Net Zero Carbon Emissions: Uk’S Progress

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North 4:20 pm, 28th February 2019

I am very pleased to be co-sponsoring this important debate and I congratulate Layla Moran on securing it, but why are we holding this hugely important debate only now? Like my hon. Friend Darren Jones, I, too, would like to see this debate in Government time. Over the last year, we have had only two debates in Westminster on this hugely important issue. One was led by me and the other by my hon. Friend. That is not good enough. We would like to see more of this and more action from the Government in this place.

My Westminster Hall debate was on the UK Government’s response to the UN climate change conference in Katowice, and it was well attended by Members here today, but I was baffled by the lack of an oral statement from the Secretary of State on what was achieved at COP last year. That is even more perplexing when we think that it was the first UN climate change conference since the release of the deeply worrying IPCC report, which, as we all know, was hugely stark.

One of the iconic images from the conference was that of the teenager speaking out on behalf of her generation, imploring more action. It is our children who will bear the brunt of our lack of action. I am really pleased that the climate strike from just a couple of weeks ago has spread to more than 14 countries worldwide. I am proud to have supported that strike in Cardiff the other week, supporting our young people in having that voice and being with my 15-year-old daughter there, and I am proud that she wanted to have that voice.

In the decade since COP 15 in Copenhagen, there has been an unwritten agreement between countries and Governments that we must pursue climate action, but only in so far as it does not jeopardise our neoliberal economic model or damage any incumbent interests. Despite its success, the Paris agreement did not fundamentally change the situation. It was non-ambitious and non-binding enough to get signed, but I am pleased that it did send a signal to the world that we have to have a very clear trajectory about going towards a zero-carbon economy.

As I speak, the UK is currently on course to miss its carbon reduction targets and the legally binding 15% renewable target by 2020. It has sold off the Green Investment Bank and scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and it must take much more action to meet those targets. If we crash out of the EU with no deal—I am pleased to see that the Minister has done what she can to try to prevent that—our environmental record will be even worse, with just a race to the bottom and the loss of EU environmental legislation, which covers roughly half the UK’s emissions reductions targets.

We need to get working on this, but we need to do so now. We need to see action across every single Department. Every Minister should be responsible for achieving those carbon emissions cuts. They should be taking action on climate change, and as I said in my Westminster Hall debate, we need to

“think more like the Welsh”—[Official Report, 16 January 2019;
Vol. 652, c. 443WH]— like the Welsh Government, leading the way on climate change and leading the way for future generations.