VoteClimate: Matthew Pennycook MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Matthew Pennycook MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Matthew Pennycook is the Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich.

At the next election Matthew Pennycook is standing in the new Greenwich and Woolwich constituency.

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

Matthew Pennycook is rated Very Good for votes supporting action on climate. (Rating Methodology)

  • In favour of action on climate: 17
  • Against: 0
  • Did not vote: 2

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Matthew Pennycook's Speeches In Parliament Related to Climate

We've found 46 Parliamentary debates in which Matthew Pennycook has spoken about climate-related matters.

Here are the relevant sections of their speeches.

  • 24 Oct 2023: Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

    15:30

    However, while we welcome the fact that the Government’s amendment in lieu would ensure consideration of climate mitigation and adaptation in the preparation or modification of NDMPs, it would not achieve what Lords amendment 45 would: namely, to establish genuine coherence between the planning system and our country’s climate commitments, not least by requiring local planning authorities to have regard to climate when making decisions on individual planning applications. The planning system in its current form is manifestly failing to play its full part in addressing the climate emergency. Indeed, one might go so far as to argue that it is actively hindering our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change in myriad different ways.

    The Bill is a missed opportunity to fully align the planning system with our climate mitigation and adaptation goals and ensure that new development produces resilient and climate-proofed places. The provisions in the Bill that require local plans to be designed in such a way as to contribute to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change are welcome, but they are transposed from existing legislation introduced 15 years ago, and, alone, they are not sufficient. The promised related update to the national planning policy framework to ensure that it contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation as fully as possible is vital, but it will not take place until well after the Bill has received Royal Assent if it materialises at all during what remains of this Parliament.

    As we have argued consistently throughout the passage of the Bill, there is a pressing need for clear and unambiguous national policy guidance on climate change, a purposeful statutory framework to align every aspect of the planning system with net zero, and an overarching duty on the Secretary of State, local planning authorities and those involved in neighbourhood plan making to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation when preparing plans and policies or exercising their planning decision-making functions.

    The Climate Change Committee recommended in its 2022 progress report that

    “Net zero and climate resilience should be embedded within the planning reforms”

    As things stand, they have not been. In this week—of all weeks—when we have seen once again the impact on communities across the country of the more frequent extreme weather events that climate change is driving, we should look to improve how the planning system responds to the climate emergency. The Government amendment in lieu is welcome, but it does not go far enough. For that reason, we will support Lords amendment 45.

    With that in mind, I can understand the rationale of Lords amendment 45 on climate change mitigation and adaptation. We need to do more to ensure that the developments that come forward for approval are consistent with our net zero goals. I am not necessarily saying that Lords amendment 45 is the right vehicle to deliver that, but if we are to make that huge transition to carbon neutrality, construction and development has an enormous part to play, and significant change needs to be delivered. I hope that the Government will make every effort to ensure that the new NPPF reflects our climate goals, in terms of both mitigation and adaptation.

    In particular, as we have heard many times during the debate on the Bill, we must take care in relation to areas prone to flooding since, even if we deliver net zero on time, the climate has already changed to make such episodes more serious and more frequent. I would like to take this opportunity to put on record my great sympathy to anyone who has been affected by the floods of recent days. I hope they are back in their homes soon. I truly understand what a miserable experience it is to be subjected to these climatic episodes.

    Lords Amendment 45 relates to climate change duties on planning authorities. Again, the amendment does not cover Scotland. However, with the storm and the harsh weather conditions over the last week, and the likelihood of such once in a generation weather events seeming to happen on such a regular basis, it is imperative that we take the necessary action to tackle climate change.

    One of my favourite quotations is an old Greek proverb which has not been attributed to anyone in particular: “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” When I think of that quotation, I often think of climate change provisions. The reality is that the planet is on fire, and we are simply not doing enough to help our future generations. We need to pass legislation whose benefits we may not see, but the generations to come will. I appreciate that the Government still recognise the need to tackle climate change with their amendment in lieu, but the measures that it outlines are simply not strong enough. It is important for us not to get into the way of thinking that these are binary choices: it is perfectly possible to construct while maintaining our moral duty to tackle the climate crisis.

    The SNP will not be voting on these amendments, but we do hope that our neighbours in England are able to participate in a hybrid system, and engage in local democracy and have the ability to take the climate emergency seriously.

    [Source]

  • 19 Jul 2023: Planning and Solar Farms

    15:35

    The science, as we all know, is unequivocal. Bold action is required and it is required now. However, when it comes to the UK’s net zero emissions target, the Government have consistently been long on aspiration but short on tangible progress. The UK’s nationally determined contribution requires emissions reductions of 68% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels and the Government’s sixth carbon budget requires them to be slashed by 78% by 2035. Yet in their June 2023 progress report, the Climate Change Committee states plainly that its confidence in the achievement of both targets

    The Government have also been clear as to the scale of solar deployment likely to be necessary to meet the UK’s wider net zero targets, with a technical annex to the “Power Up Britain” policy paper published in March suggesting that approximately 90 GW of solar will ultimately be necessary. Yet last year saw just 0.7 GW of new solar deployed, in a rate of installation that falls well short of what is required to meet the Government’s target. As the Climate Change Committee has stated in its 2023 progress report,

    As the House is aware, the Labour party has committed to delivering a zero emission power system by 2030—five years ahead of the Government’s target date—and we assess that honouring that commitment will require us to triple the deployment of solar by the end of this decade to up to 50 GW of capacity. We are under no illusions: we know that is a stretching target, but it is essential to achieving zero carbon power by the end of the decade, and a Labour Government will do what is necessary to meet it.

    Although we want the majority of solar to be deployed on rooftops, there is no question but that we will need to take steps to enable the deployment of far more ground-mounted solar than is presently being installed, and that will include a number of large sites. That will require reform of our planning system. We believe that the planning system as a whole needs to be overhauled and aligned fully with our net zero emissions target.

    [Source]

  • 5 Jun 2023: New Housing Supply

    21:37

    Similarly, we reject the notion that building more homes must come at the expense of wider national policy objectives. In addition to increasing housing supply in a way that prioritises quality of build and quality of place, we will act to ensure that the housing and planning systems play their full part in addressing other pressing national challenges such as the drive towards net zero, the need for urgent nature restoration and the need to improve public health.

    [Source]

  • 25 Apr 2023: Affordable Homes Programme

    15:15

    The Government have committed to exploring the cost and deliverability of additional net zero requirements, but only in a successor to the 2021 programme.

    There is a strong case for that. It is an issue—one of many—that we are exploring in detail. The situation speaks to a wider failure, which is the abolition of the zero homes standard by, I think, the coalition Government. We built tens if not hundreds of thousands of homes over recent years that we will have to retrofit at great cost. The least we can do is change the criteria the programme operates on, so that at least we build net zero-ready homes for which we will not have to do that in years to come. I would be grateful if the Minister could explain what precisely is stopping changes being made to the programme to ensure, as the Greater London Authority has done, that all new grant-funded homes are net zero carbon and air quality neutral.

    We want the performance of the affordable homes programme to improve between now and the general election, and I look forward to the Minister detailing the various ways in which the Government are attempting to achieve that. But as laudable an aim as fine-tuning the existing programme is, Labour is clear that a very different programme will be required in the future to markedly increase the supply of new net zero-ready, genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy, as is our aim. It is an aim based on a reassessment of the amount of grant funding directed toward sub-market rent and the building of social rented homes in particular; on a review of the scope of eligible sub-market products, not least the so-called affordable rent tenure; and on a reappraisal of whether there are better low-cost home ownership products than shared ownership.

    [Source]

  • 13 Dec 2022: Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

    15:00

    Of particular importance to us is the need to ensure that the Bill fully aligns the planning system with the UK’s climate mitigation and adaptation goals. In Committee, Ministers argued repeatedly that existing local and national duties, requirements and powers are sufficient to ensure that the planning system responds as required to the climate emergency, yet that is demonstrably not the case, given that the system regularly throws up decisions that are seemingly incompatible with the need to make rapid progress towards net zero emissions by mid-century and to prepare the country for the changes that are already under way. That is likely to remain the case until the Government produce clear and unambiguous national policy guidance, in the form of a revised NPPF, and legislate for a purposeful statutory framework to ensure genuine coherence between our country’s planning system and its climate commitments. New clause 98 would deliver the latter, and I urge Members to support it.

    What is meant by that? The Minister will know that sites do not have to be identified in local plans to receive consent for onshore wind deployment, but there is a strong presumption that they should be, and rightly so. If we are to strengthen our energy security, cut bills and reduce emissions, we need local authorities to proactively consider the opportunities within their boundaries for the deployment of all forms of renewable energy, including onshore wind generation.

    New clause 114, in contrast, is clear and unambiguous. It would require the Government to remove the onerous restrictions that the NPPF places on the development of onshore wind projects, and it would ensure that local communities have their say via the planning process, without imposing a uniquely restrictive consenting regime upon only this form of renewable energy generation. It would ensure that local authorities must at least explore the desirability of renewable energy deployment, including onshore wind, as part of the local plan preparation process, and I commend the new clause to the House.

    [Source]

  • 2 Nov 2022: Global Temperature Rises

    The global methane pledge that emerged from COP26 committed its signatories, including the UK, to collectively reduce methane emissions by at least 30% below 2020 levels by the end of this decade. By how much have the Government reduced UK methane emissions in the year since the COP26 summit, and when will they outline a strategy to meet their 2030 commitment in full?

    [Source]

  • 8 Sep 2022: Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill (Twenty First sitting)

    14:15

    Amendment 174 seeks to replace subsection (5) of clause 116 with a subsection containing a more comprehensive list of requirements that the Secretary of State should have regard to—it is only “should have regard to”—before making any EOR regulations that make provision about specified environmental outcomes. In addition to the environmental improvement plan, the Secretary of State would have to have regard to: biodiversity targets, including those under sections 1 and 3 of the Environment Act 2021; the duty to conserve biodiversity, as is required under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006; local nature recovery strategies, as is required under section 104 of the Environment Act 2021; and lowering the net UK carbon account, as is required under section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008.

    I understand the hon. Member’s concerns, but I hope to explain why the approach that we have taken in the Bill is sufficient. Amendment 174 would require environmental outcomes to be set in accordance with the environmental improvement plan, biodiversity targets, local nature recovery strategies and the Climate Change Act 2008. The environmental improvement plan, the current iteration of which is the 25-year environment plan, is where the Government set out how we aim to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. The Government have made it clear that an outcomes-based approach will be developed to support our environmental ambitions. For the purposes of this legislation, the environmental improvement plan is the most relevant document in informing the setting of outcomes. It is where the breadth of the ambitions are captured, and it is itself informed by a wide range of commitments and matters from other sources.

    With that in mind, it is important to note that the environmental improvement plan and commitments such as those under the Climate Change Act 2008 were not conceived as a way of informing outcomes for the EOR. As such, it would not be appropriate to set a hard requirement that EOR outcomes be set in accordance with those commitments.

    [Source]

  • 14 Jul 2022: Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill (Fifteenth sitting)

    15:15

    We have to ensure that all outcomes seriously consider how we mitigate the climate catastrophe that we are living through. The planning process has a central role to play in that, whether in respect of transport, home heating, housing design or the industrial impacts that are having a great effect. As we all know, the current situation is not sustainable, and the Government have to focus on that at every turn. We have flooding and droughts side by side. I have tabled amendments for further discussion later in the Bill. Clause 116(2) sets out why this amendment is so important and why we must protect and restore our natural environment.

    I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich for his comments, and for his pertinent questions to the Minister. This issue is central not just to planning, but to the future of our planet. The climate crisis is at a point where non-regression is not enough. I appreciate that the Minister is new in his role, but I very much hope that he is brought up to speed quickly. Our climate is changing with such rapidity that we will have to do much more than not regress if the next generation, let alone future generations, are to have a place on this planet.

    [Source]

  • 7 Jun 2022: Neighbourhood Plans

    15:19

    In praising the concept of neighbourhood planning, I do not intend to imply that it is problem free. Opposition Members have genuine concerns about the take-up of neighbourhood plans, in the sense that all the evidence suggests that the vast majority of the 1,061 neighbourhood plans made to date emanate from more affluent parts of the country, where people have the time and resources to prepare and implement them, rather than from less affluent areas and more complex urban environments. We also have concerns about the fact that their policy content, in terms of addressing critical issues such as climate change, has been highly variable. Those concerns aside, we continue to support the principle of neighbourhood planning.

    Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that clause 88 of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill makes the point that neighbourhood plans will take into consideration climate change and environmental aspects?

    [Source]

  • 20 Apr 2022: Energy Price Cap: Residential Buildings with Communal Heating Systems

    17:47

    The first issue is the statutory regulation of the sector. We have come a long way. I remember raising this matter when I was a member of the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change before the Department was abolished, and Ministers would tell me that statutory regulation of the sector was not required, that introducing it risked strangling an emerging industry at birth and that they were not going anywhere near it. I remember asking the CMA— [ Interruption. ]

    [Source]

  • 1 Dec 2021: Oral Answers to Questions

    Whether it is progress in relation to a dedicated loss and damage funding facility, efforts to raise ambition when it comes to national climate commitments, or delivering on climate finance and adaptation pledges, implementing the Glasgow agreement will require the work of our COP presidency not only to be sustained but to be enhanced over the next 11 months. Can the President therefore confirm today that the COP26 unit will be fully funded to deliver on all the work programmes mandated in the Glasgow agreement, and that the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero will continue to receive support from the Treasury throughout the remainder of the UK presidency?

    [Source]

  • 16 Nov 2021: Oral Answers to Questions

    Will he therefore explain how a decision by the Government to permit Cambo, an oilfield whose anticipated lifespan would see it still producing oil four years before we are legally bound to reach net zero, would be anything other than fundamentally at odds with that vision?

    [Source]

  • 3 Nov 2021: Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill

    18:17

    Several Members, including the hon. Members for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Alan Brown) and for Richmond Park (Sarah Olney), argued that nuclear should not form any part of the UK’s future low-carbon energy mix. We on this side of the House respect their strongly held views on the subject, but we take the view, as does the Committee on Climate Change, that a limited amount of new nuclear is required to achieve the decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity system within the next 14 years, and to meet our longer-term net zero target. Since Sizewell C is the only power station that can now feasibly come online within that timeframe, we want to ensure that it does, in order to provide the necessary amount of firm power to support a predominantly renewable energy mix.

    I think we will need a range of technologies. Let me return to a point that has been made by several Members. I think we must take a lead from the Committee on Climate Change, which made its view very clear in its balanced pathway scenario for the sixth carbon budget. It estimates that we will need 10 GW of nuclear power by 2035. We will have a predominantly renewable energy system, but we do need the firm power that comes from a limited degree of nuclear to support that.

    [Source]

  • 2 Nov 2021: Oral Answers to Questions

    8. What fiscal steps he is taking to contribute towards achieving the Government’s net zero emissions target. ( 903985 )

    [Source]

    There is an obvious and pressing need for all fiscal announcements to be fully aligned with our country’s net zero target. To that end, will the Minister commit herself to at least the publication of the estimated emissions impact of decisions in future Budgets and spending reviews?

    [Source]

  • 21 Oct 2021: COP26: Limiting Global Temperature Rises

    15:15

    Many critical issues need to be resolved at COP26, from finalising the Paris rulebook to essential specific side deals on such issues as the phasing out of coal, reductions in methane emissions and deforestation. However, given the prominent themes of this afternoon’s debate, I will focus my remarks on two key areas where decisive progress must be made at COP26, if it is not to be deemed a failure. The first is whether sufficiently ambitious near-term climate commitments can be secured to at least keep alive the hope of limiting global heating to 1.5°C. The second is whether the developed world will finally deliver for the developing in terms of climate finance and other forms of support.

    He was right to set himself and the world that test. Opposition Members have long called for delivering on the upper ambition of the Paris agreement to be the overriding priority for the conference. Anything else would send a clear signal that the UK was content to aim for an outcome that puts at risk, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds East (Richard Burgon) said in his remarks, the very survival of vulnerable states on the frontline of the climate crisis.

    That failure is all the more perplexing given how clear the science is. We know that for a 50% chance of staying below 1.5°, we need to halve global emissions by the end of this decade. We know that as a world, we are alarmingly off track, with the nationally determined contributions synthesis report published by the United Nations framework convention on climate change last month making it clear that, far from slashing emissions as required, current country pledges would lead to an increase in emissions of around 16% on 2010 levels by 2030, putting us on course for a disastrous 2.7° of heating, as many Members have said. I say to the Minister that the Government must now be open and honest with the country and the world about how much of the gap needs to be closed at Glasgow to keep 1.5° alive and what individual countries must do, in particular those major emitters who have yet to submit updated pledges, for that happen.

    The Government also need to be clear about what more the world will have to do in the next few years, post COP26, to close the gap entirely. It is now abundantly clear that we cannot wait four years, or even until the global stocktake in 2023, to increase global ambition still further, if the world is to be put firmly on a 1.5° pathway. The Climate Vulnerable Forum recently proposed an emergency pact that would see states agree to return at each of the next three COPs with more ambitious targets, rather than waiting until 2025. It was telling that the COP President alluded to that proposal in his speech in Paris last week. When she responds, will the Minister confirm whether the COP President will be actively seeking agreement in Glasgow on a more regular ratchet mechanism to ensure that we make the requisite progress on mitigation in this decisive decade?

    As my hon. Friends the Members for Nottingham East (Nadia Whittome), for Leeds East and for Brent North (Barry Gardiner), and others, said, more than anything, solidarity with those states is dependent on the developed world finally honouring the 2009 promise of $100 billion in climate finance annually to help developing nations to transition and adapt. Yet, with just 10 days left, a staggering $14-billion shortfall remains, and there is no sign of the promised German-Canadian delivery plan. We need clarity from the Government as to what progress they now expect on that issue before delegates arrive in Glasgow, and I urge the Minister to update the House on that.

    As important as that $100 billion is, it is not the extent of the finance and support that developing countries will need. The world also needs to agree a significant increase on the $100 billion for the period up to 2025; to begin the process of establishing a post-2025 climate finance goal; to make tangible progress on ensuring that at least half of all climate funding is allocated to adaptation and that the balance shifts away from loans towards grants; and to deliver meaningful support, including financing, to address loss and damage and get the Santiago Network up and running, as the hon. Members for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) and for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara) mentioned. Demands for progress in each of those areas have been made at COP after COP after COP, and Glasgow must be the occasion when the developed world finally acts to deliver on them.

    Finally, I will touch briefly on the domestic situation, which has been a prominent theme of the debate. Of course the summit’s outcome will be shaped by prevailing geopolitical headwinds and any agreement that emerges will be the product of a phenomenally complex international negotiation, but it would be wrong to portray the role of the COP President as merely a convener or neutral broker. Those are key aspects of the role, but being the host state also confers on us a duty to set the pace on all aspects of the net zero transition and so maximise our influence in the negotiations and the chance of a successful outcome.

    Opposition Members do not deny that the UK has set an example in several important areas, including publishing a detailed, albeit flawed, net zero strategy. One need only look, however, at the Treasury’s failure to lock in a genuinely green economic recovery by decisively closing the net zero investment gap to see that the Government have patently not been an exemplar across the board on climate policy and that there is much more they could do.

    COP26 is our last best chance to show that the Paris agreement and climate multilateralism more generally work. Whether it is convincing G20 countries to do more, delivering for the developing world, or revisiting what exemplary climate action might be taken in the Budget and the comprehensive spending review here at home, the Government must now do whatever it takes to ensure this critical summit is the “turning point for humanity” that the Prime Minister has declared it will be.

    [Source]

  • 19 Oct 2021: Point of Order

    13:49

    On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. For many months, we have awaited three key climate strategies that were promised before COP26: the heat and building strategy, the net zero strategy, and the final Treasury net zero review. The statement that has just concluded covered two of those strategies but did not, in any way, touch on the third—namely, the Treasury net zero review. Have you had an explanation as to why the Treasury net zero review was not covered in the statement and whether there will be a statement from a Treasury Minister in due course so that Members can properly interrogate and ask questions about it?

    [Source]

  • 16 Sep 2021: COP26: Devolved Administrations

    14:14

    Let me state at the outset, as indeed I have on each of the all too infrequent occasions this place has considered COP26, that I very much hope we will have more debates on this important subject in the 46 days that remain before the start of the conference. This is a critical moment in the fight against runaway global heating, and the lives of each and every one of our constituents will be affected by its outcome. I think it is still fair to say that this House has not been given sufficient opportunity to engage properly with the summit in the way it should have been, given its significance.

    We have heard many thoughtful speeches covering a wide range of issues relating to COP26 and the devolved Administrations. I draw the House’s attention, in particular, to the strong contribution made by the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute, the excellent contributions of my hon. Friends the Members for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Gerald Jones) and for Cardiff North (Anna McMorrin), and the passionate speech by the hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse), whose contributions I always enjoy and who rightly stressed that while we must have a just transition we must also have climate action at pace and at scale, not least because every year that we delay that action, that transition will become more disruptive for the people we represent.

    There is already debate under way internationally about whether the role of devolved Governments, as well as regions and cities, should be more prominent in the UNFCCC process, and if so, how. For example, should their efforts be formally considered as part of the periodic global stock-takes of the Paris agreement so as to provide for a more accurate sense of where individual countries are in implementing their climate commitments? Of course, when it comes to the negotiations themselves, and our country’s role as the host of COP26, primary responsibility lies with the UK Government as the formal party to the UNFCCC. However, as this debate has aptly illustrated, all the constituent parts of the UK clearly have an important contribution to make in ensuring that the summit is a success, and a role in shaping the objectives and efforts of the COP presidency that we hold.

    As a number of hon. Members mentioned, the COP26 devolved Administrations ministerial group is the primary mechanism through which the latter can happen, but I hope that as a result of this debate the Government will go away and consider whether they have got the balance right in the extent and nature of the engagement—and, one would hope, collaboration and co-ordination—that has taken place to date, and whether it might in any way be improved on over the coming weeks. Ultimately, we cannot allow tensions between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations—or, for that matter, as several hon. Members said, any constitutional bickering—to put at risk in any way the outcome of this important international event.

    Much of the debate has focused on the record of the devolved Administrations as regards their role in UK-wide emissions reductions. That was obviously to be expected, not least because the main input that devolved Governments in general have in domestic implementation and reporting under the UNFCCC process is through the Marrakech partnership for global climate action. However, given the centrality of delivering on our domestic climate commitments to the success of our COP presidency, both in establishing our country’s credibility and in maximising its influence as hosts of the conference, we would argue that the devolved Administrations’ efforts in this regard are just as important to the outcome of COP26 as their ability to directly influence the Government’s negotiating objectives and efforts.

    Several hon. Members referred to the record of the Welsh Government, who have not only legislated for a net zero target but published a series of detailed strategies to ensure that that target is met, and are using the policy levers at their disposal to drive decarbonisation efforts, whether that be the use of planning and marine policy to reduce fossil fuel extraction, their innovative housing and optimised retrofit programme, or their success in ensuring that more than 50% of the energy that Wales consumes comes from renewable sources.

    Northern Ireland, of course, faces a unique set of circumstances, and concrete progress in areas such as transport has been held back by the failure to deliver on key promises made in the New Decade, New Approach agreement. Even so, the Executive in Northern Ireland are in the process of legislating for a climate change Bill. As the hon. Member for Foyle (Colum Eastwood), who is no longer in his place, mentioned in his intervention, it is incredibly important—I hope the Minister takes this on board—that the Government are doing everything possible to ensure political stability in Northern Ireland, not least to help get that legislation through, if possible, before the next set of elections.

    When it comes to Scotland, we rightly acknowledge that the Scottish Government have set an ambitious 2045 net zero target and that the Scottish climate change plan has been updated to integrate it, but it is also the case that the SNP Scottish Government have failed to meet their emissions reductions targets for three years running and—I think SNP Members would agree with this—without an acceleration in progress on delivery, beyond the power sector, Scotland will achieve neither the net zero target it chose to set itself nor its interim target of a reduction in emissions of 75% by 2030. Nor—this is the one partisan point I will make in what has been a good-natured debate, but I think it warrants saying—will Scotland’s claim to climate leadership be taken seriously if the SNP Scottish Government fail to take a firm stand against projects such as the development of the Cambo oilfield, which I would argue are at odds with that net zero target.

    Ultimately, we all must do more. If each of the devolved Administrations is to exploit the climate action opportunities available to them in key areas such as agriculture, tree planting, waste management, buildings efficiency and public transport, they require a comprehensive net zero strategy from the UK Government and, we would argue, as part of that strategy, a framework for delivery covering every level of sub-national governance.

    That point brings me neatly back to the UK Government, and I will begin to bring my remarks to a conclusion at this point, not least because many colleagues want to speak in the next debate. As much as the devolved Administrations can and must do everything within their power to help ensure COP26 is a success, they will be held back unless and until the UK Government do the same. I have to take issue with the contribution from the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams), who seemed to suggest that any attempt to chide the UK Government’s record when it comes to climate and any attempt to push the Government to do better somehow undermines the Prime Minister at negotiations. It is precisely because we want to strengthen the UK Government’s hand that we are arguing that we have to get our own house in order before 1 November and that crucial conference.

    It will only be by beginning that conference having unequivocally established our country’s credibility as a climate leader here at home that we will have the necessary influence as host in the critical moments that are bound to arise during the negotiations. That means getting on track for net zero, not just announcing the target. It means showing that we are prioritising decarbonisation across the whole of Government, that we have a comprehensive plan for achieving net zero, that we have locked in a genuine green economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, and that all decisions the Government make, whether they relate to potential deep coalmines in Cumbria or new fossil fuel projects in the North sea, are entirely consistent with our net zero target. They are not at present.

    The Government now have precious little time left to bolster their domestic credibility and to secure the wide range of other pre-conference outcomes necessary to make COP26 a success, not least ensuring that the 2009 promise of $100 billion in climate finance annually to the developing world is honoured by the end of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly later this month. We must look at our Government’s contribution to that commitment. Put simply, every sinew must be strained in the weeks ahead, or we run the very real risk of failure in Glasgow in November. Were that to happen, it would not only be an embarrassment for the Government, but a disaster for our planet. We owe it to future generations to do everything we possibly can to make this conference a success.

    [Source]

  • 22 Jul 2021: COP26 Conference Priorities

    14:36

    We really do need more debates of this kind over the next 100 days. COP26 is, as others have said, a critical moment in the fight against runaway global heating, the impact of which we have seen over recent months in the devastating extreme weather events across the globe. The House has a real duty to engage with the complexities of this summit far more than it has done to date.

    I will be more generous in saying that, although it needs to be built on further, there has been a noticeable sharpening of focus over recent months, particularly when it comes to being explicit about the objective that Labour believes must be the overriding priority for the summit, and that is the need to put the world decisively on course to deliver the upper ambition—it is only the upper ambition—of the Paris agreement, namely limiting global heating to 1.5° over pre-industrial levels. The problem is, as I am sure the Minister will acknowledge, that there is clearly not yet a global consensus on 1.5° being a core objective of the summit, as opposed to merely an aspiration. Indeed, Bloomberg reported just this morning that for the second time this month, G20 climate Ministers are struggling to reach agreement on that 1.5° target. We believe that, over the coming weeks, keeping 1.5° within reach must be hardened into a headline target for the summit. It is incumbent on us, as the host of COP26, to do everything possible to ensure it is.

    Let me pick up some of the themes of the debate. I want to touch on four areas where greater progress is absolutely essential if we are to realise that aim, with an explicit focus not on the domestic but on the international, given that this is an international summit. First, the Government need to do much more with the presidency to initiate a genuine global debate on how we deliver at the scale and pace that the science requires. In particular, we need much more openness and transparency about the commitments required from each of the parties by the time they arrive in Glasgow to ensure that a limit of 1.5° remains a possibility. Put simply, if current country climate plans have the world emitting, as they do, about 54 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, and 1.5° requires that they fall to about 24 gigatonnes by that date, what collective commitments do we need in November at COP26 to put the world on course to meet that 30 gigatonne ambition gap by the end of the next nine years? That is the question, but there is no real debate around it at present and, in its absence, no collective understanding of what is necessary to keep 1.5° within reach.

    Secondly—this is a point that a number of hon. Members raised, particularly the hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) and for Strangford (Jim Shannon)—when it comes to mitigation ambition, we are currently way off track as a world. With just 100 days to go, the Government need to be straining every sinew possible to persuade, cajole and pressure those who have not yet done so to bring forward more ambitious nationally determined contributions. Countries such as Brazil that are making a mockery of the ratchet process by submitting new targets that are less ambitious than their previous ones need to be called out; those such as India and Saudi Arabia that are resisting the very proposition that the Paris agreement requires them to revisit their current plans at all need to be persuaded to think again, and quickly; and key allies such as Australia that are stubbornly refusing to improve on their inadequate 2030 targets need to start facing some public opprobrium for doing so. Perhaps the Minister could tell me whether she agrees with those points.

    Thirdly, as others have said, we have to make good on the promise of building back greener, not only in terms of domestic credibility and what that means in terms of our consistency and our leadership of the conference. The Chancellor has now passed up three fiscal opportunities, by my count—the 2020 summer statement, the 2020 comprehensive spending review, and the 2021 Budget—to lock in a genuine green economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, with only £9.3 billion of funding focused on decarbonisation, £1 billion of which has been cut in the new green homes grant. That is dwarfed by levels of funding in other countries around the world, but the Chancellor’s failure is not unique: the International Energy Agency’s sustainable energy tracker estimates that only 2% of fiscal support across the globe is being directed towards clean energy investment. That is lower than the level of green spending we saw in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The world has simply got to do better if we are going to lock in that green recovery.

    The Minister may not say so, but she knows as well as I do the serious damage that the decision to cut the overseas aid budget has caused to our standing with those on the frontline of the climate crisis. She will also know how critical trust will be if we are to secure a successful outcome in Glasgow. That makes it all the more important, as many others have said, that we honour the 2009 promise of $100 billion in climate finance annually to support developing nations. I would like to hear the Minister’s assessment of how that target will be reached in the coming weeks, and what more, if anything, the UK needs to contribute to ensure it is reached. Specifically—this is the one question I will ask the Minister, so I would really like an answer today, or subsequently in writing from a colleague if appropriate—can she confirm that a plan for meeting that $100 billion commitment will be brought forward by the UN General Assembly in September at the very latest, as 100 developing countries, including key Commonwealth allies, called for last week? Can she also assure the House that the UK will use its influence at the World Bank to ensure that it has a climate finance plan in place by the International Monetary Fund meeting scheduled for October?

    In addition to that $100 billion, as others have said, we also need to make tangible progress over the next few months on the share of climate finance flowing towards adaptation; on financing for loss and damage; on arrangements for post-2025 climate finance; and on the wider issues, which are really important in their own right, of vaccines and the debt burden that developing countries are facing as a result of the pandemic. There are a range of other issues on which greater progress is required, whether that is the rules for article 6 and transparency that the hon. Member for Bath mentioned; financial flows for the phasing out of coal; or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Olivia Blake) brought home powerfully in her contribution, nature and biodiversity. However, time prevents me from exploring any of them in this debate.

    What is important for the purposes of today, as we approach the 100-day marker, is that the House realises that the window for securing the outcomes necessary to make COP26 a success is closing rapidly, and that the outcome of the conference hangs in the balance as a result. There is a pressing need to accelerate progress markedly in a range of areas where the UK, as COP president, can make a real difference, but for that to happen, this critical summit has to be made a whole-of-Government priority, with the sustained engagement and focus from the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary that that implies. It is an open secret that we are not seeing that engagement or focus at the moment. Until we do, we run the very real risk of failure in Glasgow in November.

    [Source]

  • 14 Jul 2021: Limiting Global Temperature Rise

    Keeping the 1.5°C limit alive is now, quite rightly, one of the Government’s stated aims of COP26. Although we do not doubt the COP President’s personal commitment to delivering on that objective, the Government as a whole are patently still not doing enough. If we are to markedly increase the global ambition for 2030 targets, forge a coalition with vulnerable nations to hold the major emitters to account, and mobilise the climate finance that is essential to unlocking any agreement, we need sustained engagement and focus from the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor, and we need it now. With just over 100 days until this critical summit, does the COP26 President recognise that if senior members of the Government do not raise their game quickly, there is a real risk of failure in Glasgow in November?

    [Source]

  • 6 Jul 2021: Net Zero Strategy: Publication

    The 2021 progress report published by the Climate Change Committee last month stated:

    Despite the committee’s characteristic politeness, that is a damning critique from the Government’s own climate advisers. I take it from the Minister’s previous answer that the House has this morning been given a cast-iron guarantee that a net zero strategy will be published well in advance of COP26; will she confirm that that is the case? Does she recognise that the credibility of such a strategy is predicated on a substantive Treasury net zero review that sets out precisely how the benefits and burdens of the transition will be shared fairly?

    [Source]

  • 21 Jun 2021: Draft Carbon Budget Order 2021

    18:04

    As the Minister made clear, as this is the first carbon budget to be set since the House legislated for a net zero target in 2019, the sixth carbon budget marks a critical point in our country’s contribution to delivering on the ambition of the Paris agreement and thus keeping alive the hope of limiting global heating to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.

    Labour very much welcomes the Government’s decision to accept the Climate Change Committee’s advice that the budget level be set at 965 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent for the 2033-37 period. I also put on the record the Opposition’s thanks to the CCC for the comprehensive nature of the advice it produced in December, as well as the road map that it set out alongside that advice for achieving a fully decarbonised economy by mid-century.

    “there is no alternative to the legal requirement in the Climate Change Act to set a sixth carbon budget level with a view to reducing UK emissions to net zero by 2050”.

    The problem is that, as a country, we will achieve net zero by mid-century and realise its promised benefits only if the carbon budget and its two predecessors are met. However, as things stand and as the Minister knows full well, the Government are still off-track not only on the net zero target with which the order aligns the carbon budget framework, but on the less ambitious target that preceded it.

    So, for all those commitments that are now aligned with the net zero target—from the pledge to bring forward 40 GW of offshore wind by 2030 to phasing out petrol and diesel cars and vans by the same date—there are scores of other areas, from low-carbon heat networks and heat pumps to peatlands, where ambitions have either not been set or have been set but fall far short of what is required.

    Therefore, a huge amount rests on the comprehensive net zero strategy that the Minister mentioned and that we have been promised will be published prior to COP26 in November. That strategy needs to set a coherent vision, filling in the gaps and clarifying the ambiguities that remain. However, if we are to have an effective policy framework to ensure that this carbon budget is met, we also need the full range of detailed blueprints that have been promised by the Government, but not yet delivered.

    Where is the heat and buildings strategy, which was promised for spring 2020 and has been repeatedly delayed? Where is the net zero aviation strategy, which was promised for early 2020 and of which there is no sign? Where is the hydrogen strategy that the December 2020 10-point package stated would be published in early 2021? Where is the transport decarbonisation plan, which was announced in 2020 and then delayed until spring 2021? It is still nowhere to be seen.

    Crucially, where is the final Treasury net zero review? In an answer to a written question that I tabled on 18 May, the Exchequer Secretary stated that it would be published “this spring”. By my calculation, spring ends today, and there is still no sign of it. As the Minister knows, we need that review, not least because calling any net zero strategy that had not fully incorporated the conclusions of such a review “comprehensive” would be a misnomer.

    The Minister knows that net zero requires a whole-of-Government approach. As it has real implications for giving effect to the order we are about to pass, I would be grateful if she gave the Committee some sense of why certain Departments seemingly get away with lagging so far behind others. Why do the Cabinet Committees on climate action strategy and climate action implementation not appear to be doing what is required in leadership and co-ordination to drive progress across the board?

    Finally, even if the Government close what remains of the ambition gap and introduce detailed strategies in each of the remaining areas, meeting the carbon budget and achieving net zero will still require a step change in delivery. As things stand, only a fraction of the emissions savings required to meet the sixth carbon budget are on track to be implemented in full. Given that the Government are not doing what is necessary to ensure that the change takes place at the pace required, any further fiscal opportunities to lock in a genuine green economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis cannot be squandered. From road building to planning, there needs to be a renewed focus on ensuring that all Government policy is compatible with the net zero target, but greater priority must also be accorded to ensuring that well-designed schemes, particularly those that relate to the decarbonisation of challenging sectors such as buildings, are up and running by the end of this Parliament.

    The recent green homes grant fiasco is a case in point. It is not good enough simply to scrap the scheme for homeowners and take forward the local authority delivery element. Given the scale of the challenge presented by energy efficiency in the residential sector, Ministers need to introduce a replacement scheme as a matter of urgency—one that draws on the lessons of what has gone before. I ask the Minister to provide some assurance not only that work is being undertaken to that end, but that there is an impetus within the Government more generally to ensure that the gap between delivery and stated ambition is closed at the pace required to comply with the order and get us on track for net zero.

    [Source]

  • 14 Jun 2021: Draft Climate Change Act 2008 (Credit Limit) Order 2021

    16:37

    As the Minister said in her remarks, when placing a limit on the quantity of international credits that can be used to meet any given carbon budget, the Government, under section 9 of the 2008 Act, must take into account advice from the Climate Change Committee and must also consult the devolved Administrations. The CCC’s advice on this matter could not have been clearer. It recommended that international emissions credits should not be allowed to contribute to meeting the fourth carbon budget—that is, that a limit of zero should be set instead of the 55 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent provided for by this instrument. In their response to the consultation, the Scottish Government made it clear that they would support the adoption of a zero limit. Similarly, the Welsh Government stated that they would support a zero limit in principle. The UK Government have determined that they will ignore those views and dismiss the very clear recommendation of the CCC. In doing so, the Government essentially make two arguments in support of setting a positive limit.

    The secondary argument is that the purchase of international credits could also enable the UK to support climate mitigation action in developing countries via the carbon budgets framework, and contribute to the development of a global carbon market, thereby reducing the cost of global climate action over the long term.

    The first argument is, on the face of it, the stronger one. After all, it is surely only sensible, as the Minister has said, for any Government to plan for contingencies and to build in some flexibility to mitigate unforeseen circumstances. The problem with that argument is that the benefit of building in wiggle room of a mere 2.8% to account for potential changes in the methodology underpinning the emissions inventory, or the risk of high emissions relative to current projections, is, we believe, outweighed by the damage that it causes. I do not dismiss it entirely, but I am not primarily referring here to the negative impact of setting a positive limit on investor confidence, which I believe the Government are right to argue is likely to be relatively small. I am thinking more of the harm that setting a positive limit is likely to cause in terms of the signal it sends about the Government’s perception of the degree of flexibility involved in the carbon budget framework, their commitment to achieve the net zero target through domestic action and—as a country that, as the Minister rightly said, has a relatively strong record of domestic emissions reductions—the example it conveys to other countries about the approach they can follow when it comes to their own pathways.

    The Minister knows full well that the 2030 NDC that the UK formally submitted at the UNFCCC in December last year under the Paris agreement, and the sixth carbon budget announced in April, will require a far more ambitious pace and scale of emissions reductions over the coming years. If, as a country, we finally begin to do what is necessary to put ourselves decisively on track to achieve net zero, there should be no question that the fourth carbon budget, which—according to the CCC—remains at the right level even accounting for inventory changes, will be met without the use of international credits. Taken together with the fact that the Government’s central projections make it clear that they are unlikely to use the credits provided for by this order, and the likelihood that the cost of those credits will rise significantly in the years ahead, the Opposition believe that the case made by the Government for a positive limit does not outweigh the damage it might cause and is not strong enough to justify ignoring the CCC’s advice.

    The Government should have the confidence to set a zero limit and thereby clearly indicate that they will do whatever it takes to comfortably meet, and hopefully outperform—given the more stringent targets that are coming forward—the fourth carbon budget through domestic action alone. For that reason, we intend to divide the Committee this afternoon. While I can see from the numbers here that the order will be approved, I hope the Minister will take on board our very real concerns about the detrimental impacts of legislating for the use of international credits and recommit the Government to doing whatever is necessary to achieve net zero over the coming years through planned government policy.

    [Source]

  • 9 Jun 2021: Oral Answers to Questions

    As the President of COP26 knows, the International Energy Agency latest world energy outlook makes it clear that a net zero pathway for global energy requires that there be no new fossil fuel supply beyond projects already committed to as of this year. That means not just coal, but oil and gas. The report reinforces the obvious need to secure agreement on a global framework for a managed and fair phase-out of fossil fuels. Will the President therefore tell the House whether he accepts the IEA’s conclusion and, if so, whether ending all new fossil fuel supply from next year will be incorporated into the objectives of the UK’s presidency of COP26?

    [Source]

  • 28 Apr 2021: District Heat Networks

    17:05

    Yet, taken in the round, there has been a tangible lack of progress when it comes to doing what is necessary to ensure that heat network customers are adequately protected. That should be a concern to each of us, but it should particularly concern the Government, not only because of their avowed aim to keep customer bills as low as possible, but because low levels of consumer confidence in heat networks, born of consistently poor service and expensive bills, will make it that much harder for the UK to decarbonise heat and reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions.

    In the time I have today, I do not intend to delve into the enormous challenge presented by the urgent need to decarbonise heat, and what more the Government must do to meet that challenge, not least because I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) will do so with his customary rigour and incisiveness when he responds from the Front Bench. I do want to make the point that we will struggle as a country to take the public with us when making the case for the benefits of large-scale heat network deployment if we continue to put off addressing the systemic problems in the sector.

    [Source]

  • 14 Apr 2021: Tackling Climate Change: International Ambition

    In a letter to all UNFCCC—United Nations framework convention on climate change—parties this week, the COP President rightly argued that we must halve global emissions by 2030 if we are to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5° within reach, yet he will know that recent UN analysis makes it clear that current national pledges will reduce emissions by just 1% by the end of this critical decade. We need the major emitters to do much more if we are to close the gap. That means a need for deep cuts in American emissions and for Chinese emissions to peak by 2025, but it also means a need for tangible progress on the part of India. With the Prime Minister meeting President Modi later this month, will the COP President tell the House what the UK is willing to put on the table, particularly in terms of climate finance and technological support, to help to ensure that India feels able to increase its ambition markedly ahead of the summit?

    [Source]

  • 10 Mar 2021: COP26

    18:30

    I start by commending my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol North West (Darren Jones), as well as the right hon. Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne) and the hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Bim Afolami) for securing the debate and for their insightful contributions. I also praise the powerful speeches made by others who participated. I will single out the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), who spoke powerfully about the need for participation on equal terms by all the parties at COP26; the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat) and the right hon. Member for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore); the right hon. Member for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale (David Mundell, who made an interesting point about the need for citizen engagement to realise the promise of the summit taking place in the UK; and the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Sir Bernard Jenkin), who—much to my delight—made the case not just for reducing demand for fossil fuels but, quite rightly, on the imperative to scale down their supply as a matter of urgency if we are to address the climate crisis.

    As the first real test of the landmark Paris agreement, the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November will be a critical moment in the fight against runaway global heating. We all have a stake in ensuring that it is a success, and in that spirit I reiterate the Opposition’s desire to play a constructive role in the process and put on the record our support for whatever financial resources are required to effectively plan and deliver the conference. As the hosts of the summit, the Government are presented with not only an unrivalled opportunity to demonstrate climate leadership in the coming months, but a solemn responsibility to do all they can to maximise global ambition and to secure agreement on a road map for delivering on that ambition and the Paris agreement.

    As my hon. Friend the Chair of the Select Committee and others remarked, in its first assessment of global climate pledges ahead of COP26, published 10 days ago, the UNFCCC made it clear that the world is currently on course only for emissions reductions of 1% by the end of this critical decade, not the 45% reduction that is required to keep alive the hope of limiting heating to 1.5°C. The COP26 President knows that we would have liked the Government to be even more ambitious, but there is no question but that the UK’s NDC, now submitted, and the 2030 target of omissions reductions of least 68% are ambitious and will be extremely challenging to deliver. As the summit’s host, the UK needs to be making the case forcefully, both publicly and privately, for a far greater level of ambition from others, so that by November the world will have decisively closed the gap between our current temperature trajectory and where we need to be to realise the Paris agreement.

    I hope that the COP26 President will update the House on the efforts he is making, in particular to ensure that large emitters that have not yet done so submit ambitious NDCs in the near future, and on what the Government are doing to compel recalcitrant nations, in particular Australia, Japan, South Korea and Russia, which have merely resubmitted existing NDCs, and Brazil and Mexico, which have backtracked on their existing targets, to think again in the few months that remain until the summit.

    The second issue is climate justice. As much as it increasingly defines our approach to climate here at home, COP26 is not simply about the race to net zero among advanced economies; it is also about delivering on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and making tangible progress on adaptation, loss and damage, and financial assistance.

    As I know the COP26 President is aware, this agenda is a defining one for many African states, the most vulnerable developing countries and small island states. Those nations were essential to the international consensus on which the success at Paris was built, and their active consent is imperative for a successful outcome in Glasgow.

    With only limited progress made in this area last year, with trust in short supply and with concerns heightened by decisions such as the cut to the UK’s overseas aid budget, this must be a diplomatic priority over the next eight months. Again, perhaps in his closing remarks the COP26 President could tell the House what more the Government intend to do in that period to demonstrate solidarity and support for those on the frontline of the climate crisis, particularly in bringing forward finance on loss and damage and in meeting. and then surpassing, the US$100 billion a year.

    According to the OECD, less than $80 billion has been pledged so far, with only $12 billion taking the form of grants rather than loans. The UK’s record in that regard is a good one, but perhaps the COP26 President could remark on whether he sees loans as a legitimate means to meet the target and whether he thinks there is a need to rebalance loans towards grants to make up the $100 billion.

    My third point is about domestic policy. There is an obligation on the House to engage properly with the climate diplomacy required to deliver a successful COP26. At the same time, as hosts, we cannot overlook the impact of domestic decisions on the outcome of the conference. As Opposition Members have argued time and again, the UK will not be able to play its full part in building and sustaining the requisite momentum ahead of COP26 if we are not seen to lead by example. Yet, whether it is acquiescing to the opening of a new deep coalmine in Cumbria—

    The hon. Gentleman is correct that we will need coking coal for UK steel for some years to come, but I am sure he will know that UK steel must go net zero by 2035 and less than 15% of the coking coal produced, if that, will be used for UK steel. What he misses is that the cumulative emissions from the mine will have a material impact on UK emissions, on our net zero target and on our credibility and reputation ahead of this crucial conference. I do not think the business case, let alone the emissions reduction case, stacks up.

    Our credibility as COP26 hosts requires the Government not only to bring forward, before 1 November, a comprehensive plan for achieving net zero but to take concrete steps now to get on track for that legally binding target, to ensure that decarbonisation and a green recovery are a top priority as we ease coronavirus restrictions and rebuild our economy, and to cease taking decisions such as the one cited by the hon. Member for Bolton West (Chris Green) that expose our country to charges of hypocrisy on the international stage ahead of this critical summit.

    In responding to this very welcome debate, I hope the COP26 President will assure hon. and right hon. Members that he understands the very real impact of domestic policy choices on the summit and that he is personally doing all he can to ensure the Government take the steps necessary to put their house in order in the months that remain.

    COP26 is the first of only two ratchet points in this crucial decade. The decisions that are made in the lead-up to it and hopefully at it, in terms of extra ambition, will set the trajectory for climate action up to 2030.

    [Source]

  • 24 Feb 2021: Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery: Climate Action

    Next week, the Government will co-host a summit of the Powering Past Coal Alliance to boost international co-operation on the phasing out of coal, yet at the same time, Ministers are refusing to intervene here at home to prevent the opening of a new deep coal mine in Cumbria. The president knows full well that the proposed mine is not purely a local matter, that it will not help to secure the future of UK steel and that it will not provide the long-term secure jobs that Cumbrians need. However, it will increase emissions, undermine progress to our net zero target and damage our credibility as COP26 host. My question to him, therefore, is a simple one: in this critical year, why on earth are he and his Cabinet colleagues content to see this mine approved?

    [Source]

  • 15 Dec 2020: Climate Action

    According to Climate Action Tracker, the national net zero pledges that have been put forward today could, if achieved across the board, limit global heating to around 2.1\xB0, but in terms of actual policies, the world remains on course for catastrophic warming of over 3\xB0. Given the gulf between what Governments, including this Government, have promised on climate action and what they are on course to achieve, does the Secretary of State agree that it is incumbent on the UK as COP26 host to demonstrate to the world that it actually has a plan to deliver net zero? If he does agree, will he assure the House that the Government will publish a comprehensive and fully costed net zero strategy well in advance of November next year?

    [Source]

  • 1 Dec 2020: Oral Answers to Questions

    What fiscal steps he is taking to help achieve a net zero carbon economy. ( 909605 )

    [Source]

    A robust carbon price is essential to achieving a net zero carbon economy, yet despite the transition period ending in just 30 days’ time, companies still have no precise idea what will replace the EU emissions trading system, which the UK will cease to participate in at that point. The House has already passed the legislation required to establish a stand-alone UK ETS, but there is no sign of the order necessary to fully implement a UK-wide carbon tax. With just 12 sitting days remaining, can the Minister confirm that the Government have determined that a stand-alone UK ETS is the fall-back option for 1 January and that the Treasury has abandoned a carbon emissions tax?

    [Source]

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

    15:34

    As my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) and others made clear, we are in the midst of a climate and environment emergency. With the concentration of CO 2 in the atmosphere continuing to rise unabated, the issue is not whether we can stop climate change—the climate crisis is, after all, already upon us—but whether we are willing to do what is necessary to transition to a net zero world in the coming decades and thereby arrest runaway global heating.

    As my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) made clear, there is no solution to the climate crisis that does not confront the issue of carbon consumption, but even if viewed through the lens of production emissions, the UK is still not doing enough. Not only are we not on track for the net zero target that Parliament legislated for just over a year ago; we are not even on track for the less stringent one that preceded it. When it comes to the UK’s record on territorial emissions, there is much to be proud of, but progress to date is largely the result of having picked the low-hanging fruit, particularly in relation to the power sector. The decarbonisation involved—this is the key point—has only had a very limited impact on people. If we are going to get on track for net zero, we will have to make rapid progress in sectors such as transport and housing that are far more difficult to decarbonise and where the impact on people will be much more acute.

    I do not have time to do justice to the many recommendations set out in the report, and in any case, my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol North West and others have done so in their remarks. I want to briefly step back and look at two of the fundamental principles that the overwhelming majority of Climate Assembly members felt should underpin the transition to net zero and that have been prominent themes in today’s debate: the need for strong leadership from Government and the need for fairness.

    We have seen plenty of announcements from the Government in recent months, some more significant than others, and a 10-point package—I will not call it a plan, because there is still no sign of a comprehensive strategy for achieving net zero and no serious attempt to close the net zero investment gap that exists. We have seen policy making that is at times so wildly inconsistent with that target that the Chancellor sees no issue whatsoever with delivering a spending review in which, in one breath, he talks about investment in a greener future and, in the next, he celebrates Britain’s biggest ever investment in new roads. The Government must do better.

    The gilets jaunes movement in France is only the most notable example of how badly designed green policy and a failure to embed fairness of process and outcome in the transition can erode the public support necessary for it, so we need to hear more from the Government about how fairness can be embedded in the net zero process, and we need action now to ensure that the benefits of the green transition are realised here at home. I have to say that that is something the Government, along with the SNP Scottish Government, have demonstrably failed to do in letting the BiFab engineering yards in Scotland go to the wall, putting at risk the UK’s supply chain for the deployment of offshore wind.

    In conclusion, we very much welcome the Climate Assembly’s final report. While the deliberative process, such as the one used for it, is not a substitute for representative democracy, we believe that it can improve the way it works. In the Minister’s response, as well as addressing the various points made today by hon. Members, I very much hope that he will indicate that the Government also recognise the importance of actively involving the public in shaping the pathway to net zero, and that he will give the House a sense of what consideration, if any, his Department is giving to building deliberative processes into any forthcoming net zero strategy.

    [Source]

  • 17 Nov 2020: SMEs and the Net Zero Target

    17:07

    It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Ghani. We always state this as a courtesy when opening our remarks in this place, but I am genuinely grateful that the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) secured this debate, because the subject deserves far more attention in this House than it has received to date. When we talk about decarbonisation of the kind required by the net zero target, the focus is invariably on either big market trends or the action that the Government must take to drive emissions reductions across the largest emitting sectors of the economy. Although it is recognised that SMEs will be impacted by both, the assumption is always that they will simply adapt to any change made. To some extent, that will no doubt be the case, but, given that SMEs are the backbone of our economy, they need to be much more than an afterthought in our thinking about net zero, and much more thinking will need to be done about what targeted support they will need to ensure that the transition to net zero is as orderly as possible. The hon. Gentleman made very good points about the risks entailed when that does not take place and the need to learn lessons from history.

    I intend to touch on three specific areas where there is clearly a need to do more to support SMEs in transitioning towards a local carbon economy. Before I do, I want to make two general points about the Government’s approach to climate action that have implications for them. The first is the need for a clear and credible net zero strategy. Setting a net zero target was an essential first step, but hitting that target requires a plan for its delivery. Despite having legislated for it more than a year ago, the Government have still not brought forward such a strategy. Indeed, core building blocks of it, from the national infrastructure strategy to the energy White Paper, have been repeatedly delayed. Although there will need to be a sector-specific component for SMEs in it, the most important thing is that the Government bring forward that comprehensive strategy as a matter of urgency to provide clarity and certainty for SMEs and other sized businesses, and a framework within which they can make investment decisions. The test of the announcement expected from the Prime Minister tomorrow will be whether it moves us forward towards that comprehensive strategy.

    The second general point is that there is a real need for the Government to prioritise decarbonisation in any coronavirus stimulus package, and in particular a need to bring forward significant investment in low-carbon infrastructure. It is no good providing targeted net zero support for SMEs if the systems that they are embedded in and the infrastructure that they rely on are not transformed.

    On the targeted support that SMEs require to make the transition in an orderly fashion, there are three areas, as I said earlier, that require more focus. First, SMEs clearly need more information and guidance on how to progress towards net zero. That not only means better access to tailored business, financial and legal advice; we need to do more to ensure that SMEs are persuaded of the commercial importance of planning for the transition to net zero early and the detrimental implications of not doing so.

    The Government should look at what more they could do to support innovation in relation to SME business models and manufacturing processes. There are good examples of where this is happening in other countries across the world. The Dutch green new deal, for example, provides government-backed institutions to offer free technical advice to help businesses in Holland become more efficient. More could be done to augment and enhance the role of local government and local enterprise partnerships in engaging SMEs on the issue of net zero and helping them understand the business and supply chain opportunities that exist as part of it.

    To date, while organisations such as the Carbon Trust and the Federation of Small Businesses have stepped in to provide SMEs with support along these lines, the Government themselves have done very little. Will the Minister outline in his response what plans, if any, the Government have to help inform and advise SMEs about how best to decarbonise their businesses? Secondly, as many hon. Members have said, SMEs undoubtedly need more help to access financing. Many have spoken about the pressure that SMEs are under as a result of the pandemic; the fact that they are struggling with high levels of debts and substantial losses of revenue. Many have also spoken about the financing gap that exists, not least the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Gareth Davies) in his succinct and well-argued speech.

    Lastly, SMEs need support with skills for their workforce. The Confederation of British Industry has estimated that nine out of 10 employees will need to reskill by 2030. That will require a national low-carbon skills strategy that embeds sustainability and net zero across the whole education system. We called for the Government to bring forward a national retraining strategy to deal with the immediate jobs crisis, while meeting the longer-term needs of a low-carbon economy. Much more could be done in this respect. Will the Minister explain what thinking the Government have done, if any, on a net zero skills strategy that will provide SMEs a workforce that is capable of successfully transitioning?

    [Source]

  • 10 Nov 2020: Net Zero Emissions Target

    If we are to sustain public support for the goal of net zero, it is essential that we maximise the benefits of the green transition here at home, but there are far too many examples where the promise of that green transition risks not being realised. One such case is the plight of the BiFab engineering yards in Fife and Lewis, which represents a clear failure to utilise industrial strategy to ensure that British firms win work and sustain decent jobs from the billions of pounds being invested in offshore wind installations just a few miles off the Scottish coast. Citing state aid rules, the SNP Scottish Government appear content to sit back and let the steel jackets in question be manufactured overseas. Can the Minister give a commitment today that the UK Government will step in and safeguard the future of mounting fabrication in the UK and these vital 450 Scottish jobs?

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  • 29 Sep 2020: Reducing Business Emissions

    If we want business to play its full part in reducing emissions and to finance the innovation and infrastructure that are critical to the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Government need to address the very real barriers to private investment. One obvious way to do so is through a national investment bank with a clear mandate to channel both public and private capital towards projects that aid a green recovery and help the country to achieve its net zero target. Does the Minister’s Department as a whole support the establishment of such a bank, and if so, will he update the House on what progress has been made in convincing his colleagues in the Treasury to get behind the proposal?

    [Source]

  • 8 Sep 2020: Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Order 2020

    09:29

    We know that carbon pricing alone will not deliver sufficient decarbonisation to achieve the net zero emissions target that we legislated for just over a year ago, but if we are to deliver significant reductions it is essential that the UK has a robust carbon price, however that is achieved, at the point that our participation in the EU ETS ceases at the end of the transition period on 31 December. Given the circumstances in which we find ourselves, the Opposition’s clear preference is for a UK ETS that is linked to the EU ETS. That latter option would retain for the country the key benefits that flowed from participation in the latter, with its larger pool of participants, including more opportunities for emissions reduction, greater cost-efficiencies, increased liquidity and a lower risk of market abuse.

    In contrast, a carbon emissions tax provides certainty of price, but may be less cost-effective for business, more open to political interventions that risk undermining price stability and, because there is obviously no cap on total emissions, would require institutional safeguards to ensure that prices remain consistent with the UK’s net zero target. Some of those problems may be overcome by good policy design, but the workings of either scheme are not the focus of this morning’s discussion.

    Secondly, we of course agree with the Government that the cap should be tightened in line with a trajectory consistent with a net zero target and the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on the sixth carbon budget. We also appreciate that the market needs appropriate forewarning and that industry should have enough notice to prepare for that. However, given how important ambitious climate action is in this decade, as the Minister knows, why will it take until at least January 2023, and potentially until 2024, for that alignment to take place?

    The Opposition support the establishment of a UK-wide emissions scheme as a necessary contingency, but I cannot stress enough to the Minister that, as he knows, we cannot have a dysfunctional carbon pricing system in place in the year we are to host COP26. The challenge of designing a watertight stand-alone UK ETS should be a spur to the Government’s efforts to negotiate a link-in agreement with the EU system as soon as possible.

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

    18:42

    A number of other Members mentioned the environment and climate emergency. Given the primacy of the climate threat over the long term and BEIS’s lead role in ensuring that our country plays its part in tackling it, I want to use the time that I have to focus on the Department’s record in driving progress towards the net zero target for which we legislated just over a year ago.

    Although 2050 is too late, we can continue to take pride in the fact that we were the first major economy to adopt a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero. But setting a target is one thing; hitting it is quite another. As things stand, not only are the Government failing to do anything like enough to meet our legally binding 2050 target, but they are not even on track to meet the less ambitious target that preceded it. I am afraid Ministers give every impression of being entirely relaxed about that fact. How else do we explain that over the past 12 months, while basking in the virtuous afterglow of legislating for net zero, the Government have done precious little to set us on the road to carbon neutrality?

    The Committee on Climate Change put it in characteristically diplomatic terms when it stated in a recent annual progress report that last year

    The human, economic and social cost of the coronavirus crisis has been severe, but as we turn our attention to rebuilding, the Government have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accelerate the decarbonisation of our economy and make up lost ground, and it is imperative that they seize it. There have been some positive signs in recent weeks that suggest that the Government may recognise the force of this argument. Take the package on energy efficiency measures that was trailed yesterday. We believe that the amount allocated to social housing is woefully inadequate, we take issue with the fact that the private rented sector has been almost entirely overlooked, and we have concerns about whether it will be possible to deliver in the seven-month window provided, but the investment is welcome. However, it has to be the first step, rather than the last word, when it comes to energy efficiency; the start of a long-term, year-on-year programme of support rather than merely a one-off annual boost. The same principle must apply in other areas.

    All of which is to say that when it comes to judging the impact of tomorrow’s statement and the autumn spending review on our decarbonisation efforts, what matters is not only the scale and nature of the stimulus, but whether the measures to be announced form part of a co-ordinated long-term approach and are interwoven with the policy change required to drive emissions reductions through the remainder of this crucial decade.

    If we are to get on track for net zero, the impetus ultimately has to come from the centre, but for obvious reasons BEIS has a crucial role to play in supporting the centre to set that strategic direction on decarbonisation and direct its spending appropriately to that end. Yet in several crucial areas the Department is still failing to provide the clear, stable and well-designed policy framework that businesses and investors require.

    Secondly, when it comes to the decarbonisation of heat, the estimates merely appear to contain a broadly static commitment to expenditure on the renewable heat incentive. Leaving aside whether funds allocated to the RHI will be rolled over to underpin other proposed low-carbon heat schemes, does the Minister agree that the total resources currently allocated by the Department to heat are nowhere near enough to respond to the challenge presented by this most difficult of sectors?

    [Source]

  • 25 Jun 2020: Covid-19: Support for UK Industries

    16:40

    That brings me to my final point—I will be brief in making it, Madam Deputy Speaker. As we look to ensure that our industries get the ongoing support that they need, we must plan strategically for the future. That means support, yes, to ensure that our industries do not fall behind their international competitors in the years ahead, but also support that is designed to achieve other important national objectives, not least responding to the environment and climate emergency. Our European neighbours are using this crisis as an opportunity to do just that, and the Government should look to match and even surpass their ambition by coming forward with support that will retain and create jobs, accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and address a range of regional and wider inequalities—a point made very powerfully by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali).

    [Source]

  • 16 Jun 2020: Climate Change

    The COP26 summit, now rescheduled for November 2021, will be a critical moment in a fight against runaway global heating. We all have a stake in ensuring that it is a success. Building momentum for that summit and establishing our credibility as its host is dependent on demonstrable leadership at home. In that regard, does the Minister agree that there is a strong case for publishing our nationally determined contribution before the end of 2020, and an arguable case for basing that NDC on a significantly enhanced 2030 target that puts us on the path to achieving net zero?

    [Source]

  • 4 Sep 2019: Vessel Emissions: River Thames

    11:00

    All such ships must of course comply with international emissions standards. Those are complex, with different standards for nitrogen oxides and sulphur, as well as with greenhouse gases at different tiers, but in general terms they require emissions from vessels to be equivalent to burning 0.1% sulphur fuel or less. That sounds stringent, but those standards need to be set in context. A limit of 0.1% sulphur fuel or less is more than 100 times the amount of sulphur permitted in road diesel.

    [Source]

  • 11 Jun 2019: Topical Questions

    T4. The International Development Secretary recently said that he wants to double the UK’s current £1.1 billion commitment to the UN green climate fund. As the UK is yet to do so, will the Minister who has temporary responsibility for our engagement with the UN climate talks assure us today that it is the Government’s intention to commit additional money to the fund? ( 911273 )

    [Source]

  • 5 Jun 2019: Engagements

    Q8. Of the many collective challenges we face, none is more essential—more urgent—than climate breakdown. The legislation required to commit the UK to phasing out carbon emissions entirely by mid-century is simple and has almost certainly been drafted, and this House could pass it in a matter of days. This issue is simply too pressing to wait for later this year or a future Administration. We have the parliamentary time, so what possible reason can the Minister give for why the Government cannot commit to enshrine net zero emissions into law now? ( 911096 )

    [Source]

  • 1 May 2019: Environment and Climate Change

    16:34

    In the short time I have, I want to make three simple points in support of the motion. The first is that it is essential that this House formally declares an environment and climate emergency. I listened to the Environment Secretary, and I do not believe that he formally committed the Government to doing so, but he did recognise that the situation that we face is an emergency—by contrast to what the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth said last week. I will quote what she said, because it struck me at the time:

    We have to stop talking about climate change as though it were some benign force and start talking about what we are really confronting: an ongoing and accelerating crisis from which no one will escape and which will have profound and potentially existential consequences for everything that every one of us holds dear. That is arguably a reason that the Extinction Rebellion movement has struck a chord and it is why—at least to my mind—a degree of alarmism is entirely justified, as long as that fear acts as a clarion call to act, rather than merely provoking a sense of hopelessness. Complacency remains the greatest barrier to the response that is required. We must therefore do everything we possibly can to bring home to the public the nature of the threat we face and to build consensus for the kind of disruptive change that will inevitably have to take place as we respond to it.

    Where, then, is the commitment from the Government to bold policies of the kind that would drive deep decarbonisation across the whole economy and get us back on track? Given all that we know—the fact that the Paris pledges will still amount to 2.7 °C of warming and that we are not on track to meet those pledges—our collective response cannot simply be business as usual. Legislating for net zero emissions by 2050 should be the absolute minimum that we are aiming for, and it should spur a far more ambitious policy agenda.

    My third and final point is that the institutions of government as they are currently organised are simply not set up for the scale and pace of the transition required to avert catastrophic climate breakdown. The abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change three years ago was a serious mistake, but it was also emblematic of a more deep-seated failure on the part of the Government to accord emissions reduction the status it requires. When I was a member of the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, I remember repeatedly pressing the then Secretary of State on the inadequacies of the clean growth inter-ministerial group, but at least a body of that kind existed at that time; it does not now. If the Government were really serious about this crisis, their response would be driven relentlessly from the centre, with the institutional architecture put in place to co-ordinate and drive progress across all Departments, with emissions reduction woven throughout Government policy; it is not.

    In all likelihood, we have probably already squandered the opportunity to avert an unprecedented degree of warming, but what we do in the coming 10 to 15 years will determine whether we avert even more drastic change and the suffering that will surely define a world where emissions continue to rise unabated. We must declare an environment and climate emergency, act in a way that is commensurate with such an emergency and reform the machinery of government so that we are able to drive forward this agenda. That is why I will wholeheartedly support the motion this evening.

    [Source]

  • 19 Feb 2019: Heat Networks: Greenwich and Woolwich

    11:00

    Of course, that is welcome, but it provides little comfort to heat network customers who are not getting a fair deal and for whom every month that passes without effective protections being put in place means continued poor service and expensive bills. That should concern us all deeply, and I know it concerns the Minister, not only because of the Government’s avowed aim to keep customer bills as low as possible, but because of the possibility of the widespread loss of consumer confidence in heat networks, which would make it harder for the UK to decarbonise heat and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.

    As the Minister is aware, if the UK is to meet its future emissions reduction targets, we have to do more to decarbonise heat. The Committee on Climate Change estimates that about 18% of UK heat will need to come from heat networks by 2050 if the UK is to meet those targets cost-effectively. From a consumer protection and an environmental perspective, we cannot allow the benefits of heat networks to be tainted as a result of our failure to address promptly the flaws in the sector before it grows significantly over the next decade.

    [Source]

  • 7 Feb 2017: European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

    18:29

    New clause 46— Climate change—impact assessment —

    Before exercising the power under section 1, the Prime Minister must undertake that she will publish an impact assessment of the value of participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the Single Energy Market in achieving our climate change commitments, 18 months after this Act receives Royal Assent or prior to a vote on the negotiations in the European Parliament, whichever is the sooner.”

    This new clause requires the Prime Minister to publish an impact assessment on climate change objectives and the contribution of the Emissions Trading System and the energy market to meeting these in good time before Parliament votes on the final agreement.

    [Source]

  • 14 Mar 2016: Energy Bill [Lords]

    17:15

    Onshore wind is one of the most inexpensive forms of renewable energy, and it is therefore critical to maximise its input into a renewable energy solution across the UK to enable Scotland and the rest of the UK to meet our climate change targets.

    Closing the RO early puts in jeopardy £3 billion-worth of onshore wind investment in Scotland alone for a forecast 30p saving in energy bills. This is a false economy because £3 billion of onshore wind investment equates to 63 million tonnes of CO 2. That is from DECC’s own analysis and represents a missed opportunity both economically and in terms of hitting climate change targets.

    Investor confidence seems to be the main reason used to support further changes to the grace periods, as proposed in the amendments from the hon. Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill and in many of the other amendments that have been tabled. The Energy and Climate Change Committee’s inquiry into investor confidence concluded earlier this year. I want to reflect on one point in particular that was raised during the Committee’s very thorough evidence sessions. The evidence given by Peter Dickson from Glenmont Partners suggested that

    [Source]

  • 4 Feb 2016: Energy BILL [ Lords ] (Sixth sitting)

    11:45

    but the consequences of not making sufficient progress are stark. As the Prime Minister put it in 2012 during an appearance before the Liaison Committee, if CCS is not available,

    Lack of sufficient progress on CCS will therefore result in either the UK failing to meet its climate change objectives or the Government’s planned expansion in gas-fired generation being obsolete by 2030.

    We know that the technology works. The Prime Minister no longer holds that view, I believe, given his recent remark that he did not think the technology stacks up, but witness after witness who came before the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change during its recent hearings on CCS said that that was plain wrong. As my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test outlined, 22 projects across the world show that CCS is working. Statoil’s Sleipner West project, now in its 20th year, captures 1 million tonnes of CO 2 a year, and Exxon Mobil’s Shute Creek gas processing plant in Wyoming started in 1986 and captures 7 million tonnes of CO 2 a year. Despite teething problems, the world’s first major commercial power plant to employ CCS, the Boundary Dam project in Canada, will capture 90% of the emissions from that 110 MW coal unit. We know that the technology works. The problem is that, once those 22 projects are up to speed, they will shave only 0.1% off global emissions each year, so we need a strategy for transportation and storage in particular to bring CCS to scale quickly.

    [Source]

  • 18 Jan 2016: Energy Bill [Lords]

    19:06

    As has been said, the Bill is mostly concerned with the establishment of the Oil and Gas Authority. How that arrangement adapts to a world of plunging revenues from offshore oil and gas remains to be seen, but there is broad consensus in the House, with notable exceptions, on the need to implement the findings of the Wood review. There is also a robust case, in terms of economics and energy security, for using the resources of the North sea continental shelf to reduce our dependence on foreign imports during the transition to a decarbonised energy system.

    It was disappointing that the Secretary of State dug in her heels with regard to carbon capture and storage, because I welcome the amendments that would expand the principal objective of the UK’s maximising economic recovery strategy to incorporate a regard for CCS development. The precise wording of the relevant clauses will need to be revisited in Committee to ensure that the industry has the necessary flexibility and that jobs and investment are protected, but CCS presents a real opportunity for the North sea oil and gas industry to utilise its technical expertise and skills in a way that will give it a sustainable future for decades to come. That opportunity will not be realised, however, unless we get clarity about the Government’s ambitions for CCS and a strategy to achieve those ambitions. At the moment, all we have is muddle.

    CCS technology, yet eight years on we have a Conservative Chancellor recklessly cutting the funding allocated to help bring forward commercial-scale CCS just weeks before many companies were expected to submit their bids. The abrupt end to funding support for CCS is not an aberration, but is indicative of this Government’s cavalier approach to the energy sector as a whole. That approach was evident in the most controversial aspect of the Bill that originally came before noble Lords in the other place, namely the decision to close the renewables obligation a year earlier than had originally been legislated for in the Energy Act 2013.

    Given the notable lack of progress in decarbonising heat and transport, and of meaningful cross-departmental working to make up lost ground, we will be forced to go further, under the current targets, on renewable electricity. In those circumstances, it is entirely counterproductive to make life more difficult for the cheapest form of renewable energy available. It strikes me that the decision has much more to do with the politics of appeasing Conservative Back Benchers and with the Government’s interpretation of the levy control framework as a fixed-budget envelope—it was never intended to operate in that way. The decision clearly signals that the Government have abandoned their previous commitment to a technology-neutral approach to energy policy at a time when the overriding priority, as hon. Members have said, must be decarbonising at the lowest possible cost.

    This is no way to treat investors or to ensure that the UK remains an attractive place for overseas investment. In all the months I have sat as a member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, I have not heard one expert witness make the case for indefinite subsidy for onshore wind or any other renewable technology. What many have argued for, often powerfully, is a stable and secure policy environment and a graduated reduction of subsidy. They know that to do otherwise would risk jobs, damage investor confidence and cut the legs from under technologies that we know are delivering—by driving down prices. Those technologies, particularly solar and wind, are great British success stories, and I have heard the Minister describe them as such many times. However, those success stories, at least in the short term, now have a much more uncertain future.

    [Source]

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