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Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:26 pm on 7th September 2016.

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Photo of Mary Creagh Mary Creagh Chair, Environmental Audit Committee 5:26 pm, 7th September 2016

What I would say about a 2050 target is that it is long enough away for none of us to be accountable for it, because most of us will be dead by then. [Interruption.] Well, some of us; I probably will be—no, I will be enjoying a long and fruitful old age, as I intend to live until I am 100. I want to see interim targets, so if there is a 2050 target I would be interested to see what are the 2020, 2025 and 2030 targets, because faraway targets can always be our children’s problems.

The issue in the report about our transport sector is that we are not doing enough now, and I want to develop my theme because transport emissions increased in both 2014 and 2015. Some 94% of those transport emissions are from road transport, and we were concerned that less than 1% of new cars are electric. There is a good reason for that: they are very expensive—£30,000 or £32,000, perhaps. The Committee on Climate Change says that we need 9% of all new cars to be ultra-low emissions vehicles by 2020 if we are to meet those targets at the lowest cost to the public. We should match what the Committee was saying with the Department’s forecasts; the Department was saying, “Well, actually 3% to 7% of vehicles will be ultra-low emissions by 2020, but our average central point is 5%.” So the Department’s central forecast is 5%, but the Committee on Climate Change says it should be 9%.

That is worrying, because the next target—the 2030 target—is that 60% of all new vehicles should be low-emissions. If we are only at 5% by 2020, I cannot see a way of getting to 60% of low-emissions vehicles without some spectacular change in the way we buy cars in this country, and we did not hear any brilliant bright ideas from the Department for Transport. We heard of the money that was committed, but we did not hear a strategy for getting that mass take-up. That means we are playing catch-up and we are not going to follow the lowest cost route to decarbonise the economy.