I firmly believe in protecting both the UK's vibrant ecosystem and the natural environment worldwide. Environmental and economic progress are not just compatible: they depend on each other. The Government is committed to being the UK's greenest ever, and has established a 25-Year Plan to Improve the Environment to help achieve this goal.
Carbon emissions have fallen by 42 per cent since 1990. Britain's share of electricity generated from renewables has doubled since 2009 and Ministers are determined to ensure we become a world leader in the new green economy.
Between 2010 and 2015 Ministers provided £7.5 million to establish 12 Nature Improvement Areas, created 150,000 acres of priority habitats and planted over 11 million trees; they are now committed to planting 11 million more. The National Pollinator Strategy will improve our understanding of the abundance, diversity and role of pollinators, and identify any additional actions needed to protect them.
Fifty Marine Conservation Zones have been created to help protect our rich marine life, joining the UK's over 500 existing marine protected areas, and a further 41 have since been announced. A new UK Blue Belt of protected sites is now being created in British waters and around the UK's 14 Overseas Territories where there is local support and environmental need.
The decision to leave the European Union has created an historic opportunity to review our environmental policies. Outside the EU we can develop global gold standard environmental policies, not just to halt or slow environmental deterioration, but to raise our ambitions, restoring nature and reversing decline.
We can, and I believe we will, be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. I work to realise this green ambition in Parliament and locally in Basildon and Thurrock.