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Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:55 pm on 7th September 2016.

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Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 2:55 pm, 7th September 2016

I am about to finish. The hon. Gentleman had plenty of time to speak. He knows that I am very laid back, but he stirred me with the approach that he took. The conversations that we are having about the emissions reduction plan—the carbon plan—are driven by the conviction that we must get this right. The hon. Gentleman knows the subject well and he knows the challenge that faces us. We have to take people with us, including a set of new Ministers with critical briefs, who need some time to get on top of the issues at stake because they are so important. We need to engage with the private sector and non-governmental organisations. This has to be a shared challenge. We have to make sure that the process is properly connected with the extremely important substantive and long-term work and thinking being done about the industrial strategy, because Paris, as he rightly said, changes so much—not least because the two largest economies in the world are saying, “We are now set out on a path towards decarbonisation of our power systems and our transport systems.” If we turn that into an estimate of the investment required, it runs into trillions of dollars.

We need to get this right, and all I was saying is that that is the priority. If we can meet all those criteria—if we can do all those things—by the end of 2016, great, but the overriding priority is to get this right, and that is what drives us. I hope that that is supported by Members on both sides of the House who can see that this commitment is important for our UK national interest, as it is for our identity as a responsible global citizen.

I am going to conclude. Our primary task is to manage a risk, but all this investment and innovation, as I have suggested, is creating one of the most important economic opportunities the UK has seen—arguably since the industrial revolution. The global low-carbon market is estimated to be worth more than $5 trillion, and it is now forecast to expand rapidly in the wake of the Paris agreement. Over the next 15 years, it is estimated that around $90 trillion will be invested in the world’s energy systems, land use and urban infrastructure, and an increasing proportion of that needs to be low-carbon if our globally agreed climate goals are to be met. The UK’s leadership and experience will put UK industry in a prime position to benefit.

The UK low-carbon sector is worth over £46 billion across more than 90,000 businesses. It employs more than 240,000 people and indirectly supports many more. There is great potential for it to continue to create high-value jobs in construction, manufacturing and services. That is why—here there is a genuine point of difference with the Opposition—the creation of the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is such an exciting opportunity. As we contemplate the importance and the consequences of Paris, and as we go through substantive processes in the industrial strategy, we think deeply about the future of our places, industries and sectors, and about what we can do to make them more competitive and more resilient, to broaden opportunity in this country and to make the economy work for everyone. It must be right to look at how our energy decarbonisation and industrial challenges can be brought together and thought through much more effectively than in the past. I regret that the Opposition continue to shadow the Government as they would like them to be, rather than as they actually are.