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Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:27 pm on 7th September 2016.

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Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade 2:27 pm, 7th September 2016

My hon. Friend makes an important point. I had not referred to it in my speech, so I am glad he has drawn the House’s attention to it, because interconnection with Europe is vital for our energy security. It would be a very positive move if the Minister were to talk about the future of energy infrastructure and of energy interconnection with the continent. As I understand it, there is no reason why coming out of the European Union should mean we are not part of the single energy market—that can stand separately. I would very much like confirmation from the Minister that the Government intend to make sure that that is safeguarded, because it is an important way of managing our energy supply.

Instead of using our time today to take a bold step forward, seeking Commons approval for the UK to join the founder parties of the historic Paris climate deal, we have had to hold the Government to account for just how far the UK’s leadership on climate change has fallen on their watch. Leapfrogged by the world’s biggest polluters, we have gone from the world-leading Climate Change Act to where we now sit: with a 47% gap in meeting our target, which we simply do not know how to fill—we have not yet even given a date for the publication of the plan as to when we will fill it. I will rephrase that, because we do know how to fill it. It is by properly insulating millions of homes in the UK to increase energy-efficiency and, where that is not viable—with older, single-skin properties—by ensuring that they have access to low-carbon renewable community sources of energy, so that we are not burning fossil fuels to see the heat escape through draughty walls and windows. It is by transforming our transport system with electric vehicles whose battery capacity can double up as storage facility and fill that space that intermittent renewable technologies require.

Later today, the leader of the Labour party will set out his ambitious vision for our environmental and energy policy, creating 300,000 jobs in low-carbon industries and using a new national investment bank to invest in public and community-owned renewable energy projects. The Paris agreement demands that we move to a net zero-carbon future in the second half of this century. That requires courage and imagination. It requires a coherent low-carbon investment plan. Today should have been a day when all parties came together to piece together that future in optimism and hope. By turning their back on that opportunity, the Government must explain when they will ratify the Paris agreement and when they will publish the carbon plan to show the British public how they will deliver on that promise.