Net Zero Carbon Emissions: Uk’S Progress

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:51 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Conservative, Newbury 2:51 pm, 28th February 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise that point. These debates are invigorating, desperate though the issue is, because there is an enormous amount of expertise across the House. Members really understand and have seen for themselves the risk we face and the impact it could have.

I want to cut off, I hope for the final time in my life, the question put by some people who deny the human impact on climate change. For people who are, like me, sometimes assailed by people who read certain journalists and acquire a view, I recommend a book by Richard Black, the former BBC environment correspondent, called “Denied”. It is a forensic demolishing and devastating take-down of climate change denial. It goes through all the arguments in absolute detail. It has an outstanding foreword by a Member of this House—[Interruption.] Yes, it is me. [Laughter.] The content of the book is absolutely superb and I recommend it, despite the foreword. Richard Black refers to climate change deniers as contrarians rather than sceptics. I think that is right. It is good to be a sceptic and it is good to be sceptical about received wisdoms, but contrarians tend to be the golf club bore who strikes an opinion with no basis of information. The book provides the scientific evidence that really nails the subject.

The hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon rightly raised the school strikes. I think it was right to welcome that event. I think some people got it wrong and missed the point. We can all complain about children bunking off school, but that is not the point here. The strikes showed the extraordinary passion of the young people whose lives will be much more affected by those of us in middle age like me. That passion needs to be harnessed. I was moved, a couple of days ago downstairs in the Churchill room, to see the excellent “Year of Green Action” event organised by Ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We heard evidence from two young people called Amy and Ella Meek, I think from Gedling, who have set up a venture called “Kids against Plastic” that has gone viral. It is that kind of action that we want to encourage among the young people who came to our offices on that day. This is not just something that policymakers and politicians will deliver. People on the ground, of all ages, can make a difference.

Thirty or so young people from Newbury turned up at my office. I was struck by their passion and their commitment, but I was also left with a strong belief that we need to inform people better about what is going on. I have already heard questions in this debate such as, “Why isn’t something happening?” when it is, and “Why aren’t we doing more on that?” when that is happening. We need to applaud in a cross-party, consensual way when good things are done and to push relentlessly where we think we are missing the point.