VoteClimate: Oral Answers to Questions - 20th October 2021

Oral Answers to Questions - 20th October 2021

Here are the climate-related sections of speeches by MPs during the Commons debate Oral Answers to Questions.

Full text: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-10-20/debates/4C310A61-E89D-4101-8348-81E2F2838237/OralAnswersToQuestions

Julian Sturdy (Conservative)

1. What his policy objectives are for COP26. ( 903706 )

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Rob Butler (Conservative)

10. What his policy objectives are for COP26. ( 903716 )

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

Our overarching objective of COP26 is to keep within reach the goal of limiting average global temperature rises to 1.5 °C. To achieve that, we have been asking countries to set out ambitious emissions reduction commitments and to come forward with adaptation plans, and asking developed countries to deliver on their climate finance promises and for us collectively to reach agreement on the outstanding elements of the Paris rulebook.

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Julian Sturdy (Conservative)

Given the Government’s recent wise decision to recognise that environment-saving gene-editing technology should be recognised differently from GM—genetic modification—will Ministers use COP26 to champion this and other cutting-edge science and technologies that provide some of the best solutions to the problems of sustainability and climate change?

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Science and innovation are crucial to tackling climate change and delivering green growth. Innovation will be discussed at the world leaders’ summit at COP26. On 9 November, we will provide a particular focus on discussing and indeed showcasing science and innovation’s role in tackling climate change.

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Rob Butler (Conservative)

Along with the national and global policy objectives of COP26, many local voluntary organisations are already raising awareness of the impact of climate change, including Climate Action Wendover, in my constituency. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the work that such organisations do is important in helping people to understand that the only way to reach net zero is by everyone changing the way they behave, at home, at work and in their local community?

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

I congratulate my hon. Friend and Climate Action Wendover on all their work in encouraging climate action from local residents and businesses. Local communities across the country are playing their part in tackling climate change, and the cities, regions and built environment day at COP26 will provide a focus on local community action.

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Kerry McCarthy (Labour)

The Minister will know that there is widespread concern about a lack of clarity, as we get so close to COP26, as to what will actually be happening at the summit and what the priorities will be. What discussions has he had with the small island developing states to make sure that their concerns are fully represented, that they have a voice at COP26 and that we come away from it with something that really helps them to meet the challenges they face?

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

The hon. Lady raises an incredibly important point. I have a regular dialogue with representatives of the small island developing states. I have been clear that one thing we want to do through this presidency is champion them and the developing countries that are at the frontline of climate change.

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Deidre Brock (SNP)

It is good to hear that the COP President is interested in the challenges of those developing countries. Climate change’s most severe impacts fall heaviest on those developing countries that had least to do with causing it, and many consequences of climate change are already locked in, regardless of mitigation efforts. Given that, it is vital that COP26 includes an agreement on loss and damage compensation. Are the Government aiming for an equitable loss and damage agreement that compensates developing nations and recognises the disproportionate role of developed nations in causing that loss and damage?

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Philip Hollobone (Conservative)

Given that more than a quarter of the increase in carbon emissions since 2000 has come from China, are we expecting a strong and prominent Chinese delegation at COP26?

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

There will be a delegation coming from China. As my hon. Friend may know, I was there in September, when I had constructive discussions. China, along with every other country, needs to come forward with ambitious plans to cut emissions by 2030 before COP26.

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Anna McMorrin (Labour)

2. What recent assessment he has made of progress on limiting (a) global heating to below 2 °C and (b) heating to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels ahead of COP26. ( 903708 )

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

The commitments by countries at Paris in 2015 bent the curve of global warming to below 2 °C. The International Energy Agency, in a report published last week, has concluded that if countries deliver on all their recent commitments, we are on course for around 2 °C. In order to keep 1.5 °C within reach, all countries, particularly the G20 nations, need to submit ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets and of course commit to net zero by the middle of the century.

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Anna McMorrin (Labour)

The Minister talks of ambitious plans, but the net zero road map published by the Government yesterday is weak on land and agriculture, and 20% of the UK’s annual emissions come from natural resources. No plan can claim to build back greener unless we do everything in our power to achieve the 2° target or, indeed, the 1.5° goal. Peatlands are the biggest carbon store and continue to be burned. The Government’s ban includes only a third of upland peatland, allowing the rest to burn, so what are they doing to shut down the loophole that they created?

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

The net zero strategy is a coherent and comprehensive plan that has been welcomed by many people and by business. It is about emissions coming down and the creation of jobs. The hon. Lady will know that we have already published a peat strategy, which I would be happy to share with her.

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Paul Howell (Conservative)

Does the COP26 President agree with me and the all-party parliamentary group for “left behind” neighbourhoods that sometimes the way to engage people is with things that matter to them, such as the cost of heating their house, as opposed to changing the green agenda every time? If we go for different agendas for people, we can get a lot more acceptance and buy-in.

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Ed Miliband (Labour)

With 10 days to go before COP, much is riding on the shoulders of the COP26 President and we wish him well, but to deliver the 1.5° target we have to cut emissions by 28 billion tonnes by 2030—a halving of global emissions. So far, the pledges made for Glasgow amount to 4 billion tonnes at most, so we are not yet where we want to be. Does the COP26 President agree that we need to be honest about the maths? If he does, what is his assessment of how much of the gap we can close at Glasgow to keep 1.5° alive?

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Ed Miliband (Labour)

May I suggest to the COP26 President that the rest of the UK Government could make a difference, even in these final days, by not undermining his work? The Secretary of State for International Trade should not be giving big emitters a free pass by doing a deal with Australia that allows them to drop their temperature commitments; the Prime Minister should deliver on the promise made at the G7 to vaccinate the developing world by the end of 2022; and the Treasury should stop undermining the green transition at home and help to build the international coalition that we need by reversing the cut to overseas aid in the Budget. Does the COP26 President agree that acting on those suggestions would help him to deliver on his historic responsibility at the COP?

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

The whole Government are committed to our net zero strategy, which was published yesterday. It is about creating 440,000 jobs by 2030 and getting another £90 billion of inward investment, some of which we saw coming through at the global investment summit yesterday. The whole Government are committed to ensuring that we have success at COP26. The very fact that the Secretary of State for International Trade is sat next to me on the Front Bench shows her commitment to COP and to her work on adaptation.

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Wendy Chamberlain (Liberal Democrat)

4. What steps he is taking to ensure that the safeguarding of human rights in the development of clean energy projects is considered at COP26. ( 903710 )

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Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative)

The UK works with all countries to deliver ambitious action on climate change and ensure that human rights are placed at the forefront of our climate action. Under the UK’s COP presidency, we are bringing forward a declaration for donor countries to support the conditions for a just transition from high-carbon industries into quality, decent, new jobs.

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Wendy Chamberlain (Liberal Democrat)

Human rights abuses, such as the treatment of the Uyghurs in China, are hugely relevant to COP. An investigation earlier this year found that 40% of UK solar firms were built using panels from firms linked to forced labour in Xinjiang, China. How does the COP26 President intend to approach the need to work together with countries such as China while also meeting our moral obligations in relation to these abuses?

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David Mundell (Conservative)

5. What recent steps he has taken to engage with communities in preparation for COP26. ( 903711 )

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Andrew Jones (Conservative)

7. What steps he is taking to consult with (a) civil society and (b) youth groups in preparation for COP26. ( 903713 )

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

I have met a range of society and youth groups in every country that I have visited in my COP role. Alongside that, I co-chaired the COP26 civil society and youth advisory council. Last month, I attended the Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition conference to hear at first hand almost 400 youth climate activists representing 186 countries.

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend and, of course, Harrogate High School and Zero Carbon Harrogate for promoting sustainable travel initiatives. He will know that the COP unit is working very closely with other Government Departments to try to support business on sustainable transport initiatives. I want to give him one example: the Zero Emission Vehicles Transition Council is working with Ministers representing leading car markets across the world to accelerate the move to electric vehicles.

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Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat)

6. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of proposals to put four new oil wells in Surrey on the UK’s (a) credibility and (b) negotiating position as President of COP26. ( 903712 )

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Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat)

The International Energy Agency has warned that if the world is to reach net zero by 2050, the exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year, yet there are currently proposals for multiple new exploratory oil developments across the UK. With just 11 days to go until world leaders gather in Glasgow, how can the COP26 President justify these developments against the Government’s stated aim of keeping global warming to 1.5 °C?

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Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative)

As I announced earlier this year in my former role, the Government will be introducing a climate compatibility checkpoint for any new licences issued, in order to assess whether any future licensing rounds remain in keeping with our climate goals. The checkpoint, which we have committed to launch by the end of this year, will be used to assess the climate compatibility of any future licensing rounds.

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Karen Buck (Labour)

8. What steps he is taking to ensure that progress is made on strengthening climate adaptation and resilience at COP26. ( 903714 )

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Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative)

Supporting vulnerable communities around the world to adapt to climate impacts is a top priority for COP26. We are encouraging improved adaptation planning, integration of climate risk into decision making, and increased and more accessible adaptation of finance to deliver effective, inclusive adaptation, and loss and damage action on the ground.

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Karen Buck (Labour)

The most climate-vulnerable states need and demand more assistance from the developed world for climate transition and adaptation. This has the potential to derail COP26, so can the Minister tell us: what are the Government’s aims for increasing the level of support at Glasgow to help transition and adaptation in the poorest countries, and particularly whether it is the Government’s intention to lobby for that aid to be in the form of grants, rather than loans?

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Philip Dunne (Conservative)

9. What assessment he has made of the adequacy of nationally determined contribution commitments published in September 2021 ahead of COP26. ( 903715 )

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

Overall, the NDCs that have been put forward are not adequate, because by 30 July 78 countries had still not published updated NDCs. However, the 113 updated NDCs that had been submitted would lead to a reduction in emissions of 12% by 2030. If we also take into account the subset of 70 countries with updated NDCs and net zero commitments through long-term strategies, those would lead to a 26% reduction in emissions.

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Philip Dunne (Conservative)

In the COP26 President’s discussions around nationally determined contributions, has he come across a single country other than the UK that has committed to count international aviation and maritime emissions in its net zero strategy?

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

When the UK took on the COP26 presidency, less than 30% of the global economy was covered by a net zero target; that figure is now 80%. Under the UK’s G7 presidency, for the first time every G7 country has committed to ambitious near-term emission targets aligned with net zero by 2050. However, to keep 1.5 °C within reach, every nation, particularly the biggest emitters, has to step forward in what needs to be the decade of ambition.

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

The net zero strategy has committed to provide a public update every year from 2022 on progress against the delivery pathway to net zero set out in the strategy, and this will include an update on progress against the targets and ambitions that have been set out.

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Jeff Smith (Labour)

T3. A third of people globally do not have access to a waste management service, and 90% of waste in lower-income countries ends up being either dumped or burned and causing emissions. Can the President confirm that waste management will feature on the agenda at COP26, and what plans are there to allocate climate finance for this problem? ( 903723 )

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Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative)

Waste management is a critical part of helping us to reach net zero across the planet. I was very pleased to see in the Duke of Cambridge’s Earthshot prize awards on Sunday that the Indians had a really interesting solution to the problem that ensured they could reduce their waste management and not have to burn their crops.

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Andrew Jones (Conservative)

T2. Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition is staging its first climate action festival to coincide with COP26. It is full of events promoting ways that people can decarbonise their lives, with businesses, academics and community groups involved. Will the Minister join me in congratulating them on this excellent initiative and perhaps consider joining us for the second festival? ( 903722 )

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

There is no festival better than a climate action festival. I congratulate Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, which has brilliantly demonstrated that tackling climate change is an all-of-society endeavour bringing together business, civil society and government.

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

That is part of the discussion that needs to take place, but it is also vital that we reach agreement on the transparency framework at COP26 so that we know that the commitments being made are actually delivered on.

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David Warburton (Somerton and Frome) (Con)

T5. Reaching net zero is not a commitment that can be reached by the Government alone; the private sector needs to play its part in achieving a shared commitment. A third of FTSE 100 companies have committed to net zero, but more businesses must work with Government to decarbonise our economy. In his presidency of COP26, will my right hon. Friend highlight the importance of more companies committing to net zero and show the world that when it comes to climate change this Government mean business? ( 903726 )

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Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative)

Business action is critical if the Government are to achieve the goal of reaching net zero by 2050. That is why, since the COP President-designate took on the role, he has been actively calling for business to join the race to zero—a UN-backed campaign supported by the UK Government. It requires businesses to take robust short-term action to halve global emissions by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible. There are now 4,470 companies that have signed up to Race to Zero.

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Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat)

T6. I thank the Secretary of State for International Trade for her visit earlier this year to the European Marine Energy Centre in Stromness, when she heard that it has a very compelling case for the next round of contract for difference auctions to have a pot within a pot for tidal stream generation. We are disappointed that the first draft does not include the pot within a pot, so will she and the President of COP26 renew their representations to the Treasury for its inclusion so that we can take advantage of the opportunities? ( 903727 )

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Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative)

It was a wonderful visit and I thank the right hon. Gentleman and the community for welcoming me so heartily. All these new technologies will help us meet net zero, not just in the UK but across the world. We want to continue to see investment in them. I know that the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my right hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) will continue to champion these issues.

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

Reaffirmed by our 25-year environmental plan and our fisheries White Paper, the Government are committed to sustainable fishing and the principle of maximum sustainable yield. My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that we are also committed to helping industry to reduce the adverse impacts on the marine environment and to adapt to climate change.

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Darren Jones (Labour)

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

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Alok Sharma (Conservative)

I would like every country to step forward with a net zero target. When we started, it was 30% of the world economy; it is now 80%. Of course, we also need those nationally determined contributions to come forward before COP.

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Ian Blackford (SNP)

In 11 short days, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for COP26. This is our best chance, and very likely our last chance, to confront the climate emergency faced by our planet. That is why it was such a devastating blow that, on the eve of COP26, the UK Government rejected the Scottish cluster bid to gain track 1 status for carbon capture and storage. Today, The Press and Journal , has said that there is

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The Prime Minister

We remain absolutely committed to helping industrial clusters to decarbonise across the whole country, of course including Scotland. I know that there was disappointment about the Acorn bid in Aberdeen. That is why it has been selected as a reserve cluster. There can be no more vivid testimony to this Government’s commitment to Scotland, or indeed to fighting climate change, than the fact that the whole world is about to come to Scotland to look at what Scotland is doing to help tackle climate change. I congratulate the people of Scotland on their efforts.

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Ian Blackford (SNP)

People across Scotland are looking for answers today, and they are getting none. All they see is yet another Tory broken promise. It is bad enough that this UK Government are holding back carbon capture in Scotland, but they are proving an active barrier to renewable energy opportunities across the board. Tidal stream energy has the potential to generate 20% of UK generation capacity—exactly the same as nuclear. All the industry needs is a ringfenced budget of £71 million, a drop in the ocean compared with the £23 billion that this Government are throwing at the nuclear plant at Hinkley. But the UK Government are failing to give that support, threatening shovel-ready projects such as MeyGen in the north of Scotland. At the very least, Prime Minister, stand up today and guarantee a ringfenced budget for tidal stream energy and save that renewable industry from being lost overseas.

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The Prime Minister

Actually, do you know what, Mr Speaker? I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on raising tidal energy. He is absolutely right. I have seen the amazing projects that are under way. I think the House will acknowledge that we are putting huge sums into clean, green energy generation. The right hon. Gentleman is far too gloomy about the prospects of Acorn in Aberdeen. I think he needs to be seized with an unaccustomed spirit of optimism, because the Acorn project still has strong potential, and that is why it has been selected as a reserve cluster. He should keep hope alive rather than spreading gloom in the way that he does.

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Liz Saville-Roberts (Plaid Cymru)

If COP26 is to be successful, people must be at the heart of our net zero emissions strategy. For too long, the UK economy has left too many people behind, with wealth and investment hoarded in the south-east of England. Devolving powers over the Crown Estate would bring half a billion pounds-worth of offshore wind and tidal stream potential—assets, of course, currently controlled by Westminster—under Welsh control. Scotland, meanwhile, already has those powers. Will the Prime Minister support my Bill to devolve the management of the Crown Estate to Wales?

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The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Lady already knows, the Crown Estate works closely with the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales. I am sorry to have to tell her that my view is that the devolution of the Crown Estate in Wales would fragment the market, complicate existing processes and make it more difficult for Wales, as well as the whole UK, to move forward to net zero.

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