Climate Change (Political Response)
Opposition Day — [19th allotted day]
Gregory Barker (Shadow Minister (Environment), Energy and Climate Change; Bexhill and Battle, Conservative)
I certainly cannot do that, and I have to plead guilty: I have not read all the report. Even if I felt that I could accept all the recommendations, I fear that that would be way above my pay grade.
We must consider whether we have been left behind on wind and solar energy and why we lag miserably on energy efficiency. We need to act now to ensure that we grasp the clear opportunities provided by offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, wave and tidal power and a host of other technologies. How much more British innovation will go abroad? How many times will we see such situations as the Pelamis wave energy convertor going to Portugal before the Government wake up to the damage that a lack of strong political leadership is doing to us, and the extent to which it is setting back this agenda?
Having fixed our frameworks for emissions reductions in the Climate Change Act, we should focus entirely on delivering and executing our comprehensive and ambitious vision for a low-carbon Britain, all the way from local to international level. Of all the things that we need to do, energy efficiency is the lowest-hanging fruit; it is at the far end of the McKinsey curve. Industry and consumers are waking up to that fact, and we just need the Government to get on with the programme.
As I mentioned earlier, many councils are still perplexed by the mixed messages and lack of leadership from central Government. That is why the 10:10 campaign has a job to do. If everybody were signed up and doing the necessary things, there would be no need for that sort of motivational campaign. The fact that there is still resistance is the reason why we need such a campaign.
To give more local authorities, particularly smaller ones such as my own in Rother, the confidence that they will need to deliver on their targets, which are easy to sign up to but much harder to deliver, we need an ambitious roll-out of energy efficiency incentives, regulatory change and leadership from the centre to empower action in the community. Local authorities still encounter too many barriers to driving ahead as fast as they can. Better information on the latest technology and energy-saving best practice is needed, in an area that is changing all the time. There must be greater freedom to employ innovative financing schemes, particularly using energy service companies and new shared saving schemes that do not place the up-front costs of new technologies and retrofits on the taxpayer or on the overstretched budgets of local authorities.
Certainly, those concerns have been expressed to me locally, and I shall be addressing them at my local energy efficiency summit- [ Interruption. ] I hear someone on the Government Benches asking how much those things will cost. They just do not get it. They have clearly never heard of shared savings models or ESCOs-energy service companies-and they clearly do not understand the appetite in the private sector to be part of this revolution, or the changes that are happening out there in the world. The world out there is changing and the Government do not seem to have woken up to the potential or the opportunity.