VoteClimate: Darren Jones MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Darren Jones MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Darren Jones is the Labour MP for Bristol North West.

At the next election Darren Jones is standing in the new Bristol North West constituency.

We have identified 11 Parliamentary Votes Related to Climate since 2017 in which Darren Jones could have voted.

Darren Jones is rated Very Good for votes supporting action on climate. (Rating Methodology)

  • In favour of action on climate: 9
  • Against: 0
  • Did not vote: 2

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Darren Jones's Speeches In Parliament Related to Climate

We've found 33 Parliamentary debates in which Darren Jones has spoken about climate-related matters.

Here are the relevant sections of their speeches.

  • 14 Nov 2023: Economic Growth


    We heard excellent speeches from many colleagues, including my hon. Friends the Members for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams), for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe), for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy), for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah), for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane), for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Preet Kaur Gill), for Leeds East (Richard Burgon), for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck), for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), for Enfield North (Feryal Clark), for Norwich South (Clive Lewis), for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), for Birmingham, Hall Green (Tahir Ali), for City of Chester (Samantha Dixon), for Cynon Valley (Beth Winter), for Ilford South (Sam Tarry), for Portsmouth South (Stephen Morgan), for Stockport (Navendu Mishra) and for Wirral West (Margaret Greenwood). That long list shows the importance that Opposition Members place on growing the economy on the bedrock of fiscal responsibility. We heard that, from skills to housing, infrastructure to net zero and public services to poverty and inequality, there were a whole host of issues missing from the King’s Speech that we would put into a Labour King’s Speech if we were to win the next general election.


  • 29 Jun 2023: Artificial Intelligence


    I was asked the other day whether I was worried that this technology-enabled future would create a world of despair for my children. My answer was that I am actually more worried about the effects of climate change. I say that because we knew about the causes and consequences of climate change in the 1970s, but we did nothing about it. We allowed companies to extract wealth and power and leave behind the damage for the public to pick up. We are now way behind where we need to be, and we are actively failing to turn it around, but with this technology revolution, we have an opportunity in front of us to show the public that a different, more hopeful future is possible for our country—a country filled with opportunity for better work, better pay and better public services. Let us not make the same mistakes as our predecessors in the 1970s, and let us not be trapped in the current debate of doom and despair for our country, even though there are many reasons to feel like that.


  • 20 Apr 2023: International Trade and Geopolitics


    The era of increasing globalisation that we have come to know over the past decades is coming to an end. We are now in an era of economic retrenchment, higher levels of state subsidy and new forms of partnership between the public and business, but how is the UK responding? Ministers are merely saying to competitor countries, “This is not how you’re supposed to play the game,” but they are not listening, and we are losing. There are several factors underpinning these changes: geopolitical competition between China and the United States; war in Europe and security tensions in Asia; the need for democratic nations to show their people that our system of government can deliver good jobs, good pay and prosperity; the net zero transition; and the technological arms race in both its military and civilian contexts.

    I think everybody recognises that that is completely right, and my right hon. Friend recognises that with both the European Union and the United States, the bulk of our trade exists in this bit of the planet in which we find ourselves. Trade with Asia is welcome, but it will not be able to deliver larger economic opportunities for the UK than trading with our closest partners. Our arrangement with the CPTPP could cause conflicts in future trading negotiations with the European Union because of issues such as embedded carbon in the case of imported goods. Although we might want to do more trade with the European Union in line with our net zero targets, that might cause difficulty with imports from parts of Asia.

    The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on an important issue, and this could be an informative debate on both sides. He has just mentioned one potential conflict between this country’s trade engagements and those of others, regarding our engagement with the European Union and with CPTPP, and different paces of change when dealing with net zero. As Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, will he give the House a little more detail on his thoughts about what this country’s pace should be, and in particular his views on the carbon border tax?

    I will do so briefly so that I do not test the patience of the Chair too much, given the number of pages I have left to read before the end of my speech. My initial observations are that it is in the UK’s interest to be a global leader on the net zero transition, both because that is the right thing to do and because it is a significant industrial opportunity, and that we should be partnering with the European Union to do so through our trade deal. In my view—I have not taken evidence on this; it is just my view—that would generate a larger rate of return for the British economy and British people than some of the other opportunities that have been presented.

    Does my hon. Friend share my concern that in pursuance of net zero and the decarbonisation agenda, the automotive industry, for example, faces significant challenges in ensuring not only that we have a self-contained supply chain, but that we can engage with the European Union on our doorstep given restrictions on rules of origin? Will that present a difficulty, and is there an opportunity with the review of the trade and co-operation agreement to address that issue once and for all?

    My hon. Friend is exactly right, and electric vehicles are a prime example. He and I were in Sweden last week on a Select Committee visit to look at how its electric vehicle battery manufacturing looks in comparison with the UK. If we are to continue to export cars to the European Union, we will have to hit the so-called rules of origin requirements where the components come from local or regional sources. Eventually they will have carbon embedded within them, in order to meet carbon border adjustment mechanisms and net zero targets. It is therefore crucial that the UK Government work with the private sector successfully to deliver that industrial policy outcome, or I fear we will see the near total decline of car manufacturing in the UK. While it is not for me as Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to prejudge the conclusion of its inquiry into this issue, the contrast between what we saw in Europe last week, and what is happening in the UK, was stark.

    This sorry story is not just about what is happening in the European Union; it is about what is happening in the United States, too. During our Committee visits last year, it quickly became clear that the US is doing what Europe is doing, but on steroids. The Inflation Reduction Act, which is really a green new deal for the United States, sets long-term, multi-decade, easy-to-access tax incentives, grants, loans and market-setting standards to not only drive the net zero agenda but reinvest in the industrial capacity of the United States. This $500 billion multi-decade initiative is acting like a magnet, pulling investment, jobs and businesses into the American economy. Access to those tax incentives, grants and state-level support is predicated on agreements to train and employ Americans in areas that have been crying out for investment for years. In some circumstances, it is even predicated on business owners investing in childcare to help optimise the economic activity of the American labour market, including women.

    I hope that the Minister, when she responds, will be able to inform the House, on behalf of the Prime Minister, how this latest round of Conservative Ministers are going to clear up the mess of all the former ones over the past 13 years. The Minister and I know that the opportunities for the UK are there to be taken; that the British people have within them the drive, energy and potential; that our islands and our seas give us the potential not just to lead the net zero transition at home, but to export it abroad too; and that our greatest minds, entrepreneurs and universities mean we can ride the wave of the technological revolution in the interests of the British economy and the British people. We can achieve all those things, but only if Britain has a Government with the leadership, the ideas and the energy to start delivering. I look forward to the Minister’s response.


  • 28 Feb 2023: Topical Questions

    Can the Secretary of State confirm whether the responsibility for industrial decarbonisation rests with his Department or the Department for Business and Trade?


  • 5 Jul 2022: Action on Climate Change and Decarbonisation


    Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I intend to speak for less than 10 minutes, if that is helpful. I start by thanking the Environmental Audit Committee for securing the debate and for sharing with the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, which I chair, the load of scrutinising net zero delivery across Government. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting this time on the Order Paper, and I thank the Clerks who support the work of our Select Committees day to day; without them, we would not be able to scrutinise the Government as effectively as we do. I welcome back to the shadow Front Bench my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), in her new role as the shadow Minister for climate change. I look forward to her summing up later.

    My focus today is primarily on delivery, because effective delivery ensures value for taxpayers’ money. The Conservative party generally believes that sending policy signals through targets or departmental strategies will be enough to ensure that the market does the heavy lifting as we transition to net zero by 2050. On this subject, it is wrong. Ministers will no doubt point to a long list of targets, strategy documents, incentives—for example, contracts for difference—and research funding allocations, all of which are admirable and welcome. But as the Climate Change Committee concluded last week in its annual report to Parliament, Ministers must think much more about the role of the state in ensuring the delivery of their net zero ambitions, be that from Whitehall or through partnerships of local authorities—and always, in my view, in partnership with the private sector and local communities.

    Unfortunately, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is not very good at that. According to the National Audit Office’s review of the delivery of major projects in the Department, 11 of the 15 major projects were deemed to have significant issues that required management attention, or major risks that put the successful delivery of the project in doubt or, at worst, caused it to be deemed unachievable. They include amber warnings for the smart metering implementation programme, costing £20 billion; the social housing decarbonisation fund, costing £4.6 billion; the public sector decarbonisation scheme, costing £1.1 billion; the local authority delivery of the green homes grant, costing £500 million; the heat networks investment project, costing £376 million; and the home upgrade grant for energy efficiency and low-carbon heating work in low-income, off-gas grid homes. There were significant worries about each and every one of those major projects, and, of course, there was a big red warning against the now defunct green homes grant. In fact, the only major programme to receive a green rating from the National Audit Office was the geological disposal facility programme, costing some £12.7 billion, for the long-term management of radioactive waste. For that, I suppose we should be grateful.

    In short, there is a delivery problem in Government at a time when the state needs to get more involved in delivery. That is why the Climate Change Committee has called for stronger coordination and delivery, not just in BEIS but through Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, and for contingency planning to be urgently put in place if the current strategies are not delivered as intended. From BEIS, we must see more detailed delivery plans and technology road maps for the delivery of net zero electricity by 2035—something my Committee has started to look at in a new major inquiry—as well for hydrogen production, carbon capture and storage, and industrial decarbonisation.

    The No. 1 priority for the Department in relation to our net zero target requirement is, of course, the energy efficiency of our buildings. Buildings account for 20% of emissions in the UK, and the targets the Government have set themselves are very significant in terms of carbon emissions reductions by the mid-2020s. The Government will not hit their net zero target without insulating our buildings and reducing our need for energy, and they will not insulate our buildings without being more directly involved in delivery. This should be a national programme, street by street in every community, co-ordinated nationally in partnership with local councils. That will, of course, cost a lot of money, and public funds should be targeted at households that need it, whether they are on low incomes or require more expensive works to be done because of the nature of their homes.

    The current plan from the Government is, unfortunately, to move the same amount of money around again, instead of properly funding a national insulation programme. The money allocated to the failed green homes grant was partly reallocated to the public sector decarbonisation scheme and to the gas boiler replacement voucher scheme. According to the Secretary of State’s evidence to my Committee last week, that is being re-reallocated back to a general energy efficiency programme to be announced in due course.

    There are two points to make. On consumer awareness generally, although there is very significant support for action on climate change, polling shows that most consumers do not realise that that means replacing their gas boiler and insulating their homes. Part of the net zero strategy for Government should be to try to engage with homeowners, tenants and the public about the work that needs to be done, but they have failed to introduce any effective engagement programme with the public. The concern is that when people do not want to do the work, that will cause a lot of anger among the public, and that will undermine our ability to reach net zero.

    The use of public funds is also very important, because the disposable income of an average household, once we take away rent or housing costs, is around £9,000 a year. As we have heard, however, we are asking people to spend £10,000 to £20,000 on their home. How on earth can we ask a family with an annual disposable income of £9,000 to spend £20,000, when there is no support from the state or councils and when the banks are not even offering low-cost energy-efficiency financial products to help people who want to make these investments? That is why the Government need to be more involved in thinking about delivery. I suggest having incentives and behaviours that nudge people in the right direction, so that the vast majority of people feel able to do what they want to do and support the national effort to tackle climate change.

    It is crucial that we get this right urgently. The CCC’s report to Parliament this week showed why, of all the issues, we must move more quickly on building decarbonisation, not just for consumers, homeowners and businesses, but for our ability fundamentally to hit net zero and protect the planet from the worst effects of climate change. I urge Ministers, when they are thinking about delivery and, as a consequence, about value for taxpayers’ money, to radically change their approach. I urge them to set out a policy direction and a well thought-through product design that businesses and homeowners understand they can take part in. It should be properly financed and go street by street across the country to ensure that we get on with this now, given the complete lack of progress over the past few years. I wonder whether the Minister, in summing up, will have any reflections on how the Department might improve its delivery of this important work.


  • 19 Jan 2022: Oral Answers to Questions

    The COP President has not set out which countries are his priority for enhanced nationally determined contributions in the run-up to COP27; will he do so?


  • 20 Oct 2021: Oral Answers to Questions

    Only 13 of the G20 nations have committed to net zero by law. Does the COP President expect all G20 nations to commit to net zero by law at COP26?


  • 14 Jul 2021: Limiting Global Temperature Rise

    Has Britain lost her credibility when asking developing nations to pay to decarbonise, following the Government’s affirmation yesterday of their cut to UK international aid spending?


  • 1 Jul 2021: Enabling Community Energy


    Their latest project—the wind turbine—is community-owned and will be built on land owned by Bristol City Council in the industrial estate adjacent to Lawrence Weston. Standing 150 metres tall, it is estimated that this one turbine alone will generate enough low-carbon energy to power 3,500 homes, reducing carbon dioxide emissions associated with the generation of that power by nearly 2,000 tonnes each year.

    The Minister will know that, as part of our net zero target and the pathways to net zero set out by the Climate Change Committee, we need to double the size of our electricity system. As with heat, we are increasingly talking about the right technology in the right place, with some areas better suited to heat networks or hydrogen pumps more generally. The same is true with electricity. With a more flexible distribution network comes the opportunity for more decentralised, local sources of power; it is a great opportunity for community energy to fulfil that need.


  • 21 Jun 2021: Protecting Britain’s Steel Industry


    The Government, however, have failed to do anything helpful on these issues. In fact, they have made things worse by publishing an industrial decarbonisation strategy that once again does not have sufficient buy-in from the Chancellor to help businesses to make the changes they need. Now, to make things even worse, the Minister tells us that the Government cannot do anything to stop the Trade Remedies Authority scrapping tariff safeguards, at a time when we all know that huge gluts of cheap steel are waiting to be exported from countries such as China.


  • 21 Jun 2021: Planning Decisions: Local Involvement


    The planning process is part of our democracy. It is one of the reasons we elect local councillors and one of the reasons we have planning committees that are independent of party political leadership. Citizens in every community across the country have a stake and a say in what happens in their local area, but the Conservatives’ planning reforms pull the rug from under our local democracy and instead roll out the red carpet for the big developers, with the automatic granting of outline planning permission; statutory presumptions in favour of development; planning notices moving to online only; no real role for existing neighbourhood plans; still not enough action on net zero energy-efficient housing resources and low-carbon heat; proposals that do not go far enough to deliver more council and affordable housing; and, based on recent permitted development rights, high-street shops that can be converted into often low-quality housing, with limited standards on space, light or community structure, and mobile phone masts that can be seemingly plonked anywhere. All in all, it is a complete shambles.


  • 27 May 2021: Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme


    Today’s debate is a timely one, not just because of its necessary focus on the failures of the green homes grant scheme and the lessons we should draw, but because of the foundational importance of energy efficiency to the success of our net zero targets. It was therefore a pleasure to sponsor the debate application, and I commend the right hon. Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne) on his and his Committee’s leadership on this issue. His Committee was instrumental in highlighting concerns about this scheme earlier this year, and I am grateful for the seriousness and detail of their ongoing work in this area, not least in opening today’s debate.

    We on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee are nearing the end of a major inquiry looking directly at how Britain can meet the challenges posed by decarbonising heat in our homes, in addition to monitoring our overall progress as a country in meeting our net zero targets at home as we seek to lead abroad by example at COP. There is little point decarbonising the heating in our buildings if those buildings are not energy efficient, and we will not meet our net zero targets if we do not decarbonise how we heat our homes, so these issues are inextricably linked. Those decarbonisation targets present huge opportunities for citizens right across the country, from reducing our energy bills at home and making our homes more comfortable to live in to creating consumer demand for small and large businesses in every community, and creating green jobs for the workers who will be needed to go into each and every one of our homes over the decade ahead.

    Too easily, however, that experience could give way to miserablism and receding ambition, so as we interrogate the causes of the scheme’s failure, I will stress the importance of getting back on track quickly. Lifting energy efficiency standards in homes remains the key short-term measure of success in decarbonising, not only because the quality of our existing buildings is often so inadequate but because real progress is feasibly deliverable, with the Climate Change Committee putting the per-home cost at under £10,000.

    In spite of that, our progress to date in decarbonising buildings has stalled, with emission reductions in the sector sitting stagnant for more than a decade. The single biggest impediment to substantial private sector investment, however—most importantly, to remedy Britain’s skills shortfall in this area, which continues to put a ceiling on our capacity to deliver—remains the Government’s hesitancy.

    I am confident that we can rise to that challenge, and create a sense of hope and opportunity for the British people as we move towards our net zero target, but we must be honest with ourselves, learn the lessons and step up to meet that challenge in the first place. I hope that the debate, the work of the respective Select Committees and the preparation of Ministers to put forward a replacement for the green homes grant in advance of the Budget later this year provide the space and opportunity to get this right once and for all.


  • 14 Apr 2021: Strength of the UK’s Armed Forces


    I will focus, perhaps slightly unusually in the debate, on the impact of climate change on our national security and, therefore, the resource allocation in the MOD. We know that, so far, the world has not made climate action plans bold enough to limit global temperature growth to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels. Obviously, we support the COP26 President, the right hon. Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma), on achieving that at COP26 later this year, but the reality is that climate change will affect our national security irrespective of whether we hit the 1.5° C target. That will translate into a number of issues, ranging from significant global climate migration and shortages of food and water to new conflicts around the world and, potentially, a vastly different geopolitical order.

    That is, of course, an issue for Scottish independence, because England needs Scotland as much as Scotland needs England in being able to respond quickly to threats in the Greenland-Iceland UK entry point to the north Atlantic. I do not wish to be pessimistic, but I fear that all the climate change signs point to an escalation of risk and to tension in the Arctic circle, yet little attention is paid to that in the integrated review and defence statements, or indeed Government policy. I hope that those on the Treasury Bench might give us more insight to their thinking on the issue later this evening.


  • 14 Apr 2021: Virtual Participation in COP26

    I support the COP26 President’s aim for a physical conference of national delegations but, of course, many stakeholders are politicians, business leaders, NGOs and others. When will the Cabinet Office produce a contingency plan to give clarity to stakeholders about how engagement can take place in November?


  • 10 Mar 2021: COP26


    Five years ago, the Paris agreement committed the world to limiting global warming to at least 2° C above pre-industrial levels but called on all of us to get as close to 1.5° C as possible. The recent announcements on net zero from the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, China and others mean that we are within striking distance of reaching that Paris target. According to the Climate Action Tracker, the net zero targets that have been pledged so far could limit global warming to 2.1° C above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. That builds in the announcements from China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, South Korea and others. But those welcome announcements need to be translated into updated nationally determined contributions—NDCs—that need to be submitted to the UN before COP26 and, crucially, into deliverable climate action plans.

    Unfortunately, the UN’s NDC synthesis report last month raised concerns instead of hopes. As at 31 December, only 75 parties to the Paris agreement had submitted their NDCs, representing 30% of global emissions. Whereas the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends that we cut global emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels in order to limit temperature growth to 1.5° C, the NDCs submitted so far only get us to 1% of that 45% recommendation. Only two of the 18 largest emitters had submitted updated NDCs at the end of 2020, including the United Kingdom and the European Union. Of the NDCs that have been submitted, the UN notes a significant gap between longer-term carbon neutrality target announcements and commitments set out in the NDCs.

    The crucial and urgent task for COP26 is therefore to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality and to bring every nation with us on the route to achieving our Paris targets. This highlights the urgent need for a full Government response, especially a diplomatic response. China, for example, has committed to achieving net zero by 2060—an important and welcome commitment—but its recent five-year plan pushed the difficult and expensive decisions into the long grass. We should not get to COP26 and just tell big emitters such as China, India or others that they are not moving away from coal quickly enough, for example, not least when we are planning our own new coalmine here in the UK. Instead, we should have British diplomats in Beijing, Delhi and other capitals asking, “What can the world do to help you move away from coal more quickly?”

    Here in the United Kingdom, we have legislated for net zero by 2050. The trouble is that, increasingly, we seem to be going off track at home. Yes, we were world leaders in legislating for net zero by 2050, and we have submitted a bold and welcome NDC, but the Public Accounts Committee last week concluded that there is no credible Government plan for how we deliver on those pledges. Yes, we have the energy White Paper, but where is the net zero spending review or the net zero strategy? In the new plan for growth, which replaced the scrapped industrial strategy last week via a footnote in the Budget, the horizon scan of Government announcements on our net zero transition did not even include the net zero spending review. The Government, we understand, are planning to reduce air passenger duty on short flights within the United Kingdom. They have U-turned on the vital green homes grant initiative, withdrawing a billion pounds of funding. The Budget last week made little mention of the so-called green industrial revolution.

    On heating, which we are considering on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, we have enormous challenges ahead of us. It is the second largest emitter of carbon in the UK after surface transport, yet we have not made sufficient progress in understanding how we insulate people’s homes and also heat them without burning gas in the future. As the citizens’ assembly on climate change concluded, as led by my Select Committee and five others in the House, the public expect us to be making sufficient progress and taking the difficult decisions to reach our net zero target.

    Only by doing that work well in advance of COP26 in November can we anticipate and respond adequately to the needs of each nation. If we fail to do so, and countries come to Glasgow in November with real concerns—whether on climate aid, the balance between wealthy and less wealthy nations or the commitments from big emitters—we risk repeating the mistakes of the Copenhagen summit, with unresolved tensions being managed during COP itself and ultimately ending in failure.

    In our recent interim report on COP26 and net zero, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee expressed concerns about the lack of focus on the necessity of submitting these updated nationally determined contributions and climate action plans, and also on the potential lack of support from the machinery of government in delivering on COP26.

    The CEO of the COP26 unit, Peter Hill, confirmed that there are around 160 staff within the COP26 unit, which sits in the Cabinet Office. This unit is funded to the tune of £216 million through departmental transfers from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Transport and others, and that is in addition to the £180 million allocated for security, representing the fact that the COP26 conference in Glasgow will be one of the largest police operations in British history. I am sure there must be more dedicated resources, especially in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, for this important work, and I hope that the COP26 President will set that out for the House today.

    Lastly, we need urgent clarity on how COP26 itself will work in practice. I support the COP26 President’s aim of having an in-person summit and agree that that is the best way of illustrating equality between all nations around the decision-making table, but COP26 is not just for Heads of State and Ministers and officials. Some countries bring very large delegations; others bring smaller delegations. Can the COP26 President update the House on what the UK delegation will be and who will be included in it? There is also a great deal of wider engagement at COP, from business leaders and parliamentarians to civil society and non-governmental organisations. That usually means a large conference-style event. Indeed, the Government have said that COP26 will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, with 30,000 delegates, but that statement was, I think, made before covid.

    I have raised the issue in COP26 questions, but it is now urgent to get clarity for delegations and the wider group of COP26 attendees about how online engagement will work if they are unable to attend in person, and how it will be determined whether delegates or other visitors are able to attend in person. The COP26 President may wish to update the House today on how the Government intend to provide, if necessary, covid vaccinations, testing and quarantine services for those physically participating in Glasgow. Indeed, concerns have been expressed by many, including me, that many nations, especially developing nations, are further behind in the roll-out of their own covid vaccinations. What steps can either the UK or UNFCCC take to ensure that the delegates are vaccinated and able to take part physically during COP in Glasgow in November?

    There is cross-party support for Britain’s leadership of COP26, because it is a crucial milestone. The world needs to step up. It needs to set up credible, costed and deliverable climate action plans that get us to the targets we all agreed in Paris five years ago. Those often difficult decisions cannot be pushed into the long grass and left for future generations of leaders to deal with. If that happens, it will be not just a failure of politics, but a failure of humanity, because our planet will be unrecognisable compared with today if we fail in this task.

    Climate migration following huge swathes of land around the equator turning into desert will pose a challenge to countries in the northern hemisphere and other parts of the world like never before. Difficult issues, such as the future management of Antarctica, will become live issues as potentially habitable land becomes available, while other habitable land is lost. Shortages of food, water and energy in the face of dramatic geopolitical changes and new national security threats will make covid look like a minor problem. In that context, and with that sense of urgency, while I welcome the commitment to net zero that will get us near the Paris target, we have to see deliverable climate action plans lodged at COP26, with countries’ leaders taking the difficult decisions and bringing forward investment—including climate aid from wealthy nations—to show the world that we take this issue seriously not just in rhetoric but in reality.

    We want the COP26 President and his team to be successful in delivering the required outcomes. All of us in this House, I am sure, support him in those endeavours, but we also want to be assured that the Prime Minister and his Government are fully getting behind the COP team so that, come November, we will be celebrating the success of COP26, not mourning its failure in the face of climate disaster.



    I thank the COP26 President for his full response, for which I am grateful in so many ways. I also thank the Backbench Business Committee and the Liaison Committee for granting this important debate, and I am grateful for the contributions from so many right hon. and hon. Members this evening.

    In the time allotted to me, I will reflect briefly on some of the major issues that came up. There was a clear consensus across the House on the urgency of bridging the gap between political announcements and actual delivery in countries around the world. I was encouraged to hear the COP26 President’s confirmation of dedicated climate attachés in the Foreign Office. As many have said, the concept of a climate diplomat will not go away after COP26; it will stay with us in many countries around the world as we continue to grapple with this issue in the decades ahead.

    COP26 is an opportunity for the UK not just to persuade countries to do the right thing but to show them how we have done it ourselves. For all the criticisms—I will come back to some of those in a second—we have made great progress in the UK, especially in decarbonisation of power, something that we can show other countries around the world how to achieve through our companies, our innovators and our engineers.

    Of course, a number of points were also made about the UK’s own domestic performance, which is not directly related to our delivery of COP26 but is important symbolically, to show the world that, as president of COP, we lead with our action as well as our commitments. Here I wish to comment on coalmines in the UK. I agree entirely that the coalmine proposed in Cumbria is not about heating. Indeed, we have enormous challenges on decarbonising heat in the UK, be it hydrogen, heat pumps or heat networks, since we have so much progress to make and so little finance earmarked to make that transition. The steel industry—a foundational industry that I support very much in the UK—is going through a period of transition and needs to go through the net zero transition. That would be a good example, albeit following the scrapping of the industrial strategy, of how Government action, in partnership with industry, can facilitate the net zero transition even in difficult circumstances. I am afraid that we seem to have been missing that opportunity.

    There is clearly cross-party support in the House for us to achieve our ambitions at COP26, including from Select Committees and all-party parliamentary groups. I thank my fellow Committee Chairs who spoke in the debate. Our Committees have agreed to collaborate on this issue to ensure full coverage and support for the Government in the delivery of COP26. All of us look forward to supporting the President and his team and hopefully attending COP26 in Glasgow in November, then celebrating the success of that conference as we move from a commitment in Paris to delivery on the ground.


  • 9 Mar 2021: Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation


    The reality of this Budget is that the Government have no credible plan for long-term economic growth that will meet the required scale of ambition for the net zero transition, that will mean real change for workers in every community across the country or that will really help businesses to grow and make a profit. There is no denying that the extension of covid support was welcome, and I am pleased that the Chancellor agreed with my Committee’s assessment that premature end dates had caused unnecessary redundancies and harm to business, but that was the least that we could have expected. On a longer-term vision for our country, I cannot find very much at all. The OBR has concluded that Brexit will shrink our economy by 4% and covid by an additional 3%. After the initial year of reopening post-lockdown, our expectations for growth still hover around only 1.5% a year, and in the face of a decade of failed austerity, the Chancellor has still cut billions from day-to-day spending.

    The Budget also fell short of the required ambition to deliver on our net zero commitments, with no real increase in infrastructure spending and the Chancellor sticking to his previous position of only 3% of GDP. That is, I am afraid, a continuation of Ministers announcing targets with no plan or finance to allow them to happen. The Government cannot just announce a green industrial revolution and hope for the best. A failure to stimulate the growth of the green economy is just part of their failure in the Budget to meet the scale of the unemployment challenge. According to HMRC data, 782,000 fewer people are on company payrolls since October 2020, yet does the Government’s job and skills programme meet the scale of the challenge? No, it does not.

    For all the failures by the Government in the Budget, I want to end on a positive note. Throughout the pandemic, both as a constituency MP and Chair of the Business Committee, I have seen the remarkable abilities of the British people to adapt to the challenges that we face: the researchers and innovators that led the world in genomic sequencing in vaccine development; the engineers who pivoted from aircraft wings to ventilators; and the small businesses that transformed themselves by moving online. Our key workers—carers, nurses, shopworkers, truck drivers, teachers, police officers and many more—kept our country moving when we all had to stop, reminding us of our sense of national duty, and the volunteers, churches, food banks and resident groups renewed our sense of community. Behind every business and public service is a worker, a business owner, a leader, an innovator, a public servant, a citizen of our United Kingdom. Brexit, technology, climate change and the legacy of covid are all like tectonic plates, slowly reshaping the British economy.


  • 24 Feb 2021: Climate Change: Raising International Ambition

    With many developing nations further behind in the roll-out of their covid vaccinations, what steps is the COP President taking to ensure that every nation on earth is able to fully participate at COP26 in November?


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


    That this House welcomes the report of Climate Assembly UK; gives thanks to the citizens who gave up their time to inform the work of select committees, the development of policy and the wider public debate; and calls on the Government to take note of the recommendations of the Assembly as it develops the policies necessary to achieve the target of net zero emissions by 2050.

    It is a pleasure to open today’s debate, for which I am grateful to the Backbench Business Committee. The Climate Assembly UK’s final report runs to more than 500 pages, and, as I suggested in this place a couple of months ago, it provides an invaluable evidence base for Ministers in this and future Governments, and for colleagues across the House, as we chart our course to net zero.

    I am grateful to my fellow Committee Chairs, the right hon. Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne), my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), the right hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) and the right hon. Member for Central Devon (Mel Stride), whose Committees, together with my own, set that work in motion. Most of all, I am grateful to all the participants, who gave up their time to make the Assembly a reality and so hasten the cause of ambitious action to combat climate change.

    None of us doubts the urgency of that work and, with all the other challenges we currently face, we should not forget about the scale of the tasks ahead of us in reaching net zero and persuading other countries to do the same. Before I begin my substantive remarks, I should also declare my interests, as my wife is the head of external affairs at the Association for Decentralised Energy.

    Today’s debate is especially timely for the House in the context of the Prime Minister’s so-called “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”. Today, using the Climate Assembly conclusions, and noting its outcomes as representative of the British people, I will highlight what the British people think about the Prime Minister’s 10 points. At a headline level: barely a quarter of the £12 billion highlighted in the Prime Minister’s plan represented new announcements, and our total proposed spend still lags behind that of other developed European economies. It is right to point out that the Committee on Climate Change target of 2% of GDP in net-zero spending includes leveraging private sector spending alongside public sector spending, but, unfortunately, we did not get much further on this issue in the spending review yesterday. Like others, I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement on a national infrastructure bank. Such a bank will have the potential to accelerate financing and free up large-scale investment for decarbonisation, but net-zero obligations need to be enshrined in the bank’s founding mandates.

    Next, the Government’s plans to boost hydrogen production are also worth interrogating more closely. I know that a number of colleagues in the House have an interest in that and I look forward to their contributions later today. Although 83% of Climate Assembly participants took the view that hydrogen power should form some part of the UK’s eventual energy mix, they had substantive concerns about its scalability, value for money, and the risks and early-stage costs associated with producing and storing hydrogen as a usable fuel. Should Ministers agree with the Assembly’s conclusions in this report, they may wish to pause to reflect on those concerns and provide some answers on them. That is even truer, it has been argued, if the journey towards developing usable capacity for hydrogen is carbon-intensive, and truer still if the trade-off is forgone investment in cleaner and simpler routes to decarbonisation. However, as I say, I welcome the debate on this topic today.

    Carbon capture technologies will also ultimately serve a purpose in complementing the transition to renewable energy, in enabling some less adaptive carbon-intensive processes to continue, and potentially in harnessing the potential of hydrogen, but the scale of that role is up for debate, and some people view the target of 10 million as inadequate without a much faster economy-wide transition to clean energy sources. In that context, the technology did not command a consensus among Assembly members, with just 22% support for carbon capture alongside fossil fuels as a long-term solution.

    On jet zero, or lower-carbon intensive flight, the same questions of personal choice and collective responsibility are also at the centre of the debate about how to reduce emissions from air travel. Assembly members accepted that growth in air passenger numbers has to be slowed, but many baulked at the suggestion of outright restrictions on people’s ability to fly. Instead, there was broad consensus around the principle that passengers should pay in proportion to the frequency and distance travelled, and that airlines themselves must pick up some of the tab for decarbonising aviation.

    Lastly, the prospect of a renewed focus on tree planting and peatland restoration, if underpinned by a fair system of incentives and sensitivity to the needs of individual farmers, proved highly popular, albeit with some participants expressing scepticism about the limits of its potential ecological benefit. This is one example where the role of Government in broader educative or explanatory notes on net zero policy decisions is important.

    The question of fairness was central to the deliberations of the Climate Assembly, and it should be clear that the broad support that exists for decarbonisation can only be sustained by guaranteeing that the new economy offers the possibility of skilled, dignified work to everyone who seeks it, and that those currently employed in carbon-intensive industries do not disproportionately lose out from the net zero transition. Building such an insistence on fairness into our strategy for achieving net zero is a critical test set for the Government by the assembly, and I would welcome an update from Ministers on how it will figure in the plethora of now very delayed but highly anticipated announcements on all of these issues from the Department.

    The public expect the Government to build on the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan with concrete, strategic and serious action that is adequate to the scale of the task at hand. Ministers can best do that by learning the lessons of the Climate Assembly, ensuring that our response to the climate crisis is deliberative, democratic and fair, and moving forward with the justified confidence that the public are on board and on side. The report itself also contains additional valuable suggestions beyond the Prime Minister’s initial 10 points—there are more things that need to be done—which I hope will be considered carefully.


  • 10 Sep 2020: Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee


    This morning, I had the privilege of launching the report of Climate Assembly UK, “The path to net zero”, along with the Chairs of the five other Select Committees that commissioned the citizens assembly back in 2019. This afternoon, as Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, I am launching a high-level inquiry into the findings of this groundbreaking report. I am keen, as I know other members and Committee Chairs are, that we take forward the work of the climate assembly by examining the policies that can deliver on net zero and provide solutions that are fair and equitable.

    Secondly, and in addition, the Committee will mainstream the work of the climate assembly. We will undertake detailed scrutiny of its proposals within the context of other existing and future inquiries. For example, the Committee is currently undertaking work on net zero and COP26, and we will shortly announce details of a series of new energy and climate change inquiries that we have selected following our recent My BEIS inquiry, which will focus directly on some of the energy recommendations in the assembly’s report. We will also examine issues around net zero and the green recovery during the course of our post-pandemic economic growth inquiry.

    Just to put the assembly report into context, it may be helpful to remind the House of its origins. More than 10 years ago, the House passed the Climate Change Act 2008. It has since declared a climate emergency and set a statutory target to reach net zero by 2050. We have already provided international leadership on decarbonisation, but the pace of reform has slowed and we must get back to business. However, meeting a challenge of this nature and this scale is clearly going to affect the lives of every citizen, organisation and community across our country. So everybody needs to understand why they are being asked to take action and what changes will need to be made, from how we eat to what we buy, how we heat our homes, how we do business and how we travel. That is exactly why the six Select Committees came together to establish this first ever UK-wide citizens assembly on climate change—an example of this House leading the public debate, but on the basis of informed public perceptions.

    This report is a unique body of evidence enabling us in Parliament and Ministers in Government to understand the public’s preferences for how we reach net zero, and it is a timely and important reminder of the public’s expectation that we do so. To avoid any misconceptions, I should stress that the citizens assembly is not a simple opinion poll or a lengthy focus group. It is entirely different. This assembly involved 108 citizens, precisely reflective of the composition of the UK population— including attitudes to climate change—sitting down together, learning about the issues in depth, considering a whole range of viewpoints and taking into account their own values and lived experiences to come to a consensus on how we should act on climate change. Rather than being spoon-fed questions which they had to respond to, assembly members were asked to come up with their own principles to underpin their approach, to define for themselves what they thought was fair, and to make compromises and trade-offs in a way that could be acceptable and supported by most people.

    The report, therefore, has a wealth of detail across a range of policy areas, and I encourage hon. Members across the House to read the executive summary to get a sense of the expectations that the British people have of us. The full report, which runs to 500 pages, provides granular detail and insight about the rationale behind the policy recommendations and the conditions attached to them. It provides a strong emphasis on some core principles that run throughout the policy recommendations, informing and educating everyone being a priority. Public, industry and individuals in Government have a shared responsibility to act. Then there is fairness across the whole of the United Kingdom, including for the most vulnerable, on issues of affordability, jobs, balancing the regions and nations, incentives and rewards—in actions, not just in words. Those adversely affected by the transition should not lose out—it should be a just transition and benefits should be shared by all of us. There is a call for strong leadership from Government and a strong demand for a cross-party approach to meeting the targets. Last was the principle to remind us all that protecting and restoring the natural world is as important as decisions on infrastructure, or consumer or business behaviour.

    I was struck, reading the report, by the assembly’s degree of consensus on so many very difficult issues, with clear steers on a direction of travel and a willingness to make that journey together. It showed the pragmatic attitude of the British people to get on with taking the actions that are absolutely required of us. I take from this report that people are willing to be led towards a net-zero Britain, but it is now for the Government to take action. The call is for the Government to lead, to explain why we need to act, and to map out a route that meets the scale of the challenge—a route that is achievable and, in line with the report, seeks the popular consent of the British people. That should be built on open, collaborative, cross-party consensus.

    Let us take this unique body of work as a template for action, a signal of what is achievable and an opportunity for the UK not only to build back better domestically in our own country, but to show the world how it can be done. I look forward to reporting back on the work of my Committee. I congratulate and commend all the assembly members and the staff involved in putting together this groundbreaking piece of work. I commend Climate Assembly UK’s report, “The path to net zero”, to the House.

    I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s statement. I agree with him that this is a very fine report. I think there are two reasons why this project has been so powerful: one is the nature of the attendees at this assembly and how they were selected, being representative of the whole country; and the second is the proportionate nature of the recommendations in the report. Does he agree that the considered, measured and tolerant approach that has been adopted is a good example for all those individuals and groups who wish to contribute to the climate change debate?

    I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question. I think the point he makes is really important because, for some in this debate, calls for action on climate change are demeaned as being from activists or not being supported by the British people. The citizens assembly report shows that these are pragmatic, considered and evidence-based decisions with support from a whole cross-section of the United Kingdom. That should give Ministers the confidence to take action in line with the recommendations in the report, and I know that it gives the right hon. Gentleman and his Committee, as well as the rest of us, the confidence to hold the Government to account very strongly in the implementation of those policies.

    One important theme in the report is consumer fairness. It is crystal clear that we need to be fair to consumers, which means more direct investment in heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency from the Government, but it also means greater consumer protections. Does the Chair of the Select Committee agree that that means learning from mistakes, such as the green deal mis-selling by companies such as Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Systems, or HELMS? We need to look at those mistakes, learn from them, make recommendations to improve consumer protections, and get that fairness for consumers as we go forward to net zero.

    I congratulate the hon. Member on presenting the report, and I look forward to working with him on this on the Select Committee. One of the themes that have come out is that of course the environment is key, but so is ensuring that the economy is well managed. Does the right hon. Member—I mean, the hon. Member—agree that covid has had a financial impact on the business sector and that we will need to do more to help businesses to help us to achieve net zero?

    I thank the hon. Lady for my elevation to the Privy Council, for which one can only hope. I agree absolutely that the consensus in the report and in our conversations on the Committee is that our economic recovery from the pandemic and our transition to net zero are no longer distinct issues but one and the same. They have to be embedded, and that requires Government to work in partnership with business. Some sectors will be affected more than others, and it will be difficult for some important parts of the British economy to make these changes, but I am confident that we can make them together. I know we will do that work on the Committee and bring forward proposals for the Government to do so.

    If we are to meet net zero, including targets on the electrification of transport and the decarbonisation of heating, either by electricity or by hydrogen produced by electricity, as the citizens assembly highlighted, we will need a lot of power, but not all of this can come from intermittent renewables. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is time for the Government to get serious and set out plans for all the low-carbon generation we will need, including nuclear, which provides high-skilled jobs for his constituents and mine?

    This is really very important. A member of the Committee asked the assembly in a private briefing this week how it defined fairness. The answer is really important because it was defined by the assembly members—they were not given a definition—and because the assembly represented a plethora of different types of people across the country: rich, poor, from different locations, with different levels of education, maybe activists and campaigners on climate change, maybe people sceptical of climate change. They came to that consensus on what fairness means, and they see no reason why we cannot deliver that through all our policies.

    I did not see the DEFRA Secretary’s answer, but I would be disappointed if that was the case. I wonder whether he has not read the cross-departmental memo, given the comments of the BEIS Secretary this morning at the launch, welcoming the report as an important and substantive contribution to Government thinking. We should remember, of course, that BEIS has the responsibility to co-ordinate net-zero decarbonisation across every Department, including DEFRA, so perhaps the BEIS and DEFRA Secretaries could talk about the importance of this report.

    As chair of the net-zero all-party parliamentary group, I thank my hon. Friend and the other Select Committee Chairs for commissioning the citizens assembly and for the holistic and well-rounded nature of the report. Citizens assemblies could form an important part of our pre-legislative scrutiny and policy making in Parliament. Does my hon. Friend agree that we should utilise such assemblies much more widely in the House?

    I note my hon. Friend’s long-held action in this area, both before and during his time in Parliament. I congratulate him on his all-party parliamentary group, which is making an important contribution to the debate here in Westminster. This is the first time that we have had a UK-wide citizens assembly and it was on the really complicated topic of climate change, but that has shown that it works. A citizens assembly brings people together in a consensus-building fashion to understand the trade-offs and to come forward with proposals that people are happy with. I endorse my hon. Friend’s suggestion that we look at these models—perhaps not just in Westminster, but in local government. In my city of Bristol, we are hoping to reinstate such activity after the pandemic as a way to bring people with us and to ensure that we really understand the ambitions of the British people. This report is an example of a British ambition for very strong action, and that should give the Government confidence in such action.

    I note the importance placed in the report on cross-party working to ensure that these actions are supported in the long term, so let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, to pledge our support in delivering the recommendations of the report, all of which we completely endorse. Does the hon. Member agree that the biggest impact on achieving net zero will be made by the actions that are taken soonest, and what does he think is the most important action that the Government need to take now to help us to achieve this goal?

    I thank the hon. Lady for her kind words and her pledge of support on behalf of the Liberal Democrats for the call for cross-party consensus on tackling climate change, which the Labour party also supports. As for her question about the most immediate action, this autumn and winter is the most important period for dealing with this issue. Not only do we have to borrow and spend significant amounts of money owing to the economic consequences of the pandemic, but we are also waiting for key policies from the Government—from the energy White Paper to the net zero review, through to the Treasury review on green finance, the heating in buildings regulations, and so many other things that are all due to come together in the next few months. Now is the opportunity for the Government to bring all that together and to set out a progressive set of policies to meet the scale of the challenge, which I am sure will be in line with the principles of the climate assembly report.

    The report expresses some concerns about the potential robustness of carbon capture and undersea storage, although not perhaps as a way of achieving the transition to net zero. In 2019, the then Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said that it did not believe that the UK would be able to meet its Paris obligations without applying CCUS. Does the hon. Member think that that remains the case, or does he agree that the UK should continue to pursue this technology over three or four sites, and does he agree that one of those should be at St Fergus in the north-east of Scotland?

    I thank the hon. Gentleman for the suggestion that I have any influence over the location of these sites. Unfortunately, I have to break it to him that I do not. Carbon capture and storage prompted an interesting debate in the climate assembly because CCS is a little further ahead than other negative emissions technologies in proving its capabilities in research and scaling up into industrial settings. Assembly members felt that it was a way to slow down the action we need to take on other renewable sources of energy, and were concerned about issues such as the leakage and storage of carbon in the use of these technologies. That is why they down-prioritised it in comparison with wind or solar. It is important to note that the assembly was unable to consider issues such as tidal power because the research was not in the right place for it to be able to do so comprehensively. We quickly need to understand the capacity of carbon capture and storage for scaling up and meeting needs, but we should also recognise that we must prioritise an urgent speed-up in the use of clean renewable technologies, and in my view CCS is only a temporary solution.


  • 9 Sep 2020: Protection of Jobs and Businesses


    British businesses are up for that challenge, from bringing forward R&D projects and decarbonising to pulling together in the national interest. This pandemic has shown the powerful partnership that can be formed between Government, businesses, workers and unions during times of crisis. We should try to hold on to that collective endeavour as we seek to recover and build the British economy, but that requires Ministers to step up to that challenge, to answer the questions that are being posed of them, and to take the necessary action to protect jobs and businesses across the whole of the country.


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


    The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is at the heart of Britain’s recovery. If we are to recover from the economic costs of the pandemic and tackle the climate crisis, it is imperative that we build back better for Britain, with a more inclusive, productive and sustainable economy that provides opportunity, security and resilience for families in every part of the United Kingdom.

    That means good jobs for every generation in every part of the country; it means investing in key sectors in order to increase British manufacturing and British exports; it means Government partnering with business to bring forward investments in digitisation and technology transformation to improve productivity, with a specific focus on small and medium-sized enterprises; and it means recognising the importance of a fiscal stimulus in people as well as infrastructure, in the knowledge that an investment in every worker’s skills is an investment in the interests of the British economy. In each of those priorities, embedded in every single spending commitment, the Government must set out how they will accelerate our transition to net zero. Tackling climate change should no longer be a standalone policy; it should be at the heart of every Government decision.

    The first key test for the Department must be to ensure that businesses large and small get the help they need in respect of both liquidity and debt management. In the course of our inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on businesses and workers, my Committee has seen evidence of employers doing the right things, but also of businesses and employers doing the wrong things. Conditionality on future support, in respect of both corporate behaviour and embedding the net zero transition and worker training, should become the new normal.

    Evidence taken by my Committee from sectors in the most immediate need has also underscored the urgency of strategic sector-specific support packages and the high cost of failing to act. As the Member of Parliament for Bristol North West, I see that especially in the hospitality and aerospace sectors, and, while the hospitality sector can start to slowly reopen, the aerospace sector cannot. The aerospace sector should command a bespoke package of support bringing forward decarbonisation targets for new aircraft and developing the technologies of tomorrow, not just to protect vital jobs and skills, but to maintain our international competitiveness in this important sector. However, the Government seem unwilling to take a coherent sectoral approach. I appreciate that the Minister cannot make any announcements in advance of the statement tomorrow, but I wonder whether he might tell us if he thinks his Department will move from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more sophisticated sectoral approach in the months ahead.

    Lastly, as I said at the beginning of my speech, I do not see climate change as standalone policy, but one that is embedded in every decision. I hope the Government will set out how every decision, through the billions of pounds that they spend, helps us to reach our net zero target.



    I thank the many right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken for their contributions today. Whether on key sectors such as the aerospace and the beauty industry, about which we have heard from hon. Members in this debate, or from loud voices such as Unite the union for aerospace, or from over 400 letters from thousands of workers and women to the Minister regarding the beauty industry; whether from the Petitions Committee on parents, on our lack of progress on net zero or on entrepreneurs and those who have fallen between the cracks, the demand on the Government has been clear this evening. That is, we expect a more sophisticated, coherent and transparent set of policies from the Government. With all due respect, the Minister was unable to announce anything about the future this evening. I hope that is because we will hear the plan that we need for Britain and British workers tomorrow from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. No doubt we will all be back to hear that and to hold the Government to account tomorrow.


  • 3 Jun 2020: Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill


    That is why we need a comprehensive recovery and growth plan, which, I understood from the Prime Minister at the Liaison Committee hearing last week, will be with us before the summer recess. That plan will need to take a strategic view on what the British economy should look like in the future, and what capacity, skills and production we therefore need to protect now—with, of course, the net zero transition baked in.


  • 20 May 2020: Trade Bill


    Thirdly, Ministers have long said, whether in Brexit or trade debates, that the Government will stand by their commitment to human rights, workers’ rights and environmental protections, but this Bill does not mention climate change or workers’ rights at all. Britain has an opportunity to set the global expectation on these issues. I would like to understand why the Government have not included such provisions. There is a significant opportunity to couple climate diplomacy with export opportunities as we work to help other countries to transition to net zero. I hope the Minister will confirm that these opportunities are also being considered by the Department.


  • 23 Oct 2019: Waste Processing Facilities: Local Environment


    My concern is that this seems to have been an issue at points when we have had very hot weather, but with the effect of climate change—albeit we wish to mitigate that—it is becoming more frequent. We have started to see complaints from local residents more frequently throughout the year and not just in the hottest summer months. The science, from my perspective, is clear that flies will thrive in the presence of decaying organic matter and their populations will grow. That is why the Environment Agency provides permits for the type of activity that we are discussing. There is agreement on what the safe limits are for the amount of waste that can be processed. If businesses do not comply with the guidelines and permits, the Environment Agency is of course able to take action.


  • 1 May 2019: Facial Recognition and the Biometrics Strategy


    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. First, I must declare my interests, which are not directly in the subject but in the privacy and data protection space in which I practise as a lawyer, as set out in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I chair various technology all-party parliamentary groups and Labour Digital. I am also a member of the Science and Technology Committee, which has an ongoing inquiry into the subject. We have taken evidence from Professor Paul Wiles, the Biometrics Commissioner, and Baroness Williams of Trafford, the Minister in the other place. Some hon. Members have sent their apologies, which I entirely understand, because we are competing with the climate change debate in the main Chamber.

    I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate on a key subject. He has spoken light-heartedly about the competition with the climate change debate. Does he agree that in some ways, as with climate change, although only a small number of issues are currently associated with this topic, the range of impacts that facial recognition technology will have on our society and economy, on the way we work and do business, and on our trust relationships will be huge and will grow over time?


  • 28 Feb 2019: Net Zero Carbon Emissions: UK’s Progress


    Rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all parts of the economy: that was the call to action from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Without acting on it, we will miss our climate change targets and global warming will cause fundamental damage to our planet and the way we live our lives. So why is this the first time in two years that we are debating climate change on the Floor of the House of Commons? Why is this debate not being led by the Prime Minister herself? Why is not climate change at the heart of every major statement from this Government?

    The IPCC has given us 12 years. The independent Committee on Climate Change has said that we are falling behind and not acting with enough urgency. The climate strike protestors, whom I visited in Bristol, are rightly demanding more radical and urgent action now. What has been the response? The response to the IPCC report was to write a letter to the independent Committee on Climate Change, asking for advice. We should have been amending the Climate Change Act 2008 by now to upgrade our climate change targets in line with the Paris accord. We should be setting out how on earth we are going to finance the huge investment needed in upgraded infrastructure, energy and food security and in the technologies needed to meet our negative carbon emissions in future.

    I do not think that climate strike protestors from my constituency will be particularly pleased with the idea that their Member of Parliament—and many other hon. Members here today—has only four minutes to deal with this issue. When will it come back to the Floor of the House? Will the Minister tell us in her summing up when we will have days’ worth of debates to get into the issue of climate change?


  • 22 Jan 2019: Water Industry


    Many Members will know that British industry is lagging behind in the digitisation of our businesses, which is a priority if we are to unlock the productivity challenge in the British economy and help meet our climate change objectives. At Bristol Water, sensors have been installed across the entire network and big data analytics have been deployed. Those are new words for many sections of the water industry. In Bristol, we get our water from lakes and reservoirs around the Mendip hills and from the River Severn via the Gloucester and Sharpness canal. Water from the River Severn needs to be pumped into Bristol, which requires large amounts of energy. Water from the Mendips requires less energy due to gravity. Bringing together data on real-time energy prices with real-time water consumption requirements has allowed Bristol Water to build algorithms that decide when to pump water from where to where and at what time, helping to reduce over-pumping and generating significant savings on its electricity bill.

    Reduced energy consumption and better management of leaks, alongside helping customers to reduce their water consumption, all make extremely valuable contributions to our climate change objectives. As a member of the Science and Technology Committee, I have been troubled to hear from Lord Deben, the chairman of the Climate Change Committee, about how far we are falling behind as a country in meeting our climate change objectives.

    The Government must take the easy wins to ensure we get back on track to decarbonising our economy. Bristol Water’s approach seems to be an important and useful way to do that. I was therefore thrilled to hear about the work being undertaken in my constituency. I encourage the Government, Ofwat and other water companies to look at how we have digitised the network to improve efficiency and to contribute to decarbonising the economy in Bristol. I hope the Minister will tell the House how she is helping regulators and water companies to move in that important direction.


  • 13 Nov 2018: Climate Change: Extreme Weather Events


    That this House has considered extreme weather events related to climate change.

    When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its recent report on 6 October, I assumed that we would have time to debate it on the Floor of the House. Any IPCC report should warrant that level of political attention, but that special report tells us that all the warning lights are on red and that we have 12 years to limit global temperature growth to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels or face extreme changes to the way we live our lives.

    I welcome the Government’s clean growth strategy and the passing remarks of the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth about the IPCC report in her statement on Green GB Week, but, with respect, heralding a letter from the Government to the Committee on Climate Change asking for advice on what to do next is not good enough. The House of Commons is supposed to be at the heart of the national and international debate. What we do here adds volume to the news that people across the UK see and hear. Shamefully, the IPCC report was covered prominently in the newspapers, on the radio and on the TV, but not in the House of Commons.

    Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero around 2050.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) tabled urgent questions on our return from the summer recess to try to debate the issue, but he was unsuccessful. When Parliament is not sitting in the summer, we cannot debate. It is vital that we understand the consequences today of world climate change.

    The issue does not just affect other countries; it is about Britain too. We have already heard about the increased number of deaths as a consequence of heat in Britain. The Met Office helpfully published a report in November that concluded that the extreme weather we are facing today in the UK is due to climate change. The report shows that it is hotter for longer in the summer and wetter for longer in the winter, with more rainfall from extreme weather events than ever before.

    That is why we are building flood sea defences in Avonmouth in my constituency to prevent my constituents from being flooded by sea level rises due to climate change. It is also why I and so many of my constituents are trying to build renewable energy solutions, albeit without much luck to date on tidal energy, given the Government’s decision to pull funding for the Swansea bay tidal lagoon. My constituency has two islands in the Severn estuary—Steep Holm and Flat Holm—which means my boundaries include a big chunk of the second-largest source of tidal power in the world, but nothing is there to harbour its energy. The Government need to move much more quickly.

    The UK has a proud record on tackling climate change, but we must do more at home and, fundamentally, more abroad. What role is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office playing in ensuring that every country in the world signs up to the Paris accord? We are missing Russia, which accounts for 5% of global emissions. We are missing Turkey and Iran, whose oil and natural gas exports account for 77% of its carbon emissions—again, that is an example of why we need to move at speed to a world in which we are not reliant on oil. We are missing Colombia, which has 10% of the Amazon rainforest within its borders. Illegal tree logging accounts for more carbon emissions than transportation. We are also missing a handful of others.

    I find this amazing. I am disappointed that this debate is not receiving the highest levels of attention and that the UK is not forcing this issue up the national and international agenda. I applaud the efforts we are taking with the clean growth strategy and investment under the industrial strategy and on our own carbon emissions. The previous Labour Government had a proud record: they instigated the Climate Change Act 2008, and the Energy and Climate Change Committee is very good, but the speed and breadth are not good enough. Of course, we can be as good as we wish in the United Kingdom, but if the rest of the world does not follow, we all suffer.

    I hope the Minister will take the opportunity to help raise the volume, and I hope she agrees that we should have a proper debate on IPPC reports on the Floor of the House of Commons annually. Perhaps the first should be after the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s advice is received next spring. I hope she will set out the work being done across Government to ensure not only that this is a strategy in the energy team at the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy—as important as that is—but that it affects every Department. What requirements have been placed on the Department for International Trade to drive this agenda as it secures new trade deals around the world?



    That this House has considered extreme weather events related to climate change.


  • 12 Nov 2018: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations


    However, this is not just about the quality of food or the quality of animal welfare; it is also about the environment and our efforts at tackling climate change. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said we have 12 years to limit post-industrial levels of world temperature growth to 1.5° C—the subject of a separate debate I will be leading at 9.30 tomorrow morning in Westminster Hall.

    The IPCC is about climate change and carbon emissions. Megafarms might in theory, but not always in practice, reduce the amount of space needed for animals, but those animals still need to be fed, which means an ever-increasing amount of animal food for an ever-increasing number of animals farmed. That has resulted in huge amounts of land being used to grow animal food, often with the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. Reducing or eliminating industrial farming has been shown to be a significant way to reduce our overall carbon emissions.

    I hope the Minister in his summing up today will touch on the following points. What policy are the Government pursuing to reduce or prevent intensive farming in the United Kingdom, including working with agri-tech companies that can stimulate innovation for new methods of farming, whether high-rise farming or the production of meat products in the kitchen laboratory as opposed to the farm? What work is the Minister’s Department undertaking with colleagues across Government to change food and farming policy to help to meet our climate change objectives? Following a recent consultation on antibiotic use in farming, what measures will the Government take to prevent antibiotic resistance in animals and the indirect consequences for human health?


  • 31 Oct 2018: Budget Resolutions


    My reaction to the Budget is less positive, because it was a Budget of bad jokes and little else. It failed to recognise the biggest issues facing the economy—economic growth, Brexit, austerity and climate change—and then failed to set out what we were doing about them. On economic growth, it is a plain and simple fact that we have gone from being one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world to one of the slowest. We rely on economic growth to fund our public services, and many workers in Bristol are already taxed enough, at a time of stagnant or painfully growing salaries and a rising cost of living.


  • 6 Sep 2018: Global Britain and the International Rules-based Order


    It is clear that the international order established after the second world war has been an enduring structure—as the Chair of the Select Committee so eloquently put it earlier—but, with the obvious geopolitical changes including the population changes and economic changes of global powers, it is under strain. I want to touch on two elements that cause me concern, given the strain on the global world order that flow from them. These elements are technology and climate change—two topics on which I feel a bit more comfortable making contributions in this debate.

    We have seen over the summer many outcomes of a process of climate change. This is not just an environmental debate: there will be impacts in terms of climate change migration that will create security issues. I have recently seen a modelling of what the world will look like when the earth warms by 4°. I welcome the commitment in the Paris accord to a 1.5° limit, although I am distressed by the United States pulling out of that. In a world where we eventually reach 4° increases in our global temperature, the main areas of habitation for humans are essentially Canada, north Europe and Russia. The United States, southern and middle Europe, Asia and China become uninhabitable. What does that mean for our old institutions in a new world where suddenly, perhaps quite rapidly, we have the movement of people and the movement of power? Where is the ability to respond to these changes?

    I hope that those two issues—technology and climate change—are part of this debate as well. It is not just about—I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes)—the maintenance of what we secured after the second world war and the maintenance of our relationships with the established institutions. It is also about making sure that Britain, with its research base and leading thinking in these spaces, contributes around the world to ensure that—

    Does the hon. Gentleman agree that Britain has played a world-leading role in setting global climate change standards, and that we would very much like that to carry on in future as we seek to achieve the aims of the Paris agreement and, moving forward, to strengthen other countries’ commitment to tackling the problems of climate change?

    I agree entirely. That is why I raised the issues of climate change and technology: two areas where the United Kingdom really excels in its leadership in the world and in the contributions it has made. The UK also excels in its thinking and research, and in setting the tone around the world about what is acceptable. I was very proud that it was a Labour Government and the then Energy Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband), who brought in the first piece of legislation on climate change —the Climate Change Act 2008.

    These types of issues often do not get debated enough in the context of domestic and international security, the role of defence, and the institutions that exist. I hope that because we have strengths in the areas of climate change and technology, the Minister will say that Britain’s contribution as a strong global player is on the agenda as we try to maintain security and peace at home and around the world.


  • 24 Oct 2017: Rail Links: South-west England


    Now, as the Member for Bristol North West, my home constituency, I have two main concerns. First, I am disappointed that electrification of the track from London to Bristol has been cancelled. We now have the absurd position that new-generation Great Western Railway trains, which can be powered by electricity, get only as far as Maidenhead before they have to turn on the diesel engines. That cannot be right, and given that the Government are starting to fall behind on their climate change commitments, I hope to see that project completed soon.


  • 23 Oct 2017: Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill


    As ever, Bristol is leading the way. I welcome recent investment in the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems at the Bristol and Bath Science Park, and further funding into further pilots for autonomous vehicles in Bristol. Bristol has a strong environmental record, most recently as European green capital, yet we still struggle with our air pollution targets, so I and my constituents welcome the adoption of clean vehicles powered by clean renewable energy to ensure we can meet those aims.


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