I HAVE attended numerous meetings and events with individuals, businesses and charities who are working to combat climate change and protect our environment in the last month, including an event on air quality, one of the areas I am particularly interested in.

One of the first things I decided to do this year was join the Conservative Environment Network. The CEN is an independent forum that supports conservation and decarbonisation and has a parliamentary caucus of many of my Conservative MP colleagues.

One of its focus areas is air quality. Cleverly, in my view, its homepage reminds Conservatives that one of the first frontline politicians to speak about the importance of protecting our environment was Margaret Thatcher, who said: “The core of Conservative philosophy and of the case for protecting the environment are the same.”

At an evening event organised by the Green Alliance last week, discussion covered whether the general public would be unanimously in favour of what will be required to achieve net zero by 2050. My view is that the general public can be persuaded to support efforts to protect the environment, but they will be more quickly brought along if they do not feel that the environmental movement is simply affluent people lecturing poorer people about their lifestyles.

Too often, the leaders of movements can slip into this because they are not living on a tight budget and are not generally socialising with people who are either. But if you are worried about making ends meet to pay this month’s bills, it will be much more a priority for you than, for example, replacing your car with an electric one. Which is not to say if you had the money you would not like to do so.

One of the energy companies that came to see me has piloted a programme in which they knock on doors and offer to replace lightbulbs with LED lights there and then. This strikes me as having the seeds of a potentially effective approach in which people are directly approached with the offer of support that will not only help efforts to protect the environment but save them money. Not every action can or should come from central government. The role of business is crucial. That said, Government should lead, and I was pleased to see the Environment Bill have its second reading in the Commons last week, full of provisions to improve waste management, air and water quality and restore green spaces.

If everyone pulls in the same direction while being mindful of protecting jobs and the lower paid, we can make the progress we‘d all like to see.