walking onto the motorway in the misguided belief that this will help to tackle climate change.
It is clear for all to see that stopping hard-working commuters from getting to work or people needing to attend hospital will not save our planet. The Transport Secretary and National Highways have won an injunction to prevent protesters from causing any further disruption to traffic on the M25.
Anyone breaching the injunction will be in contempt of court. Such a breach can be punishable by up to two years in prison as well as an unlimited fine.
Last week in the House of Commons I received assurances from the Crime & Policing Minister that, if it is necessary, the Government will seek to extend this injunction to address any further disruption which may take place elsewhere, including the M23 serving Crawley and Gatwick.
The reality is that those protesting in such a way are harming a cause which we actually all want to see addressed.
It was a pleasure to meet Crawley residents as part of Great Big Green Week, when we had a fruitful conversation about how to address environmental concerns and what can be done on a local, national and global level to protect our planet.
These are discussions which are taking place at local community groups, in Downing Street and the United Nations General Assembly in New York. People in Crawley, across our country and right around the world want to see action taken, and will not allow these efforts to be hijacked by those putting themselves selfishly ahead of the cause they purport to represent.
Indeed, this is an issue raised by the Prime Minister at the UN this month, where he called for the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November to be an opportunity “for humanity in which we choose to grow up, to recognise the scale of the challenge we face, to do what posterity demands we must”.
The UK’s position is clear, that climate change and economic growth are vital for each other’s success, instead of being separate and mutually exclusive. Over the last three decades, Britain has grown its GDP by 78 per cent, while cutting emissions by 44 per cent.
Our country has already set a new target to reduce emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030 and 78 per cent by 2035, among the highest in the world.
Britain is also calling on other countries to come forward with plans to cut emissions by 2030, setting them on course for net zero.
By working together, UK leadership can deliver real and lasting change in Glasgow in the coming weeks.
Henry Smith MP