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Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:06 pm on 7th September 2016.

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Photo of David Davies David Davies Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee 4:06 pm, 7th September 2016

My hon. Friend is making the assumption that carbon dioxide is some sort of pollutant. It is not. Sulphur dioxide is a pollutant, and we have done wonderful things in getting rid of that. Carbon dioxide is actually the elixir of life, and a small increase in carbon dioxide has a very beneficial effect on the ability of farmers to grow crops. So I do not accept the premise of my hon. Friend’s question, which is that CO2 is a naturally bad thing.

I would of course accept that we should concentrate on making sure our air quality and environment are good. I have been a surfer for 20 years—or I was until I had children, anyway—and I strongly believe in the environment. I was a member of the environmental group Surfers Against Sewage for years. I am not some kind of lunatic who wants to tear the environment apart and build everywhere, but I do have concerns about policies that are going to be enormously costly and have an impact on businesses, including some in my area.

I suggest that Ministers should ask themselves whether they actually believe what the NGOs that call on them to adopt certain policies are saying. A good point was made earlier about nuclear power. I believe it is absolutely safe. It is very interesting that whenever anyone proposes a nuclear power station somewhere, some of the biggest supporters are the people who live in that area. In Anglesey, or Ynys Môn, the Wylfa site is being supported by Members of Parliament right across the political spectrum, including those of Plaid Cymru, who normally try and paint themselves, literally and figuratively, as the most green party of them all. When it comes to nuclear jobs, Plaid Cymru is very enthusiastic about nuclear power and I commend it for that. It is right to be so. Let us contrast that with what happens when people want to put up wind farms. I know of Liberal Democrat politicians in Wales who will bang the drum for wind farms at every opportunity until someone suggests that one should be constructed in their own constituency, at which point they come up with all sorts of reasons why that should not happen.

One of my concerns is that green groups—and perhaps Barry Gardiner—say that global warming is the greatest threat to mankind but then oppose proposals for a nuclear power station, which could resolve some of our energy problems without creating any extra carbon dioxide. The same attitude has been shown repeatedly by green groups towards the Severn tidal barrage. I do not know whether that project would stack up economically, but from an environmental point of view it has the capacity to produce about 5% of the UK’s electricity without creating carbon dioxide emissions.