I entirely agree. Many groups out there will be waiting to see what we say today, including those young people who took to the streets with great energy and verve. It was an absolutely amazing thing to see. I note that in applying for this debate Layla Moran said she was
“very supportive of them but as a teacher” a little concerned
“because it would really have annoyed me in my physics classes”.
I am afraid she probably would have been cross with me had she been my teacher, because I fear I would have been out there with them at their age—although, of course, I was studying geography and meteorology, not physics.
I wish to address a few points: first, where we are; secondly, why we need to do more; and thirdly, why this is so incredibly important. By the way, I welcome the really collegial cross-party tone of the debate. There were some political digs, but I am not going to get into political point scoring, because unless we pull together on this, we will not make progress. This has to be a cross-Government, cross-party, global initiative, and we need a lot more consensus than we have had.
Following the previous debate, let me say happy St David’s Day for tomorrow to the very many Welsh Members. As Members representing all four nations in this great group, we can take pride in the UK’s record on tackling climate change. We were among the first to recognise the problem. Indeed, Mrs Thatcher spoke about the impact of human activity on the climate at the UN in 1989; Sir Nicholas Stern’s incredible work in 2006 laid a pathway for how we had to think about the problem; and we used cross-party strength in this place to pass the world’s first Climate Change Act 10 years ago.
I am one of probably a tiny number of Ministers who has statutorily binding carbon budgets, given to us by the CCC and upon which we have to agree, and who has then to defend those budgets and the record on them to the House of Commons. It is worth noting, as others have, that we are on target to drop our carbon emissions by 57% by 2032. Of course, we need to get to 80% by 2050. Some will say that we have not yet set out exactly how we are going to reach those targets. We published the clean growth strategy—the most comprehensive document I have ever seen from a Government—setting out policies and proposals to decarbonise right across our economy. I am happy to say that we have delivered almost all the action points and commitments that we have made so far. We know that we have to do more and we will do more. We have to go further than those budgets, as is the point of the debate.