VoteClimate: Alan Brown MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Alan Brown MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Alan Brown is the SNP MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun.

At the next election Alan Brown is standing in the new Kilmarnock and Loudoun constituency.

We have identified 19 Parliamentary Votes Related to Climate since 2015 in which Alan Brown could have voted.

Alan Brown is rated Good for votes supporting action on climate. (Rating Methodology)

  • In favour of action on climate: 11
  • Against: 0
  • Did not vote: 8

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Alan Brown's Speeches In Parliament Related to Climate

We've found 120 Parliamentary debates in which Alan Brown has spoken about climate-related matters.

Here are the relevant sections of their speeches.

  • 19 Mar 2024: Draft Strategy and Policy Statement for Energy Policy in Great Britain


    “to consider consumers’ interests in the Secretary of State’s compliance with the net zero targets”.

    “By 2024, an appropriate policy to enable investment in large-scale long-duration electricity storage consistent with cost-effective decarbonisation.”


  • 12 Mar 2024: Budget Resolutions


    Of course, it is no coincidence that the US has its Inflation Reduction Act or that the eurozone is covered by the EU’s green deal industrial plan. It is no coincidence either that the UK has the lowest levels of investment in the G7—further proof that the Government should be providing schemes and investment to counter the EU and US measures. Instead we heard from UK Ministers at the time the blasé attitude that these other countries were simply playing catch-up with the UK. It was blinkered British exceptionalism at its worst. Indeed, the Government still do not recognise that they have fallen further behind; not only that, but they failed to listen to renewable energy developers about the strike rate for offshore wind being too low in the last contracts for difference auction, which has lost investment in renewable energy and thrown the 2030 deployment targets into doubt.

    Until the failure of auction round 5 for offshore wind, the contracts for difference process was at least a success for deployment of renewable energy. However, it still represented missed opportunities for UK-based supply chain development, for investment to be targeted at UK manufacturing and for increased UK productivity. Instead, the UK Government made it a race to the bottom in terms of price, so we saw billions of pounds of investment offshored in that process. The Government hid behind EU directives but now, post Brexit, the procurement strategy still does not sufficiently incentivise local content.


  • 22 Feb 2024: Civil Nuclear Road Map


    On the wider programme delivery considerations for these large-scale nuclear sites, Hinkley will have taken 15 years to complete, if it is completed, by 2031. Even if we are optimistic about Sizewell C, which will be delivered much more quickly, it is still going to take at least 10 years, so it could be between 2035 and 2040 before it is delivered. These timescales alone show the folly of relying on nuclear for decarbonisation and of planning for nuclear to deliver 25% of generation output capacity by 2050, as set out in the road map. It also shows the folly of the road map stating a delivery target of 3 GW to 7 GW every five years. It is a fantasy target, as is 24 GW overall, unfortunately.

    The concept of 24 GW, or 25% of generation output, is the wrong model, given that nuclear power is so inflexible. Such a large nuclear output on the grid means that, at times, even greater constraint payments will be paid for renewable energy companies to turn off their turbines.

    Why does the road map outline two possible funding models—contracts for difference and a regulated asset base? At a £92.50 per megawatt-hour strike rate over 35 years, Hinkley Point is way more expensive than renewable energy at circa £40 to £50 per megawatt-hour over just a 15-year concession period. When we debated the legislation on the regulated asset base funding model, the Government told us that the CFD model does not work for nuclear as it is too expensive, and that switching to RAB would save £40 billion to £80 billion over the lifetime of a nuclear project. If that is the case, why are two funding models listed in the road map? Are the Government now concerned that RAB transfers too much risk to the bill payer? Are they concerned about repeating what happened in South Carolina where, under a regulated asset base model, a company abandoned the construction of a nuclear power station and ratepayers were left paying for a power station that was never completed? What is to stop that happening at Sizewell?


  • 19 Feb 2024: Infrastructure Procurement


    Through time, the argument was then advanced that HS2 was needed to free up capacity on existing lines, particularly the west coast main line, thereby creating more capacity for both passenger and freight services. That principle is fine, and getting more freight delivered by train is good for decarbonisation, but what the different arguments and analysis mean is that there was never an established rationale for the key outcomes for HS2. That has made it easier, as part of the inherent north-south bias of a London Government, to make phase 1 of the project the London to Birmingham link, and to make that the most important aspect.

    Again—no surprise—I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend. It is classic “penny wise, pound foolish” all the time, particularly when it comes to nuclear. The Government are kidding themselves about nuclear, because they still estimate that Sizewell C will cost only £20 billion. We already know that Hinkley, which is the model for Sizewell C, is costing nearly £50 billion, so why pretend that it will cost only £20 billion? They are setting their stall out wrongly and have a blinkered approach that suggests we somehow need nuclear, when clearly we do not actually need it. What they should be investing in is renewable energy, storage systems and, as my hon. Friend says, much better grid infrastructure as well.


  • 23 Nov 2023: Autumn Statement Resolutions


    Despite talk of investment in green energy, the statement and the Green Book do not mention energy storage even once—that is a dereliction of duty. Tidal stream, in which Scotland leads the way, is not mentioned either. Looking at the statement in detail, the so-called £4.5 billion manufacturing investment and the £960 million green growth accelerator do not have corresponding budget lines, so those announcements are clearly recycled announcements, in the finest style of this Government.


  • 5 Jul 2023: Energy Infrastructure


    For the most part, there has been consensus today. Everyone seems to understand the rate of deployment of renewable energy that we need, the number of grid upgrades required, the need to improve consent processes, the opportunities to create new green-based jobs, and the importance of training people in the right skills and of efficient workforce planning. That ties in with the just transition as well. There was also broad agreement on the benefits of floating offshore wind, and cross-party agreement about the importance of carbon capture and storage at Humber and Tayside. I shall say something about Acorn later. Four speakers were in favour of new nuclear energy, so there is a kind of consensus there, although I will shatter that consensus shortly. With one honourable exception, everyone also seems to agree that we need to get on with delivering net zero.

    The strike rate for Hinkley is £92.50 per MWh, as opposed to £40 per MWh for offshore wind, but the renewable energy contracts for offshore wind are only for a 15-year period, whereas the Hinkley contract is for 35 years. The Government want to enter into a 60-year contract for Sizewell C. This is collective madness. There are also hidden subsidies. If EDF connects with the grid and starts generating electricity, it will be paid for doing so—let alone the strike rate. Scottish renewable energy projects, meanwhile, pay the highest grid connection fees in Europe. How is that equitable? There is another hidden subsidy for EDF. The strike rate of £92.50 was supposed to be reduced by £3 per MWh if the Government entered into a contract with Sizewell C, but the Government is now dropping that contract. I should like to know why they are giving that hidden subsidy to EDF, and why they are not holding it to reducing the strike rate.

    That could include pumped storage hydro. I keep returning to this point, but SSE’s Coire Glas scheme in the highlands has all the consents in place. It is spending £100 million just now on up-front design works. That project could be delivered by 2031. With £1.5 billion of private capital investment, there is no Government capital subsidy needed; all that is needed is a revenue guarantee and a cap and floor mechanism. The Secretary of State said yesterday that he has been in talks with SSE, but he has not been in proper talks with SSE about developing a cap and floor mechanism. We want the Minister to take that point away today. Please will the Government listen? Up to 7 GW of pumped storage hydro could be deployed in Scotland—dispatchable energy that will be there when the wind is not blowing. It would utilise spare excess energy, taking it when it is cheaper and dispatching it when there is a need, so it is the perfect complement to renewable energy.

    This has been a good debate, as I say. Everybody bar one agrees about the need to hit net zero, and I think we can all see the opportunities for job creation. Going forward, we need to grab those opportunities.


  • 4 Jul 2023: Energy Transition Projects: Scotland

    The Secretary of State has proved he still does not get it—he is not having proper discussions with SSE. If we move to carbon capture and storage, the Climate Change Committee’s progress report identified “risks” and “significant risks” associated with industrial clusters and carbon dioxide storage, which proves it is nonsensical to have Acorn as a reserve. When will the Government announce the track 2 clusters and provide parity for Acorn? When does he envisage Acorn starting construction? That is vital to meet the 2030 targets.


  • 29 Jun 2023: Energy Bill [ Lords ] (Eighteenth sitting)


    Nevertheless, I remind Members that the Government’s general approach to community energy is already laid out in the net zero strategy and the net zero growth plan. As such, we do not see any added value in mandating a dedicated community energy strategy or annual report in the manner set out in the new clause. Instead, we believe it is more beneficial to the community energy sector for the Government to continue our approach to help local authorities and community energy groups to work together to develop funding for projects across the net zero agenda, with funding from existing sources such as UK growth funding schemes.

    For example, the UK shared prosperity fund provides £2.6 billion in funding for investment in places, including for community infrastructure projects. Ofgem supports community energy projects and welcomes applications to the industry voluntary redress scheme. Through our local net zero hubs, we are supporting local authorities and community energy groups to work together, including by funding a pilot programme that supports local authorities to develop community-led energy groups and projects.


  • 27 Jun 2023: Energy Bill [ Lords ] (Sixteenth sitting)


    Friends of the Earth Scotland has called on both the UK Government and the Scottish Government to ensure greater worker representation in their transition planning through existing bodies such as the UK’s Green Jobs Delivery Group and the Just Transition Commission in Scotland. It says that at the moment there is little support provided for high-carbon workers to find alternative jobs, to facilitate retraining where necessary, or to lighten the financial burden of training currently borne by the workers.

    Last month, the Climate Change Committee briefed that the

    What we need are more incremental steps. Rather than setting up a body, we need something concrete from the Minister on what the Government are doing, for example, to ensure that further education colleges are tying up with the potential needs of businesses in their areas. Some incredibly good further education colleges are working on that—going into schools, working with businesses and encouraging young people to look at those careers—but as I said it is piecemeal and depends on the quality of the college, and the relationship with other agencies in the local area. I sympathise with focusing on a just transition, but I have concerns about whether setting up another body is the way to do it.

    I thank the hon. Members for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and for Bristol East for their contributions. The Government agree with the intention behind the new clause; however, we already view transition as a consideration embedded across all Government policy actions. We are committed to managing the transition to net zero in such a manner that the positive opportunities are maximised for the economy and the population, while protecting individuals, communities and the economy.

    Given that the majority of the low carbon economy lies outside London and the south-east of England, Government action to deliver our net zero commitment and build a low carbon economy will help to level up the UK and spur on the transition. That is demonstrated through the North sea transition deal agreement in March 2021, through which the UK became the first G7 country to agree a landmark deal to support the oil and gas industry’s transition to clean, green energy, while supporting 40,000 jobs in industrial heartlands across the UK.

    Since delivering a net zero workforce transition needs joint action by Government, industry, and the education sector, the Government have established the green jobs delivery group. The group is headed up by Ministers and business leaders to act as the central forum for driving forward action on green jobs and skills, and has committed to publishing a net zero and nature workforce action plan in 2024, which will consider the workforce transition. We will continue to join up across the devolved Governments, who have already made excellent progress, with the Welsh Government having launched their net zero skills plan in March 2023, and the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland having launched their climate emergency skills action plan 2020-2025 in 2020.

    On working with the devolved Governments, does the Minister recognise that it is time for the UK Government to match fund the £500 million just transition fund that the Scottish Government have put in place?

    I thank the hon. Member for his intervention, and point him to the remarks that I just made regarding the huge investment that we are already making in the transition, the fact that we were the first G7 nation to sign a transition deal, and the £100 billion of private sector investment by 2030 that we hope to see, and that we are driving into British industries, supporting 480,000 green jobs by the end of the decade. We are looking to meet that target, unlike the Scottish Government’s green jobs target, which of course they have not met—alongside failing in four years out of five to meet their climate change targets, as was announced just last week. Since delivering a net zero workforce transition needs joint action by Government and industry, as I have said, we are continuing in that regard.

    With respect to the scrutiny advised in the new clause, the Government already report progress on delivering our net zero ambitions through multiple channels—through parliamentary Select Committees, the Public Accounts Committee, independent bodies such as the National Audit Office, and—under the Climate Change Act 2008—the Climate Change Committee. I should point out that the hon. Member’s colleague and friend, the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Angus Brendan MacNeil), has recently taken up the chairmanship of the Energy Security and Net Zero Committee, and will, I am sure, ably hold my Department to account. I hope that that provides the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun with the reassurances that he needs to withdraw the motion.

    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Nokes. I have asked a few written questions in this space and I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East that the just transition should have already started for many workers. A survey two years ago found that workers were looking to move from the fossil fuel industry to renewables but that they were being put off by training fees. I have asked repeatedly about that.

    I thank the Minister for his kind words about a transition. However, when will we see action for oil and gas workers? When will the inaction turn into action and delivery so we can get on with developing the green skills we need in this country to deliver net zero and compete in a global market?

    To go back to my intervention on the hon. Member for Bristol East, the CfD rules should have been changed years ago to incentivise supply chain development and create those homegrown jobs. Perhaps a just transition commission would have provided advice on how that procurement could have been taken forward. I want to revisit that. The Government should think and should speak to people engaged in the just transition commission. In the meantime, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

    “(1) The principal purpose of this Act is to increase the resilience and reliability of energy systems across the UK, support the delivery of the UK’s climate change commitments and reform the UK’s energy system while minimising costs to consumers and protecting them from unfair pricing.

    (b) the Secretary of State’s duties under sections 1 and 4(1)(b) of the Climate Change Act 2008 (carbon targets and budgets) and international obligations contained within Article 2 of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;


  • 20 Jun 2023: Oral Answers to Questions

    Many people in the highlands and islands of Scotland will have had their taxes used to help pay for the construction of the gas grid, despite the fact that they are off the gas grid themselves and do not get the benefits of being connected to it. Their area supplies the oil and gas, and now the cheap renewable energy, that is facilitating lower energy bills across Great Britain, yet they are more likely to be fuel poor. To rub salt in the wounds, many pay a surcharge on their electricity bills. When will the UK Government address those inequities?


  • 15 Jun 2023: Energy Bill [ Lords ] (Eleventh sitting)


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. You must be delighted to have the Thursday afternoon shift this week. I agree with the Government amendments on the expansion of definitions and capturing other infrastructure required to facilitate service offshore wind generation, especially given the scale of the build-out still required and the renewable energy offshore wind targets that we want to see.

    I agree with the principles of strategic compensation for adverse environmental effects in clause 246. Such considerations have been a stumbling block for Berwick Bank offshore wind farm, for example, so having regulations that provide clarity on environmental considerations and possible compensation for other projects is certainly welcome. The key test will be whether sufficient clarity is provided and workable. If we want to deploy renewable energy at a much quicker rate to achieve cheaper bills and eliminate reliance on fossil fuels, we need to be able to look at the environmental impacts in the round and come to sensible, balanced solutions. That means creating environmental equivalence or improvements elsewhere by implementing solutions away from sites if it is deemed that they cannot mitigate the environmental impacts of the site of infrastructure construction.

    I have one word of caution; I may not be quite as concerned as the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Southampton, Test, but we need to ensure that these regulations and processes do not become an avenue or vehicle for developers to choose a much easier, cheaper financial solution for them, rather than looking at all avenues to mitigate the environmental impacts at the construction sites. It is critical that robust analysis is undertaken by the relevant regulatory bodies. I realise that subsection (4) is not intended to ensure that everything is looked at and worked through to the nth degree, but we need to ensure that that analysis is not overlooked in the dash for renewable energy and that no shortcuts are taken that allow developers to choose an easy financial solution.

    I declare an interest, given that we are now talking about renewables: my husband is a company secretary of an organisation called Sheffield Renewables, which is a community benefit society that funds, develops, owns and operates renewable energy systems in Sheffield. Although I hope that Sheffield will not become the coastline—if we do everything right so that vast swathes of east Yorkshire, including Selby, are not under water—I thought that it would be prudent for me to declare that interest at this stage.

    I turn to amendment 165. The Government are committed to ensuring high standards of environmental protection and the offshore wind environmental improvement package seeks to ensure that the acceleration of offshore wind can be delivered in a way that continues to protect the environment and to meet our ambitious net zero targets. Through the offshore wind environmental improvement package, we intend to enable the environmental protection of protected areas to be addressed sufficiently early in the pre-application planning process to inform adequate and ecologically robust mitigation and compensatory measures. That in turn should improve the quality of the information coming into the examination stage of an application. The package will enable the Government to improve environmental assessments for offshore wind projects to ensure that we have a consenting system that works for our marine environment.


  • 14 Jun 2023: Cost of Living and Brexit


    The Government argue that they have led the way on renewable energy, and they have been a leading light at some points in the deployment of renewable energy, but the reality is that there have been so many missed opportunities in supply chain development. We are always told that it was the EU that prevented contracts for difference auctions from incentivising UK and local content in the supply chain, which is, frankly, utter rubbish. Over the years, their narrative was always that EU procurement rules meant lowest price only. People said that other countries did not stick to the rules, unlike the good old Brits, and that that hampered us.

    The notion that the EU is forcing imports from the far east because of competition laws is also palpable nonsense, because that is where so many of the components come from. So it is high time that the procurement process for the contracts for difference auctions suitably incentivises the creation and establishment of a UK-based supply chain. What is the point of talking about energy security when so much of the renewable energy deployment and so many of the ongoing grid upgrades depend on imports and there are waiting lists of years for some of the components?

    To add insult to injury, we supply the energy, yet those who stay in the highlands and islands help pay for the gas grid, even though, in general, they are not connected to it. They see the renewable energy going south, but they pay a supplement in their electricity bill. They are also more likely to be energy poor. The situation is unbelievable.


  • 24 May 2023: Oral Answers to Questions

    13. What discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on support for renewable energy in Wales. ( 905032 )


    The devolution of the Crown Estate in Scotland has allowed the Scottish Government to have a more coherent supply chain development for renewable energy, and 75% of the Welsh public want to see it devolved in Wales so that it too can benefit from those natural resources. Will Westminster listen to the people of Wales, or is this another case of “Westminster knows best”?


  • 23 May 2023: Oral Answers to Questions

    Energy UK has confirmed that the Brexit trading arrangements are adding more than £1 billion a year to our energy bills and, last year, nearly £5 billion was paid in constraint payments. That is all money that could have been used to upgrade the grid. It could have paid for pumped storage hydro that could have procured a greater level of our world-leading tidal stream technology. It could have funded the Acorn CCS or green hydrogen. Instead of adding £6 billion to our bills, will the Minister tell us how many Scottish jobs have been held back by this lack of investment?


  • 9 May 2023: Energy Bill [Lords]


    The amendment that would prevent any new coalmines from being opened by the Coal Authority or its successors makes sense if we are serious about net zero. We cannot have the hypocrisy of lecturing developing countries about the use of coal while considering extracting coal ourselves. We cannot have the hypocrisy of Tory MPs’ decrying Germany for using coal while at the same time supporting the new Cumbrian coalmine. We need to end the pretence of a zero emission coalmine that ignores the emissions from the carbon embedded in the coal that is about to be burnt, and we need to end the hypocrisy of arguing for indigenous coal for steel coking in the UK when the coal is generally not suitable for the purpose and 84% of it will be exported to be burnt elsewhere.

    As for the amendment to ensure that meeting the UK’s net zero targets becomes a specific part of Ofgem’s general responsibilities, that is just plain common sense. We have heard a number of interventions in support of it, and indeed it is one of the recommendations in the Skidmore review, as well as being called for by representatives of the wider industry including Energy UK, RenewableUK, the Climate Change Committee and the National Infrastructure Commission, and groups such as the Green Alliance. It is logical to assume that, if the Government object to Ofgem’s having a net zero mandate, they are signalling that they are not serious about doing everything possible to meet the net zero target—and when are they ever going to publish the long-delayed strategy and policy statement for Ofgem? For too long they have seemed to suggest that Ofgem should have responsibility for policy considerations when awkward questions arise, when it is clearly their responsibility to set policy decisions for Ofgem in that strategy and policy statement.

    As well as the need for grid build-out to facilitate the renewable energy targets, there is a need for the Government—if they want to deploy renewable energy—to listen to what the industry is saying about the pressures of inflation and how it will struggle to meet the strike rates that have been suggested for allocation round 5. Indeed, some of the biggest developers mentioned by the Secretary of State are struggling to deliver on their AR4 commitments. We need to learn from the Spanish auction, which was a complete failure, to listen to industry and to ensure that that failure is not repeated as we try to deploy renewable energy as quickly as possible.

    Several bodies, including Energy UK and the Climate Change Committee, have called on the Government to apply a net zero test to all policy, regulatory, spending and taxation decisions. I support that, because I know that we need to move away from silo working and ensure that there is a joined-up net zero policy across all Government Departments. I also think that the UK Government should learn from the Scottish Government’s establishment of a Just Transition Commission to place fairness and long-term job creation and transfer at the forefront of net zero, and I call on them once more to match the Scottish Government’s £500 million just transition funding.

    There is no doubt that hydrogen production is needed as part of the net zero pathway. It can provide fuel for shipping, aviation and HGVs, for example. It will be vital for decarbonising some energy-intensive industries. However, there is a growing understanding of the reality of the cost of hydrogen production, which means it is extremely unlikely to be part of a large-scale domestic heating switch-over.

    I have previously supported the H100 Fife project, which I want to see come to a conclusion as we need to have an evidence base. However, in reality, hydrogen looks to be too costly and is unlikely to be a solution. Low-carbon expert Jan Rosenow, who was a special adviser to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee when we looked at heat decarbonisation, has identified and looked at 36 independent studies that do not predict any large-scale use of hydrogen for heating.

    In the here and now, we still do not have certainty over the track 2 timeline. I ask the Secretary of State once again, when will Acorn get the backing it deserves? The Scottish Government’s 2030 targets cannot be met without it. Without further CCS clusters, the UK will miss its own targets as well. It is no surprise that the Carbon Capture and Storage Association has written to the Secretary of State outlining its concerns.


  • 18 Apr 2023: Energy Transition Projects in Scotland

    If we want a proper just transition and greater supply chain security, we need new manufacturing facilities for renewable energy components. Which suppliers and manufacturers has the Minister spoken to about creating new manufacturing facilities in Scotland? How many new Scottish manufacturing and renewable energy jobs do this Government intend to create?


    Obviously, I am happy to meet the Minister and work with him, but what I heard right there was that there is no plan for manufacturing jobs in Scotland, no plan to match fund the just transition fund, no answer to the job losses at Harbour Energy and no firm commitments on timescales for Acorn, and that the tidal stream funding has been halved. There is nothing happening to match the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States and the EU support packages. Is it not the case that at the moment just transition are simply warm words for this Government and that much more needs to be done?


  • 23 Mar 2023: Energy Trilemma


    The right hon. Member for South Northamptonshire obviously took credit for the creation of the new stand-alone Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. I welcome that new Department; to be honest, it was long overdue, but at least it now seems to have the right priority within Government. I also completely agree about the number of grid upgrades that will be required. We need much better forward planning, and it was certainly an eye-opener when she said that we had seven times the amount of infrastructure still to be built. There is no doubt that Ofgem has failed on that. National Grid ESO confirmed two weeks ago to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that it paid £4 billion in constraint payments last year. That is effectively £4 billion wasted that could have gone towards grid upgrades, storage or other mechanisms, and it shows how Ofgem needs to get a grip on the issue and allow anticipatory investment.

    It is no surprise that I agree with the points my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) made. He is right that the IPCC report highlights the urgency to take action now, before it is too late. He also highlighted the fact that investment is relocating to the United States where there is momentum because of the Inflation Reduction Act. Meanwhile, here we have the electricity generator levy, but no renewables investment allowance. We really need to look at some form of that. My right hon. Friend obviously mentioned the Skilling report, the opportunity potentially to scale up to 80 GW of green electricity generation in Scotland and how important that could be in a just transition, creating 300,000-plus new jobs.

    The right hon. Member for South Northamptonshire made a good analogy, which everyone picked up on, and I agree with her, but although we are calling it the energy trilemma, we also need to look at it as an opportunity —the opportunity that comes with decarbonisation, green energy, new jobs, just transition and by bringing bills down in the long run. We have to grasp that opportunity to have a truly green renewable energy grid supplying homes across the UK.


  • 22 Mar 2023: Engagements

    Q13. The Treasury receives an additional £65 billion in revenue from Scotland’s oil and gas, but it has allocated only £20 billion to carbon capture and there is nothing for Scotland. It has cut the renewable energy budget by a third. It has allocated only £10 million to Scotland’s world-leading tidal stream, and has failed to back pumped storage hydro, yet it wants us to contribute our share towards the £35 billion Sizewell C nuclear power station. Is it not the case that within the Union, Scotland is the energy but Westminster takes the powers? ( 904281 )


  • 21 Mar 2023: Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation


    One thing is for sure: this Budget is not about the Tories trying to help grow the Scottish economy. We have the highest energy bills in the UK, but we do have our fair share of the biggest cut in living standards since the 1950s and of Brexit’s 4% cut to GDP. Are we supposed to be grateful for being part of the broad shoulders of the UK when that is what being part of the sharing process looks like? There is £65 billion of additional income from oil and gas revenues, yet the UK Government will not even match the Scottish Government’s £500 million just transition fund, even though the Secretary of State was talking about the need for a just transition in the oil and gas sector.

    When it comes to energy considerations, it seems that the intention is to sabotage the good work that has gone on in the renewable energy sector. While the United States has the Inflation Reduction Act, the Tories have given us the energy generator levy, but with no corresponding renewable investment allowance to encourage reinvestment. We had an announcement of £20 billion in funding for carbon capture and storage, but Acorn did not even get a mention in either the Budget book or the speech. That is shameful given the history of pulling funding from Peterhead.

    Paragraph 4.99 of the Budget document mentions track 1 expansion later this year. Is that a realistic prospect for Acorn? If not, what is the timescale for announcing the track 2 processes? Not only is Acorn the most advanced cluster and the easiest to deliver, its progress is needed to address greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland’s two biggest polluters. It is the only way that Scotland can meet its 2030 commitments. The next time that Scottish Tories complain about Scotland possibly missing emission targets, they had better look in before they look out, and question the decisions made down here.

    On storage, we have well-established pumped storage hydro technology, which is suited to complementing renewable energy. It uses spare energy to pump fill reservoirs and can generate electricity when there is peak demand. Coire Glas has been consented since 2020. SSE has £1.5 billion of capital available to invest in it. Just today, it has announced a £100-million commitment for site investigation and advance design works. It would be the first pumped hydro storage scheme to be constructed in the UK in 40 years, and would double the capacity of pumped storage in the UK while creating 500 construction jobs in the highlands. It will be able to power 3 million homes continuously for 24 hours. No subsidy is required; it is not looking for a regulated asset base model or even for taxpayers to share the risk. All that industry is asking for is a cap and floor mechanism to stabilise the price received for electricity generation.

    If we are looking at a truly green system, the Budget document is notable for not using the phrase “green hydrogen” once. Are the UK Government now content to fall behind other countries? What is the real scale of their ambition? The day after the Budget, we had the updated allocations for the next renewable energy auction for assessment report 5. So despite rampant inflation and despite some projects struggling against the strike rates agreed for allocation round 4, the Government have decided to cut the overall budget by 30%. It is madness, and that needs to be revisited urgently.

    And then we have the insult of passing that as a green technology. If we look at the costs of the existing nuclear waste legacy we see that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estimates it is going to cost us £235 billion to clean up. There is no solution yet for dealing with radioactive waste other than burying it for thousands of years, so why do we want to pass that as a green renewable energy system?

    In reality, nuclear means billions of pounds of increased debt added to our energy bills and future generations paying for decommissioning and handling of waste, no matter the pretence that that is somehow included in upfront estimates. It means years of further delays, when that money could and should be invested in renewable energy, storage, green hydrogen and, of course, in energy efficiency upgrades.


  • 28 Feb 2023: Renewable Energy Production

    I am really disappointed by that answer. I was hoping that the Minister would give some commitment to tidal stream going forward. If he is talking about the whole UK and how Scotland benefits, he needs to start backing the Acorn carbon capture cluster, too. Scotland could generate up to 300,000 hydrogen jobs within the just transition, and part of that relies on the Acorn cluster getting the go-ahead. Also, Acorn is required for Scotland to meet its 2030 emissions targets. Instead of blunder and bluster, when are the Government going to step up and back Acorn?


  • 27 Feb 2023: Draft Electricity Supplier Obligations (Green Excluded Electricity) (Amendment) Regulations 2023


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Edward. The regulations are straightforward, and I will try to keep my remarks to around 15 minutes, so that we can get to the Chamber for the statement. The Minister said that the regulations would help counteract the disincentive, or would incentivise some suppliers to import renewable energy from the continent, instead of generating it in Great Britain. I wonder how much work has been done to assess that, because I note that no impact assessment has been undertaken for the effects of this statutory instrument. I would like to know how the Government think that it will disincentivise that operation.


  • 22 Feb 2023: Energy Suppliers: Customer Credit


    I am also a member of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. Initially, we had a one-off hearing when companies started to go bust. The then Secretary of State and now former Chancellor, the right hon. Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng), appeared in front of the Committee. His attitude was that, “Companies come, companies go. It is a free market; that is what happens. We know that some companies tend to go bust when it is time to pay their renewables obligations.” That laissez-faire attitude that the free market knows best is just ridiculous, and it shows that he was unsuited to be the Chancellor. It is funny how he did not like how the free market operated when he saw the effects of his policies. That meant he was putting his hands up and saying, “It is okay. We don’t mind companies going bust, owing customers money or owing money for renewables obligations”. The renewables obligation is supposed to fund energy-efficiency upgrades, help us towards net zero and help lower people’s bills. It was a dereliction of duty, and what he said in front of the Committee genuinely shocked me.


  • 9 Feb 2023: Independent Review of Net Zero


    There is certainly much to like in the report, with stuff to debate and, of course, some stuff to disagree on. Given that the review was commissioned by the previous Prime Minister, after her ill-informed leadership campaign in which she pledged to remove levies from bills and alluded to net zero as a costly commitment, I welcome the fact that the report was undertaken purely independently and did not go down that rabbit hole. The key thing now is what the Government do with the recommendations, especially in the short term, given that implementation for 25 of them is recommended before 2025. That is critical because existing carbon budgets are off track. We need re-alignment if we are to hit net zero by 2050.

    I note that the term “Scottish Government” is not used once in the main body of the report. Although I accept that there is engagement, and that some good practice from Scotland is mentioned in the report, I would have expected more references to and understanding of where the Scottish Government are taking a lead, including on the roll-out for electric vehicle chargers, interest-free loans for EVs, the embracing of onshore wind, peatland restoration, woodland planting, the just transition commission, the £500 million low-carbon fund for the north-east, energy efficiency measures and the roll-out of zero-emissions buses. There is a lot of good practice in Scotland that the rest of the UK could learn from. More consideration is required of devolved Governments’ inability to deliver because of funding constraints and, in the case of the Scottish Government, strict borrowing powers. That also needs to be debated.

    The folly of previous chopping and changing, and the cutting of solar and onshore wind from the contracts for difference auctions as part of David Cameron’s “cutting the green crap” agenda, has meant eight years of investment lost overnight from one policy decision. That has stopped the deployment of the cheapest forms of renewable energy. At least I can say that I am glad that we in Scotland continue to embrace onshore wind. We have made it integral to the decarbonisation of the power sector. The fact is that Scotland generates the equivalent of 100% of gross electricity consumption from renewables. That should be held up as a fantastic achievement and an example for the UK Government to follow south of the border.

    I also agree with the right hon. Member for Kingswood about the need for a re-envisaged road map for carbon capture, utilisation and storage to be delivered this year. The report rightly points out that the investment landscape for CCUS and hydrogen is currently unclear, and that needs to be remedied as soon as possible.

    Additionally, the track-2 clusters need to be expedited. It is outrageous that the Scottish cluster remains a reserve when it is probably the most advanced of the CCS clusters and is likely to be delivered quickest. Acorn represents the worst example of the UK Government chopping and changing policy and withdrawing funding. The reality is that the Scottish cluster needs to commence for Scotland to meet the 2030 target of a 75% reduction in emissions.

    The new Under-Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie), obviously knows how important the Scottish cluster is as part of the just transition, and how important it is for jobs in the north- east of Scotland. I hope to hear a more positive response, rather than holding with the mantra of, “It is okay, Acorn is the reserve.” Being the reserve is not good enough, and it needs to commence sooner rather than later.

    For the record, I agree with the detail on pages 67-68 that we will still rely on North sea oil and gas as we transition towards net zero. Where I fundamentally disagree with the report is in its continued blinkered approach about new nuclear. New nuclear does not form a great deal or a big part of the report, and there is not much evidence, yet it still comes out as a key recommendation and one of the suggested 10 missions. I disagree with applying the phrase “no-regrets option” to the concept of new nuclear.

    I will aim to be brief. I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend, and I would like to see the Government set a 1 GW target for tidal stream. We need to follow through on the recommendation of the report and set a clear plan for investing long-term in CCUS, hydrogen production and pumped storage hydro, for supporting a carbon floor mechanism and for replacing the EU funding for the European Marine Energy Centre. I hope the Minister will work with us on planning consents for major infrastructure projects. Section 33 of the Electricity Act 1989 is reserved to Westminster, and there is a sign-off process for Scottish Ministers. If we are going to speed up the consent process, we need to work with the UK Government to do that. Hopefully the Minister will work with us on that with the Energy Bill going forward. There is so much to welcome in the report. I wish we had more time to debate it further, but I commend the right hon. Member for Kingswood on it.


  • 6 Feb 2023: Draft Nuclear Regulated Asset Base Model (Revenue Collection) Regulations 2023


    As the Minister hinted at, very slightly, my party is opposed to new nuclear power stations. From our point of view, the reality is that there is no longer any need for large-scale nuclear, especially given that more renewable technologies are emerging and improving over time. Renewable energy, harvested with storage, is the obvious future. Tidal stream is developing and tidal range is emerging, and both those technologies can assist with baseload or predicted generation. Battery technology is also moving at pace.


  • 15 Dec 2022: Prepayment Meters: Self-Disconnection


    The reality is that the energy price guarantee is no guarantee at all. Average bills are much higher in Scotland, even though, as the hon. Member for Glasgow North said, we generate the bulk of the UK’s renewable energy. It is completely unfair that Scotland generates this energy, yet Scottish people are struggling to pay their bills.


  • 14 Dec 2022: Scotland’s Future


    Even with Scotland’s renewable energy success story, Westminster decisions have held back our energy policy. When onshore wind subsidies were removed in 2015, it killed investment in the sector. That was done just to appeal to the Tory shires. The carbon capture scheme at Peterhead was pulled twice and is now only classed as a reserve. By no coincidence at all, the carbon capture clusters in red wall seats have been given track 1 status. Scottish bill payers are being forced to pay for nuclear power stations and they have the highest grid charges in Europe. The windfall tax is levied on Scotland’s energy sector, yet a renewables tax allowance to incentivise further investment is not allowed. All the precious oil and gas revenues have been squandered, rather than being used to create a wealth fund. Those are bad decisions made in Westminster and imposed on Scotland.


  • 7 Dec 2022: Marine Renewables: Government Support


    As the right hon. Gentleman said, the crucial things about tidal stream development are the jobs and manufacturing it creates in the UK, the export opportunities it provides, and that it forms part of the just transition for the oil and gas sector.

    I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and that is why further support is needed. In many ways, though, that also shows the pace of deployment to deliver these projects in the next few years. Looking at the Government’s overall renewable energy targets, it is really important that they back many sectors, particularly tidal stream.

    I congratulate the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) on her contribution. She rightly highlighted that these technologies encourage redevelopment and regeneration. Energy Island is a fantastic development that will move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. I support the call for an innovation report for CfDs and the call for the ability to group multiple technologies together, because that would facilitate the development of green hydrogen as well.

    Of course, it is the reliability and predictability of this green energy that is so important. As we have heard, it is also cost-efficient, particularly if given the right Government backing. The 40 MW allocation in AR4 will be delivered at £178 per MWh, which is already 15% below the administrative strike price and represents a 40% reduction in the levelised cost of energy since 2016. As we have heard, it could go as low as £78 per MWh by 2035 and below £50 per MWh by 2050. However, such cost reductions are possible only with continued Government backing.

    We ask that a renewables investment allowance be created. When we are trying to embrace a renewables revolution, it makes no sense to have an oil and gas investment allowance, which offsets the massive profits that oil and gas behemoths are making, but not to have an investment allowance that encourages them to invest in renewable energy, to divest and to pursue that long-term just transition to net zero.


  • 30 Nov 2022: Engagements

    Q15. Tory ideology has blocked onshore wind development in Scotland for years. The Peterhead carbon capture cluster has lost out on funding twice and is still only classed as a reserve. Pump storage hydro schemes have been blocked because the UK Government will not discuss a pricing mechanism. If the Prime Minister actually cares about net zero and Scottish jobs, will he at least take action to advance Peterhead carbon capture and storage and pump storage hydro in Scotland? ( 902536 )


  • 30 Nov 2022: Greening the Financial System


    The hon. Lady set the scene very well on the amount of investment required for us to achieve our climate goals, and on the specific impact that so few companies have, with 100 companies responsible for 70% of emissions. The scale of investment from the City of London makes it the equivalent of the ninth biggest polluter in the world. Those are very stark statistics.

    I liked the key point about pension funds and looking at wider beneficiary considerations rather than just returns. Clearly, there is no point in having a high financial return if it results in greenhouse gas emissions that wreck the planet we live on. Also, the point about energy efficiency investment flatlining is key. We need to get more money invested into energy efficiency.

    We heard from the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford). I commend him on the work he is doing as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on environmental, social, and governance. I pledge to look out for its report. He made a key point about the risk of greenwashing and how we need to make sure that that does not remain part of the financial system. On greenwashing, I am always cynical when companies contact me and say, “Hurray! We have set a target. We have announced we are going to meet net zero. Will you congratulate us and promote us?” I never do that because I want to see the proof of the pudding.

    Finally, we heard from the hon. Member for Reading East (Matt Rodda), who again highlighted the importance of the pensions industry in driving investment in brownfield regeneration to create renewable energy. What could be better than to regenerate in a sustainable way and actually help bring down emissions?

    As many Members have said, it goes without saying that we do need to hit net zero, in line with the Paris climate agreement on a global scale, if the Earth is to have a proper future at all. Time is running out. But as well as fighting this existential threat, we do actually have fantastic economic growth opportunities arising from the green investment required.

    As the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam said, an estimated $32 trillion of investment is needed globally by 2030 to tackle climate change alone. Instead of the bland rhetoric about being global Britain, there is actually a great opportunity for the UK to be a global centre for those financial flows. It will bring significant economic returns and help address our own economic challenges, including the ongoing cost of living and energy crisis. We have to remember that London recently lost its position as Europe’s most valuable stock market. This green concession could spur the necessary growth to help the UK regain its overall competitiveness.

    The reality is that the UK will not lead the global green finance sector without the right regulatory framework to support it. At COP27, finance experts, including the former Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, demanded the alignment of financial regulation with net zero. The reality is that the financial sector is exposed to financial risks that stem from nature loss, via the businesses they invest in, advise, insure and lend to. That was illustrated by the Bank of England’s first climate stress test, which concluded that UK banks’ insurers could end up taking on nearly £340 billion-worth of climate-related losses by 2050 without better mitigation and adaptation efforts.

    Separately, the Green Finance Institute estimates that almost £650 billion-worth of infrastructure investment from UK organisations, planned to take place this decade, could face considerable climate risk. It is madness that the Government are trying to commit us to giving billions of pounds to Sizewell C, in an area that is subject to coastal erosion and the threat of increased sea levels due to climate change. That is not joined-up thinking when we are looking at infrastructure for the future.

    The Financial Conduct Authority must have a duty to consider climate goals in dealing with its activities. The SNP’s proposed amendment to the Financial Services and Markets Bill could have had that effect. Had the amendment been accepted, it would have required the FCA to act in a way compatible not only with competitiveness and growth objectives, but with the Government’s climate commitments, in addition to strategic and operational objectives.

    At the moment there is a disconnect between the Financial Services and Markets Bill and the Government’s work on transition plans. The COP26 commitment included the requirement for all UK regulated financial institutions and public listed companies to publish their net transition plans by 2023. To implement that, the Government pledged last year to legislate for mandatory transition plans through the UK sustainability disclosure requirements. But the Financial Services and Markets Bill fails to do so, and there is currently no other upcoming legislation to allow that to be implemented.

    The Government’s transition plan taskforce, set up to develop the gold-standard transition plan guidance, recognises the importance of nature. By contrast, nature is not addressed in the Financial Services and Markets Bill, despite the Economic Secretary to the Treasury recognising in Committee that we cannot achieve our climate goals without acknowledging the vital role of nature. Other contributors touched on the importance of considering nature as well.

    Even business is saying more needs to be done in terms of regulations. Numerous financial institutions, including Aviva Investors, Phoenix, Hargreaves Lansdown and Federated Hermes, have written to the Bill Committee backing a secondary statutory objective of facilitating the transition of financial services to net zero. Supplying goods and services to enable the global net zero transition could be worth £1 trillion to UK businesses by 2030. Accelerating the roll-out of low-carbon technologies could reduce household energy bills by up to £1,800 a year. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of energy generation, so, by blocking it for so many years, the Tories are adding money to consumers’ bills.

    It is clear that more must be done to green the financial services industry. It is imperative that the FCA is mandated to consider climate goals and that the Government improve legislation accordingly. To finish on a positive note, if we get this right, there are fantastic growth opportunities, green jobs and a just transition to net zero.


  • 15 Nov 2022: Britain’s Industrial Future


    On the bus manufacturing sector, again, unfortunately, we have had a complete UK Government failure. Just yesterday, The Times ran a story saying that only six low-emission buses out of the 4,000 promised by the previous Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), have entered service in England. Of the promised £3 billion bus fund, 40% still remains unallocated, and only 341 orders have been placed out of the 4,000. It is therefore clear that urgent intervention is required to get manufacturing in the UK up and running. Even worse than that, the first ZEBRA—zero emission bus regional areas—contract was awarded abroad, to China. There is no scope in the current tendering process to assess added value of UK content and community benefit, which would help UK manufacturing companies. That is a complete failure by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

    In contrast, the Scottish Government have led the way on this. Three hundred buses have been delivered under the Scottish ultra-low-emission bus scheme, and almost the same number has now been delivered through the Scottish zero-emission bus challenge fund. However, the reality is that companies such as Alexander Dennis need to see more orders via UK Government funding. If they are talking about an industrial strategy and promoting UK manufacturing, they need to do something to get these buses made by UK-based companies.

    The motion refers to net zero and creating jobs. Net zero has to be the future if we are going to save the planet. It should be part of a just transition for the oil and gas industry. With the right support for emerging technologies such as tidal stream, Scotland in particular can be a manufacturing and technology exporter. Green hydrogen needs to be supported in a much bigger way, given investments being made elsewhere in Europe.

    However, in Scotland we also have the paradox that Westminster holds all the levers of power in terms of main energy policy. The auction process and procurement rules all lie with Westminster. The setting of the grid charging regime and the regulator lie with Westminster. Borrowing powers to invest lie with Westminster. The ability to pull funding or prioritise projects such as carbon capture and storage lie with Westminster. That is underlined by the disgraceful fact that funding was pulled from the Peterhead CCS project and that the Acorn project is still classed as a reserve project despite having been the most advanced and rounded project overall in terms of CCS clusters.


  • 14 Nov 2022: Energy Bill Relief Scheme Regulations 2022 Energy Prices (Domestic Supply) (Northern Ireland) Regula...


    Finally, Sir Roger, I want to mention another aspect of the Energy Prices Act 2022: the decoupling of renewable energy generation from prices based on gas. When will the Government come forward with timescales for supernormal revenue proposals? When will we start to see that take shape? Are the Government undertaking an open consultation with energy trade bodies and energy generators? The RPC points out that we need to ensure that they do not disincentivise investment in renewables. We also need to look at what the EU is doing and the impact that EU schemes are having on electricity generation in terms of renewables, and we must make sure the Government understand that and either mirror or improve the EU scheme.


  • 31 Oct 2022: Public Ownership of Energy Companies


    Another point that my hon. Friend made on behalf of the petitioners was the need for a 25-year strategic plan. I certainly agree. In the long term, we should be looking at how we get to net zero. What do we need to do to get there? Where should we build the generation facilities to facilitate that, and in the cheapest possible way? What grid upgrades will we need? What other measures should be implemented, such as energy efficiency and upgrading homes properly? That would be long-term planning, and it would realise the most benefit for people in the UK.

    Fuel poverty on this scale is why people are angry and want a more serious debate about the merits of nationalisation and putting people before profits. They know that the energy profits levy for oil and gas companies does not go far enough, and that the investment allowance of 91p in the pound perversely incentivises investment in fossil fuels over renewable energy. For too long in the energy retail sector, the excess profits being made by the big six were deemed acceptable by the Government. When they eventually moved to a price cap, the truth is that it came in too late, because by that time the market was being squeezed by new entrants that thought that they could come in and make easy money in the energy retail sector. Thirty companies have gone bust since July 2021 and many of them had been using customers’ money for their cash flow, effectively operating their own Ponzi schemes while the Government and the regulator were sleeping on the job. The reality is that, unfortunately, it is now billpayers who are picking up the tab for these losses and covering the customer credit that these companies effectively stole. Why has there not been stronger action to bring the guilty people in these companies to account?

    That energy company, which is now Equinor, operates in 30 countries around the world and has massively diversified into renewable energy. Although it was technically privatised, the Norwegian state is still the majority shareholder, with a 67% shareholding. It really is the ultimate success story, whereas in Scotland’s case, we know that by comparison the UK, with broad shoulders, has squandered all the oil and gas revenues—some £380 billion over the years.

    Independence will allow the Scottish Government to create an investment fund that would invest in renewable energy; could be used to support the decarbonisation of homes; and could take stakes in renewable generation while also levering in private investment. The Energy Prices Act gives the Secretary of State powers to buy energy assets. Is that a nod away from ideological opposition to all forms of nationalisation, and can the Minister tell us whether the Government will be using those powers to buy some energy assets, for which the Energy Prices Act allows?

    With independence, we can end the ridiculous situation whereby people in the highlands of Scotland pay a surcharge on their electricity bills while renewable energy generation in the highlands supports the rest of the UK. They are bringing down bills across the UK, while they pay a surcharge on their own bills. It is completely topsy-turvy and unfair, and it something that the Government refuse to address. Again, it is another inequity that only independence will resolve. Although Scotland is an energy-rich country, we do not yet have the powers to unleash our potential and create a fairer society, but I have a feeling that that day is coming, and I look forward to the response from the Minister.


  • 19 Oct 2022: Ban on Fracking for Shale Gas Bill


    Our country is fortunate enough to have massive potential for the development and harnessing of renewable energy. Does the hon. Member agree that in resorting to fracking, the Government are essentially admitting that they have no interest in developing the skills, infrastructure, jobs or industries necessary for a green industrial revolution in this country?

    I agree. We have only to look at the renewable energy revolution that has happened in Scotland. Of course, for Scotland to fully embrace that potential, we clearly need the powers that come with independence and we need to get away from the decision makers on the Conservative Benches.

    At a time like this, I am thankful for devolution, because my Northern Ireland Assembly colleagues were able temporarily to prevent fracking in Northern Ireland by banning permitted development rights. Does the hon. Member share my concern that the Prime Minister is taking advantage of the cost of living crisis? Coupled with the removal of retained EU law, this policy risks environmental degradation across these islands and does nothing to sustainably manage the climate crisis or the energy crisis.

    The hon. Gentleman is kind to give way; others would not. He may know that satellite data on fugitive emissions of methane in the United States shows that 5% of methane from fracking has leaked. As methane is 80% worse for global warming than carbon dioxide, that makes fracking worse than coal. How can anybody who is serious about net zero support fracking?

    The hon. Gentleman has made the point very well, and it is one of which we need to take cognisance. We have to doubt the Government when they say they are committed to net zero by 2030. We have to wonder how serious they are about that. They know that 2030 is a while away—it is future Governments away—so they can do what they want now, and pretend they are still in favour of abiding by that net zero commitment.

    I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that intervention, and for proving where he is on the whole climate change denial aspect. Studies and surveys show time and again that people are in favour of onshore wind, and we know that people are against fracking, so his argument is completely at odds with what the public think, and probably what his own constituents think.

    There is so much more that the Government can do. Fracking is not required, and it is not the answer to reducing people’s energy bills. It certainly will not do anything to help the transition to net zero. It is opposed by the majority of the public. Seemingly just a few people in the Government are trying to force their will on the rest of Parliament, and possibly these communities.

    Scotland is already a net exporter of oil and gas, and the equivalent of our domestic electricity consumption is already generated with effectively 100% renewable energy. We export electricity, so it is clear that in terms of energy Scotland can stand on its own two feet. It is time that we are able to realise the benefits of being such an energy-rich country, because right now it seems to me that the broad shoulders of the UK are preventing us from realising the benefits that we should have.


  • 12 Oct 2022: Sewage Discharges


    We have heard talk about elimination of storm overflows altogether and about a 2050 target. All the water companies are saying that they can do it. I do not think that is a realistic proposition. To eliminate CSOs altogether, we would need to completely separate surface water from the combined sewers. That means disconnecting all the road drains that are connected. It means disconnecting roof drainage. Hon. Members have suggested butts to deal with that, but they would still have to be disconnected from the sewers. Private surface water connections would also have to be identified because people drain their driveways or gardens and connect them into their own combined drain. All that needs to be identified and eliminated, so I would urge the Minister to think carefully about the practicalities of what is required. We would need massive new surface water sewers and pumping stations and, as I say, there would be disruption in many roads and streets throughout the country.


  • 18 Jul 2022: Draft Electricity and Gas (Energy Company Obligation) Order 2022


    Paragraph 7.13 rules out biofuels. Can the Minister clarify why we would rule out biofuels? They could provide a useful transition between outright fossil fuel and getting to complete renewable energies. I cannot really get my head around that, so hopefully the Minister can explain it.


  • 11 Jul 2022: Energy (Oil and Gas) Profits Levy Bill


    We would also like to know what judgment those people have made about the Government’s decision to undermine the levy by shamefully giving a third or more of any money raised straight back to the oil producers through the new tax break introduced by clauses 2 to 7. This new tax break offers oil and gas producers an unprecedented subsidy for their spending on oil-related activities. As we made clear on Second Reading, for every £100 an oil and gas producer invests in the North sea, they will receive £91.25 from the taxpayer. That is an astonishing 20 times the £4.50 that companies investing in renewable energy will receive from April next year.

    Yet despite even oil executives questioning its worth, the Government are pushing ahead with this tax break. Our analysis has shown that that means a third or more of any revenue from the new levy could be handed straight back to oil and gas producers. That money will subsidise projects that almost certainly would have happened anyway, as there is no requirement in the Bill for investment to be additional to what was already planned, and this move stands totally at odds with the paramount need to invest in renewable energy sources.

    It is critically important and urgent for us to invest in renewable energy to strengthen our energy security while bringing down people’s bills and tackling the climate crisis. We have set out Labour’s plan to do just that. Alongside insulating 19 million homes over 10 years to cut people’s bills, we would strengthen our energy security and reduce our carbon emissions by doubling our onshore wind capacity, tripling solar power, backing tidal power and nuclear power, and further investing in hydrogen. Yet the Government are today introducing a tax break that seems to fly in the face of tackling the climate crisis.

    That is why we have tabled new clause 2, which would force the Government to come clean about the impact of their unnecessary tax giveaway to oil producers on our country’s net zero obligations, energy security and renewable energy supplies. This new clause also asks the Government to spell out what impact their tax break will have on fracking, given the deeply concerning reports in the media that legal advice provided to the campaigning group Uplift suggests that fracking companies would also be eligible for this tax break, based on the way the Bill has been written. I urge the Government to accept new clause 2, to make it clear what impact the tax break in the Bill will have on fracking. If the Minister refuses to do that, will she at least come clean today and confirm or deny whether this tax break could lead to public money being channelled toward dangerous, unpopular and expensive fracking projects?



    Let me take a couple of those points. The hon. Lady makes the point that tax rates on the oil and gas industry are higher elsewhere in the world. Well, that may be the case. I know that some will be fundamentally opposed to the whole concept of being energy secure in the UK. Gas, in my view, is part of an interim solution as we get on the path to net zero, but it is a fact of life. I do not have an awful lot of time for the output of the Climate Change Committee, but even it is saying very clearly that we will be using gas and oil up to 2050 and probably beyond. My view is that that gas and oil should be sourced in the UK. Hence my support for the nudge part of this legislation, which may encourage businesses to stay here and invest here.

    I am so delighted that the hon. Lady has expanded this debate. This is not somewhere that I wanted to go, Dame Rosie, but I think it is my duty to respond to the intervention. Surely it is obvious, no matter where on the spectrum on net zero we are—I am obviously on the rather more critical part of that spectrum—that we will be having gas in this country. We have a choice: do we import it halfway across the world on a liquefied natural gas ship, with the CO 2 cost of chilling it, transporting it and regasifying it, or do we try to do that domestically?

    Amendment 9 relates directly to the electrification of North sea assets. We have heard comforting words about that from two Ministers now. I am sure the Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, now sitting beside the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, would agree that it will be in guidance that the electrification of assets will be able to get the taxation incentives. We cannot escape the fact that Ministers come and go, as we have seen so clearly in this place over the course of recent times, but what industry needs in relation to this issue is certainty. The best way—the only way—to provide certainty on the electrification of grids is to put that on the face of the Bill.

    I agree with the hon. Member for South Thanet (Craig Mackinlay) on one point he made: it is deeply disappointing that there is not additional scope for the wider renewable sector to get these incentives. If the Government were serious about combating climate change and reaching their net zero ambitions, they would have extended those incentives to that industry.

    That takes me on to new clause 6, again in my name and those of my hon. Friends, which aptly relates to net zero. The Government have rightly promoted, and will continue to promote, climate compatibility checks. I think we all in this place agree about those. What we need to be clear about, however, is the implications of this Bill for reaching net zero. The easiest, indeed the obvious, way to do that is to ensure that those climate compatibility environmental checks take place in relation to any investments. I thought that would be a very straightforward thing for the Government to agree with, and I hope they will do so.


  • 17 May 2022: Tackling Short-term and Long-term Cost of Living Increases


    Rather than action, we have had the bizarre admission from the BEIS Secretary that his Department’s nuclear power policy will increase our energy bills. It is economic madness—and, unfortunately, madness cheered on and encouraged by Labour. It should come as no surprise that new nuclear will add to our bills. With an upper estimate of £63 billion for the capital and finance costs for one new nuclear power station, it is crazy to proceed when the costs of renewable energy are ever falling. So-called small modular reactors are neither small nor cheap, at circa £2 billion per new station. Rolls-Royce does not want a contract for just one small modular reactor; it wants a contract for 12 to 15. The Government should be focusing on providing cheaper dispatchable energy and agreeing a minimum electricity price for the proposed pumped storage hydro scheme at Coire Glas and the proposed extension at Cruachan Dam. Those can be delivered much quicker and at a fraction of the costs of nuclear. Indeed, the £1.7 billion that the Chancellor has used to buy a stake in Sizewell C would pay for Coire Glas to be built outright.


  • 21 Mar 2022: Cost of Living Increases: Pensioners


    The hon. Gentleman is not comparing like with like. Cambo means more fossil fuel extraction, and there needs to be a proper assessment to establish whether this could be done in a way that is compatible with net zero. That is a test that the Government are refusing to apply. Apart from that, they should be investing much more in floating offshore wind, in tidal stream, in which Scotland leads the world, and in pumped- storage hydro, which is a dispatchable low-carbon technology. That scheme is ready to go, but the Government have not agreed a pricing mechanism. Then there is carbon capture and storage at Peterhead, in which respect Scottish customers have been let down again. So much more could be done in energy, and it would not cover even a portion of that £63 billion that has been allocated to nuclear. More energy efficiency reduces demand, and therefore reduces the need for new power generation. I hope I have answered the hon. Gentleman’s question.


  • 1 Feb 2022: Oil and Gas Producers: Windfall Tax


    The motion also illustrates that Westminster always views Scotland’s oil and gas as a cash cow. There is no strategic planning whatsoever; it is another cut and run move. If we are talking about excessive profits, why just the oil and gas industry? Where is the line drawn for sectors in profit, given that many companies did very well out of covid? Should we debate that and target their profits as well? What discussions has Labour had with the oil and gas industry about this matter? What assessment has been made about levels of investment—investment that could be part of a decarbonisation agenda—that might be rowed back? As others have said, the harsh reality is that every previous windfall tax has led to a drop in investment.

    There is clearly room for a sensible debate about long-term tax policies, particularly carbon taxes, and we must do that. I get uneasy when I hear about companies such as Shell not having paid corporation tax for a couple of years, or BP talking about its company being a cash machine. We must have a serious debate about this, but policy on the hoof is not the answer.

    The North sea has contributed £375 billion in revenues over the years, but as we have heard, unlike Norway’s $1.3 trillion oil and gas fund—the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world—we have no legacy from that money. As well as having that fund, Norway has used its money to invest in renewable energy such as hydro, to create a much greater uptake of electric vehicle ownership. More importantly, it has created a much fairer, equitable and happier society. Meanwhile, in Scotland we are tied to Westminster, and we are getting blocked with pump storage hydro, the Acorn CCS project is still a reserve, and we could have had higher levels of investment in tidal stream.

    Unlike Norway, here in the UK there are much greater levels of fuel poverty. We have heard about the 6 million fuel poor, when the energy price cap rises to £2,000 in April. Again, that is due to a lack of long-term strategic thinking. Earlier I pointed out that, under Labour’s watch, we saw the price of oil bottom out at $12 per barrel, rising to nearly $100 per barrel in 2008. There is no legacy to show for that, and no sovereign wealth fund created. Times have moved on, and the Scottish Government have created a just transition fund for north-east Scotland, but Westminster is not providing any match funding for that.


  • 19 Jan 2022: Oral Answers to Questions

    4. What assessment he has made of the potential role of carbon capture and sequestration in delivering the UK’s COP26 commitments to reduce emissions. ( 905161 )


    The Scottish carbon cluster site would address Scotland’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters. It would unlock 30% of the UK’s carbon dioxide storage capability and combine hydrogen production, direct air capture and a shipping terminal to serve the rest of the UK in terms of carbon dioxide storage. Why then was the Scottish cluster relegated to reserve status and what representation has the right hon. Gentleman had from the “lightweight” Scottish Tory leader about this disgraceful decision?


  • 18 Jan 2022: Gas and Electricity Costs


    As others have said, a proper debate is required about the merits of different levies currently on our electricity bills, which contribute 23% of our bills, according to Ofgem. The reality is that these levies are a regressive tax and general taxation is much fairer. At the moment, the Government are putting out to tender the Contracts for Difference fourth allocation round, which commit £265 million per year for renewable energy projects. I am all in favour of that financial commitment, because we need more renewable energy, but again that money will be lumped directly on to our electricity bills, where it disproportionately affects lower income households and does not form part of a wider just transition.

    I agree wholeheartedly that the Government have taken their eye off the ball. The previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, talked about cutting out all the “green crap”. That set back the renewable industry badly. Not only did they scrap the Department of Energy but, given that we now have a legally binding target of net zero by 2050, it beggars belief that there is not a stand-alone Department for energy and climate change, or for energy and net zero. The Government need to take responsibility on that.

    I have a question on nuclear for the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross on small modular reactors. Rolls-Royce is looking for something like £30 billion in capital costs to deliver 15 or 16 small modular reactors. Again, that is money that will be lumped on to our bills. With the financing on top, the costs are eye-watering. Nuclear is not a solution; renewable energy is the solution.


  • 11 Jan 2022: Household Energy Bills: VAT


    Although to impose a windfall tax directly on oil and gas companies is an easy political soundbite, it has potential implications, so what discussions has Labour had with the industry? What assessment has Labour made of the levels of investment—which could be part of the decarbonisation agenda—that might be clawed back because of such a tax? The harsh reality is that every previous windfall tax on the oil and gas industry has led to a drop in capital investment.

    In our transition to net zero, we do need to get off our dependence on oil and gas, but the reality is that carbon capture and storage is part of the pathway to net zero. What assessment has Labour made of the potential impact on such projects, and particularly on the Scottish carbon capture cluster, which has already been sacrificed to reserve status by the Tory Government?

    Greater imagination is required in energy policy. The policies from both major UK parties sum up Scotland’s place in the Union: the Scottish CCS project has been relegated to reserve status; Scottish bill payers are having to pay for a new nuclear power station; and we are stuck paying the highest grid charges in Europe, which not only disadvantages Scottish renewable projects but means higher bills for everybody across Great Britain. Meanwhile, the Scottish oil and gas industry is asked to pay to mitigate high fuel bills throughout the UK. What about demanding that at least some of the additional oil and gas revenues are released to match fund the Scottish Government’s £500 just transition fund for the north-east of Scotland?

    I am interested in the hon. Gentleman’s point about an independent Scotland being able to make its own decisions. Within their devolved responsibilities, the SNP Scottish Government announced the £500 million north-east just transition fund. Is he aware of any announcement yet from the Scottish Government of precisely what the money will be spent on?

    The right hon. Gentleman seems easily confused, but of course he is a climate change sceptic. If Scotland was in charge of its own energy policy, there would be more investment in renewables and greater hydrogen development, and we would not be paying for nuclear power. I have already said that the nuclear power stations will put up to £63 billion on to our bills; that is the estimate. We would have a much better energy policy that we could implement as an independent country and we would not have the highest grid charges in the whole of Europe.

    As I said, we need to understand that the warm home discount is actually paid for by other bill payers. I am uncomfortable with the fact—the Chief Secretary did this earlier—that the Tories brag about the warm home discount as if it is a Government-funded measure. The reality is that, as a stand-alone tax measure, the warm home discount is actually regressive, because the people who can least afford it pay the same levy as those that can afford to pay more. So while the warm home discount does help people that require help, it is actually a regressive tax measure. If Labour’s proposals were implemented in the way the scheme operates just now, that would add £200 per annum to the bills of those who are left paying for it. It is inferred that Labour’s proposals would be funded from £3.5 billion of additional Treasury receipts, but that needs to be made clear. We also need to make sure that the Tories are not allowed to do a fudge when they raise the warm home discount, but by making other bill payers pay for it, giving them a free pass to pretend they are doing something. Similarly, there has been a call for policy levies to be removed from our electricity bills. I have argued this for a while because state levies on bills are also regressive, so we need to come to a fairer taxation measure to pay for our transition to net zero.


  • 10 Jan 2022: Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill


    The hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse) said that we should be rolling out renewable energy. That is exactly what we are doing. We have massively expanded our offshore wind power, and we are quadrupling it over the next decade. I think she said that Germany did not have any wind, but it has a target of 30 GW of offshore wind. There is a lot of wind in Germany. I know that she is from Hanover, which is a long way from the sea, but there is even a famous film—it is one of the best German films—called “Mit dem Wind nach Westen”, which is all about wind carrying people in balloons from east Germany to west Germany. There is most definitely wind in Germany.


  • 30 Nov 2021: Community Energy Schemes


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Betts. Like other hon. Members, I commend the hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse) for bringing forward the debate. She set out clearly the benefits of community energy and how it would help on the path to net zero and to empower local communities. She also, importantly, set out the current barriers to setting up community energy companies. That was further illustrated by examples in the contributions of the hon. Members for North Devon (Selaine Saxby), for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), for Waveney (Peter Aldous) and for Strangford (Jim Shannon), and the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn).

    One barrier seems to be that it could cost upwards of £1 million to get set up for a generation licence. We have heard that the Licence Lite option under Ofgem simply is not working, so we need alternatives, and the Government must update rules that date back to the electricity network privatisation back at the end of the ’80s and the early ’90s. The hon. Member for Bath made important comments about bringing people on board. We need everybody to buy into the actions that we need to take to tackle climate change. If people get additional community benefits along the way, that is clearly a bonus.

    If we look at the energy retail market, we see how badly it is struggling. We just saw Bulb—the seventh largest company, with 1.7 million customers—go bust, so it is clear that we need alternative solutions for the provision of electricity. Clearly, local powering will not replace an organisation such as Bulb overnight, but, as I say, it is logical to try to facilitate local community-based renewable energy where possible.

    Changing the regulations to make new community renewable energy businesses viable allows communities to bypass the large utility companies. It means significant additional value for local economies and, as we have heard already from other hon. Members, more money will then circulate in the local economy, leading to more skilled jobs, more viable local businesses and stronger local economies. As I touched on earlier, it empowers local people and companies to be part of the green revolution and part of the pathway to net zero. That can only help to focus minds and create the general buy-in for the need for collective action to tackle climate change.

    The Scottish Government published an updated local energy policy statement in January. Of course, community energy projects in Scotland are further hampered at the moment by Scotland having the highest grid charges in Europe. Lucy Whitford, managing director of Renewable Energy Systems UK and Ireland, has said that

    “it doesn’t feel as if charging is fit for purpose anymore for us to deliver net zero. We have worked up some examples of network costs. The additional cost per annum of a 22 MW wind farm in Argyll versus one in Essex could be £500,000. Continuing in the current direction of travel on charging reforms could add another £120,000 per year to a project, so it is very significant.”


  • 24 Nov 2021: Energy-intensive Industries


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Efford. I congratulate the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) on bringing forward the debate. At the outset, he rightly highlighted the energy supplier crisis. I am sure he agrees that the Government need to do more about this crisis. He highlighted coal and the bygone days of coal, and certainly that should be a reminder to Government in terms of the lack of support that was given when the coalmines were shut down. It still has a legacy, and it is a legacy that lives on in my constituency. It is something that cannot be repeated, and that is why we need a just transition commission for the UK Government, like the Scottish Government have. We need that support as we move from a reliance on fossil fuel towards renewable energy.

    The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South is a vocal advocate for the ceramics industry, and he should be commended for that. I hope the ceramics industry has a strong future because we need to retain all the manufacturing that we can. Support like that is welcome, and hopefully the Government will listen. The key thing is that there needs to be support for decarbonisation. Other Members spoke about tariff reductions and reducing energy costs. Energy is too high at the moment, but the Government really need to be helping industry decarbonise, and proper investment and support from Government is required. That should put some of these industries ahead compared to those elsewhere. That is where, for me, the investment needs to come from Government to help them decarbonise.

    We heard from the hon. Member for Newport East (Jessica Morden), who is clearly a big advocate for the steel industry. I was pleased to visit the works in her constituency, and I repeat: investment is needed to help the steel industry decarbonise. That is the future. We talk about clean green steel, and that is where Government investment is needed.

    The hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft) is another advocate for the steel industry—I am kind of repeating myself here, but investment in clean green steel and decarbonisation is important. I commend her for being the only one who got something out of the Prime Minister’s speech on Monday other than Peppa Pig, so congratulations on that.

    We heard from the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), who always turns up at these debates and always makes a useful contribution. Again, he highlighted the importance of manufacturing and Government support for decarbonisation.

    What I took out of the speech by the hon. Member for Bolton West (Chris Green) was that nuclear energy is indeed more expensive. He is an advocate of nuclear energy, but it is more expensive. We are talking about taking away tariffs for renewable energy, but nobody is talking about taking away tariffs for nuclear energy or addressing the eye-watering costs.

    That inflexible reliability that comes from nuclear energy means that, while we talk about the wind not blowing, the amount of base-load it pumps on to the grid means having to curtail other, renewable energy sources, because nuclear is so inflexible. So no, I do not agree. That is the problem: nuclear is the wrong energy to mix with renewables, and it really is not the future.

    I was talking about tariffs and the cost of nuclear energy. There is £1.7 billion in the Red Book just to develop Sizewell C, before we get to the final investment decision. Think what that £1.7 billion could do for the steel industry, the ceramics industry or decarbonisation—and that is only to get to the final investment decision, before the Government then rush to spend £20 billion on the capital investment for Sizewell C. Then that will be added to our electricity bills under the RAB—regulated asset base—model, for the 10 to 15 years of construction of the nuclear power station, and then a 60-year contract thereafter. So do not let us talk about taking away levies for renewable energy; let us look at what nuclear energy will cost us. I urge the Government to spend that money more wisely, rather than on nuclear energy.

    I am coming to the end of my remarks, and I do not want to be too flippant, because this is a very important debate. We need to see support for ceramics and manufacturing, and we need to look at how we decarbonise. Carbon capture has been mentioned. I urge the Minister to reconsider the disgraceful decision to make the Scottish carbon capture cluster a reserved cluster. That should have been given the go-ahead and it should have been one of the track 1 clusters. It incorporates carbon capture, hydrogen production, which has been mentioned as part of the future of decarbonisation, and direct carbon capture from air. It is a really important, innovative cluster and it should have been given the go-ahead. Why was it not selected? I want the Minister to answer that. Equally, I would like to hear what proper investment will be made available to help and support the manufacturing sector to decarbonise.


  • 18 Nov 2021: Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill (Fourth sitting)


    When considering value for money, the Secretary of State is expected to have regard to the cost to consumers, future security of supply and our decarbonisation targets. The Secretary of State can designate multiple nuclear companies at any given time, so more than one project can be designated for a RAB at the same time, but the designation criteria, project status and likely value for money will be applied individually to each project.

    Paragraph 50 of the explanatory notes gives four criteria that might be used to consider value for money, but three of them are just the traditional Government tropes to justify nuclear in the first place: security of supply, low-carbon electricity and net zero targets. The Minister alluded to that in his opening speech. Those same arguments have been put forward to justify new nuclear for the past 15 years. We still do not have a new nuclear plant operational, so when the Secretary of State looks at the reasons for value for money, it will be very easy because those are the arguments that they will use.



    Let us work backwards from some of the figures in the impact assessment. It is suggested that, under RAB, the capital cost and associated financing for a new nuclear power station could be £63 billion. If we work backwards over a 60-year period, that is still only a few pounds a month, but it is actually £63 billion that we are talking about. That is a huge sum, which could be invested much better elsewhere in other forms of renewable energy. I hope that demonstrates how much wriggle room the Minister and Secretary of State have given themselves with the Bill. In fact, looking at the cost and impact assessment that the Government have quoted, it almost undermines their argument about the justification for new nuclear.


  • 3 Nov 2021: Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill


    The hon. Gentleman highlights the value of marine energy in Scotland and elsewhere; he and I are absolutely on the same page on that. Does he agree that one thing it would be very helpful for the Minister to take away is the need to clarify the precise size of the pot that will be available specifically for marine energy in the next contracts for difference auction round, CFD AR4? There is a danger that unless there is a specific pot, the marine energy providers will be rather crowded out by other forms of renewable energy.

    There needs to be much greater investment in carbon capture and storage. The Government need to reverse their disgraceful decision not to have a Scottish cluster as part of their track 1 CCS projects. A Scottish cluster would also deliver hydrogen production, which is vital on the pathway to net zero.

    We heard earlier, as we always do, the argument that nuclear is required for when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow, but as I have tried to point out to the Minister, there is an existing technology that can address that issue: pumped storage hydro, a renewable energy source that utilises surplus grid energy to fill the reservoirs and can then dispatch electricity when required. Pumped storage hydro is the perfect foil for intermittent renewables, rather than big, inflexible nuclear power stations that invariably pump energy to the grid when it is not required. An Imperial College report suggests that there could be system savings of £700 million a year from using pumped storage hydro technology instead of nuclear.

    As I touched on earlier, we have been told for five years that Hinkley is good value for money, but now the Government have come back to the House to say that actually that is not the case and they have a new plan for how to deliver nuclear. I therefore cannot possibly support this Bill, especially as the electorate of Scotland have consistently voted to elect a Government on a “no new nuclear” manifesto. Why should Scottish bill payers be forced to pay for nuclear energy that they do not want or require? This is another democratic deficit for Scotland, especially when so much of our renewable energy is not being supported at the moment and we are stuck with the highest grid charges in Europe. It really is time that Scotland had control of its own energy decisions, but in the meantime I will be proud and pleased to vote against this Bill.


  • 2 Nov 2021: Budget Resolutions


    The Scottish Tories have always been silent on the fact that Scotland has the highest grid charges in Europe. They have been silent about the £350 billion of oil and gas revenues that the broad shoulders of the UK have helped to spend without creating a sovereign wealth fund. They are silent about nothing being added to the Budget that matches the Scottish Government’s £500 million low-carbon just transition fund for the north-east of Scotland.


  • 1 Nov 2021: Carbon Emission Charges


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Robertson. I congratulate the petitioners on bringing forward the petition and the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) on presenting the debate and making some key points. It is a worthwhile time to debate this subject, given that COP26 is taking place in Glasgow as we speak, and how we achieve net zero in the fairest way is something that needs serious discussion. It is a slight disappointment that there were not more Back-Bench contributions, but so be it.

    If we believe in the basic principle that the polluter pays, a carbon tax makes sense. If we are serious about achieving net zero, we need to give serious consideration to carbon taxes. However, as has already been said, any such taxation needs to be fair. It cannot be structured in such a way that companies feel obliged or rewarded for relocating to other countries, therefore defeating the purpose. Critically, it must also not lead to the poorer in society paying a bigger burden, especially if a tax is levied on gas bills. The reality is that the more affluent will be able to switch to heat pumps, but those struggling to pay their energy bills will have no chance of doing so. We cannot leave the most vulnerable to pick up the carbon tab for others as the energy sector transitions to net zero.

    The recent Government policy of £5,000 grants for heat pumps is still insufficient for most people to be able to afford the installation of a heat pump. The unit cost of a heat pump is still in the price range of £6,000 to £10,000. A £5,000 grant goes only part of the way, but it does not make up for all the additional work that is also required. We need to have proper energy efficiency measures, which are welcome but cost money, such as a new water tank, possibly new radiators, decommissioning boilers, and then there is decoration works that need to be done to a property once all that work is completed. That £5,000 grant is clearly not the pathway to increasing the number of heat pump installations from current figures of 30,000 per year to the Government target of 600,000 a year. Going forward, we need to look at that in the mix. Before a carbon tax is introduced, we need to ensure that it does not create more people who are fuel poor, and also look at how we use the revenues from the carbon tax to help get heat pumps and energy efficiency measures for those who need them most.

    At the moment, decarbonisation of the power sector is being paid for by levies from our electricity bills. The UK Government have acknowledged that that is unsustainable, because roughly a quarter of electricity bills are made up of those levies. That needs to change; there needs to be a fairer system. That is where carbon taxes could be looked at, but—I am repeating myself—it is important that the most vulnerable are protected.

    In wider industry, cost-effective decarbonisation solutions need to be available to industry when a carbon tax is introduced, and taxation must be structured so that it is fair and equitable across the UK. Recently, the UK Government opted to fast-track two carbon capture and storage clusters in the north of England but, disgracefully, they have made the Scottish cluster a reserve cluster. That means that, despite the Scottish cluster being the most advanced in project development and deliverability, it is estimated that the two other clusters will proceed at a faster rate.

    It would be inherently unfair for the Government to support, either via direct taxation or consumer levies, some industries in some areas of the country while potentially slapping a carbon tax on another area just because they have not been progressed at the same rate. These things have to be looked at in the round. The Scottish cluster takes in the two biggest carbon dioxide emitters in Scotland—Peterhead gas station and the INEOS facilities at Grangemouth. As the biggest polluters, they have to pay to remedy that—that is where we are right—but will they make that investment? They need that assistance, and they must not be disadvantaged when others are getting support.

    Revenues from a carbon tax must be reinvested in green initiatives targeted at the most vulnerable and the hardest sectors to decarbonise. They must also be completely transparent. We have had a carbon tax in the airline industry for years: air passenger duty, which is supposed to follow that basic principle of polluter pays, in relation to aircraft emissions. The actual reality is that, over the years, APD has become nothing more than a Government revenue stream. It is not ring-fenced or reinvested; it becomes part of the “money in” column and is added to the mix of Government expenditure.

    In the aviation industry as a whole, for years consecutive Governments of different colours have maintained a policy that aviation fuel is duty free. We pay our petrol duties at the petrol pump for domestic use in our cars, but all these years, aviation fuel has been duty free. That makes no sense. It needs to be looked at in the round. I do not want to kick the airline industry when they are down and make it harder for them, but we need a system that is fair for everyone on carbon taxes, emissions and incentivising behaviour to drive change. The Government need to look at that.

    In the oil and gas sector, £350 billion of revenue has come from Scotland over the years. Those were carbon taxes, but that money has never been ring-fenced or reinvested. A sovereign wealth fund has never been created. Most countries across the world have created sovereign wealth funds, which they are using now, in these tough times, either to help their economy, stimulate their economy, or do green initiatives on the path to net zero. But the UK Government have never done that. It is to their shame that we do not have that money, as a legacy, to go forward.

    Today, I actually managed to attend a COP26 panel event before I got on the train to come down to Westminster. There was a representative at the event from Louisiana; he was explaining how for years it has used its offshore revenues to pay for climate adaptation measures along its coastline. Obviously, Louisiana is one of the areas most affected by coastal erosion. That shows us what can be done with long-term thinking, but it needs the initiative to look at revenues that are coming in and how to use them wisely. That is what I am calling for. If there is carbon taxation coming in, it must be transparent and it must be available to be reused to fight climate change.

    In a similar vein, I represent a former coalfield area. Carbon taxes had been applied to the extraction of coal over the years, but a few years ago, when the open-cast coal industry collapsed in my constituency, it left massive craters that needed reinstatement work at a cost of millions of pounds. Carbon taxes came from my constituency to the Treasury, but they just went into the black hole. When we asked for assistance for restoration work on those abandoned coalmines, the answer that came was, “No. Too bad. That money came in and it has been used. There is no money coming back to your constituency. It doesn’t work that way.” That shows the folly of not ring-fencing a tax for the purpose that it should be ring-fenced for. Again, transparency is utterly critical if we are to go forward.

    I would also say on transparency that the Treasury will have to develop these taxes following open consultation with industry, non-governmental organisations and charities. I also suggest that it would be worth the UK Government’s following the lead of the Scottish Government and having a just transition commission that is able to advise the Government on fairness, look at policies across the board and advise the Government accordingly. Equally, the Treasury cannot be left with the power to introduce exemptions from carbon taxes without robust and transparent procedures, or else it is a lobbying exercise and it becomes open season for donors and cronies to lobby the Government and possibly get exemptions. Again, anything that comes forward needs to be transparent.

    I have just one further warning about the money not becoming a Treasury income, because that nearly happened post Brexit. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy had devised an emissions trading scheme, which was agreed with all the devolved nations, but at the eleventh hour the Treasury wanted to throw away all that work and replace it with the introduction of a carbon tax. That was clearly just because the Treasury saw it as an income stream. That cannot be allowed to happen; the Treasury cannot have carte blanche to do what it wants. It also shows us that carbon taxes have to be developed in conjunction and consultation with the devolved nations.

    In Scotland, we have our own net zero by 2045 target. We have, as I said, the Just Transition Commission. We are working with our own policies, so it is only right that carbon taxes be introduced in such a way that they do not adversely impact our direction of travel.

    I am getting near my conclusion, Mr Robertson. I have some concerns about a carbon tax, but largely I do favour the concept. I pay tribute to the work done by the Zero Carbon campaign, which has illustrated and highlighted the fact that surveys prove that such a tax is generally popular with the wider public. They understand the need for net zero; they understand the benefits of a carbon tax being introduced, but again, the critical question is whether that is being done fairly. Scotland’s Climate Assembly has had similar findings with the delegates who have participated in the assembly.

    Something that the Scottish Government are doing is interest-free loans. They have extended interest-free loans to the second-hand market to try to extend affordability, but the UK Government are cutting the grants available. If we are going to have carbon taxes, we need to further stimulate the electric vehicle market and ensure that some people are not left behind.

    The decarbonisation of our heating systems is absolutely critical. It would be good to step up energy efficiency installations, treat energy efficiency as a capital infrastructure programme and speed up the upgrading of all properties to EPC––energy performance certificate––band C. That would reduce emissions and fuel costs. What could be a fairer way of using the carbon taxes that are levied?

    I agree with the two contributions so far about introducing a broader carbon adjustment to minimise leakage or offshoring. We know that carbon taxes can be successful in changing behaviour. We know that they seem to have wider support if they are introduced fairly and transparently, so let us continue with this serious discussion. Let us find a way to introduce them but ensure that it is done in a way that helps us get to net zero and is part of a just transition.


  • 26 Oct 2021: Electricity Grid (Review)


    That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Government and Ofgem to conduct and act on a review of the electricity transmission grid and associated charges, to include consideration of abolishing charge differentials based on geographic location, incentivising renewable energy generation to maximise energy output, and minimising the passing on of charge fluctuation risk to consumers in the form of higher prices; and for connected purposes.

    The driver behind this Bill is that Scotland currently has the highest grid charges in Europe. The Tory Government shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s nothing to do with us—it’s a matter for Ofgem.” However, they are the ones who set the rules for Ofgem to implement. What is the point of the Government bragging about a net zero target for 2050 and a plan to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035 when they do not seem capable of seeing the bigger picture? While they probably do not care about Scotland having the highest grid charges—it fits their perception that Scotland is remote, so additional cost makes sense, and that anyway it is just us Scots whingeing again—the reality is that continuing as is jeopardises their own net zero plans as well as Scotland’s own targets. It makes a mockery of their levelling up agenda—which is, in reality, just about targeting the red wall seats of north England and the midlands. That agenda was confirmed last week by the disgraceful decision to class the Scottish carbon capture and storage cluster as a reserve.

    The current grid charges system was introduced in 1992 following privatisation of the electricity market. Back then, it was based on the concept that electricity is generated from coal, gas, oil or large nuclear stations. With this embedded concept, the charging system is now still geared at incentivising power generation sites close to the centres of population—or, more accurately, the closer to London the better. It is utterly absurd that the UK Government have taken the welcome step to phase out coal-fired electricity generation but are retaining a grid charges system that is based on where to build coal-fired power stations. It is completely bonkers. The obvious strategy would be to consider what a future grid will look like, where are the best locations for the generation of clean renewable energy and what grid upgrades will be required to facilitate that, and then analyse the long-term costs of the grid upgrades and devise a fair system of charging to facilitate that. That is exactly what this Bill seeks to do.

    Scottish offshore windfarms are now 20% more expensive than those in English waters. When the lowest price is winner takes all in the contracts for difference auctions, that becomes a major issue and puts investment in offshore renewable energy in Scotland at risk. It means less direct jobs and less supply chain work, and it potentially hampers a just transition for the oil and gas industry.

    In terms of the best use of billpayers’ money when considering the future energy mix, we should not be spending billions of pounds on new nuclear. At £23 billion, Hinkley Point C is the most expensive power station in the world. Despite complete market failure in the nuclear sector, the UK Government still want to spend £20 billion- plus on Sizewell. Worse, these nuclear sites will get paid under the current regime to connect to the grid—more hidden subsidies for nuclear. Instead, investment should be committed to pumped storage hydro such as SSE’s Coire Glas and the Cruachan dam extension being planned by Drax. That creates renewable energy ready to be dispatched when required and at a fraction of the cost of nuclear. An Imperial College report suggests the system could save £700 million a year.

    It is clear that change is required, with a rounded energy policy that maps out a route to net zero, a policy that incentivises renewable energy production where it is best suited, an end to Scotland having the highest locational grid charges in Europe and an end to the volatility of the system operational charges. This Bill seeks to do that. I hope that the UK Government see sense, but there is an alternative: Scotland having full control of its destiny.


  • 21 Oct 2021: Climate Change Committee Progress Report 2021


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Christopher. I congratulate the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Anthony Browne) on bringing forward the debate. I was trying to make the point earlier that when he secured a debate on carbon capture and storage the Government, in a remarkable coincidence, decided what carbon clusters were going to go forward. He has secured this debate and the Government have printed their response to the Climate Change Committee’s progress report and produced strategies. He must be feeling very productive. I wonder what is on the go for next week.

    As others have said, the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire made a thoughtful and balanced speech. There was a lot to be agreed on. He could have been a bit harder on the Government, but he did acknowledge that there is more work to be done from the Government and, critically, that we are not on track to meet the fifth carbon budget, let alone the final net zero target of 2050.

    There was a thoughtful contribution from the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), who mentioned the key Climate Change Committee recommendation that all decisions have to be looked at through the net zero prism and to be compliant with net zero. She correctly highlighted the £27 billion roads programme and the decision on Cambo, which needs to be looked at, and other matters. I would be interested to hear the Minister’s response to that.

    The reality is that, despite the publication of the heat and buildings strategy this week and the net zero strategy, there are still huge policy gaps that mean that we will not achieve the intended target of 68% reduction in emissions by 2030. The Government need to address this quickly, but we are still waiting for the Treasury’s net zero spending review. We know that the Treasury is, unfortunately, where the power lies, and it is the Treasury that will dictate how quickly the policies can be implemented. There is no clear plan on how to pay for the decarbonisation of our heating system. The UK Government have acknowledged that continually adding levies to our electricity bill is unsustainable, given that nearly a quarter of our bill is already made up of levies; and they still do not have a plan in place on how to fund the decarbonisation of our 24 million or so homes that are connected to the gas grid. There is no coherent plan for increasing the number of heat pump installations from 30,000 per year now to the stated target of 600,000 per year by 2028. The Climate Change Committee is clear about the extent of electric heating that is required, but at the moment the Government do not have the plans to match that ambition, and if they fall short there they will fall short of the 2030 nationally determined target.

    The UK Government and the Minister seem to be putting all their faith in an announcement by Octopus Energy that it can make air-source heat pumps for the equivalent of the price of a gas boiler by April 2022. I really hope that Octopus Energy is successful, as it would be fantastic for industry and for enabling us to move forward much more quickly in decarbonising our homes, but a quick look on the internet today shows that a decent gas boiler can be purchased for £1,000, while air-source heat pumps are still in the order of £6,000 to £10,000. It is clear that the prices are not going to come down that quickly by next year. Air-source heat pumps are not a new technology. Other countries install many more heat pumps than we do in the UK, so there is no way that we could get such an exponential price drop, unfortunately.

    On heating in general, and decarbonisation, the UK Government remain open to the use of hydrogen. That is fine if they think it is a large-scale option that could progress, but if we are keeping hydrogen as an option and still want to progress ventilation air-source heat pumps, I suggest that the right place for them to start is with off-gas-grid homes. They should have a coherent programme that matches energy-efficient installation and air-source heat pumps in off-gas-grid homes, where people are more likely to be fuel-poor. That would scale up industry, reduce emissions, and help to tackle fuel poverty. That is where I would ask the Government to start.

    Excluding Scotland seems to be the theme of the week for the UK Government. I need to say again that the decision to not include the Scottish cluster as a track 1 CCS project is disgraceful. It has been classed as a snub in the north-east of Scotland, and has in turn been widely reported in the press. It is not just Scottish National party politicians saying that; that is the feeling. It is a real snub to Scotland, and I urge the Minister to think again about that decision. He has still not been able to explain why the Scottish cluster has been tagged as a reserve, or even why he thinks he needs a reserve. Is it because he is not sure about the deliverability of the two clusters that the Government propose to take forward? It seems illogical, but hopefully we will get a bit more information about that.

    On carbon capture and storage, although the Government have announced that they hope to progress to clusters, they have yet to agree a pricing model for the storage of carbon dioxide. We need to get that in place if we are going to progress carbon capture and storage, which the Committee on Climate Change has said is really important.

    There are too many policy gaps to mention, even though we have a lot more time today than we expected. We need to see an impact from the net zero aviation strategy, for example. I am not convinced by the plans that are in place. As the hon. Member for Leeds North West said, there is a transport decarbonisation plan in place, but when it comes to hydrogen and conversion of HGVs, we have heard the hon. Member for Bristol East say that not enough zero-emission buses are being produced. We really need to move quickly on these matters.

    The hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire complimented the work that is being done on decarbonising the electricity system. That work is truly welcome, but there is still not a proper plan for ending unabated gas-fired electricity generation by 2035, nor a proper structured plan for the decarbonisation of the electricity grid to meet the 2035 target set by the Government. If they are going to meet the target of a net zero electricity grid by 2030, there are some things that I suggest the Minister needs to be cognisant of. The Government need to review the grid charging system, which will end the farce of Scotland having the highest grid charges in Europe. That system disincentivises the construction of renewable energy production in Scotland—puts it at a disadvantage compared with projects in England—but it does not help the UK to meet its net zero target, either. We need to make net zero a statutory consideration for Ofgem, and the Government need to review the capacity market to address its reliance on fossil fuels, and allow storage that is co-located with renewable energy to be able to bid into the capacity market. Bizarrely, that is blocked at the moment.

    As I touched on earlier, the Government need to end their nuclear obsession. Instead of spending another £20 billion on a new station at Sizewell, not to mention the billions they want to invest in small modular reactors and the mythical advanced nuclear reactors, they should be investing that money in renewable energy—in green hydrogen production and storage. The UK has now fallen behind France, the Netherlands and Germany in terms of hydrogen production proposals, so an urgent rethink of policy development is required. The 5 GW hydrogen target is not ambitious enough. The Scottish Government have a 5 GW hydrogen production target, so surely the UK Government need to up their game.

    The UK Government should be investing in pumped storage hydropower—a proven technology that allows dispatchable energy to be added to the grid when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. This is something that can progress quickly. SSE is ready to progress with the Coire Glas scheme, and Drax is advancing plans to double output from the existing Cruachan dam pumped storage hydro plant. What is needed is a pricing mechanism to be agreed with the Government, like a carbon floor mechanism. I raised this with the previous Minister. Will the current Minister look at a pricing mechanism to allow pumped storage hydro to progress? It is a good use of renewable energy.

    In Scotland’s commitments to the Paris climate change targets and net zero, we are genuinely leading the way. We were the first Government to set a net zero target with a date of 2045, the first to declare a climate emergency, and we have set up the Just Transition commission. Admittedly, we also did not meet our emissions target of a 55% reduction by 2020, a 51.5% reduction is still fantastic progress. In Europe, Scotland is second only to Sweden in terms of the scale of reduction achieved. Interestingly, one of the reasons Scotland missed its latest target is that the process under way of rewetting peatlands necessitates the removal of some trees. As the hon. Member for Rochdale (Tony Lloyd) pointed out, Scotland is doing fantastically with peat bog and wetland restoration, as well as having a fantastic tree-planting operation.

    When it comes to energy production, Scotland has led the way in decarbonisation; last year, 97% of equivalent electricity demand was produced by renewable energy—this is absolutely tremendous. We have ambitious plans and we are making them happen; they cannot nor should not be blocked by decisions made in Westminster. I appreciate the UK Government does have ambitious targets, but as the report from the CCC shows, more policy and further intervention from Government are required—and they are required sooner rather than later.


  • 20 Oct 2021: Carbon Capture and Storage


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Miller. I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Anthony Browne) on securing the debate, which is timely in the light of yesterday’s announcement about which CCS clusters the UK Government will progress.

    It is illogical not to progress the Scottish cluster at this stage. The shipping and infrastructure proposals for Peterhead port, for example, were intended to facilitate the importing of carbon dioxide from outside Scotland, so the Scottish cluster can actually help other areas of the UK to decarbonise. Will the Minister advise why that aspect alone did not ensure that the Scottish cluster was given priority status?

    Is the Minister aware that the Scottish cluster also includes Project Cavendish, which allows for hydrogen production in the south-east of England, not far from London? That London connection should be enough to make this UK Government think again on that decision. It is obvious, looking at what the Scottish cluster will achieve, that it should be given support now. Scotland has a world-leading target of net zero by 2020 and of cutting cut emissions by 75% by 2030. That interim target is now at risk because of the UK Government’s decision.

    For the avoidance of doubt, the Scottish cluster will, if progressed, do the following. It will capture 25 megatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030. It will tackle Scotland’s biggest two carbon dioxide emitters—Ineos at Grangemouth and the Peterhead gas station. And it will facilitate the production of blue hydrogen, as part of the clear pathway to green hydrogen. The UK Government talk glibly of leading the world on hydrogen, but they are quickly falling behind. If given the go-ahead, the Scottish cluster could deliver 1.3GW of hydrogen by 2030, which is more than a quarter of the UK and Scottish Governments’ 5GW production target.

    The Scottish cluster also incorporates Storegga’s direct air capture proposals—technology that the UK could lead the world on and use as an effective offsetting methodology. The Scottish cluster also unlocks—again, on its own—30% of the UK’s carbon dioxide storage resource. That statistic should be sufficient for the cluster to be a No. 1 priority. Of course, it also best placed because it utilises existing oil and gas infrastructure. It could create more than 20,000 jobs by 2030—jobs that will facilitate a just transition and utilise the expertise built up in the north-east of Scotland.

    As we have heard, the Committee on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency both state that carbon capture, utilisation and storage is practical for achieving net zero. The Committee on Climate Change says that progress in the UK will help lead the way elsewhere. That is why multiple projects need to be progressed in the here and now. It is the only way the Government can get on track for net zero and decarbonisation in the electricity system by 2035.

    On net zero, the Minister needs to listen to the calls for a ring-fenced pot of money for the contracts for difference auction round 4 for wave and tidal to allow this industry to scale up and continue leading the world. I conclude by saying that the Scottish north-east Tories should hang their heads in shame at the Scottish cluster being overlooked. The Minister should apologise. I look forward to him hopefully admitting that he will reverse the decision and progress the Scottish cluster as a priority.


  • 8 Sep 2021: Draft Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information (Lighting Products) Regulations 2...


    How confident is the Minister about the carbon savings and the savings for consumers and businesses that are detailed in the explanatory memorandum? Is there anything that can be done to go further, because carbon savings are not saving money although they are clearly a good thing as we project through to net zero? Was a consultant employed to design the new labels that will effectively replace the EU flag with the Union flag? Was a consultant needed to do that and how much did that cost?


  • 7 Sep 2021: Living Standards

    In 2016, the Tories promised that fuel bills would be lower for everyone on leaving the EU. The reality is that fuel bills are increasing while they make the heartless cut to universal credit. In order to tackle fuel poverty, will the Minister use the net zero review to cut VAT on energy efficiency products, keep new nuclear off electricity bills, provide direct funding for heat decarbonisation and sort out the unfair grid charges on Scottish renewables?


  • 7 Sep 2021: Nuclear Fuel Manufacturing


    Even more important, we need to understand the cost and risks of nuclear energy and the state of the nuclear energy generation market. There are too many false narratives from the nuclear industry, though it is very successful at lobbying. Briefings from EDF argue that it is the only proven reliable low-carbon technology—many hon. Members have said that today—but, by way of an example, last year, Scotland generated 97% of the equivalent of its electricity demand from renewable energy.

    That is what Macron said worked for France. In actual fact we are helping France by paying EDF, effectively helping to subsidise the French nuclear market, so that does not make sense to me. It is by the by. We will also have interconnectors coming from the EU, including France, that do not pay grid charges. In the north of Scotland Scottish renewable energies pay the grid charges, so French nuclear energy comes here at no charge, whereas Scottish renewables have to pay charges to connect the grid. The actual system is not thought through properly and that is why we need a much better strategic look at things.

    The nuclear baseload argument is an outdated concept. That was confirmed by the former chief executive of the National Grid in 2015. Can the Minister confirm that taking these existing nuclear stations offline will not increase the risk of the lights going out? Moreover, going forward, a report by Good Energy and the Energy System Catapult has demonstrated that net zero can be achieved without the need for new nuclear. I suggest that the Minister needs to look at that.


  • 8 Jul 2021: Fuel Poverty


    How renewable energy is paid for is under the remit of the UK Government. As a consequence, nearly a quarter of our electricity bills are now accounted for by energy policy decisions. That again puts more pressure on bill payers and could tip the scales for some, pushing them into fuel poverty, especially those in off-grid homes. The current imbalance in policy costs between electricity and gas bills really needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

    Overall, we need more direct UK Government investment and the UK Government need to follow the lead of the Scottish Government. It is not just the likes of myself as an Opposition Member saying that. Energy companies say it; many third sector organisations say it; the Committee on Climate Change, in its 2019 progress report, said it; and so did the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee in its 2019 report, “Energy efficiency: building towards net zero”.

    Another important measure in Scotland is Home Energy Scotland, which is also award-winning. It provides impartial free advice for anybody concerned about paying their energy bills. Yet again, UK and English-based consumer groups think it is a model that the UK Government need to adopt. As we look to decarbonise our heating systems, having an impartial advice service, as we do in Scotland, will be critical when people have to consider key choices such as whether to purchase a new boiler, or when they are considering low carbon energy such as heat pumps.

    That brings me to the target of 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028. When will the Government bring forward a policy road map for the funding, and why are they not starting with a rolling programme aimed at off-gas-grid properties? That, combined with energy efficiency measures, would be an ideal way to tackle one category of fuel poverty. It is no wonder that the Committee on Climate Change, in its latest progress report, is scathing about the lack of UK Government policies. We really need to see the heat and buildings strategy, although it was disappointing that no energy Bill was listed in the Queen’s Speech.


  • 16 Jun 2021: Transport Decarbonisation Plan


    I was talking about the debate with my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) last night. When we saw the debate title, we were hoping that the hon. Member for Kensington had an inside track and that the transport decarbonisation plan was going to be launched just in time for the debate. Alas, that was not to be. In many ways, the debate could be called “the lack of a transport decarbonisation plan”.

    As the hon. Member for Kensington said, the UK Government are hosting COP26 and claim to be leading the way and talk of a green recovery. The reality is there are still no coherent interlinked strategies and policies to achieve net zero. Given that the transport sector is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas, the lack of a transport decarbonisation plan is basically a dereliction of duty. Why are the UK Government so behind in the publication of the plan, which was initially promised last year? Given that transport decarbonisation is so interlinked with energy policy, which is itself interlinked with the decarbonisation of our fossil fuel heating systems, it is imperative that these policies are complementary to each other and are interlinked. They all go hand in hand.

    When we focus on transport, it should of course come as no surprise that the Scottish Government lead the way, being the first to include international shipping and aviation emissions within their overall net zero target, The Scottish Government have published their rail decarbonisation strategy with an end date of 2035. Meanwhile, Network Rail have only published an interim programme with a business case for a 2050 date. Will the Minister confirm that they will get a grip of the final programme, with the suitable ambition that is needed to achieve net zero?

    The Scottish Government’s rail decarbonisation plan means increased electrification and the introduction of battery or hydrogen-powered trains. Hydrogen is clearly a plan for the UK Government, and I welcome the ongoing trials of hydrogen-powered trains. However, we are still awaiting a hydrogen strategy, which will be critical if we are going to rely on hydrogen-powered trains. The Government’s 5 GW hydrogen target is, frankly, too weak. The Scottish Government have already got their own 5 GW target and hydrogen strategy in place, so will the UK Government’s eventual strategy be more ambitious? Will they set a target for green hydrogen production? Will the Minister explain how extensive a role hydrogen will play for trains in the decarbonisation process? Will the UK Government address the lack of electrification of railways, which is partly due to the previous Transport Secretary’s obsession with hybrid diesel trains?

    Hydrogen is an obvious solution for heavy goods vehicles, but it is part of the mix for buses too. Again, that underlines the need for a hydrogen production strategy. Blue hydrogen with carbon capture and storage is an interim step on the way to net zero, so when will the Acorn project at Peterhead be given the go-ahead?

    Aberdeen has led the way on hydrogen-powered buses, with the introduction of 15 of the world’s first hydrogen double-decker buses. The Scottish Government have invested more than £3 million in that project, but £8.3 million also came from the EU, so what will the replacement funding be for those types of schemes? The Scottish Government will have phased out the majority of fossil fuel buses by 2023, thanks to investment of £120 million in zero emission buses. More importantly, those buses are being manufactured by Alexander Dennis Ltd, making the investment circular for the economy. That is what the green recovery is all about: combining manufacturing with the net zero transition. What are the updates on the manufacturing strategy from the UK Government’s perspective in that regard?

    On flying, decarbonising the aviation sector means that some radical thoughts are required. That will be sensitive, given the fragility of aviation post covid, but a proper green recovery also means supporting the aviation sector. Although talk of air passenger duty might be welcomed in some quarters, that is too blunt an instrument. What discussions has the Minister had with the Treasury on that? What does she think of the call from the citizen’s assembly to have a frequent-flyer surcharge—a policy that would affect only those who can afford to pay for frequent flying, while allowing others still to fly? Any moneys raised from such a policy could be reinvested into the decarbonisation of the aviation sector.

    There are also opportunities for the production of sustainable aviation fuels, so when will the UK Government finally provide the support needed to pump-prime the private investment required to create a number of sustainable aviation fuel production plants? It makes no sense that aviation gasoline is duty-free, when domestic petrol for drivers is taxed to the hilt. That disparity should have been resolved years ago, but it will need to be addressed to incentivise decarbonisation and the switch to other aviation fuels.

    According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the UK will need to spend at least £16.7 billion to get its public charging network ready for the mass EV market. In March, it estimated that 700 new electric charging points need to be installed every single day until 2030 to give the right market coverage for the 2030 implementation date. At the moment, installations average 42 per day, so what will the Minister do to resolve that? Will the decarbonisation plan tackle that disparity?

    It will be no surprise that Scotland leads the way on the roll-out of charge points in the UK. It has 40 public charge points per 100,000 people, compared with fewer than 30 in England and fewer than 20 in Wales and Northern Ireland. That is, of course, because the Scottish Government invested directly in that. Scotland also has the shortest average distance to travel to reach a public charge point. Will the UK Government up their game and tackle that in the decarbonisation plan, which will hopefully mean more Barnett consequentials for Scotland?

    Many motor manufacturers are already starting to phase out fossil fuel cars. However, the transport decarbonisation plan will need to allow for extra interventions. What assessment has the Minister made of Climate Assembly UK’s recommendations, such as a car scrappage scheme, which I have long called for, and larger grants to assist businesses and people in purchasing electric vehicles? Will the UK Government copy the Scottish Government by providing interest-free loans for individuals and businesses to purchase electric vehicles? The Scottish Government have now extended that to the second-hand market to stimulate it as well.

    The future can be bright and green and include a revitalised manufacturing sector, but we need to see actions, not words, and clearly we need much more than a transport decarbonisation plan. We need cross-Government departmental co-ordination and leadership from the very top. Those are matters that, frankly, at the moment, are sadly lacking, but the transport decarbonisation plan would be a first step.


  • 13 May 2021: A Brighter Future for the Next Generation


    When it comes to climate change, we know that young people are more engaged and recognise it as the biggest threat to their future. They know that the Scottish Government have declared a climate emergency, but so far the UK Government have not followed suit. The young want to see a green recovery, which is only possible with Scottish independence. Why should Scotland remain in a Union where energy policy is reserved to Westminster? It means that in effect we do everything with one hand tied behind our back. While we were forging ahead with ambitious renewable energy targets, down here David Cameron was trying to “cut the green crap”. That led to the blocking of onshore wind development in Scotland, which is also stuck with a grid charging system in which operators in Scotland pay the highest connection fees in Europe. Despite that, in 2020 Scotland still managed to produce over 97% of its electricity demand from renewable energy—truly leading the way.

    It is obvious that renewable energy is the future. We need to grasp the opportunities to create green jobs and the potential to provide rewarding careers that offer people opportunities to travel around the world. But there was nothing—absolutely nothing—in the Queen’s Speech on renewable energy policy. For base-load, in our energy policy we need to go ahead and price the mechanism for pumped hydro storage. For just around £1.5 billion, we could get the Cruachan dam extension and the new Coire Glas scheme constructed, which would create much-needed high-quality job opportunities in rural Scotland. Even better, analysis by Imperial College suggests that investment in pumped hydro storage could save us £700 million a year in system costs by 2050, so let us get that done.

    When will the UK Government do something to get the Peterhead carbon capture and storage project over the finishing line? Equinor and SSE Thermal say it could be operational by 2026, so it could be part of the just transition and provide vital job opportunities for our young people. The same is true for hydrogen. Agree a contract for difference mechanism and get the St Fergus project up and running.

    Westminster cannot con us with greenwashing. They cannot con an electorate who knew full well what they were voting for in the Scottish elections last week. They knew that voting in the SNP and the Greens was a clear indication that they want an independent Scotland, leading the way to net zero and creating a bright and optimistic future. Westminster should not stand in their way, and I suggest that Labour should not back the Tories on that, either.


  • 28 Apr 2021: COP26

    The Minister should be embarrassed that renewables generators in Scotland face the highest locational grid charges in the whole of Europe. Ahead of COP26, we need to see a route to market for pumped-storage hydro and for wave and tidal, the go-ahead given for Acorn carbon capture and storage and a contract for difference for hydrogen. What capability does the Scottish Office, working with Cabinet colleagues, have to get those matters resolved?


  • 28 Apr 2021: District Heat Networks


    Looking at the big picture for heating overall, we face conflicting problems when it comes to heating our homes. For too many people, fuel poverty is an issue, yet 85% of our homes rely on methane gas heating—a system that is cheaper than electricity and, for the most part, clearly very convenient, given that a boiler can be activated at leisure. That is illustrated by the fact that until it was recently overtaken by China, the UK was the biggest market for gas boilers in the world, but we know that cannot continue. We need to decarbonise, and we need plans, strategies and funding to get there.

    The 10-point plan also has targets for carbon capture and storage from hydrogen production. We are still awaiting strategies for them, but district heating is not even mentioned in the document. In fact, district heating has not featured significantly enough in debates to date, which means today’s debate is very welcome. Looking forward, the reality is that if we are to decarbonise, we will have a rise in some form of district heating in some cases.

    so why does district heating lag behind in discussions and planning? It is quite clear that we need more of that. We need the heat and buildings decarbonisation strategy, as well as the Government’s net zero strategy. The Scottish Government published theirs in February 2021. If re-elected, the SNP pledged to decarbonise the heating of 1 million homes by 2030—over a third of the housing stock in Scotland—and all new homes and buildings from 2024 will use renewable or zero-emission heating. That is backed by a £1.6 billion investment plan.

    Scotland is trying to reduce emissions and heating costs, and to fight fuel poverty. Compared with Westminster, we spend four times more per capita on energy efficiency, which is vital in reducing emissions. By contrast, the UK Government’s future homes standard involves eliminating the connection of new homes to the gas grid by 2025. That means that by 2024, something like 200,000 new homes will be connected to the gas grid and will then need retrofit measures in order to decarbonise at a later date.

    We need to see greater investment in energy efficiency. What of the Tory manifesto’s £9.2 billion commitment? We need to see a coherent heat and building strategy that will deliver a suite of options. They will still need to include district heating, which the Committee on Climate Change reckons will account for 18% of heat in our homes going forward. That means ensuring a route to market for the capital cost and/or a Government funding plan.

    As we look forward, there is plenty to be done. I look forward to the Minister’s response. With COP26 on the horizon, this should be our ideal platform to demonstrate a coherent, complementary heat decarbonisation strategy.


  • 27 Apr 2021: Electricity


    I am on the BEIS Committee and we are undertaking a heat decarbonisation inquiry at the moment. We have heard that the overall install cost of a heat pump system is roughly £15,000. What are the Government’s plans to go from 20,000 installs per year to 600,000 per annum in 2028? How will that be paid for? It cannot just be put on the bills of the average bill payer yet again. Some direct Government investment is going to be required.


  • 23 Mar 2021: Energy Transition Projects in Scotland

    COP26 will allow Scotland to showcase existing and emerging net-zero technologies, but, policy-wise, we need to see a minimum floor mechanism for pumped storage hydro. We need innovation power purchase agreements available for wave and tidal, a contract for difference for hydrogen and the go-ahead for the Acorn carbon capture and storage project. Will the Minister meet me to discuss these matters and take the necessary actions ahead of COP26?


  • 10 Mar 2021: COP26


    COP26 is clearly the most important COP since Paris, and it is critical for our net zero commitments. It is a chance for the UK to be on the world stage, but we have to ask whether matters are in hand. If we look at the Cabinet Office estimates, I would suggest not. We know that the Cabinet Office COP26 budget for this financial year was revised down from £216 million to just £22 million due to the postponement, but what has been achieved to date with that expenditure? What will the future budget look like? We do not really know, which in itself shows the entire farce of the estimates process.

    As a member of the BEIS Committee, I was pleased to take part in an inquiry about the COP26 preparations. The hon. Member for Bristol North West (Darren Jones) has covered it admirably, but I will reiterate some key recommendations that need to be considered. First, we need to ensure that the correct resource allocation from the civil service is in place. That needs a real focus from the Cabinet Office, not its current obsession with Union units. In the last couple of years, the Cabinet Office has also been a propaganda unit—first for Brexit, now the Union. Let us get a focus on COP26, which is a real priority.

    We need to put in place measurable outcomes of success. The Committee has also suggested that parliamentary engagement needs to extend to the devolved legislatures, as well as the Westminster process. That brings us to the fact that leaders and relevant Ministers of the devolved Governments should form part of the UK delegation, as well as Opposition MPs. Let us show inclusivity as part of COP26, whatever Governments elsewhere do—but that will take real leadership from the COP26 President, given that we know the Prime Minister’s view on Scottish devolution.

    We need the UK Government to set the sixth carbon budget as soon as possible, incorporating the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change in full. Serious consideration needs to be given to resetting the fifth carbon budget, which currently is not aligned to net zero.

    Leading by example also means having proper domestic policies in place, just as the Scottish Government have. It is a terrible state of affairs that we are still awaiting the heat and building strategy and we are still awaiting the hydrogen strategy. It should be noted that the Scottish Government have a 5 GW hydrogen production target, which is the same as the UK’s, so Scotland is showing much more ambition. Again, Scotland has a transport decarbonisation plan in place for a net zero target of 2035, but we are still awaiting the UK Government’s transport decarbonisation plan.

    Without these key policies, there is no net zero strategy, and policies without funding commitments are effectively redundant. While there is a 10-point plan with a figure of 600,000 heat pump installations a year, this means nothing without a funded programme to back it up. That programme needs to be aligned with energy-efficient installations and should start targeting off-grid properties. There are 3,000 deaths a year in the UK related to fuel poverty, so the UK Government also need to invest far more directly in energy efficiency and demonstrate a net zero transition that will not push up energy bills and create more fuel poverty.

    I would ask the UK Government to be bold, and to abandon nuclear. This is not going to be the technology saviour they demonstrate to the rest of the world. We still cannot deal with nuclear waste, so we really do need to move away from this. Ahead of COP26, they should give sign-off for pumped-storage hydro. Floating offshore wind, green hydrogen, and wave and tidal technologies are the renewable technologies to focus on, so can we confirm ring-fenced contracts for difference pots for those? We should look at innovation in power purchase agreements for smaller marine projects to allow them to get to market.

    Those are technologies that the UK and in particular Scotland, as the host country, can show to the world and be part of a coherent plan for an energy strategy. We need to be able to demonstrate it as part of the overall plan to lead other countries and make COP26 a real success. There is a lot of work to do in domestic policy and a lot of work in the negotiations that lie ahead of COP26 to make it a success.

    Just for everybody’s information, the wind-ups will start no later than 6.28 pm with Deidre Brock. There will then be shadow Minister Matthew Pennycook at 6.38 pm, the COP26 President at 6.48 pm, and Darren Jones at 6.58 pm.


  • 9 Mar 2021: Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation


    When we have 3,000 people per year dying from fuel poverty, levelling up should involve cutting VAT on energy- efficiency measures and direct Government investment in them. As we transition to net zero, we must not create further fuel poverty. The contracts for difference process has been successful in bringing down the cost of renewables, but the overall project costs go on our electricity bills. It is unsustainable for the costs of decarbonising our heating systems to go directly on to energy bills. When will the Government address that?


  • 1 Mar 2021: Electricity


    On the capacity market, what steps have been taken to reduce the reliance on diesel generators? How much of the capacity market is based on fossil fuel generation? There is no point in continuing to move towards net zero when the capacity market relies on fossil fuel generation, so the Government need to address that.

    Paragraph 12.4 of the explanatory notes states that these proposals will account for only 0.1% of a typical consumer’s bill, but as the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) asked, what will be the cumulative effect of the CfD process on bills? If a user is struggling to pay for their electricity, they use less electricity, so the impact on their bills will be much higher, because they use less electricity than a typical consumer. We need to remember that the bills of the people who are really struggling—the fuel poor—will be more adversely affected in real terms. What will the Government do to take account of that, and what assessment has been made of the cumulative impact? As we move towards net zero and the ever-increasing CfD rounds, what measures will be put in place to protect the fuel poor? This will be particularly relevant when it comes to funding heat decarbonisation. The Committee on Climate Change has estimated that something like £250 billion-worth of expenditure will be needed to decarbonise our heating systems. It is impossible to imagine that that can just be put on users’ bills, so other mechanisms will be required.


  • 8 Feb 2021: Transport

    More needs to be done to create jobs in decarbonised transport. I have three asks of the Secretary of State: introduce mandatory e10 fuels; provide funding for sustainable aviation fuel plants; and provide a bus strategy that copies the combined Scottish Government-EU initiative that saw the world’s first hydrogen double-decker buses in Aberdeen. The bus strategy needs to include orders for Scottish and UK manufacturers. Will he confirm dates and funding for these initiatives and in writing as well, please?


  • 28 Jan 2021: Transport Decarbonisation

    What plans his Department has to facilitate a green recovery from the covid-19 outbreak through transport decarbonisation. ( 911493 )


    More needs to be done to create jobs in decarbonised transport. I have three asks of the Secretary of State: introduce mandatory e10 fuels; provide funding for sustainable aviation fuel plants; and provide a bus strategy that copies the combined Scottish Government-EU initiative that saw the world’s first hydrogen double-decker buses in Aberdeen. The bus strategy needs to include orders for Scottish and UK manufacturers. Will he confirm dates and funding for these initiatives and in writing as well, please?


  • 17 Dec 2020: UK Hydrogen Economy


    Because of time constraints, I will not pay tribute to everybody who has spoken, except to say that it has been a very good debate. I agree with pretty much all the contributions. The hon. Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) said it is not a competition, but then made a very valiant plug for East Anglia. Everybody else said that it is not really a competition, but we have to be careful. The way some of the system is set up by the Government at the moment, with picking clusters ahead of others, makes it very much a competition. I would like to see a greater commitment from the Government on taking out carbon emissions, particularly through CCS, and on giving the go-ahead for five or more clusters rather than a couple at a time.

    Germany published its hydrogen strategy in June 2020, so if we do not watch, the UK is going to be a year behind Germany. As we know, it has committed €9 billion. The £240 million net zero hydrogen fund may be welcome, but over a 10-year period, it looks quite paltry compared with Germany’s €9 billion. The UK plan target of 5 GW of low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030 is welcome, but it is the same as Germany’s. Could greater ambition be shown, to get ahead of the game?

    When it comes to hydrogen business models, the UK Government are again behind the curve. The proposal to finalise those models in 2022 should and could be speeded up. We know the contract for difference process has worked well in bringing down the costs for renewables, although there are issues about the supply chain, but CfD could still be looked at for hydrogen production. Meanwhile, the effort—I am repeating myself on this point—that has gone into plugging nuclear is beyond belief. Let us put that effort into hydrogen and CCS and other low-carbon technologies.

    Again, although the UK has made good progress in decarbonisation, 27 million homes are still reliant on fossil fuels for heating, and transport is still a huge contributor. In both those sectors, hydrogen will be pivotal, as has been said. On heating, we still need to see the buildings and heating decarbonisation strategy, and a future homes strategy is required. As the hon. Member for Rother Valley said, we need to look at a whole mix of options for our decarbonisation. Heat pumps, for example, are welcome, but we need a clear strategy and technology selection framework for that to develop and go forward. The way in which those measures will be paid for also needs to be evaluated, because there is a limit to what can be passed on to consumer bills. We already have too much fuel poverty in the UK; we cannot risk any more.

    When looking at the 27 million homes that are still reliant on fossil fuel heating systems, and others that are reliant on electrification, it is impossible not to see hydrogen as the only large-scale conversion approach. Even so, the full large-scale roll-out of hydrogen would be in 2030, which means that every week for some 20 years, 27,000 homes will need their heat sources decarbonised. That is a huge task that requires much planning, and perhaps even an independent body to oversee it—like the switch from town gas, it will require a massive effort. Manufacturers in the UK already make hydrogen-compliant boilers, so will the Government mandate the sale and installation of hydrogen-ready boilers by 2025? That is an industry ask.

    On transport, hydrogen needs to play a major role in the reduction of shipping and aviation emissions. Again, for joined-up thinking, I urge the UK Government to include those measures in the 2050 net zero target. Those international emissions must be included if we are really serious about net zero. The Scottish Government have included those emissions in their 2045 net zero plans to drive innovation and industry. Other welcome initiatives include the world’s first hydrogen-powered crane—I welcome the Department for Transport’s £400,000 grant for that—and the setting-up of the Jet Zero Council, as well as the Airbus plans for ZEROe.

    I cannot mention hydrogen production without mentioning Peterhead and St Fergus. The UK Government need to make up for the betrayal on that project and include it within the first CCS cluster to be given the go-ahead. I hope the Minister can confirm that while the White Paper shows only Grangemouth on the map of the UK, it will look at the overall project that links with St Fergus in the north and the hydrogen production facility. We also need the oil and gas transition deal to be signed off.


  • 26 Nov 2020: Climate Change Assembly UK: The Path to Net Zero


    When it comes home heating, there was strong agreement on the need for hydrogen, heat pumps and heat networks, so again a hydrogen strategy is required. The initial steps outlined in the 10-point strategy are a start, but we need a proper heat decarbonisation strategy. We have 27 million homes currently reliant on fossil fuel heating, so even if we start in January 2021 and go all the way to 2050, that equates to 20,000 homes a week, roughly, that need to be decarbonised. That is the scale of problem we are dealing with, and it needs to be addressed quickly.

    My one disappointment in the recommendations was the lack of support for carbon capture and storage, because to date that has been integral in the UK’s planning for net zero. We in the SNP want to see carbon capture and storage go ahead at Peterhead as part of the just transition away from oil and gas. This shows at least a rethink in policy, or much better re-engagement with the public, is needed if the public are to be taken with us on carbon capture and storage. The UK Government need to take account of this.


  • 19 Nov 2020: Fuel Poverty and Energy Price Caps


    I do welcome those proposals, but I still think that we need more direct UK Government investment in energy efficiency; again, that comes back to following the lead of the Scottish Government. It is not just the SNP that has said that, but energy companies, third sector organisations and the cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee in its 2019 report, “Energy efficiency: building towards net zero”. A key point from that report was:

    The Committee on Climate Change first confirmed that policies were not in place to deliver the UK’s ambitions in energy efficiency to improve homes to at least EPC band C. The CCC stated that regulations for the private rented sector prioritise costs for landlords over the costs for renters, and that minimum standards for social housing were required. By contrast, it observed that the Scottish Government were demonstrating how an effective policy package for energy efficiency improvements in buildings might be delivered. They have actually set out a comprehensive framework of standards, backed by legislation. When will the UK Government put in place a proper framework that covers the private rented sector, social housing minimum standards and owner-occupiers, as the Scottish Government have done?

    We know our long-term energy efficiency and investment programme will create jobs that allow the programme to deliver the best value, avoiding spikes in cost, as part of a green industrial revolution. Some 27 million homes need their heating systems decarbonised, so it is critical that they are as energy efficient as possible. That is why it would be good to see a long-term Government programme that looked at energy efficiency as a national infrastructure project. Maybe that could be addressed when the national infrastructure plan is published.

    Our net zero commitments will be built in to the next investment period for the transmission grid upgrades. ECO and smart meter costs are all being added to consumer bills. What will that mean for energy users of the future? Will the Government start to consider general taxation as a way to create some of that investment in our energy system?


  • 16 Nov 2020: Pension Schemes Bill [Lords]


    I am delighted that many of my noble Friends in the other place were able to secure some important amendments to the Bill—in particular, the amendments that require trustees and managers to take into account the Paris agreement and key domestic climate targets in their overall governance and disclosure of climate change risk and opportunities. This is the first time that climate change has featured in domestic pensions legislation and that is to be welcomed.

    I urge Ministers and Government Back Benchers to support Labour’s efforts to mobilise billions of pounds towards the vital and timely effort to tackle climate change through pension funds. Given that Ministers refuse to support the amendment in the name of the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds), on asking pension funds to develop strategies to help to meet our obligations under the Paris agreement, I hope that we will receive an explanation of how they expect to achieve their goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.


  • 20 Oct 2020: Local Clean Air Targets


    On a kind of national infrastructure-type basis, the Government also need to look at the energy efficiency of homes. We badly need a heat decarbonisation plan from the Government, because this contributes to air pollution as well. On that strategic overview, I will leave it at that.


  • 14 Oct 2020: Jet Zero Council


    The hon. Gentleman correctly set out how important aviation is overall to the UK in terms of the £52 billion it brings to the economy. At the same time, we have to recognise, and reconcile with that fact, the challenge of achieving net zero, despite an increase in demand going forward. Interestingly, that concurs with the findings of Climate Assembly UK, which recently reported. As citizens, they accept that there will be a continued increase in the use of aircraft, but there need to be changes, in terms of some of the solutions outlined today, in order to get the balance right and achieve net zero. I note that they do not think that there should be quite as big an increase in world aviation as is projected.

    The hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Anthony Browne) also does good work, as chair of the all-party parliamentary environment group. He, too, highlighted the importance of the challenge that we have going forward on climate change. It was good to hear about the work being undertaken with Faradair in terms of hybrid and electric planes. Again, we hope that that leads the way, but he correctly highlighted Norway, which, yet again—it leads the way on so many things—has a commitment for short-haul flights to be fully electric by 2040. It is worth noting that Norway leads the way in relation to electric vehicles, the use of renewable energy in terms of hydro, and its sovereign wealth fund, created from its oil funds. We really need to look at Norway for lessons and copy it instead of just always talking about the UK being world leading. It is a fact that other people do this.

    On a positive note, I welcome the setting up of the Jet Zero Council. We want to see the green recovery in general and the UK Government have an opportunity to lead the way in sustainable aviation. It is fine to be a world leader in terms of the legislation for 2050 net zero, but we need the corresponding action and investment to back that up. As others have said, the UK Government have missed out in the past in offshore and onshore wind, where there was not the drive or the vision in the Government investment to make the UK world leading in that. The manufacturing and other aspects went elsewhere. As such, we need to step up to the plate in terms of net zero aviation.

    As for being world leading, the Scottish Government set net zero legislation before Westminster, with an earlier date of 2045 for net zero, and they are the first Government in the world to include international shipping and aviation within the net zero targets. They have also committed to decarbonising aviation by 2050. Can the Minister advise whether the UK Government will follow the SNP’s lead in Scotland and the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, which is to include international aviation emissions within their net zero targets?

    The UK is hosting COP26 in Glasgow next year, which is a tremendous opportunity to lead the world in a number of initiatives and commitments. The UK Government’s “Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge” document stated:

    “Internationally, we are committed to negotiating in ICAO for a long-term emissions reduction goal for international aviation that is consistent with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, ideally by ICAO’s 41st Assembly in 2022.”

    Can the Minister advise what progress has been made regarding those negotiations and whether there are any commitments that can be included within the nationally determined contributions for COP26? That certainly would set a tremendous example.

    Yes, I agree it is important. They need to be replaced because half the existing nuclear power stations will be phased out in the next four years. However, they do not need to be replaced by nuclear; they should be replaced by renewable energy, so I absolutely do not agree on that point.

    There seems to be cross-party support for jet zero and the aim to get net zero aviation by 2050, but there are clear asks for the Government, and I look forward to hearing the Minister confirm those financial commitments that have been asked for around the tables.

    We all know how important the subject of the debate is and, particularly at such a difficult and challenging time for the sector, it is important to take a considered, nuanced approach to the issues that we are discussing. We might, if we had had the debate much earlier in the year, have been able to focus purely on decarbonisation and the need to make progress with that in the sector, but covid has, as with so many other things, turned everything in the aviation world on its head. There have, as we have heard, been unprecedented falls in demand for flights because of the pandemic. The sector has faced immense financial hardship and it is predicted that it will not fully get back to its feet until 2023 or 2024 —or, given the degree of uncertainty, who knows?

    Now, therefore, the discussion of decarbonisation must also deal with how to save aviation jobs in the short term, ranging from those in manufacturing, technology and design to those in airports and airlines, and the supply chain. We should not forget the many small companies that also rely on the industry and need to be part of the shift. It is one thing to consult bigger companies as part of the Jet Zero Council, but for every big company at the forefront of innovation there will be many other small and medium-sized enterprises that rely very much on being taken along on the journey.

    Labour has called for a sector-specific package for aviation, which will be conditional not just on the protection of jobs—including an end to firing and rehiring on inferior contracts—but on progress in meeting environmental targets. It is important that those two objectives should be intertwined. Some nations uncritically bailed out their aviation sectors because of the pandemic without considering the climate impacts, but other nations have been both ambitious in protecting their aviation sectors and sensitive to the need to decarbonise the sector. France, for example, provided more than €15 billion, much of it to Air France, conditional on a number of things. For example, France expects the airline to renew its fleet with more efficient aircraft; to source 2% of fuel from sustainable sources by 2025; to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide from domestic flights by the end of 2024; and to ensure that overall emissions from all flights are halved by 2030.

    I welcome the Minister to his new post. I hope that we hear from him how the UK can follow France in taking such a lead, because this is too important an opportunity to miss, given that we need far more intervention and investment in the aviation sector—more of a lead from the Government—than we perhaps would in normal times. How can we maximise the opportunity to get the sector back on its feet and also accelerate the progress we all want to make towards net zero?

    Aviation counted for 8% of UK emissions in 2019, according to the Committee on Climate Change. I agree with the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire on the need to include international aviation emissions in the UK’s net zero emissions legislation. Domestic aviation emissions have fallen to some extent, but those international emissions are not currently included in that legislation. I do not know whether the Minister will have something to say on that, because, as I understand it, the Government have said that they want to look at how we can include international aviation and shipping emissions in that target. That would act as a real incentive; rather than just focusing on emissions from domestic flights, which are a tiny minority of journeys, we must look at the international picture.


  • 6 Oct 2020: Alternative Fuelled Vehicles: Energy Provision


    We keep hearing about a green recovery in the UK being “world leading”, but for that to be a reality, we need coherent, interlinked strategies, and the policies to achieve them. That means the publication of the overdue energy White Paper, the national infrastructure plan, a heat decarbonisation plan, and a possible update to the transport decarbonisation plan. I hope that the Minister will provide an update on those and how they will be implemented, now that the Budget and spending review have been cancelled.

    I welcome the fact that the UK Government are trialling the first hydrogen train in the world. That might make up for their dereliction of duty on electrification and the previous Transport Secretary’s obsession with hybrid diesel trains. The Scottish Government have published a real decarbonisation strategy with an end date of 2035, but Network Rail has only an interim programme in the UK targeting 2050. When will we get a final determination that is ambitious enough?


  • 29 Sep 2020: United Kingdom Internal Market Bill


    We know the risk of imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef. However, Argentinian beef could come in and undercut the market. Genetically modified crops could be imposed in Scotland. We have more robust climate change targets that could now be overruled by Westminster. The Government might impose this Bill on the Scottish Parliament against its will, but they are going to lose the independence argument.


  • 16 Sep 2020: United Kingdom Internal Market Bill


    Let me turn to amendment 22, on the important topic of climate change, tabled by the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). She made her case with her usual passion and eloquence, which I greatly respect. I share her determination to see those goals achieved, and so do the United Kingdom Government. However, there is already an overarching legal and policy framework for achieving those goals, and I do not think it is necessary to put that restriction on that power, so I urge her not to press the amendment.


  • 7 Jul 2020: Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Departmental Spending


    A few minutes cannot cover a Department that has responsibility for business recovery, energy, industrial strategy, climate change, net zero, getting the carbon budgets back on track and leading on COP26. It is not credible that one Secretary of State has all those responsibilities under his belt, as well as leading in the Cabinet on climate change.

    A green recovery will need investment and commitments on a greater scale than anything we have seen to date, and it is shocking to think that BEIS only spends £1 billion a year on tackling climate change, yet spends £2 billion a year on nuclear waste at Sellafield. The nuclear waste liability is estimated to be £131 billion. What a legacy that is, yet the Government and BEIS are still infatuated with nuclear, despite the failing business models. Hinkley has a strike price of £92.50 per MWh for a 35-year concession, yet offshore wind is now at less than £40 per MWh for a mere 15-year concession. It is crazy, and it is time to abandon the nuclear sector deal, which is sucking another £190 million out of the Department’s budget. The nuclear fallout needs to be ended and there needs to be greater investment in renewables. If the Government are still arguing that we need a baseload, I would argue that they should be finding a route to market for pumped hydro storage, which would give the required baseload, rather than nuclear energy.

    The same is true of carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production: the funding of such projects at scale is required in order for us to become world leading. It is critical that funding is provided for the Acorn CCS and hydrogen-production project at St Fergus. The Committee on Climate Change recommends that a funding mechanism must be in place this year.

    Support is also required for the oil and gas industry so that it can have a just transition to renewables and the net zero target for 2050. When are we going to see some of the £350 billion of Treasury revenues that came from oil and gas coming back to Scotland to support the sector?

    On facilitating green investment in infrastructure, there also need to be upgrades to national grid pinch points and a resetting of transmission charging, which right now punishes renewable projects in Scotland. We need greater investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, and to have a coherent strategy for a green recovery, we need to see the energy White Paper. We need a national infrastructure strategy to come forward. The heating building strategy, transport decarbonisation plan and net zero review all have to align and come together. The options for investment are massive; if the UK Government will not grasp them, they should give Scotland the powers so that we can continue on our green journey.


  • 15 Jun 2020: Electricity


    I welcome the fact that the changes result in compliance with state aid and allow the capacity market to function. On another positive, I welcome the move to reduce the minimum capacity threshold in the capacity market from 2 MW to 1 MW. The chief executive of the UK’s REA—the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology—stated that this will

    On the bigger picture, what is the Minister doing to facilitate the co-location of large-scale storage alongside renewable energy sources such as offshore wind? This and the removal of the capacity cap in contracts for difference options would complement the capacity market. That needs to be reviewed as well. I stress that pumped hydro-storage is a perfect way to manage fluctuations in high and low demand and thereby provide security of supply. When are the Government going to assist in a route to market for the big projects that are in the pipeline in Scotland? Pumped hydro-storage is much more effective than nuclear and it is much more cost-effective, so we need to forget the white elephant of nuclear and in particular the desire to get small modular reactors up and running.

    On energy efficiency and reducing demand overall, the Committee on Climate Change stated that the UK Government should match the ambitions of Scotland, and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee reports that as well, so energy efficiency is critical to lower demand.


  • 17 Mar 2020: Income tax (charge)


    Another transport project that was supposed to level up connectivity between the regions and nations is the third runway at Heathrow. However, the UK Government lost in the court because they did not allow for aviation emissions to be aligned with the Paris agreement. They will now turn round and say that it does not matter because it is private investment, and it is up to Heathrow to sort it out. Well, it is not up to Heathrow to sort it out; it is up to the UK Government to do that, because climate change is their responsibility. They should follow the Scottish Government’s lead, and include aviation emissions in their net zero target. Moreover, if they are clear about levelling up, where are the public service obligations to protect the extra slots if the Heathrow third runway goes ahead? That is another vital aspect of connectivity.

    The Government have a big job to do if they are to hit their net zero carbon target by 2050. It will mean further strategic infrastructure investment, which will need to be done correctly to achieve this levelling up. That means investment in energy infrastructure. Again, we await the Government’s White Paper. When will it come, and when will we have a coherent energy policy that makes energy efficiency measures part of a national infrastructure project? The National Infrastructure Commission has long called for that, as has the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. The Scottish Government have led the way, spending four times as much as the UK Government per capita.

    We need proposals for carbon capture and strategy—the current Budget proposals are too vague—and we need to end the nuclear obsession. It is completely illogical to pay £92.50 per MWh for Hinkley for 35 years, compared to just £40 per MWh for offshore wind and a 15-year concession. We need to invest in renewable energy.


  • 26 Feb 2020: Energy Efficiency Measures: Net Zero Buildings


    The right hon. Gentleman set the scene very well, including the scale of the issue that faces us in achieving net zero for domestic buildings, and fact that the decline in emissions has stalled in recent years. It certainly struck home to me that about 20 million of 29 million homes have an EPC rating, and of those more are rated D than A, B and C combined, although I suggest that those figures are not reflected across the UK. I will give some statistics later.

    I agree completely about the need to decarbonise our heating system. The bigger picture there goes hand in hand with the need for the UK Government to invest in carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production, with projects such as the Acorn project up in Peterhead. The right hon. Gentleman rightly highlighted the big challenge of rural off-gas-grid homes. That is a big challenge for the Government and I, too, look forward to hearing the Minister’s response on that and on the issues about the renewable heat incentive coming to an end. Looking at the bigger picture, that ties in with the loss of the feed-in tariffs for solar. There is now a 20% VAT uplift in solar. All those measures are prohibiting energy efficiency measures that would reduce energy demand and therefore the carbon emissions from homes.

    It really is a no-brainer that greater energy efficiency measures can only assist in reducing carbon emissions at the point of use, as well as generation demand, further reducing overall carbon emissions. Energy efficiency can help to reduce fuel poverty and can be part of the green industrial revolution, creating additional jobs in various insulation techniques. Obviously, it is needed to get to our net zero target by 2050, so I must ask why the UK Government are not doing more in that field.

    Others Members touched, implicitly or directly, on the fact that direct Government investment in energy efficiency is crucial. The UK Government need to follow the lead of the Scottish Government. Now, I would say that, but organisations in the sector say it as well. The energy companies say it, as do many third sector organisations. The BEIS Committee said it in its 2019 report, “Energy efficiency: building towards net zero”, as did the Committee on Climate Change in its 2019 progress report to Parliament, titled “Reducing UK Emissions”. The BEIS Committee report stated:

    The Committee on Climate Change confirmed that policies are not currently in place to deliver the UK Government’s ambition to improve all homes to at least EPC band C. The CCC stated that regulations for the private rented sector prioritise costs for landlords over the costs for tenants to operate their heating systems, and that minimum standards for social housing are required. It then observed that the Scottish Government, by contrast, are demonstrating how an effective policy package for energy efficiency improvements in buildings might be delivered by setting out a comprehensive framework of standards, backed by legislation. That legislation includes private rented sector regulations, phased to set a date for when new tenancies have to comply, and a backstop date for all private rented properties. The Scottish Government also set a higher cost that landlords in the private sector might have to shoulder. There are proposals for all owner-occupiers to be required to meet EPC band C by 2040, with incentives to try to do it by 2030. In the social rented sector, the revised standard published in June 2019 requires all social housing to meet EPC band B by the end of 2032, and sets a minimum floor of EPC band D from 2025, below which no social house can be re-let.

    Some 27 million homes need their heating systems decarbonised, so it is crucial that they are as energy efficient as possible. The Government have one live scheme for home insulation measures: the energy company obligation scheme. Yet the Committee on Fuel Poverty states that those measures do not target the right people, so that needs to be reviewed as well.


  • 3 Feb 2020: Draft Electricity Supplier Obligations (Excluded Electricity) (Amendment) Regulations 2019


    This SI is an ad-hoc arrangement indicative of a reactive Government and the fact that, over the years, energy policy has kept chopping and changing. We need a strong focus and a coherent policy that will deliver the lowest-cost renewable energy to bring down the overall energy cost for households and businesses. That means scrapping the nuclear white elephants and forgetting the mad plan for small modular reactors. It is one for the future—it is fantasy—and we should focus here and now on renewables.

    The Minister explained that the costs for Hinkley Point C nuclear are not exempted for energy-intensive industry, so it makes no sense that there is an exemption from offshore wind costs. Offshore wind now has a £40 strike price per megawatt hour, whereas Hinkley Point C has a £92.50 strike price for a 35-year concession, compared with a 15-year concession for offshore wind. Industries are exempted from offshore wind costs, but not nuclear. That sends out the wrong message about the value of renewable energy.

    How sustainable is it to continue to have householders carry the cost of energy for energy-intensive industries? Will the long-awaited energy White Paper address this looking ahead? How does this policy fit in with the net-zero targets and how does it incentivise switches to cleaner or local renewable energy for energy-intensive industries?

    Going forward, we need onshore wind: it is the cheapest form of electricity generation, which should help both energy-intensive companies and householders. According to the Committee on Climate Change, we need to almost triple our onshore wind capacity by 2035, so what plans do the Government have to do that, and how do they fit in with these measures?


  • 15 Jan 2020: A Green Industrial Revolution


    The word “revolution” means either an overthrow or a radical and pervasive change in society, especially one made suddenly. Have we really had a green industrial revolution? Have we had a revolution in Government? I would suggest that, if anything, there has been a counter green revolution, given that the Tory Government scrapped the Department for Energy and Climate Change, thus highlighting their priorities in recent years.

    I have to acknowledge that we have made fantastic strides forward with renewable energy, but has it been a revolution? I would argue that, owing to the UK Government chopping and changing strategy, the process has been too stop-start to be classed as revolutionary. We have seen a welcome increase in the deployment of renewable energy, and UK Government support has facilitated that, but owing to policy changes, there have been too many peaks, troughs and, in some cases, catastrophic failures because of the actions of the UK Government.

    The first example of that is onshore wind, which was deployed to great effect in Scotland, with prices falling rapidly due to the initial Government policies. It was a renewable energy revolution that Scotland embraced—one that saw 75% of gross electricity demand met by renewable generation in Scotland in 2018. However, the Tory shire prejudice against onshore wind means that the Tory Government are now blocking onshore wind across the UK, against Scotland’s wishes.

    The Committee on Climate Change states that onshore wind capacity in the UK needs to increase from 13 GW to 35 GW by 2035 as part of the net zero transition, yet there is no route to market at present for onshore wind, despite it being the cheapest form of electricity generation. The former Secretary of State for Scotland should hang his head in shame for blocking the redeployment of onshore wind in Scotland. A report by Vivid Economics estimates that this could cost 2,300 jobs in Scotland and add £50 a year to everybody’s energy bills.

    When we consider renewables and wind in particular, it is a reminder that the transmission charging regime is a straitjacket around Scotland. The punitive charges, especially in the north of Scotland, can be a deal breaker for some developments. The charging system needs a complete overhaul to allow deployment of renewable energy for maximum benefit.

    In the past—in another policy change—we had the carbon capture fiasco, when the Treasury pulled £1 billion that was on offer, and which looked set to deliver carbon capture and storage in Peterhead. That was a wasted opportunity—money down the drain with nothing to show for it—and it cost 600 jobs in Peterhead and ruined the chance for the UK and Scotland to be a world leader in that technology. I am asking Westminster to please back Scotland’s CCS potential. With 35% of the available capacity in the whole of Europe, we could still be a world leader. However, it needs a fast start, and better investment in Scotland. The Committee on Climate Change has made it clear that carbon capture is not a wish; it is a necessity in order to hit net zero by 2050.

    If we are to hit net zero in the UK by 2050, we need a proper green industrial revolution. We need the large-scale development of CCS, which, as well as creating jobs, will allow a long-term just transition for the oil and gas sector. We need radical measures to decarbonise our heat. Our domestic heating systems are the elephant in the room when it comes to the net zero target. I said earlier that 27 million houses relied on fossil fuels for heating, so a change in that mechanism for 27 million homes needs to be a proper revolution. It is likely that we shall see gas central heating boilers change to hydrogen boilers, and we know that hydrogen blending is a short-term transitional measure in decarbonising the gas network, but we need the strategies and policies in place, and the necessary changes in regulation to allow that to happen. There, too, we need concrete plans from the UK Government.

    Scotland leads in energy efficiency, and we also lead in climate change registration targets: the first Government to call a climate change emergency; a net zero target for 2045; and a 75% target reduction by 2030. According to the Committee on Climate Change, Scotland has become the leading UK nation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. However, these latest targets are world-leading. Our 2030 target goes beyond what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states is required globally to limit warming to the 1.5°, as per the Paris climate agreement. We have also taken the difficult decision not to reduce air passenger duty when it is devolved. In the past couple of days the UK Government have been flip-flopping on that, and are all over the place when it comes to APD.

    Going forward, the Scottish Government’s “Programme for Government” puts the green new deal at the heart of Government policy. Securing transition to net zero will be the primary mission for the Scottish National Investment Bank, supported by £130 million this year. The creation of the SNIB will provide £2 billion of long-term capital to businesses and infrastructure projects, to help transform the Scottish economy, and again reduce carbon emissions. That contrasts directly with the UK Green Investment Bank, set up by the Tory Government and then sold off without assurances of green aims or a UK focus.

    We know that transport is a major carbon emitter. If we are looking at the roll-out of electric vehicles, I suggest that we need to look at Norway. It has undertaken a real revolution towards electric and low emission vehicles. In 2019, 58% of new car sales were of plug-in low-emission vehicles and 42% of overall sales were of fully electric cars. Meanwhile, here in the UK, flags are being waved and we are supposed to celebrate the fact that we have reached 3% sales of electric vehicles. According to the Committee on Climate Change, the UK deadline of 2040 for the phase-out of fossil fuel vehicles is way too far ahead, and even then the plans for its delivery are too vague. I suggest that the UK Government look to a small, independent, prosperous country such as Norway for inspiration, and to see how things can be done properly.

    The UK has made strides regarding carbon emissions, but, as we have heard, there is a long way to go. While we look for solutions, nature is unfortunately undergoing its own climate change revolution. We have seen that with the bushfires in Australia, the 4 million hectares of Siberian forest that burned a few months ago, and the fires in Greenland, Alaska and Canada. The six hottest years on record have been the last six consecutive years, with warming oceans and melting ice. Things are critical, and Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, said that the UK’s efforts to deal with climate change have fallen short. Indeed, in the interim progress report he states that

    We have a Prime Minister who ducked out of TV debates on climate change, so we are looking for real leadership on this issue. I am glad that Scotland is showing such leadership, but I know it could do so much more if it were a small, independent country that was able to grasp the nettle in the way that Norway has.


  • 7 Jan 2020: Oral Answers to Questions

    As always, the Scottish Government are ahead of the UK Government when it comes to climate change and taking steps to tackle this. The Minister rightly acknowledged that the UK Government have to do a lot more. Does he agree that they need to take away the subsidies to nuclear and actually reinvest in onshore wind in Scotland, and allow greater offshore deployment as well?


  • 24 Oct 2019: Oral Answers to Questions

    More than half of total carbon emissions in the UK come from cars on our roads, yet so far the UK Government have refused to introduce mandatory E10 fuel, which would reduce emissions. Unlike in Scotland, the UK Government remain wedded to cars that use fossil fuels until 2040. Will the Secretary of State heed the assertion by the Committee on Climate Change that action is required if the UK is to meet its targets for 2025 and 2030, let alone have zero emissions by 2050? What corrective measures will he take, and will he tell us about the exiting new measures that he spoke about earlier?


  • 17 Oct 2019: The Climate Emergency


    It does not say much about the self-proclaimed world leader in climate change that there are no definitive proposals in the Queen’s Speech on this subject. We still await a long overdue White Paper on energy policy. We need to recognise that it was a Tory Government who pulled the plug on carbon capture at Peterhead, but meanwhile, all 2050 zero emissions projections rely on carbon capture.

    Meanwhile, as my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry) said, this Government still have a nuclear obsession. Hinkley has a strike rate of £92.50 per megawatt-hour for a 35-year concession. It is sucking money away from other projects that will count towards tackling climate change. Given that the UK Government pledged to respond to the National Infrastructure Commission this autumn, I hope a Minister will confirm that they will take on board the recommendation of abandoning new nuclear in favour of renewables.

    With onshore and offshore prices at an all-time low, it is time that the UK Government considered the UK supply chain when it comes to the licensing process of the CfD auctions. Rather than concentrating on price only, bids should also be considered in terms of quality and added value if using local suppliers. Not only could that allow greater continuity of work for yards such as BiFab and suppliers such as CS Wind in Campbeltown, but it avoids the absurdness of bringing kit in from around the world when we are trying to clamp down on climate change and emissions.

    Heat accounts for approximately one third of greenhouse gas emissions, which shows not only the value of energy efficiency measures but the need for a long-overdue strategy to decarbonise heat. I co-chaired a cross-party inquiry that produced a report on heat decarbonisation. I have the report here, printed by Policy Connect and Carbon Connect. I really recommend it to the House, because it contains recommendations that the Government will have to adopt.

    Our environment can be improved with tree planting. The Scottish Government lead the way on that, and it is another measure that the UK Government need to step up to the plate on. Scotland has the most ambitious targets in the world with regard to climate change. We cannot afford to be dragged down by the UK Government’s inaction.


  • 10 Apr 2019: Constitutional Law


    That said, we welcome the streamlining of this process for challenging Scottish Ministers’ decisions about marine licence applications. As the hon. Gentleman was good enough to say, the Scottish Government are a world leader in the fight against climate change and in advancing renewable energy. The Scottish Government want to have 50% of all energy sources supplied by renewables by 2030. It does figure that it would be much better for the Scottish Government to have even greater powers over energy policy and for that not be blocked by the likes of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

    When will the Government change the regulations on the Electricity Act 1989 to define electricity storage as a distinct subset of generation? That change will facilitate the co-location of batteries with renewable energy, as the Minister acknowledged in a parliamentary answer in March and in another last week. She described the amendment as “an important measure” and said that it would be implemented “when parliamentary time allows.” I suggest that a full debate in the main Chamber provides sufficient parliamentary time to amend the regulations. That is part of the day job that the Government should be getting on with.

    We welcome the corrections of the previous oversight. They should mean that the appeal process is clear, within the remit of Scottish Ministers, and within the remit of the Scottish legal jurisdiction. The intention of the 2014 Act was to streamline the planning application and appeal process for renewable energy to facilitate business deployment and to give investors more certainty. We therefore welcome this measure, which has been agreed with Scottish Ministers. As the Minister said in her opening remarks, better regulation is good for everyone.


  • 2 Apr 2019: Draft Electricity Capacity (No. 1) Regulations 2019


    We need more onshore wind generation in Scotland, CCS strategy, and greater investment in marine and tidal energy. Those are all required to stabilise the power generation market going forward. I would like to hear some comments about those issues, too.


  • 27 Mar 2019: Draft Scotland Act 1998 (transfer of functions to the scottish ministers etc.) Order 2019


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I will not say very much either, because there seems no point in restating what this simple amendment does. Obviously it just corrects a previous oversight. It has been agreed with Scottish Ministers, and it is obviously a welcome transfer of powers. We welcome any additional transfer of powers to the Scottish Parliament. Clearly, the Scottish Government are leading at the moment on the production of renewable energy.

    On marine renewable energy, the written answer I received last week says that the UK Government are not providing any direct funding for marine tidal energy. Hopefully that situation will be rectified going forward, so that we can further develop renewable energy. We welcome the transfer of powers.


  • 16 Jan 2019: British Bioethanol Industry


    The Government may see electric vehicles as a decarbonisation silver bullet but, given that average sales of those vehicles still hover around the 1% bracket, we are a long way from the critical mass of electrical vehicle use that would make a huge difference to carbon reduction. If the Government will not invest enough to get electric vehicle uptake to that critical mass, they need to consider such transitional decarbonisation measures as mandatory E10 and liquefied petroleum gas.


  • 8 Jan 2019: Oral Answers to Questions

    22. The Minister will be aware that the whole point of supporting new renewable energy technologies is to allow them to enter the marketplace and, hopefully, get to the point where they will become subsidy-free. Onshore wind is almost at that point, and it is also the cheapest form of electricity generation at the moment. What discussions has the Minister had with the Secretary of State for Scotland about developing onshore wind in Scotland? ( 908449 )


  • 13 Nov 2018: Climate Change: Extreme Weather Events


    The hon. Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) reminded us that we are on course for a 3° increase in temperature compared with pre-industrial levels, yet the IPCC report focuses on the difference between a 1.5° increase and a 2° increase, so we need urgent action. The hon. Gentleman also highlighted the clear environmental benefits of taking action: irrespective of climate change, that action will improve the environment of the world we live in. We need to remember that, and look beyond financial costs.

    Apart from the head-in-the-sand deniers, people know that climate change is happening. We have the proof and we can see it happening with changing weather patterns. In my lifetime, I have seen winters get milder. As I was growing up, people said, “It used to be far colder in my day,” so there is that generational change. We know people’s memories might play tricks on them, but if we look at old maps of Scotland from the turn of the 20th century we can see they are littered with outdoor curling ponds. Those sites are marked on the maps, but not one of those curling ponds exists any more. That shows the change in winter over the past 100 years or so.

    Met Office statistics also back up the changes, which have accelerated in the past decade. The hottest day is on average 0.8° C warmer than for the period 1961 to 1990. Winters are an average of 1.7° C milder as compared with that same period. We now have longer spells where temperatures exceed 25° C. We have fewer ice days, longer wet spells, shorter dry spells and higher extreme wet days. It is obvious that action needs to be taken at a UK level, within the devolved Administrations and at the international level, though the international level clearly becomes more difficult with a climate change denier such as Trump in the White House. I hope his tenure is short lived.

    Unlike the hon. Member for Bristol North West, I welcome the Government writing to the Committee on Climate Change asking for updated advice on reaching a net zero carbon economy, on long-term greenhouse gas emissions, on when the UK should reach zero emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, and the implications for emissions in 2050. I take his point that the UK Government need to take action, and I will come on to that. When that analysis and advice come at the end of March 2019, they will need sober reflection and concerted planning and action. This will have big implications for UK carbon budgets.

    Lord Deben has confirmed that, as part of its work, the Committee on Climate Change will look at how the UK can effectively eliminate carbon emissions and set out the necessary steps to clean up the UK’s homes, industry, transport and agriculture. That will clearly be critical, but I have a few suggestions of my own. First, direct Government action will be required. They cannot continue to try to hide behind things such as the green deal and hide how borrowing happens; they need to take a lead and invest. They need to move away from the obsession with nuclear as a means of low-carbon transition. That will free up billions of pounds for investment in renewables and energy efficiency measures. They should follow the Scottish Government and invest directly in energy efficiency for homes. As the hon. Member for Strangford said, the UK Government need to embrace the renewables sector.

    Greater investment is required in carbon capture and storage to try to recover from the shameful pulling of £1 billion of funding. That remains a continual reminder that Departments need to work together and that the Treasury cannot have carte blanche suddenly to pull funding streams because it wants to impose austerity. CCS can decarbonise energy production and energy-intensive industries, and it can produce hydrogen, which is a carbon-free source of fuel. Onshore wind must be allowed to bid in future energy auctions, and the UK Government should not end the generation export tariff in March 2019.

    Figures from the Renewable Energy Association show that changes to the energy market rules already mean that employment in the photovoltaic sector in 2016-17 was down 30% as compared with 2011-12. The number of companies in the PV supply chain was down 60% over that period, and turnover was approximately 50% in real terms. Government policy changes have a massive impact on the renewables sector. It is little wonder that the UK has once again slipped down the EY renewable energy investment attractiveness index, which compares countries all over the world. We know we need to develop energy storage, but I would suggest that the funding for the Faraday challenge is insufficient, especially when we consider that the failing nuclear industry has been given a £200 million sector deal. The UK Government need to step up with an oil and gas sector deal to help that sector to realise the 2035 vision and carbon reductions in those industries.

    In Scotland—I know this from experience as well—any new development must get permission to connect to the sewer system from Scottish Water, which has the right to say no. The developer must pay for any upgrades to the sewer system or any mitigation measures that are required. That becomes part of the planning conditions, yet in England the UK Government have steadfastly refused to end the right to connect. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has made that recommendation over a number of years, yet the UK Government refuse to act. I do not understand that. If we are going to mitigate the impact of future housing and climate change, we need to start looking at this.


  • 23 Oct 2018: HELMS and the Green Deal


    “One of the problems with energy mis-selling was that it was a long time before many of the cases came to light. Does the Minister have any thoughts on ensuring that the standards that are to be imposed on those selling green energy are regularly inspected to ensure that any problems can be detected at an early stage?”


  • 9 Oct 2018: Oil and Gas Industry


    With the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, we have to recognise the wider climate change issues and that the world is not on track to meet the temperature goals of the Paris agreement. The UK Government will have to take action in that regard, but that does not mean that we need to pull out of the North sea any time soon. Even if we did, we would then be reliant on imports.


  • 24 Jul 2018: Wylfa Nuclear Power Project: Taxpayer Liability for Safety


    “The assumption that baseload power stations are necessary to provide a reliable supply of grid electricity has been disproven by both practical experience in electricity grids with high contributions from renewable energy, and by hourly computer simulations.”

    We should invest in carbon capture and storage. I welcome the Government’s latest report on CCS, but we should never have pulled the previous £1 billion allocation. How ridiculously small does that £1 billion seem compared with the costs of nuclear I have outlined? CCS will also allow for the decarbonisation of gas and biomass electricity generation and will open up the potential for a supply of zero-carbon fuel, in the form of hydrogen. However, each massive undertaking for nuclear is to the detriment of investment in renewables. When the Government give undertakings and risk guarantees for Wylfa, they reduce their scope to make similar guarantees for emerging technologies.


  • 11 Jul 2018: Nuclear Sector Deal


    The hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mike Hill) spoke about small modular reactors, and he also mentioned carbon capture and storage—I would certainly welcome the development of CCS in his constituency and the wider Teesside area.


  • 25 Jun 2018: National Policy Statement: Airports


    Recommendation 25 is about policy and ways to maximise other runway capacity across the UK. That is not a make-or-break condition, but it would have been nice if the UK Government had got this policy in place at the same time as they are bringing this proposal forward. On the air quality issues in the Committee’s recommendations 3 to 6, the Government need to confirm that Heathrow’s triple lock is sufficient and that development consent will be robust enough to address those issues. More importantly, it needs to be confirmed that the expansion of Heathrow will not compromise obligations on climate change.


  • 9 May 2018: Electric Vehicles and Bicycles


    The trust also operates a cycle hub at Whitelee wind farm, which is the second biggest onshore renewable energy site in Europe. It encourages people to get out there and cycle in the great outdoors, which is a fantastic co-location idea, harmonising renewables with getting people out and about. I pay tribute to my constituent, Alan Vass, who led the expansion of the cycle hub. It is getting bigger and better, and I wish him well for the future.


  • 24 Apr 2018: Dieter Helm Energy Review


    The hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton mentioned a potential 1,600 new coal plants coming in around the world, while we are decarbonising and, correctly, eliminating coal-fired plants, so the UK impact on overall world reductions is pretty minimal. I do not think that that is the correct attitude. We must continue to lead by example on decarbonisation and to lobby and negotiate for others to do so. The hon. Gentleman was correct in pointing out that complexity is an issue—a theme that Dieter Helm brought out in his report.

    My hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson) gave a characteristically laid-back and chilled speech. I am tempted to go down that route, but I certainly agree with all the points she made. She concluded that consumers need to be at the heart of considerations. She is a champion of consumers, and I echo that sentiment. She correctly highlighted the issue of Hinkley Point. I shall come back to that and the fact that the cost of decarbonised energy is equivalent to 20% of bills; perhaps there is a better way of paying for decarbonisation.

    Finally, we heard from the hon. Member for Wells (James Heappey). I congratulate his children on the high standard of their art work. The hon. Gentleman echoed Dieter Helm’s assertion that the auction system may be imperfect, but, as he said, it has clearly led to decarbonisation and the introduction of low-carbon technologies. There may be faults, but it has moved things in the right direction.

    “to meet the government’s objectives and, in particular, to be consistent with the Climate Change Act”.


  • 23 Apr 2018: Draft Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme Regulations 2018 Draft Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Schem...


    I support the RHI scheme and welcome anything that will help to enable low-carbon technologies and decarbonise heat. I do have a big “but”, however, which I raised in my intervention on the Minister. I also have other comments to make.

    I will return to the big “but” that I highlighted. The Grangemouth renewable energy project has been in the pipeline for a number of years. It is a possible biomass and combined heat and power scheme that will replace the existing gas turbines at the Grangemouth refinery. The current owners of the refinery will have to make a procurement decision in a few weeks’ time on whether to go for the renewable energy project or to commission new gas turbines. The current renewable energy project is innovative and world leading and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 342,000 tonnes a year, and will need a £400 million investment.


  • 19 Apr 2018: UK Oil and Gas Industry


    The hon. Gentleman mentioned that there are 233 companies in his constituency alone working in the oil and gas industry. That is a fantastic statistic, which shows the importance of the sector to his constituency and the wider Aberdeenshire area. He correctly said that the oil and gas industry should not be seen as a stopgap measure while we decarbonise the economy and that it still has a bright future. I echo that sentiment. He highlighted the resilience of the industry, which is why it still has that bright future.

    We should also have had an oil fund. The answer to that request has been a consistent no from the UK Government. Yet Norway’s oil fund, which was started in only 1990, sits at £780 billion. That is a fantastic legacy. Norway is also using and investing it wisely. It has the highest proportion of electric vehicles in Europe. It has invested massively in the renewables sector. It is decarbonising the economy while still wisely managing its oil and gas resources. That is forward planning that the UK Government could still do. We need to look at that.

    I must repeat my disappointment about the pulling of the CCS fund. That must be a lesson for the Government going forward because it scared the industry and scares away other people trying to make private investment. Again, the Minister has spoken positively about the future of CCS, so it would be good to hear her reinforce that when she sums up.

    I appreciate time is moving on, Mr Sharma, so I will try to hurry up, but I want to mention another renewable energy project that has been developed at Grangemouth and would support the Grangemouth refinery: the Grangemouth renewable energy project, which has been successful in the CfD auction. Because it contains biomass, the whole premise of the project is based on securing renewable heat incentive funding as well. The UK Government are looking at retrospectively capping the amount of RHI funding available to projects to 250GWh. That would put the Grangemouth renewable energy project at risk, so I urge the Minister to reconsider, because the project is so innovative. It is a world leader, it would support the Grangemouth refinery, and it could develop industry for export and help grow the UK economy.


  • 18 Apr 2018: Industrial Strategy


    Another innovative and possibly world-leading energy project is the proposed renewable energy plant at Grangemouth to replace the existing end-of-life gas turbine station. The new proposals include biomass, which means the project needs access to renewable heat incentive funding and contract for difference funding. Right now, however, the UK Government are seeking to cap the RHI funding available to any scheme at 250 GWh, which would make the project completely unviable. I urge the Secretary of State to do everything he can to make sure that the project goes ahead.


  • 18 Dec 2017: Financial Assistance to Industry


    In terms of where energy policy is just now, I fully agree with the motion. I agree with the Minister that exemption rather than compensation is beneficial to the companies in terms of cash flow and managing the process. I share the shadow Minister’s concerns about levies being added in future to consumers’ bills and, in particular, bills for medium-sized businesses. The Minister mentioned the industrial strategy and creating jobs, including higher-paid jobs, which clearly I agree with. She also highlighted the fact that energy intensive industries account for two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions.


  • 28 Nov 2017: Budget Resolutions


    What else have the Scottish Tories delivered? Nothing. Not one original idea in the Budget can be credited to them. We are still left with a rail budget that has been cut by £600 million in real terms, and with no Ayrshire growth deal. There was nothing about the £200 million CAP convergence uplift that was meant for Scotland and nothing about renewable energy, and we are faced with a real-terms revenue budget cut of half a billion pounds over the next two years. The 10 Democratic Unionist Members who still sit on the Opposition Benches managed to get a £1.5 billion package for a couple of key votes, and we are meant to believe that they are a solid voting lobby.


  • 16 Nov 2017: Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill (Seventh sitting)


    In 2013, as the whole Committee, including the hon. Gentleman, will know, the Government published “Driving the Future Today”, which set out the path to achieving zero-emissions vehicles. It was Yeats, my favourite poet, who said that


  • 7 Nov 2017: Oral Answers to Questions

    The Minister does not like being reminded that the pulling of the £1 billion for the Peterhead project was a betrayal of the north-east of Scotland and the Scottish energy sector. She talks at the Dispatch Box about value for money, but the strike price of £92.50 at Hinkley is not value for money. When will the Government make real financial commitments to CCS in Scotland?


  • 23 Oct 2017: Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill


    Part 2 of the Bill relates to the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles, which is overdue if further progress is to be made towards decarbonised transport. The UK Government announced a commitment that all new vehicles will be non-carbon by 2040. However, the Scottish Government have a more ambitious target of 2032, so I ask the UK Government to consider being more ambitious as well. We hear about a future with a smart grid, and electric charging can be part of it, so the UK Government need to start doing some long-term strategic planning towards that. We need wider policies that are linked together in order to implement the plan and make things happen.

    Air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths a year, so we really do have to decarbonise much quicker, and that is why I am asking the Government to consider more ambitious targets. Transport contributes 23% of carbon dioxide emissions, making it the joint largest contributor of emissions along with power generation, so decarbonisation is so important. As we plan for ultra low emission vehicles, there should be incentives to get diesel cars off the road. It cannot just be left to car manufacturers to operate diesel scrappage schemes. Given that it was a UK Government policy years ago to incentivise people to buy diesel cars, they have a responsibility to incentivise the scrappage of diesel cars and to encourage people to use electric vehicles. I have spoken previously about the need to consider the use of the secondary engines that run the refrigeration units on HGVs, which pollute much more heavily than other engines, so Government intervention is required. I welcome the fact that the Government are consulting on the use of red diesel in refrigeration units, but more action will be required.

    There needs to be greater joined-up thinking across the research and development sector on low emission transport and renewable energy, which was at least alluded to in the industrial strategy. The Faraday challenge may assist with that, but more needs to be done.

    Decarbonising transport without increasing demand on the electricity network while meeting the 2050 emission targets means doing a lot more than is in the Bill at present. It is an enabling Bill, but more needs to be done. Sales of ultra low emission vehicles are still hovering in the 1% range, so we clearly still have a long journey ahead. The Bill is just a wee baby step forward.


  • 19 Oct 2017: Carbon Capture and Storage


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David. Like other Members, I congratulate the hon. Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Mr Clarke) on bringing forward this debate. He promoted Teesside and highlighted the possible economic benefits of CCS, including to the energy-intensive industries located there.

    As the hon. Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) said, this is the second debate on CCS in this Chamber in a 10-month period. That shows how valuable CCS is deemed to be for climate control and emissions reduction. The debate has been somewhat more upbeat and optimistic than the debate in January, but I warn the Minister that, just like my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry), I reserve the right to apply a bit of gloominess to the issue.

    The National Audit Office report compiled after that decision confirmed that a total of £168 million was spent on the two CCS competitions with no tangible research and development outcomes to show for it. The Government may suggest that the contractors or personnel involved in the projects developed some expertise, but there is no guarantee that they will be involved in future projects. There is a risk that they will take their expertise elsewhere. That is why we need to go forward quickly. Following the decision on Peterhead, there has been the withdrawal of funding for onshore wind and solar power, which has caused problems in those sectors, leading to a 95% drop in expenditure on renewables. There is a clear pattern, and I highlight that to remind the Government that investor confidence is low and it must be stimulated. They need to find a way forward.

    The Government can find ways forward to manage risk. In the Thames tideway project, they underwrote risk to the value of £5 billion. Hinkley Point C had bonds of £2 billion underwritten, not to mention the fact that the National Audit Office estimates that the project will cost £30 billion. We must remember that, unlike the other contracts for difference awards, Hinkley has a 35-year lifespan and not the standard 15. It is clear that where there is Government will, there is a way. They need to find that will and way for carbon capture and storage. The hon. Member for Waveney talked about the Oxburgh report, which highlights that CCS can deliver an estimated strike price rate of £85 per megawatt-hour. That compares favourably with £92 per megawatt-hour for Hinkley.

    Other Members have highlighted the estimate of the Committee on Climate Change that CCS could halve the cost of meeting the 2050 carbon reduction target. In that respect, I welcome the clean growth strategy, which the Government brought forward last week. As I said at the time, however, the strategy gives mixed messages. It states that CCS will be deployed subject to cost reductions, but we need clarity. What are the Government’s cost expectations and what is the expected trajectory once the initial project is up and running? We need to remember how that compares with the “sign at all costs” attitude taken towards Hinkley. The Government also need to state clearly how they expect CCS to be paid for. Members from Teesside have highlighted the need to find a suitable and robust payment mechanism that gives value for money.

    “set out in its Industrial Strategy the role that CCS can play”.

    to CCS and of its not having been implemented yet. The Committee recommended that an

    It is laudable that the clean growth strategy reiterates that we want to see the implementation of CCS. As the hon. Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) asked, what does large-scale CCS in the 2030s mean, what is the pathway to that, and what projects do we need to see on board before then? The mention of supporting hydrogen production is also laudable; that is certainly a good way forward. I would also highlight the fact that Scotia Gas Networks is looking to run demonstration trials up in Scotland, to see how that will work in a domestic setting.


  • 5 Jul 2017: Road Infrastructure


    On Scottish Government investment and looking at trunk road maintenance, the Scottish Government look for three strategic outcomes: improved journey times, reduced emissions to tackle climate change, improved air quality and health, and improved accessibility and affordability. Those have to be the Government’s key objectives when they look at their £1 billion investment fund. All hon. Members here certainly have local issues, but the Government have to look a bit more strategically.


  • 21 Jun 2017: Debate on the Address


    Investment in renewables has dropped by 95%, and it is no surprise that the UK Government lag behind the Scottish Government with regard to CO 2 reduction targets. Meanwhile, their friends and allies in the DUP have the “cash for ash” scandal. I sincerely hope that the rest of us are not going to be asked to foot the bill for the half-a-billion-pounds that has been wasted. The Tories are not any better: large-scale biomass is still being treated as renewable energy and subsidised accordingly. If we are willing to burn carbon, surely it would make more sense to burn indigenous coal and incorporate that into a carbon-capture scheme to eliminate CO 2 emissions.


  • 19 Apr 2017: Diesel Vehicle Scrappage Scheme


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Chope. I congratulate the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish), the Chair of the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on securing this debate. I also feel obliged to thank the right hon. Member for Warley (Mr Spellar), who seemed to hold a debate within the debate and spoke at length. I was not sure if he was arguing against the scrappage scheme or the fact that we need to do a lot more, but some good points were raised—there are other serious issues. Personally, I do not think that should negate the arguments for the diesel scrappage scheme. He also touched on emissions from fuel generation, but I am not sure whether he mentioned biomass. Biomass is subsidised as a renewable energy source, yet its emissions are harmful, so that is certainly something in the wider mix that the Government need to look at.

    I support the measures. I understand some of the wider points made, and the Government do need to look at air pollution in the wider mix, but a diesel scrappage scheme would be a good start. I would also note that scrappage laws in the European Union are now a green measure, because 95% of cars need to be recycled once scrapped. At least taking cars off the road will not lead to adverse dumping elsewhere, which is good. I caution the Government to make sure we stand by that ethos as we move into the post-Brexit world. We have already heard rumblings from the hard Brexiteers about how we can relax environmental standards. That would certainly be the wrong way to go, especially when tackling air pollution and climate change.


  • 13 Mar 2017: Budget Resolutions


    On energy, there was nothing for the oil and gas industry; nothing on carbon capture and storage; nothing on renewables where investment will fall by 95% by 2020 and one in six jobs is at risk; nothing on decarbonisation and transport; nothing on Brexit; and nothing for farmers in Scotland. This is a poor Budget and it is only hidden by the Brexit shambles.


  • 6 Mar 2017: Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill


    The key questions for the Minister, however, are whether the Bill goes far enough with respect to charging points and the roll-out of infrastructure and whether there is enough strategic thinking on this matter across Departments. The reason I pose those questions is that the Scottish Government and the UK Government share the target of all vehicles being ultra-low emission vehicles by 2050. That target exists because of air quality issues and greenhouse gas emissions. At present, transport contributes 23% of carbon dioxide emissions—it is the joint largest contributor along with power generation —so the decarbonisation of transport is absolutely vital. The hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) pointed out that there are 44,000 deaths a year as a result of poor air quality. That underlines the need for action in this area.

    Also, those secondary units can use red diesel, so the Government are providing a subsidy that is enabling the units to pollute the atmosphere and cause the kind of air quality issues on which the Government have already lost court cases. The Government need to rethink how they handle the regulation of secondary units. To be fair, they have invested in research and development to fund the development of zero-emission refrigeration units, so it makes sense for them to provide more funding to allow haulage company owners to upgrade their units, which would improve air quality and, in the long run, provide health benefits and reduce costs for the health service. Providing funding would lead to a virtuous circle.

    I touched on research and development and, going back to strategic thinking, the Government need to provide better joined-up thinking on R and D for low-emission transport and renewable energy. We should bear in mind that this Government have wrecked the renewables sector with a 95% reduction in investment by 2020, with one in six jobs in the sector being under threat. The Government have also withdrawn funding for carbon capture and storage. If we truly are to meet our green energy targets by 2050, the Government need to rethink their policies as a whole. I welcome the Bill, but the Government need to consider things across the board rather than in isolation.


  • 24 Jan 2017: UK Decarbonisation and Carbon Capture and Storage


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Betts. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill (Philip Boswell) on securing this debate. The Government U-turns he outlined at the beginning, and current Government policy positions, suggest that they do not know their backside from their elbow. That is demonstrated not only by the shambolic handling of the CCS competition, but right across the energy sector. It is clear that there is not a coherent strategy in place that will deliver long-term decarbonisation targets, let alone a cost-efficient strategy.

    The NAO report of the CCS competition lays bare that the Treasury and the then Department of Energy and Climate Change were not working together. It also shows that all Government Departments are always at the mercy of a Chancellor who is ideologically driven to cut costs and taxes and look for short-term hits. Spending more than £100 million on design costs and then cancelling the competition beggars belief. It is also astounding that, in the NAO report on the CCS competition, one of the two designs that had been progressed was not even compliant with competition rules, so a lot of money was spent for a non-compliant design. The Peterhead CCS scheme was compliant, but instead of going on and developing that and protecting jobs in the north-east, the UK Government chose to walk away. Unfortunately, to date they have walked away with nothing to show for our expenditure.

    I accept that, at the moment, CCS is not a complete silver bullet. It is a developing technology and there are some possible risks associated with the long-term storage of the carbon dioxide. Equally, there are plants up and running in north America, and in terms of the financial risks, that is something I urge the Government to look at. They have already underwritten the Thames tideway tunnel to the value of nearly £5 billion at today’s prices. They also offered to underwrite £2 billion-worth of bonds for the Hinkley Point C project, not to mention the contract for difference guarantees that have been given for Hinkley, which in an NAO report last year had an upper estimate of nearly £30 billion, which is truly astronomical.

    The Treasury, which spiked the CCS proposals, had no qualms about Hinkley, yet while CCS is a developing technology, so is the European pressurised reactor system proposed for Hinkley—its track record so far is that it has not been demonstrated to work, and costs continue to rise. The Hinkley strike price agreed in 2012 is the equivalent of £100 per MWh at 2015 prices, so it is pretty much along the lines of what is being talked about for CCS. The only difference is that Hinkley is a 35-year long-term deal, whereas for other low-carbon technologies we are looking at 15-year CfD prices.

    If the Government are serious about decarbonisation and compliance with the fifth carbon budget, they need seriously to consider a number of energy sectors. First, they need to revisit the pulling of the renewables obligation funding, which again disproportionately affected Scotland. At the same time, they should look at the need for island-based turbines to be classed as offshore rather than onshore. They should be reviewing the rush for nuclear reactors and mini-reactors, which are also unproven, and should change the regulations that are prohibiting the development of electricity storage. The National Infrastructure Commission has estimated that lithium ion batteries now cost only 7% of their estimated 1990 cost. Pumped hydro storage is a proven technology, but Government regulations are limiting its expansion. I suggest reviewing the dash to frack if we are serious about decarbonisation.

    It is a fact that investment in renewables is set to drop by 95% between 2017 and 2020 owing to Government policy, so it is no surprise that, in the Ernst & Young index on renewable energy attractiveness, the UK slipped from a ranking of seventh in 2014 to 14th by October 2016. Together with the possible sale of the UK Green Investment Bank to an overseas asset stripper, it is clear that the wrong message is going out to those who might invest in green energy. Even when it comes to tree planting, England achieved only a tenth of Scotland’s record in 2016; yet it is the Scottish National party Government who have increased their planting target. As to house building, approximately three in four houses built in Scotland are timber framed; that is closer to being carbon neutral and is more energy efficient. Only 9% of homes built in England in 2015 were timber framed, yet the Government White Paper on housing is unlikely to address that.

    In conclusion, the Government must rethink their entire decarbonisation strategy, considering it across a number of Departments. The view of the Committee on Climate Change was that CCS has the potential to almost halve the cost of meeting the 2050 target for carbon dioxide reduction. It could support some remaining indigenous coal extraction in places such as my constituency. However, it also needs to be applied to gas electricity generation, given the role that that will play. In the National Needs Assessment report launched at the end of last year, it was estimated that CCS could reduce CO 2 emissions by 40% by 2015, but there was a stress on the need for Government support. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury attended the launch of the report, so I hope the Government reflect on the findings. It strikes me that the Government have found £8.5 billion for corporation tax cuts, and £5 billion of capital gains tax and inheritance tax giveaways. It is time to plan for our future and give us all a green inheritance to look forward to.


  • 14 Jul 2016: Oral Answers to Questions

    The truth is that the Ernst & Young renewable energy attractiveness index shows that the UK has fallen from the seventh most attractive country to invest in to the 13th. Following Brexit, that is only going to get worse, so what is the Minister doing to reverse that trend?


  • 6 Jul 2016: Electric and Hybrid Electric Cars


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for the first time, Mr Turner. I congratulate the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) on securing this debate. One quite good thing about Westminster Hall debates is that they give me a chance to agree with Conservative Members, and I pretty much agreed with everything he said, including his recommendations and conclusions. He mentioned the need for continued tough regulations and targets on climate change and air quality after Brexit. I agree with that, but from a Scottish perspective I hope Scotland will remain in the EU, as the Scottish people wish.

    Everyone agrees that electric cars are good for the environment and they have the bonus that their running costs are estimated at 2p to 3p per mile, which is way cheaper than 16p per mile for the average family car that runs on conventional fuels. But, as the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton pointed out, up-front costs are a barrier to many people being able to purchase these cars, so the uptake has been way too small for us to start to make inroads in climate change targets. The Government need to take more action, and that action has to be joined up across the entire energy sector if it is to contribute to meeting climate change targets. I emphasise that I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s recommendations.


  • 21 Apr 2016: Clean Water and Sanitation (Africa)


    In Scotland, the SNP-led Government are also committed to boosting water and sanitation projects in Africa, through their climate justice fund. In December 2015, Nicola Sturgeon announced £12 million of funding to help mitigate the effects of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable populations. That was a doubling of the climate justice fund. The head of Oxfam Scotland, Jamie Livingstone, said that


  • 14 Jan 2016: Space Policy


    The UK Space Agency has made clear that its activities are about much more than direct space technology, covering climate change analysis and other beneficial research on such matters as health and ageing, as well as materials innovation and plasma physics. I realise that, given that ongoing work, successful partnerships will already be operating, but there is no doubt that if Prestwick were chosen to be a space port, it could form links with the Scottish universities, which are among the best in the world. That is another advantage. As for transport infrastructure, Ayr Harbour is nearby. Prestwick also has a railway halt, and close links with the motorway network. I believe that it is easily the most accessible location on the shortlist that the Government are considering.


  • 6 Jan 2016: Food Security


    That definition means that food security will not exist until the wider world population has access to a sufficient and nutritious diet. That means an end to conflict, true implementation of the Paris COP 21 agreement, control of climate change, greater land reform, the ending of harmful deforestation, and more crops grown seasonally for domestic markets. I do not have any answers but we are a wee bit away from that utopia, so—like most of the previous speakers—I will concentrate on UK issues, including Scottish ones.

    Growing more produce in the UK for UK consumption clearly reduces our carbon footprint, which is a must in terms of wider climate change issues. As I have suggested, those pose a risk to food security around the world.


  • 30 Jun 2015: Oral Answers to Questions

    I have previously suggested a strategic support mechanism for the open-cast coal industry—a carbon tax exemption for specific sites. An independent economic analysis suggests that an exemption with a value of £195 would produce a net income to the Treasury of £57 million and would also allow the sites to be restored. Will the Secretary of State consider that urgently and work with the Treasury to include the exemption in the July Budget or, following a previous offer, meet me to discuss it?


  • 10 Jun 2015: Oral Answers to Questions

    Has the Minister met the open-cast coal industry recently, and if so will she urge the Chancellor to introduce a site-specific coal carbon tax exemption in the July Budget? This move would create 1,000 jobs, provide a net income for the Exchequer and restore open-cast sites in east Ayrshire.


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