VoteClimate: Hilary Benn MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Hilary Benn MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Hilary Benn is the Labour MP for Leeds South.

At the next election Hilary Benn is standing in the new Leeds South constituency.

We have identified 30 Parliamentary Votes Related to Climate since 2010 in which Hilary Benn could have voted.

Hilary Benn is rated Very Good for votes supporting action on climate. (Rating Methodology)

  • In favour of action on climate: 26
  • Against: 1
  • Did not vote: 3

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Hilary Benn's Speeches In Parliament Related to Climate

We've found 34 Parliamentary debates in which Hilary Benn has spoken about climate-related matters.

Here are the relevant sections of their speeches.

  • 31 Jan 2024: Northern Ireland Executive Formation


    We are still part of that single market and, from what I see in the Command Paper, we will continue to be. As a consequence, in our energy market in Northern Ireland—I would like an answer on this—we are paying a carbon tax at an entirely different rate from any other part of Great Britain. For our electricity supply, our carbon offset is twice the level paid in any other part of the United Kingdom. What measures on that are included in the Command Paper? It was handed to us at what I would call the eleventh hour and 59th minute. We would like to be given time to get into the details. We very much feel like we are being bounced through a timetable and that we will not get through the detail that is supposedly in the statutory instruments and the Command Paper.


  • 23 May 2023: Net Zero Goals: Local Authorities

    One risk to net zero is the delay in grid connections. The Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee wrote to the Secretary of State recently to highlight the problem of speculative applications for connections. These are applications that do not yet have planning permission and many never get it, but are clogging up the queuing system. What can be done to fix that?


  • 9 May 2023: Energy Bill [Lords]


    I support this big, important and complex Bill, but the test we should apply is very simple: will it give us the tools we need to achieve energy security in a net zero future? As the right hon. Gentleman said, we know exactly what needs to be done. We now need to get on and make it happen.

    As I said to the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), I think we will need all the technologies, in all sizes and colours, to succeed. I do not think it is the Government’s job to pick one or another. The Government’s job is to encourage them all. Where I think the Government have a responsibility is in quickly clarifying how plans to decarbonise home heating in particular places will be pulled together, because with great respect to the new Department, it will not come up with a plan for the city of Leeds and its 800,000 people. The sooner it is clear how the local authority, working with Ofgem, the energy companies and others, will decide what are the appropriate technologies to make the transition, and in which places, the better.

    My final point is on the important question of who will pay for this change. My right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) made this point in his excellent speech. We cannot have a transition to net zero in which some people end up having to pay, or being asked to pay, huge costs. We all have constituents who can barely pay their gas bill at the moment, and we cannot ask them to pay for the cost of a heat pump, even with one of the Government’s 90,000 grants. Those grants will not convert 23 million homes. Frankly, we are way off the pace when it comes to home heating. That means that when a gas boiler dies, the homeowner, social landlord or landlord will put in another gas boiler because it is currently cheaper than a heat pump.

    We have to get to net zero in a way that is fair to people, wherever they live and whatever they do. We cannot lumber them with costs that they simply cannot afford. If we seek to do that, those 23 million homes simply will not be converted. That is why, in this Bill and in many other ways, we need more clarity and more speed. When the Bill completes its passage through this House, I hope it will emerge even better equipped, with all the tools we need to do the whole job.


  • 25 Apr 2023: Hunger: East Africa and the Horn of Africa


    The number of people affected by this crisis is truly staggering, and there is no doubt that the world, the UK included, needs to do more, but this is also a glimpse of a hellish future if we do not do more, as a world, to tackle poverty, conflict and climate change. This is a vision of what is to come.

    If that is not bad enough, human-made climate change is having the greatest impact of all and will wreak enormous damage on people’s lives if we do not do something about it. The truth is that we know what needs to be done; we just need to get on with it faster than we have been managing so far. I pay tribute to President Biden. For many years we criticised the United States of America for not doing enough, and then suddenly he came along with the Inflation Reduction Act. The initial response from some people was to complain and whinge and say it is not fair. I would tell them to not complain but emulate, because this is the future if we are going to tackle climate change.

    My final point, which others have touched on, is that if we do not tackle climate change, the movement of people around the world will be on a scale that we have never before witnessed. Even during the Syria conflict, Lebanon’s population increased by 25%. That is the equivalent of 16 million people coming to Britain. Just pause and dwell on that prospect. I met climate refugees many years ago on a visit, as it happens, to Kenya, where people had moved because it stopped raining in the village where they lived. The fundamental truth is that human beings will not stay where they were born and brought up either to die of thirst or to drown as sea levels rise. They are going to be on the move, and the scale of movement will be enormous.


  • 28 Feb 2023: 2050 Net Zero Target

    While I welcome the grants of up to £5,000 that the Government are making available for boiler replacement, as the Secretary of State will know, a heat pump will cost £8,000 to £15,000, so many of our constituents would not be able to afford it even with that grant, and 90,000 such grants do not constitute a plan to decarbonise the 23 million homes in this country that have gas boilers. When do the Government intend to come forward with such a plan?


  • 14 Jul 2022: Protecting and Restoring Nature: COP15 and Beyond


    The heart of the problem we must address—colleagues touched on this in their contributions—is that we as humankind have been making use of the earth’s gifts, those on the land and those beneath the seas that surround us, as if there was no consequence and no end to nature’s bounty. That is what we have been doing and the pace at which we have done that has accelerated enormously in the last century or so. Just as with the climate crisis, we know now that that is not true: there is a limit and we have to start taking proper care, because we rely on the natural world and biodiversity for our very existence, including our economic welfare. We should applaud the work of Pavan Sukhdev—I had the privilege to meet him when I was the Environment Secretary—and Sir Partha Dasgupta, who have taught us about the economic value of biodiversity, if we wish to measure it in that way, just as Nick Stern told us about the far greater cost of not dealing with dangerous climate change, as opposed to the far lower cost of dealing with it, saying, “You make the choice.”

    I would argue that to be disconnected from nature is to be disconnected from the Earth itself, so it is not just self-preservation that should urge us to confront the threat of climate change and biodiversity loss, which are absolutely connected, but our love for the soil from which we all came and to which one day we will all return—but not just yet.


  • 6 Jul 2022: Strategy for International Development


    We have achieved incredible things with the gifts that the earth gives us. Look around at every single thing that human beings have built, created or made, from computers to skyscrapers and from vaccines to placing a rover on the surface of the planet Mars: every single one of them has come from things that are either on the earth or lie beneath it. That shows the extraordinary capacity of human beings to interact with what we have and to build and create. What we have done—the development that we have wrought in our own country and in others—would astonish our forebears and ancestors, but, if we thought that the process could be never-ending and that we could continue without consequence, the crisis in the natural world and the climate crisis have taught us that that is not the case, either.

    If we do not meet the challenges of war, insecurity, economic development, climate change and damage to the natural world, then people will not stay in the place where they were born and raised. They will do what human beings have done since the dawn of time, which is to move. When the history of this century is written, I think there will be a really big chapter on global migration. Whether it is fleeing in search of food or a better life, getting away from war and persecution, or moving because it has stopped raining where they were living—I have met people who have done precisely that—people will move. All these issues are interconnected—all of them. They cannot be dealt with separately. So, when we argue that Britain should have a strong voice in the world on all these matters, we are making the argument not just because it is morally right but because it is in our self-interest.


  • 27 Jun 2022: Northern Ireland Protocol Bill


    In my view, this is a Bill borne of desperation rather than principle. It is a Bill trying to solve a problem that is entirely of the Government’s own making. It does Britain’s international standing no good whatsoever. And it will make the negotiation, which is the only way this is going to be solved in the end, harder rather than easier. There are so many more pressing things for us to be talking about with the EU—our biggest, nearest and most important trading partner still—not least the war in Ukraine and not least climate change. The current crisis in the Government in respect of Northern Ireland arises from a practical problem and requires a practical solution. We need those old virtues of patient diplomacy and negotiation, which take as their starting point the purpose of the rules, which is to protect the integrity of the single market, rather than the rules themselves. Frankly, it is now time for the Government, together with the EU, to get back around the table and sort this out.


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


    The second crisis is also coming, because we know we will have to change the way in which we heat our homes in order to meet the net zero challenge. Since we are talking about home heating, what about the 23 million homes that currently have gas boilers? All of those will eventually have to go, because we will not be able to use gas any more. What will replace them? There are two basic choices, as we know: heat pumps or electric boilers on the one hand, and possibly heating our homes with hydrogen on the other. There is a lot to be worked through to make this work.

    But how will we pay for that change? How will my constituents, our constituents, pay for that change? This is really important. As we touched on earlier, the transition to net zero has to be just and fair, and people have to be able to deal with the costs involved. Back in October, the Government announced plans for £5,000 grants to help install heat pumps in homes. In so far as it goes—not very far—I welcome that, but under that plan, only 90,000 homes will be eligible. Given that the Government’s target is to install 600,000 heat pumps per year later this decade, that is clearly nowhere near enough. I hope, of course, as do the Government, that in time the cost of alternative forms of heating will fall, and I hope that the technology will develop.


  • 30 Nov 2021: Community Energy Schemes


    When he replies, I hope that the Minister will not only give encouragement but set out the practical steps that the Government are willing to take to make it easier for that to happen. The hon. Member for Bath says that she has requested a meeting, and I join her in that request. It would help all of us who are campaigning—I freely acknowledge that I have come late to this—to understand what the problems are. In the fight against dangerous climate change, the fight to change the way we produce, distribute and use our energy, nobody is afraid of trying to get to grips with the practical changes that are required. We want to support the Government to make the necessary changes.

    The problem in Northern Ireland is that if everybody were to convert to electric vehicles, as we are trying to do in relation to net zero, our grid would collapse. With everyone coming home at 6 o’clock at night and plugging in, the grid would collapse. The only way to deal with that is local generation for charging networks, as has happened in some communities in Israel and America. That approach has worked and is working.


  • 17 Mar 2021: Scotland: General Election and Constitutional Future


    Both arguments create bitter division. Opinion in Scotland is very divided on independence; be wary of the untold consequences of small margins and do not make assumptions. Opinion polls move, but there is only one true indicator of the settled will of the Scottish people, and that is the outcome of the 2014 referendum. I do not decry anyone’s right to continue to argue their cause in the face of that settled will, but I do question the wisdom of doing so, especially now. Together, we face unprecedented challenges—a pandemic, an economic crisis, the threat of dangerous climate change—but I believe that we can and will best respond to them not through separation, but as one country, one Union, one United Kingdom.


  • 26 Jan 2021: Environment Bill


    The latest state of nature report records a decline of 13% in the abundance of UK species since 1970. Some 15% of UK species are now endangered, including the red squirrel, the water vole, the ghost orchid, and the meadow clary. The number of moths has decreased significantly in the past 50 years and a third of British wild bees and hoverflies are in decline. A total of 97% of our wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s. This is a crisis caused by agricultural practices, pollution, urbanisation, habitat loss and climate change, and it requires action, and that is what this new clause seeks to do.

    I am pleased to be able to make a brief contribution to this important debate. It is a great relief to see the Bill come back to this House, but equally it is a great disappointment to learn that it will be back just for today and we will have to wait until the next parliamentary Session begins after Easter for the second allocated day. When the Minister responds to the debate, will she give some indication that she intends to ensure that the Bill receives Royal Assent as soon as possible and that procedures in the Lords conclude before the summer recess? We must go into the COP26 conference in November with clarity that this ground-breaking piece of legislation is on the statute book.

    When the Environmental Audit Committee did pre-legislative scrutiny, we were also concerned about the environmental improvement plans. We felt that the OEP should advise the Government on the establishment of targets, as was the case under the previous regulatory regime through the European Commission. We welcome the fact that targets are enshrined in the Bill but think it important that the body that will have part of the responsibility to monitor compliance with those targets is also involved in setting them. We would very much like to see confirmation from the Minister that the date for establishing the environmental targets can be confirmed with a statement of intent ahead of COP26.

    Finally, I turn to new clause 11, tabled by the hon. Member for West Dorset (Chris Loder). I sponsored a plastics Bill in 2018. The fact is that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. UK supermarkets alone produce 114 billion pieces a year. We need the producers and the polluters to pay a tax on virgin plastic. I would certainly support that, because millions of birds and animals are dying. We are ingesting the microplastics that get into fish and inhaling plastic that is in our clothes and washing machines. In a nutshell, as we approach COP26 we should be showing leadership to the world in stopping our oceans choking, stopping our children choking, protecting our air, protecting our oceans and protecting our environment.

    In the limited time available, I want to talk about my amendment 5 on interim targets. Setting targets is easy. Governments like to set headline-grabbing targets, but too often the small print belies the ambition of the target, and the target date is in the dim and distant future. That can instil complacency and lethargy, because there is plenty of time to hit the mark and there is therefore no need to panic. When it comes to climate change, however, there is every need, if not to panic, at least to put our foot on the gas, metaphorically, and to act with urgency and immediacy.

    The 2050 net zero target is almost 30 years away, and it should be a “last possible date by which”. It should be subject to a constant audit as to how quickly and by how far we can constantly bring that end date forward. It must also be an end date for a clearly set out progression to reducing harmful emissions and creating a net carbon environmentally benefiting economy. We need things to show a marked improvement from today, and so it should be with the natural environmental improvement targets in this Bill. My amendment is simple. It adds just four words in an additional subsection to clause 4, making it the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that “interim targets are met.” That amendment would guarantee continuous incremental improvements in the natural environment, helping to keep all things environmental high up the Government’s list of priorities. It would bring the Environment Bill target framework into line with the approach of the Climate Change Act 2008, where there are five-yearly legally binding targets as milestones to the long-term legally binding target of net zero by 2050.


  • 20 Dec 2019: European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill


    No doubt the Bill will be passed today. The question that the House has to address is: can a deal be completed when, as we have just heard, it took Canada seven years to reach an agreement? Can it be completed in 12 months, when we know that we have to negotiate not just tariffs and quotas and rules of origin, but services—80% of the British economy is built on the service sector—data, aviation, medicine safety, co-operation on consumer rights, security, access to databases that have helped to keep us safe from terrorism, which we will lose if we do not get this right, foreign policy, co-operation on climate change, and a long list of other matters of huge importance for the British economy and British society?

    In the modern age, it is how we use our sovereignty that will determine how well we can advance our interests and protect our citizens. If we have learned anything from the events of recent times, it is that if we are to deal with the great challenges we face as a world—climate change, the movement of people around the globe, threats to peace and security, making sure that the global economy works in the interests of all—we can do it only by working together. We are about to walk away from one of the most important relationships that enables us to do that. I say to the Government that we will hold them to account as the process develops and unfolds.


  • 17 Jul 2018: Trade Bill


    (iv) the United Kingdom’s environmental obligations in international law and as established by, but not limited to, the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Convention on Biological Diversity, including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety,


  • 14 Mar 2018: European Affairs


    There are so many other things to which we should be turning our attention. How are we going to sustain strong economies in Europe? How are we going to respond to what is a wave of nostalgia for an age gone by—people are trying to come to terms with change—that informs much of the support for some political parties and movements right across Europe? When we look at the Mediterranean, we can see the extent of youth unemployment in north African countries and the challenges they face in meeting the needs of their populations. When we look at climate change, we should think of the people who will flee if droughts or downpours force them to do so, never mind the fact that people will in the end kill each other not because of their different political views, but because they are fighting over natural resources, including water. We should also think about threats to peace and security and about the onward march of technology, with the challenges and the fantastic opportunities that it will create.


  • 24 May 2016: Europe, Human Rights and Keeping People Safe at Home and Abroad


    The first of the facts is the fact of our membership of the European Union, and what it has brought. It has brought jobs, growth and investment. It has brought rights for workers and consumers that are guaranteed from John O’Groats to the tip of the Peloponnese, and from Lisbon to Riga. It has brought paid holidays, improved maternity and paternity leave, limits on working times, and a fairer deal for agency and temporary workers: all those are protected by the EU. It has brought environmental protection and progress, from cleaner air to cleaner beaches, and from better safeguarding of our most precious habitats to tackling dangerous climate change. Europe has acted together to make a difference. As the Foreign Secretary said, we have access to the largest single market in the world, to which we sell 44% of our exports, and indeed, through our membership, we have trade deals with 53 other countries’ markets. That shows how Europe’s collective negotiating strength achieves stronger trade with the rest of the world than we could hope to achieve alone.

    When it comes to domestic security, whether we face the threat of terrorism or organised crime, we are made safer by working with our allies, sharing information and bringing criminals to justice through the European arrest warrant. In relation to national security and dealing with climate change, Europe has shown great leadership. The Iran nuclear deal was led by the European Union. As for standing up to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the sanctions to which the Foreign Secretary referred are clearly biting on the Russian economy. I am sure that the whole House will support what he said earlier about the renewal of those sanctions in July, until such time as the Minsk agreement is fully observed by Russia.

    As the United Kingdom, we have always been at our best when we have been an outward-looking and confident nation. We helped to build the institutions that have given the world the best chance to make progress: the United Nations, NATO, and of course the European Union, where we were latecomers. Let us look at the challenges that our children and grandchildren will face: fighting climate change; reducing poverty; dealing with conflict—people fighting over religion, as we see currently, and over water, land and energy—the rise of the politics of the right; and dealing with the consequences of large numbers of people moving around the globe. Mark my words: that will be the story of this century. The question we have to ask ourselves is: what will give us the best chance to manage those challenges and deal with the changes they will see in their lives, just as we have seen in ours?


  • 25 Feb 2016: European Affairs


    I agree absolutely with the hon. Lady. The blue flag beaches are a really good example. We will not have clean beaches in Britain if we are not dealing with sewage coming from other European countries and vice versa. I shall make a point about climate change in a moment, on which Europe is absolutely vital.

    The House is only too well aware that there are 7.2 billion people in the world, with 11 billion forecast by the end of the century. If we look at what has been happening on our continent in the past few months, we see the flow of refugees and Schengen under strain. That has tested Europe’s solidarity to the limit, but let us pause for a moment and imagine what the situation would be like now if the European Union did not exist. The truth is that it does not matter whether people are moving across the globe to flee persecution for a better life or to flee climate change. We are still going to have to deal with the consequences. We have not just a moral interest in dealing with climate change, poverty and conflict; we have a practical interest in doing so. From my experience as a Cabinet Minister, I can say that the fact that European countries came together in the run-up to Gleneagles and said, “This is what we are prepared to commit to” helped to unlock commitments on more aid and debt relief for the developing world. The fact that Europe went to climate change summit after climate change summit with a commitment it was prepared to put on the table, in the end, helped to unlock the deal in the Paris.


  • 9 Sep 2015: Humanitarian Crisis in the Mediterranean and Europe


    Then there is the threat of global climate change. If people can no longer live where they were born because their houses are under water or because there is no water any more, they will do what human beings have done throughout human history: they will move to try to find a life somewhere else. The wave of economic migration we have seen in Europe these past few summers will be as nothing compared with the wave that is to come if we do not act on these issues—to tackle climate change, to fight conflict, to promote economic development and to fight poverty—so that people can build a life for themselves and their families in the land in which they were born.


  • 5 Jun 2014: Cost of Living: Energy and Housing


    I draw the House’s attention to my indirect interest, as previously recorded in Hansard . We have had a wide-ranging debate that was opened by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, who made the Liberal Democrat case for the coalition. Were he here, I would gently point out to him that there has not been a council tax freeze for about 2.2 million people on the very lowest incomes who have been hit by the changes in council tax benefit. The most passionate part of his speech was when he talked about energy bills, but I would remind him that energy bills went down when my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was Energy Secretary, whereas they have gone up during his tenure.


  • 14 May 2013: Cost of Living


    We have had a good debate in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) made a powerful and forensic opening speech, in sharp contrast to the contribution of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. By my reckoning, 40 Members have contributed to the debate. I suppose that traditionally one would say it has been a wide-ranging debate, but certainly that term has been given new meaning by some of the contributions we have heard today. The right hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman) referred to High Speed 2, and we heard about UKIP from my hon. Friends the Members for Lewisham West and Penge (Jim Dowd) and for Swansea West (Geraint Davies). We heard two very contrasting speeches on climate change from the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas)—who is, I think, right; 400 parts per million is a significant moment—and from the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies), who railed against environmentalists in general.

    What will be the consequences for those people? They will have less money to spend on food and heating and they will be at greater risk of ending up in debt to payday lenders or, even worse, loan sharks. There will also be rising council tax and rent arrears because, as the workers in the advice centre know better than almost anybody else, a lot of these people are desperate because they do not have the money. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said in his opening remarks that the Government were about protecting the vulnerable, but those are words that will ring very hollow with my constituents.


  • 8 Sep 2011: Business of the House


    I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising the profile of this issue. I will certainly see what action can be taken further to discourage the sort of cold-selling tactics that he has outlined, and I will ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to write to him.

    May I probe the Leader of the House once more for a debate in Government time, or indeed a statement by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, on the massive hike in energy prices—gas and electricity—for every household in the country? I welcome this and the previous Government’s social tariffs, but they have been wiped out by the massive increases. Five of the six last increases were in double digits. May we have a statement? The Prime Minister has said that he wants to curb excessive price increases, so may we have an opportunity for the Government to make their position clear?


  • 14 Jul 2011: Business of the House


    The hon. Lady may know that when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change made his statement on electricity market reform on Tuesday, the issues that she has just touched on, such as how we tackle fuel poverty, were raised. He outlined the measures that are available through the Department for Work and Pensions to help those on low incomes to meet their fuel bills. She will also know that the green deal is going through the House at the moment, which will enable people at no cost to themselves to have measures introduced to their home to reduce their electricity bills. We are working on a range of other initiatives. I would welcome such a debate, but it would again fall to the Backbench Business Committee to find time for it.


  • 7 Jul 2011: Business of the House


    I have a suggestion that might help. The next time Tory MEPs are rebelling on climate change, perhaps the Communities Secretary could offer to assist. Famous for his lecturing of local government about belt-tightening, it seems that he has recently replaced his £20,000 fuel-efficient ministerial Prius with a £70,000 Jaguar. Perhaps he could offer to drive over to Strasbourg and remind his Tory colleagues just how important it is to cut carbon emissions.

    The matter of Conservative MEPs and climate change was covered in the exchange that just took place in Department of Energy and Climate Change questions. Of course, we are disappointed about the European Parliament vote, but I am sorry that when it came to voting on the amended report as a whole, Conservative MEPs mostly voted in favour, and Labour MEPs largely voted against.


  • 16 Jun 2011: Business of the House


    I understand my hon. Friend’s concern that retail prices go up faster than they come down. Hon. Members will have an opportunity to question Ministers from the Department of Energy and Climate Change on 7 July, so this question can be raised then. I know that this is concerning many hon. Members as we read about fuel prices increasing. We have introduced a number of measures to help, including the green deal, which is going through the House.


  • 5 May 2011: Business of the House


    May we have a debate on the breakdown of collective Cabinet responsibility? After his threat to sue ministerial colleagues last week, we read that the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change this week used the Cabinet meeting to launch a blistering personal attack on the Prime Minister over the content of the no campaign leaflets. He also said this over the weekend:

    Well, where exactly do we start on that? First, it makes it sound as if the Lib Dems are helpless victims, rather than willing participants. If, however, that is the case, can we have a list so that we know who to blame in future and for what? Secondly, a Cabinet Minister was openly criticising the man who appointed him and it appears that the occupant of No. 10 is completely powerless to do anything about it. I wonder whether the Prime Minister feels that the most annoying man in British politics is now, in fact, the Climate Change Secretary.


  • 17 Mar 2011: Business of the House


    The hon. Gentleman raises a crucial point. He will know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has asked Dr Weightman to conduct a review in the light of the problems in Japan. The details of his report will be established shortly, but the review will be conducted in close co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international regulators to establish carefully what lessons can be learned. The reports will be put in the public domain and may well form the basis for a debate in due course.


  • 9 Dec 2010: Business of the House


    In a recent parliamentary answer, the Government confirmed that, to meet our targets on renewable energy, they will add 26% to the average annual domestic electricity bill and a whopping £246,000 to the average medium-sized non-domestic user’s bill. Given that the Government are trying to create economic growth and tackle fuel poverty, may we have a debate on this, so that the public can understand how damaging these policies are, and that they represent a futile attempt to tackle global warming, which we have not even had for the past 15 years?


  • 27 May 2010: Energy and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


    We have had a good debate, opened on our side with a spirited contribution from my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband). We saw today the outstanding leadership that he has shown in creating the Department of Energy and Climate Change and in fashioning it into a formidable and practical advocate in the fight against dangerous climate change, and it is the kind of politics that has a great deal to offer us in future.

    In a forensic speech, my right hon. Friend laid bare the inconsistency that is the Government’s policy on nuclear power. If I may say so to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, his replies on the subject were anything but convincing; one could indeed say that no greater love hath a man for his new friends than to lay down his lifelong views on nuclear power.

    On reducing waste, I am glad to see that the Secretary of State, having spent far too long trying to blame Whitehall for every decision on waste collection, has finally acknowledged what I have gently tried to tell her for some time: it is, and it should be, for local authorities to decide how to collect waste and organise recycling. In other words, they should decide on the means. However, it is the Government’s responsibility to set the vision, and we should stop putting into landfill a range of materials for which there is demand and other uses. I hope that she will do that, and we should turn food waste into clean energy, rather than leaving it to rot and create greenhouse gas emissions.

    Listening to what science has to tell us is extremely important in everything we do, and never more so than in fighting climate change and ensuring that we live within our environmental means. Anybody who read the recent Joint Nature Conservation Committee report on biodiversity, or who has seen the work of the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project, which is so ably led by Pavan Sukhdev—I have long believed that that has the potential to do for our understanding of the economic benefits of biodiversity what Sir Nick Stern’s groundbreaking report did for our understanding of the economics of climate change—will know that what humankind has taken for granted for so long with barely a thought of the consequences can no longer be taken for granted. Why? Because the natural environment, as we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea West (Geraint Davies), gives the soil, clean air, food, fuel and medicines from plants on which we human beings rely for our very existence.

    At times of economic difficulty, we cannot and must not forget that the environmental crisis presses upon us too. Whether on the emissions of CO 2 that we must reduce, the way in which we use the natural resources and the natural gifts of the earth, or on the task of growing enough food for a growing population in a world where tonight, 1 billion human beings will go to bed hungry for want of enough to eat, choosing sustainability has to be our future. It has to be the future for farming as it seeks to grow more while impacting less, and for the common agricultural policy and the much-needed reform of the common fisheries policy. It must be the future for water supply, which we must learn to use much more wisely, for adapting to climate change and improving our flood defences, and for changing the way in which we use and dispose of resources. Every one of those things is essential to our future well-being.


  • 7 Apr 2010: Environment Council

    I represented the United Kingdom at the Environment Council on 15 March in Brussels together with the Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock).

    Lunchtime discussion focused on the follow-up to the Copenhagen climate change conference. Following lunch, Ministers agreed Council conclusions on this subject in which EU positions were broadly maintained. My hon. Friend the Minister of State emphasised the importance of working towards a legally binding outcome and in particular making concrete progress towards this in Cancún. She highlighted the importance of the positive outcomes from Copenhagen and encouraged swift progress on implementing the Copenhagen accord, particularly around REDD+ (the framework for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) and fast-start finance. Ministers continued to show commitment to a global legal framework for reducing emissions, with openness on proposals for achieving it. Mexican Environment Minister Juan Elvira Quesada attended to update Ministers on Mexican preparations for Cancún, and my hon. Friend the Minister of State intervened in recognition of the Mexican team’s dedication and efforts to renew the negotiation process.


  • 29 Mar 2010: Climate Change

    My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and I wish to inform the House that plans will be published on Wednesday 31 March by all major Government Departments to show how they are taking forward action on climate change.

    The carbon reduction delivery and adaptation plans set out how Government Departments will work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their own estates and operations, and in the sectors that they can influence. They also show how Departments will cope with the impacts of climate change that we expect to face, including by improving awareness, capacity and skills within Government to respond effectively to a changing climate.

    These documents are being published alongside a single overview “Climate Change: Taking Action—Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate”. This provides a view of progress across Government and identifies some of the main climate challenges that Departments are working together to address—through delivery of their departmental carbon budgets and adapting to a changing climate in their planning and decision making.

    I will place copies of “Climate Change: Taking Action—Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate” in the Libraries of both Houses on Wednesday.


  • 25 Mar 2010: Oral Answers to Questions

    A number of supermarkets are working very hard towards reducing that and towards sending no food waste to landfill. Indeed, I visited one of the nation’s anaerobic digesters at the start of the week, and there were two great big piles of waste—one had come from supermarkets and stores and the other had come from households, principally in west London. That plant is generating about 2 MW of renewable energy, thereby turning a problem into an opportunity for the nation. That is why we need more of that, and the measures to which the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Wansdyke (Dan Norris), has just referred will encourage a further increase in the number of anaerobic digester plants.


  • 22 Mar 2010: Marine Management Organisation

    In delivering the functions above, the MMO will work closely with a wide range of UK Government Departments with a policy interest in the marine area—the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Communities and Local Government (CLG), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The MMO will also deliver specific operational functions on behalf of DEFRA, DfT and DECC.


  • 21 Jan 2010: Agriculture Council

    France outlined its support for the Commission’s forthcoming Green Paper on forest protection, emphasising the importance of taking a holistic approach—covering everything from the benefits that forests bring in respect of climate change to forest-based industries. A number of member states supported, including the UK, emphasising the importance of the EU forest action plan and a member state led-approach. The Commission agreed.


  • 12 Jan 2010: Environment Council

    Over lunch, Ministers discussed the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change conference. The outcome had not been what was hoped for, but progress was made, particularly on a temperature goal, financing and monitoring, reporting and verification; and I urged colleagues to maintain ambition and work towards a legally binding text. Environment Ministers will return to the issue at their informal meeting in Seville on 15-17 January.


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