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Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:51 pm on 7th September 2016.

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Photo of Seema Kennedy Seema Kennedy Conservative, South Ribble 4:51 pm, 7th September 2016

I shall keep my remarks brief because other right hon. and hon. Members have spoken very eloquently, with great expertise, and at length.

My constituents are only too aware of the effects of climate change. South Ribble lies on the plain where the River Ribble—the historic boundary between north and south—meets the Irish sea. Last Christmas, in the village of Croston—which you, Mr Deputy Speaker, used to represent so well—many of my constituents’ homes and businesses were flooded. This brings home the absolutely paramount challenge to our generation of how we deal with climate change. As a country, we need to tackle climate change while growing our economy and providing for energy security. My hon. Friend James Heappey, who is no longer in his place, described this as a trilemma. It is a great challenge to us, but one that I believe my hon. Friends on the Front Bench, and the whole UK Government, are meeting.

Let us look at the progress that has been made. The Climate Change Act 2008, which was steered through by Edward Miliband, who is also no longer in his place, and received great cross-party support in this House, obliges the UK to achieve an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Since 2010, when the coalition came to power, investment in renewables has increased by 42%, and support for renewable energy will increase to £10 billion during this Parliament. Emissions have already been cut by over 30% since 1990. This is to be applauded; it is great progress. Offshore wind generation is up by two thirds, and the UK has enough solar power to power almost 2 million homes. Nuclear power, which supports so many jobs in Lancashire, is also benefiting from Government support. All this has happened while the economy is growing. In 2014, there was a 2.8% growth in the economy and yet an 8.4% reduction in emissions. This is absolutely crucial, because it is particularly important to our energy-intensive industries that they have energy they can pay for. We do not want to see these jobs go to other countries.

I do not think there can be any doubt of this Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions, as was set out greatly as a priority. The Paris climate change conference was a pivotal moment in binding the world’s superpowers to a path towards decarbonisation. The UK pushed to ensure the excellent outcomes that were achieved last year by my right hon. Friend Amber Rudd. Rather than decrying the fact that the UK has not ratified the Paris agreement in haste but is taking a careful approach to ratification, the Opposition should be applauding the cross-party progress that has been made.

I am still quite a newcomer to this place, so I learn a lot from you, Mr Deputy Speaker. In my 16 months here, I have spoken in several Opposition debates that have been marked by the paucity of argument from Opposition Members, but this one really wins the prize for being an utterly confected motion, and it goes to the heart of the Opposition’s disarray. I conclude by echoing the remarks of the Minister in asking the shadow Minister not to press the motion to a Division where there is none, and instead to work in a cross-party manner to meet the fundamental challenge of our age.