Net Zero Carbon Emissions: Uk’S Progress

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:56 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Conservative, Chichester 3:56 pm, 28th February 2019

I completely agree. That is certainly much-needed technology, and technology with which the world leader, which I hope we will be, would certainly be able to make a massive difference, as well as a huge economic difference for businesses here as well.

This change is often being driven from the ground up by businesses, as my hon. Friend says, and by local councils, supported by Government initiatives, and I have seen this in Chichester. Covers timber merchants in my constituency has transformed its business to incorporate sustainable business practices. It has installed solar panels across its sites, which has allowed it to save 810 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted in 2017 alone. On my last visit there I saw its newest introduction of electric forklift trucks, which were operating in the yard silently loading lorries. That business, and many others, are doing what they can to minimise their environmental impacts, and West Sussex County Council has been developing its renewable assets, with solar panels now on more than 30 schools, as well as on council buildings and fire stations. Today the council produces an average of 23,350 MWh of renewable energy per year, which significantly exceeds the 14,000 MWh consumed in delivering services across its core estate. Such innovative efforts are slowly but surely changing the way we operate our businesses and services in this country, together with our individual actions as consumers.

As many Members have said, this is a global issue and we need a global solution. Our role in that is becoming increasingly important, and reports of international underachievement and key players pulling out of international agreements make the need for us to remain steadfast and show continued leadership all the more important. We need international collaboration and to support developing economies to grow in a more sustainable way than we did. The Government have committed £5.8 billion of international climate finance from 2016-20 to help developing countries mitigate the effects of and adapt to climate change.

We must consider best practice adopted in other countries, and support the development of new technologies such as carbon capture and storage, which my hon. Friend Stephen Kerr referred to. As an island nation we should continue to develop and support growth in marine energy. I welcome the Government’s ambition to become a world leader in clean technology and services, and I look forward to them further developing those opportunities with our world-class universities. Sustainable growth can ultimately be more profitable in every respect.

We owe it to the next generation to make every effort to mitigate climate change. Several Members have referred to the 15,000 schoolchildren who came here to tell us that they care, and we are here today to say that we care too! Their voices are being, and will be heard by every one of us.

As MPs we cannot fail to be impressed by the knowledge of the younger generation in every school we visit, as well as by their knowledge of the impact on the environment, and their passion to take action and combat climate change and create a more sustainable world for their future. I promise—I am sure we all do—that we will continue to support every effort to improve our environmental plan and support our 25-year strategy, our clean growth strategy, and the forthcoming environmental Bill, which shifts focus on to the environment and should therefore be welcomed.

On a personal level, we will all give up something for Lent—I am sure that my hon. Friend Vicky Ford has been on to us all. I gave up plastic this year, and I think this year I am picking up litter and might even try lentils as well. Tolstoy famously said:

“Everybody thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing themselves.”

We need to do both.