VoteClimate: Anthony Browne MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Anthony Browne MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Anthony Browne is the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire.

At the next election Anthony Browne is standing in the new St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire constituency.

We have identified 10 Parliamentary Votes Related to Climate since 2019 in which Anthony Browne could have voted.

Anthony Browne is rated Anti for votes supporting action on climate. (Rating Methodology)

  • In favour of action on climate: 0
  • Against: 10
  • Did not vote: 0

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Anthony Browne's Speeches In Parliament Related to Climate

We've found 19 Parliamentary debates in which Anthony Browne has spoken about climate-related matters.

Here are the relevant sections of their speeches.

  • 17 Apr 2024: Draft Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations (Amendment) Order 2024


    We committed to supporting RCFs in the Government’s transport decarbonisation plan and this statutory instrument delivers on that goal. It is the product of two consultations with industry and in-depth working with industry experts and across Government Departments. By broadening the available feedstocks for eligible fuels, the instrument will help to maximise the greenhouse gas savings that can be achieved under the RTFO scheme and encourage the development of a new industry.

    What are these new fuels? RCFs are fuels produced from fossil wastes that cannot be avoided, reused or recycled, and that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to petrol, diesel or kerosene. To date, the RTFO scheme has only supported purely renewable fuels, but emerging technologies and production methods mean that it is possible for fuels produced from fossil wastes to contribute to emissions reductions to a similar degree as renewable fuels.

    Supporting RCFs under the RTFO scheme will also increase the range of feedstocks eligible for support and encourage the innovation needed to increase deployment of low carbon fuels in harder-to-decarbonise vehicles, such as heavy goods vehicles. RCF production utilises many of the same processes and technologies that need to be developed to increase the efficiency and capability of chemical recycling. Providing extra investment into those processes will lead to wider waste management benefits in future.

    Recent amendments to the Energy Act 2004, made via the Energy Act 2023, permit RCFs to be included in the RTFO scheme—as well as in other renewable transport support schemes, such as the forthcoming mandate for sustainable aviation fuels—provided that they cause or contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions. The change to the 2004 Act recognised that RCFs can play an important role in decarbonising different transport modes, including harder-to-electrify vehicles such as heavy goods vehicles and airliners.

    In conclusion, as I have said, fuels supplied under the RTFO scheme currently deliver about one third of all domestic transport carbon savings under the current carbon budgets. However, it is vital that we expand the range of feedstocks that we use if we are to continue to grow their contribution and meet our net zero goal. RCFs have the potential to deliver emissions savings across the transport sector while also supporting the efficient handling of waste, and provide an opportunity for a valuable, emerging UK industry, which we should all support. I commend the statutory instrument to the House.



    The answers to many of the other questions that were asked will come out of forthcoming strategies. We have one on the low-carbon fuel strategy that will come out later this year, which looks at the whole range of low-carbon fuels, the interactions between them and how we maximise their benefits across all modes of transport and indeed other uses. There will also be a strategy published later this year—it is no secret; it is public knowledge—on how we decarbonise the maritime sector, which is a complex sector with many different uses. Many of the more detailed questions that the hon. Gentleman asked on maritime will be covered in that strategy, rather than in this Committee.


  • 20 Feb 2024: Young Drivers: Government Support


    Pretty much everyone who spoke raised the issue of car insurance. I pay car insurance and have noticed the dramatic increase. I was really quite shocked and, indeed, annoyed by it, so I am well aware of the dramatic rises. Various hon. Members have rehearsed the different arguments for it, but it is really quite shocking. As the Minister responsible for the decarbonisation of transport, I speak a lot to car companies, particularly about electric vehicles. The insurance there is also very high, so I have summoned a roundtable of insurers to talk about that in the coming weeks.


  • 8 Feb 2024: Sustainable Aviation Fuel

    In developing the biomass strategy and our forthcoming low-carbon fuel strategy, my Department has worked closely with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, whose policy paper on the biomass strategy was published last year. Sectors that are harder to decarbonise, including aviation, should be priority uses for biomass. We are continuing to work across Government, and with industry experts, to ensure that policies that increase the supply of sustainable aviation fuels deliver on our climate change commitments.


  • 8 Feb 2024: Support for Motorists

    I thank the hon. Member for her question. It is my responsibility to help roll out electric vehicles. We introduced the zero emission vehicle mandate to ensure that 22% of vehicle sales this year are zero emission. I should say that, throughout the life cycle of an electric vehicle, they are cheaper than petrol or diesel cars to drive. This Government have given £2 billion-worth of support to owners of electric vehicles and to charge point companies to help smooth that introduction. The specific question that she raises is about VAT, and that is a matter for the Treasury.


  • 14 Dec 2023: Oral Answers to Questions

    I very much welcome that question. The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland is a doughty champion for ferries in those islands and I know how important ferry services are for residents there. We have been very careful, across our transport decarbonisation plan, not to damage industries or sectors. We have given many billions of pounds in support for the whole range of different transport sectors and domestic ferries are very much a part of that. I am very happy to engage with the sector and to meet him to ensure that the ferries can carry on transporting passengers throughout Orkney, Shetland and elsewhere in the British Isles.


    I thank the hon. Gentleman for what I am going to call his warm words—it is Christmas, a time to forgive and forget. The clean maritime plan is being refreshed and we will publish it as soon as possible. We are taking in and analysing a very wide range of evidence from a wide range of different people. The Government are committed to the whole “Maritime 2050” plan, and we are investing over £200 million in the UK SHORE programme to help fund research and development to make shipping decarbonise.


    Our transport decarbonisation plan is probably the most advanced of any country in the world, and we continue to implement it. Just yesterday, King Charles approved the zero-emission vehicle mandate, which requires 80% of new vehicles to have zero emissions by 2030. Petrol and diesel cars, vans and trucks weighing up to 26 tonnes will be banned by 2035. We have introduced the sustainable aviation fuel mandate, under which 10% of aviation fuel should be sustainable by 2030. Similarly, we are pushing ahead in all the different sectors.


    I thank the hon. Member for that question. We are actually spending more money on active travel than any other Government in history. As she says, active travel is an important part of decarbonisation and the route to net zero. Her figures do not take into account the regional spending within England, which should be added to the total. I would be happy to write to her with the actual figures for spending in the UK.


    My key focus in my decarbonisation of transport role is to ensure a smooth and successful roll-out of electric vehicles. The hon. Member quoted one month’s figures, but overall sales of electric vehicles are up 41% this year compared with last year. Indeed, a greater share of electric vehicles is being sold in the UK than in any of the five major countries in the EU—more than in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland. It really is a record to be proud of. He is right that this is about supply and demand. We have stipulated in the ZEV mandate that 80% of sales should be zero/electric by 2030, but we also need to ensure that there are enough charge points for them. We have spent nearly £2 billion supporting electric vehicles, and we have a whole range of different schemes to deliver that.


  • 5 Dec 2023: Zero-emission Buses and Air Quality in Sheffield


    I will come to the hon. Member’s point. The retrofitting programme was only ever going to be an interim scheme, because those were the buses we had at that moment. As basically all other hon. Members have said, the ultimate long-term ambition is to go to zero-emission buses, for reasons of both climate change and air pollution. In the national bus strategy in 2020, the Government committed to 4,000 zero-emission buses; 1,600 of them are on the road at the moment. We have been pushing that in a variety of ways. We are also committed to announcing a date for the phasing out of non-zero-emission buses, which will be done in the near future.

    There are two schemes for zero-emission buses at the moment. First, there was ZEBRA 1, which provided £270 million of funding. The beneficiaries included Sheffield, which got four buses, which will start in January, and the South Yorkshire metropolitan area, which got 27 zero-emission buses. We then opened ZEBRA 2. I know that the hon. Member for Sheffield Central wrote to one of my predecessors expressing interest from Sheffield in that scheme, and that Sheffield has lodged expressions of interest, which is great. The deadline is 15 December. I cannot announce the results, because the applications are not in yet.

    On the request from the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley), we want to act as quickly as possible. I will certainly urge officials to announce the outcomes of the bid as quickly as possible because, as I said, we want to act quickly for reasons of both climate change and air pollution.

    The hon. Members for Sheffield Central and for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts) mentioned hills and the challenges they pose for battery buses. For longer ranges—there are buses in rural areas that have to go far longer distances—hydrogen buses may turn out to be more suitable than battery buses. However, I know that battery technology is advancing very rapidly. If we compare the debate now with a few years ago and five years ago, certainly from a manufacturer’s point of view, there is a lot more emphasis on batteries as the ultimate solution, rather than hydrogen. The price of batteries has dropped by 90% since 2010 and the range is increasing by about 10% a year—it has increased by about 45% over the last four years. Hopefully, those technological improvements will continue and help us to decarbonise all forms of transport in cost-effective ways.

    This technological transition creates an awful lot of opportunities in different sectors, including hydrogen. I do not like the phrase “green jobs”, because it has become a bit of a cliché, but these are green jobs. They are real jobs, they really exist, and they are often highly skilled. I have been meeting many companies that are entering this sector or developing the new decarbonised transport sector, if we want to call it that, and there are huge opportunities. The more rapidly we develop as a country, the more we can use it as an opportunity internationally as well for exports. If we solve the problems with hydrogen buses, for example, and work out how to make them work, how to power them and so on, I am sure that there will be an export opportunity for UK plc as well.


  • 29 Nov 2023: Draft Vehicle Emissions Trading Schemes Order 2023


    I thank the shadow Minister for his contribution. I will address all his points, but most were about the change in date from 2030 to 2035 for banning the sale of pure petrol and diesel internal combustion engine cars. I noticed that almost everything the hon. Gentleman quoted from industry was said on the day of the announcement or the day after, before they realised that actually the Government were not changing the zero-emission—

    I said “almost” everything the hon. Gentleman quoted. The quotes he cited from ChargeUK, for example, and much else, were about this announcement today. There was concern before the industry realised that actually the Government were not changing the zero-emission vehicle mandate, which we are implementing today. This is what gives certainty to industry. Indeed, I was with the chair of ChargeUK yesterday, and lots of charge point operators, who welcomed this legislation. They have £6 billion of investment that they are rolling out for charge points, precisely because of this.

    On a broader point, the hon. Gentleman touched on the carbon budgets. We have had three carbon budgets so far, and we have exceeded every single one of them by about 14%. We are way ahead of schedule and where we said we would be at this point in time. As the hon. Gentleman knows, if we look at our carbon dioxide reductions historically since the benchmark year of 1990, not only are we the leader of all the major European countries, we are the leader of the G7. Our greenhouse gas emission reductions are the greatest of any country in the G20. We are genuinely world leading on this. Looking at our future targets, the UK’s nationally determined contribution is 68%, and the EU’s is 55%. We are going to cut far faster than other countries. That is what gives us the leeway to be flexible on things in quite a minor way to give consumers more choice as we get to net zero. The impact of the announcement in terms of carbon dioxide emissions is about 1% of the total impact of these regulations.

    The hon. Gentleman asked about the OBR report and questioned whether it thought we were going to meet the mandate. We are not allowed to show things, but I have the OBR graph here. It has underestimated our electric vehicle roll-out at every single stage. We have surpassed all its forecasts. Its latest forecast shows that it thinks we will meet the mandate and meet 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035 and 80% by 2030. That is not surprising, because, as the hon. Gentleman mentioned, that is what the industry itself is planning anyway. Sixty-seven per cent. of our car market is already committed to being 100% zero emissions by 2030—I think I am right in saying that that includes Ford, Stellantis and Nissan. All major car manufacturers are committed to 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035. That is the trajectory the industry is on. This instrument gives them the certainty for it, but that is what is happening.

    The order is the most ambitious piece of legislation of its kind in any country anywhere in the world. Indeed, it is the biggest single act this Government are making to reach net zero. It is overwhelmingly supported by industry, which has helped to develop it. It establishes a clear pathway for the decarbonisation of our new car and van fleet. It will encourage vehicle manufacturers to invest in zero-emission vehicle manufacturing in the UK, encourage charge point operators to invest in our infrastructure network, and support jobs and working people as we move to a cleaner economy. I hope the Committee has found the debate informative and short, and that Members will join me, alongside colleagues in Senedd Cymru and in the Scottish Parliament, which have already approved this legislation, in supporting this instrument.


  • 30 Nov 2022: Finance Bill


    Amendment 4 would require the Government to produce a quarterly assessment of how much revenue has been forgone through the investment allowance and publish the names of the companies that have benefited from the tax break. The lost revenue could have gone to supporting struggling households or protecting our public services, and the British people deserve to know how the money has been spent. I am also concerned about the environmental impact of the investment allowance. The Government state that they are committed to net zero, but at the same time the allowance promotes oil and gas exploration, while refusing renewable generators an equivalent tax relief.


  • 18 Jul 2022: Confidence in Her Majesty’s Government


    I have full confidence in this Government, for three reasons. First, no captain is more important than their team, and on the Government side of the House we have a very strong team. Secondly, the Government have delivered for the country as a whole; a lot of my colleagues have rehearsed the arguments about Brexit, covid, Ukraine and, indeed, net zero. Thirdly, this Government have delivered for my constituency of South Cambridgeshire. I was elected to represent the interests of my constituents, and the Government have had a real impact on their lives.


  • 9 Dec 2021: Financial Services: UK Economy


    During this hideous pandemic, I am glad to say that the financial services sector stepped up to the plate and played a crucial role in keeping the economy going. It lent more than £75 billion in emergency finance to nearly 2 million businesses. Indeed, it lent £101 million to more than 2,000 businesses in my constituency of South Cambridgeshire. To help homeowners, lenders also gave nearly 3 million mortgage deferrals during the pandemic. The financial services sector certainly has played its part in ensuring that the economy has bounced back so quickly. Now, guided by the Government, it is also increasingly playing a critical role in ensuring that we reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. From green bonds to climate-related financial disclosures to carbon markets, the financial services sector will help, rather than hinder, in the biggest challenge facing humankind: stopping climate change.


  • 3 Nov 2021: Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill


    If we believe that climate change is the biggest threat to the planet, we have to use every tool in the toolbox to combat it. We have a moral obligation not to campaign against the one technology that can probably help more than almost any other to get to net zero.

    I absolutely agree. As I said, we have had nuclear for 70 years and we know that it works. The point I was about to come to, which my hon. Friend touched on earlier, is that the French have 70% of electricity produced by nuclear and they have a very well-established industry. It is not politically controversial at all. They have made it work and made it cost-effective. That is one of the reasons why France has far lower carbon dioxide emissions that we do in the UK. We should change to other technologies. We heard mention of tidal power earlier—yes, absolutely. However, there have been many projects to try to make tidal power work over the past few decades and none of them has yet quite succeeded, although we should still carry on trying.

    As I have said many times in this House, the UK has had a really good track record in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, roughly halving them. Our per-capita emissions are now lower than those of many other countries, including green icons such as Denmark and Norway, but France has had lower emissions than us for decades because of nuclear power. I used to live in Belgium and got my electricity bills from France, and they used to have to say where the electricity came from: “nonante-neuf pour cent nucléaire”, which is—in Belgian French, not French French—“99% nuclear power”. That was always a delight for me. Driving around France, nuclear power stations are all over the place. It is not a political issue; people are very comfortable with it.


  • 21 Oct 2021: Climate Change Committee Progress Report 2021


    That this House has considered the UK’s Climate Progress: the Committee on Climate Change’s 2021 Progress Report.

    I think we all agree that tackling climate change is the biggest challenge facing humankind at present. Global temperatures have so far risen by 1.2° centigrade over the last century, and they are currently rising at about 0.25° per decade. That is being driven by the rise in greenhouse gas emissions—most significantly, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is now 429 parts per million in the atmosphere, which is 50% higher than before the industrial revolution. Human civilisation is destroying the benign climate that our planet has enjoyed for the last 20,000 years and that enabled human civilisation to flourish in the first place. Our generation has a moral duty to pass on to future generations a planet that is sustainable, but it is also in our generation’s self-interest to achieve that.

    “World-leading” may be a much-abused phrase, but it really is true that the UK is world-leading on reaching towards net zero. Our emissions per capita are now less than those of China, and they are one third of the levels in US, Canada and Australia. We emit less per capita than the EU average, less per person than Germany and less even than the eco-leaders Norway and Denmark. When I meet parliamentarians from other countries who are interested in environmental issues, the most frequent question they ask is: what is the UK’s secret to doing so well in reaching towards net zero?

    At the beginning of the industrial revolution, the UK was responsible for almost exactly 100% of global greenhouse gas emissions. We are now responsible for just 1%. That is a tribute to the hard work and leadership of this and past UK Governments, and I welcome the announcements that we had this week, which I will refer to later. It is also a tribute to those in environment groups and industry who have worked so hard to raise awareness of climate change and help tackle it. Their efforts are bearing fruit.

    In its 2021 report to Parliament on reducing emissions, the Climate Change Committee recognises the UK’s achievements. It says:

    That leadership role really matters as we head off to Glasgow for COP26, which the UK is obviously leading. We have enshrined in law not just reaching net zero by 2050, but a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035. That is the most ambitious nationally determined contribution that any country in the world is bringing to COP26—I hope that point is being made in the debate taking place in the main Chamber. Fingers crossed, such leadership will help us achieve more ambitious contributions from other countries. In turn, that will hopefully keep global warming down to a maximum of 1.5° centigrade—we need to keep 1.5 alive.

    When it comes to net zero, we as a country can be justifiably be proud of what we have achieved so far. That is absolutely no excuse for complacency, but it means that our efforts so far have been worth while—they are paying off. But now the bad news: we are still not doing enough. That is the overriding message from the Climate Change Committee’s 2021 progress report. If we are to get to net zero by 2050, the hard work has yet to come. We have reduced emissions by around a half over the past three decades, as I said, but it will be far more difficult to do the same over the next three decades. The CCC says:

    “UK emissions are nearly 50% below 1990 levels, but the journey to Net Zero is far from half done.”

    Most of our cuts in emissions have come from decarbonising the power sector. We are on the brink of phasing out coal, and wind power is now our main source of electricity—that was unthinkable when I was environment editor of The Observer and The Times 20 years ago. Other sectors have done well: emissions from industry have fallen by 53% since 1990 and emissions from waste are down by 69% as a result of sending less biodegradable matter to landfills. More topically, the CCC has reported that we had the biggest ever drop in emissions last year; as a result of the pandemic, they fell by 13%. Unsurprisingly, the biggest fall was in aviation emissions, which were down 60% last year alone. However, clearly that is a one-off and already bouncing back.

    The good news is that our reductions in emissions mean that, in purely numerical terms, as of now we are on track to meet net zero by 2050. Our reductions have been big enough to get there. The CCC said that the rate of the reduction since 2012—over the last nine years—is enough to get us to net zero by 2050 if we carry on reducing at that rate. This is a very big “if”. The CCC report, using charts and graphs, said that we do not have the policies in place to keep reducing at that rate. The key message was that

    “The Government has made historic climate promises in the past year, for which it deserves credit. However, it has been too slow to follow these with delivery.”

    This is all very perplexing: how can we be both on track, as I said earlier, but also off track? The best analogy that I can come up with is the 2010 film “Unstoppable”, about a runaway train—a very good film for those who want to pass a couple of hours. Our heroes, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine, keep the speeding, out-of-control train on track, but they know there is a sharp bend ahead. It is inevitable that when the train reaches that bend it will fly off the track and kill lots of people in houses, unless they do something dramatic. Likewise, we need to do something dramatic to stay on track for net zero by 2050. That means we cannot just keep on with the policies that have served us so far.

    The decarbonisation of power generation is a one-off that cannot be done forever: once we have phased out coal, we cannot phase it out again. The Government have just committed to making all power generation net zero by 2035—something that I have publicly called for and welcome. However, that means that power, the sector that has done most of the heavy lifting to net zero, will not be able to do any more from 2035. Other sectors will have to make up the difference.

    That is a very good point and I will come to it briefly. We need absolutely to try and get to net zero, but also to promote measures such as insulation and energy efficiency in housing and industry to reduce consumption.

    We need other measures, rather than just decarbonising power. These other measures are where the potential political pain comes. Decarbonising electricity production did not really require consumers to change anything. The electricity supply to their homes and their sockets was the same as before, but produced in a climate-friendly way. They had the same cars and same central heating systems. However, with other sectors needing to decarbonise, future policies will inevitably have a more direct impact on consumers. That is why we need more political will in the coming decades, not less. This should be doable. The public are very supportive; a large majority say they want stronger action on climate change.

    The report states that in 21 areas of abatement—places where we can make real changes—sufficient ambition is being maintained in only four. The report welcomes the Government’s ambitions until 2025 on electric cars and vans, off-shore wind and tree planting. I very much welcome that here the Government are in line with the committee’s recommendations. In last year’s 10-point plan for climate change, the Government committed to 40 GW of offshore wind power by 2030, which is what the CCC is calling for—tick! They also committed to 30,000 hectares of tree planting a year by 2025, which again is what the CCC is calling for—tick!

    I am delighted to say that there has been significant progress since the CCC published its report in June and since this debate was applied for. In particular, the CCC was critical of the Government for not having published their transport decarbonisation plan, their hydrogen strategy, their heat and building strategy and their overall net zero strategy—it criticised them for the uncertainty and delay. To their credit, the Government published the first two, on transport and hydrogen, in the summer, and the heat and building strategy and the net zero strategy were published just a couple of days ago. Those included measures such as: a £5,000 grant to make clean-heat heat pumps affordable for homeowners; working with industry to ensure that clean heat is as cheap as gas-fired central heating by 2030; and a target to stop any new gas boilers from being installed by 2035—another world-first commitment.

    The CCC has also chastised the Government for a lack of ambition on carbon capture and storage, which was the subject of a debate in this Chamber yesterday. It has said that we need to capture 22 million tonnes of CO 2 a year by 2030 while the Government were targeting only 10 million tonnes a year by then. It noted that that was the biggest single gap between what it had called for and what the Government were planning. When I drafted my speech at the beginning of the week, I was going to call on the Government to be more ambitious on CCS. Then, on Tuesday, they were: they announced two new clusters and a target of between 20 million and 30 million tonnes a year by 2030, which is potentially more than the CCC asked for. Hurrah! Those targets must be turned into reality, but the announcement is a big step forward.

    In my draft speech, I was also going to echo the Climate Change Committee’s call on the Government to commit to greenhouse gas removal targets, for which they had no target at all. The CCC said that the UK Government need to target 5 million tonnes of removal by 2030. In the net zero strategy this week, I discovered as I read through it that the Government committed to do exactly that—I did not see that reported anywhere, however. They also committed to a robust monitoring, reporting and verification process for greenhouse gas removal, which the CCC called for and which I was going to call for. In short, many of the policy gaps between the CCC’s report and Government policy have been closed since the report was published. Four months is an extremely long time in politics.

    I welcome that intervention. I believe that any change in diet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be, first, voluntary for consumers and, secondly, based on science. I do not know anything about the carbon dioxide emissions of quinoa flown in from other parts of the world. It clearly makes absolutely no sense for people to change their diet to eat food that increases carbon dioxide production. There is no point in doing things for tokenistic reasons to appear good or for someone to be able to claim that they are doing something good, when it is not actually good. I would certainly like to see more science. We cannot go into it now, but there is quite a lot of debate about the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from livestock farming.

    I am also a supporter of nuclear power, which is one of the safest and cleanest forms of energy in the world. As many leading environmental thinkers such as George Monbiot now recognise, the green movement’s long campaign against nuclear was a major strategic error. The reason why France’s greenhouse gas emissions are lower than ours is that it properly embraced nuclear power. As a country, we have been wavering on nuclear for decades. I welcome the Government’s new-found commitment to nuclear power and I look forward to future announcements. As I said in yesterday’s debate on carbon capture and storage, I ask the Government to have the courage of their convictions.

    We clearly need to do more to tackle climate change. Having ambition is not enough. We need plans to achieve those ambitions, and we need to implement those plans. The CCC report had some valid criticisms of the Government’s plans at the time it was published, but the Government’s plans have now largely caught up. For next year’s CCC report, we should be well placed to get an A for effort. We will see.

    I get frustrated when the more extreme environment campaigners often write to me and attack the UK Government for doing nothing about climate change. Where have they been? A huge amount is being done. Cutting emissions by nearly half in the last 30 years is not doing nothing. Closing down all coal-fired power stations was unthinkable when I was an environment editor—so was banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars; so was phasing out new gas boilers in people’s homes. These are deep and wide-ranging changes that will directly affect us all and are genuinely world-leading, but we need to keep up the pace of progress. There is no room for complacency. We need to deliver. The CCC said that this is the decade of delivery. Let that decade of delivery begin.



    It is not any greener to drive an electric car if the electricity that powers it comes from coal. Electric vehicles and other aspects of the transportation system, such as electric trains, as well as the heat pumps that we have been talking about, can be far greener if the electricity they use is decarbonised. I do not know whether that is deliberate on the part of the Government, but decarbonising electricity first and then going to the other sectors that are more difficult to decarbonise does make a sort of sense from a climate point of view.

    A couple of comments were made about airport expansion, such as by the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), and someone mentioned road expansion. The Minister said that any expansion of airports would only be compliant with our commitments to net zero, and that is absolutely right. I get very involved in road conversations in my constituency because it is a big issue locally. When cars reach net zero—when we all have fully electric cars and the production of cars is carbon-neutral as well, which if we decarbonise industry will happen—having more cars driving around will not have any impact on climate change. I realise that that is some way off and that congestion would then be more of an issue, so the different rationales for adjusting cars, airports or whatever will be different. I think net zero aviation is a very long way away.

    That this House has considered the UK’s Climate Progress: the Committee on Climate Change’s 2021 Progress Report.


  • 20 Oct 2021: Carbon Capture and Storage


    The last 10,000 years—the Holocene period in which we live—has been remarkably benign from a climate point of view. Steady, moderate temperatures have allowed human civilisation to flourish, but we are now undoing that. The whole point of the net zero mission is to stop carbon dioxide levels rising further so that we can keep our benign environment.

    Many people in the environment movement are worried about industrial carbon capture and storage, and some are outright opposed. As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the environment, I think that those fears need to be taken seriously. We can all agree that we should do CCS only if it is robust and locks away carbon away permanently. Otherwise, there is literally no point. The overriding fear is that CCS will create a moral hazard that means we will give up on other ways to get to net zero, but the UK and other Governments are totally committed to getting to net zero by the middle of the century and there is no scenario in which CCS can get us to net zero on its own. Whatever we do with CCS, we must increase renewable energy production, move to electric vehicles and phase out coal power and gas boilers. That is already happening, as we have seen with the announcements this week.

    What CCS can do is enable us to transition to net zero more quickly and at far lower economic cost. Do not just take my word for it: the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK’s Climate Change Committee both see carbon capture and storage as essential for reaching net zero. The CCC’s sixth climate budget declared that CCS was a necessity, not an option, and that the UK needs to capture between 75 million and 180 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2050, starting off with 22 million tonnes by early 2030, which is just nine years away.

    CCS is currently the only technology we know of that can significantly decarbonise industries such as steel, cement, glass and chemicals. Unless we go back to the middle ages, we will still need those industries, and only CCS can ensure that we get to net zero without forcing those industries overseas, which would just export our pollution and lose us jobs. CCS can help produce low-carbon hydrogen that can power carbon-neutral boats, trucks and trains, and other industrial processes. CCS can also cut the cost of getting to net zero, which is an issue of rising political concern. The International Energy Agency has estimated that the cost of tackling climate change will be 70% higher without CCS.

    There are various offshoots of CCS. The normal CCS will not reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; it will just dramatically slow down the increase. But there are technologies that will reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: greenhouse gas removal. Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage—BECCS—is one being piloted by Drax, and direct air capture is another. Greenhouse gas removal could help mop up residual emissions that are otherwise impossible to eliminate, but BECCS has become controversial in the environment movement partly because of concerns about how sustainable it is to grow the biomass. That must be addressed. There is also concern about the carbon accounting from BECCS: when we import biomass from other countries, we are taking credit for carbon captured in another country. That is a valid criticism, but it is an argument about adjusting our carbon figures rather than giving up on BECCS.

    Last year, I hosted virtually the global launch of the Coalition for Negative Emissions, bringing together stakeholders from around the world who are interested in removing greenhouse gases. The potential impact is enormous, particularly if economies of scale mean that the costs of removing a tonne of carbon dioxide come down. I therefore welcome the Government’s announcement yesterday, in the net zero strategy, that they will target greenhouse gas removal of 10 million tonnes a year by 2030, and that they will amend the Climate Change Act 2008 to include engineered CO 2 removals. That might be controversial among some environmental groups, but it is simply irrational and unscientific to include CO 2 molecules removed from the atmosphere by a tree but not those removed by humans.

    I have participated in many debates on CCS, and normally at this stage someone says that we should not support it because it is an unproven technology, but that is not true. The science is actually quite straightforward: it is stripping carbon dioxide out of the emissions from power plants and factories, liquifying it, transporting it by pipeline or boat, and then storing it. Most aspects of this are already done. For example, there are already 8,000 km of pipeline carrying CO 2 around the US for industrial use.

    The storage point is more complex. It needs to be stored permanently, and the preferred place to do that is in geological formations, up to 3 km below the surface of the earth. One such perfect place to do that is under the North sea, where natural gas and oil have been stored by nature safely for millions of years without leaking out. Again, this is not untried technology. The first commercial CCS site in the world was opened in 1996, some 25 years ago, at the Sleipner gas field between Norway and Scotland. Since then, it has been taking 1 million tonnes of CO 2 out of emissions every year and sticking it a kilometre underground. That single CCS plant has reduced Norway’s greenhouse gas emissions by 3%, compared to what they would otherwise have been. That site is monitored closely and there has been no leakage. The Global CCS Institute, a US think-tank, now reports there are 26 operating CCS facilities worldwide in the US, China, Australia, the middle east, Canada and Europe.

    However, it is true that CCS is untried and untested technology in the UK. We do not have CCS yet— we have fallen behind. That is why I welcome the announcement yesterday that the Government are pushing ahead with two new CCS clusters at HyNet North West and the east coast cluster. I look forward to hearing more from the Minister and colleagues about that.

    There are lots of very powerful reasons why the UK should lead on CCS. The UK has a particular national advantage when it comes to CCS, and CCS could bring particular benefits to the UK. Our oil and gas industry means we already have the skills and infrastructure to develop CCS. As gas and oil extraction declines, CCS can take over. It is estimated that rolling out CCS will save 50,000 jobs in industries such as steel, cement, chemicals, ceramics and glass, and CCS can become a sector in its own right, creating 10,000 more jobs. The ideal locations for these jobs would be in the former industrial heartlands of north-east Scotland, Teesside, Humberside, south Wales and Merseyside. There could be no better example of levelling up.

    We have the natural geological features. We have as much carbon storage capacity underground as the rest of the EU combined. Many European countries will not be able to do their own CCS, as they have neither the geology nor the industry, and this creates a huge export opportunity for the UK, capturing carbon dioxide and burying it underground on behalf of other countries. The UK is not doing any CCS yet, but we are almost uniquely positioned to be a CCS superpower.

    The creation of a CCS industry is not going to happen by itself. We have companies that can develop CCS, but they have no financial incentive to do it. They are not going to invest billions of pounds only to find out there is no possibility of generating revenue. What they need is a predictable, long-term regime that makes CCS commercially viable, and that is the lesson from Sleipner in Norway. That was not built as a loss-making experiment; it was the result of a commercial decision by the Norwegian state oil company, now Equinor, to avoid paying carbon taxes by burying the carbon instead.

    The good news is that this Government are committed to CCS, more than any previous Government, and I strongly commend them for it. They underlined their commitments in last year’s 10-point plan for climate change, promising to invest £1 billion a year in the technology. They reinforced that commitment yesterday with the announcement that they are moving ahead with support for the first two CCS clusters. They also raised their ambition, which was a surprise to me, saying they wanted to capture 20 million or 30 million tonnes of CO 2 , up from just 10 million tonnes, which was the previous announcement, bringing the amount in line with what the Committee on Climate Change says is needed.

    This is all welcome news, but it would not be much of a debate if I just said that the Government are doing everything perfectly. Indeed, I have some asks, although the announcements yesterday address some of them. My first ask is simply this: please keep calm and carry on. In 2007 and 2012, the Government launched competitions for CCS, but in both cases they subsequently cancelled them. That was so damaging to confidence in the industry. Such a stop-start approach risks repeating the mistakes of nuclear. Where once we were a world leader in nuclear power, successive Government wavering over decades meant that we ended up dependent on other countries. On CCS, will the Government please have the courage of their convictions?

    My second ask is that the Government support CCS in next week’s spending review. Given yesterday’s announcement, I presume that that is a foregone conclusion. The Carbon Capture and Storage Association states that its members can reach the 10-milion tonne removal target for a maximum cost of £1.2 billion a year—that target has now gone up to 20 million tonnes, so the big question is whether it can still be done for £1.2 billion. That is about one quarter of the peak annual subsidy that launched the wind power industry, so as economies of scale kick in for renewables and as subsidies decline, they can be redirected to CCS.

    Yesterday, the Government announced the industrial decarbonisation and hydrogen revenue support or IDHRS scheme. That is very welcome, but I understand that it is only for the current spending review period and that the first two CCS clusters announced yesterday will not be operational within that time. Therefore, I would welcome confirmation of how the Government will ensure that CCS clusters have sustainable revenue once they are operational. If the CCS funding is subject to three-year spending review horizons, rather than a 10-year horizon, businesses will be reluctant to invest in the sector as much as they otherwise would. The Government should give CCS the same long-term certainty that they previously gave wind power.

    My fourth ask is that the Government should set out a long-term vision for the development of CCS—we had a taste of that yesterday—for it to become a fully competitive, financially sustainable sector. That is a vision that would go above and beyond the clusters it would initially fund. To reap the full benefits of CCS, practice needs to be embedded across industry and the country. The Government need to establish a fully functioning market for carbon in the UK now that we have left the European emissions trading scheme.

    My fifth ask is about the need for independent monitoring of the CCS clusters that go ahead. Environmental groups will rightly be looking like hawks for signs of any leakage of CO 2 out of the ground, or for game-playing by the industry. CCS companies cannot be allowed to mark their own homework. We also need clarity on the Track-2 process as soon as possible, to keep up momentum in the industry. I also urge the Government to look at the 1 GW hydrogen target as a minimum, because industry feels that it could do far more than that, which would be welcome.

    Finally, I have a request to make of environmental groups. We all agree that tackling climate change is the most important challenge we face. Yes, they must hold Government and industry to account, but for all our sakes they should please not start campaigning against CCS itself. Let the debate be driven by science, not other motives. Rather, they should work with the Government and industry to ensure that CCS plays the vital role in getting to net zero that the IPCC and CCC expect of it.

    The Government are committed to supporting CCS. They must now ensure that the UK is no longer left behind, but can reap all the environmental and economic benefits of becoming a CCS superpower. We did it with wind power and we can do it with CCS. We can deliver another great green success.


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


    I see stopping environmental destruction as the defining mission of our generation. For those who have not yet seen the film “A Life on Our Planet” by David Attenborough, I highly recommend it. It shows what has changed on our planet throughout the lifetime of that remarkable individual, including the destruction of habitats, species extinction and climate change. We have a lot of work to do. Tough action needs to be taken, but we are a democracy and we need to take the people with us. Too often, those at the more radical end of the environment movement take a coercive approach: they want to turn back the clock, stop people doing things, dismantle capitalism and tell people what they can and cannot do. The trouble with that is that it risks a backlash. If we do not take the people with us, it might give rise to the anti-environmental populists that we see in other countries.

    This is why the Climate Assembly is so important, and I thoroughly welcome its report. These are members of the public considering the issues carefully and coming up with their own recommendations. It really shows just how sensible the British public are. They accept the need to tackle climate change. They know it is a real problem. They are not trying to resist it, and they support practical measures to do it, but they want to do it without sacrificing quality of life, because we do not need to. They do not want to stop going on holidays or living the lives they lead, and it is that pragmatism that is so essential.

    I am glad that the Climate Assembly did not want to move the date for becoming carbon neutral forward from 2050, which is what some of the more radical environmental groups want. That 2050 date was set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The UN body said that it was necessary to do that to meet the Paris target of 1.5° warming. That was adopted in the UK by the Committee on Climate Change, which set out a programme of work that the Government and we as a country need to do to reach that target. Obviously we have now adopted 2050 as a legal target, and we are the first major country to do so. This shows the leadership that the UK has taken on this, and we can be thoroughly proud of that, but there is absolutely no room for complacency. The public support the strong measures we are taking. We are going to need to take a lot more strong measures in the future, but at least we know that the public are behind this. That is why I welcome the Climate Assembly, and I welcome this report.


  • 3 Nov 2020: Environment Bill (Ninth sitting)


    The schedule gives us no confidence that the Government even have a plan for where we are going with this. I hope the Minister can give us some reassurances, because many of my constituents—and, I suspect, many constituents of other Members—are really worried about these issues. At a time of climate crisis and biodiversity emergency, how can we possibly be setting an example to the rest of the world as we approach COP26 when we are in this shambolic position, with the suggestion that this so-called independent agency should effectively be run by the Secretary of State?


  • 14 Oct 2020: Jet Zero Council


    I am keen to speak because tackling and stopping environmental destruction is the defining mission of our age. We have seen so much of it over the last 100 years, and we have to bring it to an end. That is why I am chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the environment. Clearly, one of the biggest environmental challenges is tackling climate change. As a country, we have adopted the legally binding target of net zero by 2050, and I strongly welcome that. A huge body of work is needed to achieve it.

    On recommendations and policy, I would be interested, first, in including international aviation emissions in the 2050 target of net zero. Domestic aviation emissions are already in that target, but I understand the Government are thinking about the international emissions. That would be a good step, in order to put pressure on the sector and make it part of the national mission to become net zero.


  • 6 Oct 2020: Alternative Fuelled Vehicles: Energy Provision


    Thank you, Chair. I thank the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western) for securing a debate on this important issue. We are all committed to combating climate change and getting down to net zero. As chair of the all-party parliamentary environment group, I spend a lot of time pushing for that. When I was environment editor of The Observer and The Times more than a decade ago, electric cars were just a pipe dream. I drove some early models, but they are now a reality. I have long seen the internal combustion engine as a dirty, smelly and polluting Victorian technology. The sooner we see the back of it, the better.

    I only have two and a half minutes, and there are eight things I think the Government should do. I will have to keep this brief. First, we should commit to 2035 rather than 2040. It is the minimum under the Committee on Climate Change recommendations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommendations for meeting net zero by 2050. Indeed, we should consider whether we can bring it even further forward. There is huge industry support for that, from a wide range of different people, and it will probably be cheaper for motorists in the long run.


  • 2 Jul 2020: Finance Bill


    There are some much-debated measures in the Bill, but I think that in the end it gets the balance right between tackling tax avoidance and encouraging entrepreneurialism. It is right that everyone pays their fair share. I am at heart an economic liberal who believes that if a Government are going to take a person’s hard-earned money, the burden of proof lies on the Government to justify doing so. In general, I get more joy from cutting or scrapping a tax than introducing a new one, but it is notable that the Bill introduces new taxes. The possible carbon tax is needed to tackle climate change by ensuring that companies pay what economists call the externality of emitting greenhouse gases. The plastics tax is a great nudge tax, pushing industry into recycling more plastic by imposing costs on not recycling. As economists say, we should tax bads, not goods.

    Then there is the new digital tax, discussed broadly in this House, which ensures that global technology companies pay their fair share. These technology companies bring us all so many benefits, which is why many of them have grown rapidly into some of the most valuable firms in the world, but their global business model and the joys of internal transfer pricing, basically mean that they can decide how much corporation tax they pay in each different country where they operate. The ultimate solution to this is a global agreement on the taxation of technology companies, but these agreements can take forever to reach, not least if those countries that benefit from the lack of an international agreement drag their heels. So it is absolutely right that countries such as the UK take the lead in introducing interim national measures. With declared national profits at the discretion of finance directors, the only option for the digital tax is to be that unprecedented thing—a tax on turnover. So the carbon tax, the plastic tax and the digital services tax are three taxes that can all clearly be justified. I welcome them.


  • 3 Mar 2020: Climate Protests in Cambridge: Police Response


    The lack of police action against law-breaking protesters caused public fury across social media, the airwaves, the letters pages and my inbox. Virtually no one has argued that the police were right not to act. That public anger is very understandable. We rely on the police to uphold the rule of law, and not to let mob rule unfold. When those tasked with law enforcement appear to be unwilling or unable to intervene in flagrant criminal conduct, the public start to feel threatened. The public are also annoyed by the perceived double standard. Many said to me, “If I had blockaded the road or committed criminal damage, I’d be arrested on the spot. Why aren’t the protesters?” I want to put on record that I strongly support the ultimate objective of Extinction Rebellion in combating climate change, but I do not support its means.

    The hon. Member is making a powerful legalistic argument, but I put it to him that this is actually a political argument. There are many people in my constituency who think we face a climate emergency so serious that it justifies what would in normal times be considered extreme action. Does he understand how strongly people feel about this? The police have used these powers on the A14 diversions, and there has been less disruption for my constituents over the past few years than was suffered the other week.

    I understand the passion, the urgency and the importance that people feel about climate change, but that does not justify breaking the law.

    This is also clearly counterproductive. I have had lots of correspondence from my constituents, as perhaps the hon. Gentleman has had from his, saying that people cannot be won over to a cause by alienating them. If we want to make a political argument, I would say that Extinction Rebellion portrays itself as a fringe group with a fringe cause and actually undermines support for action on climate change. It must obey the law, which is the way to win people over.


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