Climate Change Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:42 pm on 23rd April 2019.

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Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth) 7:42 pm, 23rd April 2019

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the current climate change protests and on our climate change policy. I apologise to Members of the House if we are covering ground that we covered extensively earlier, but I think it is a subject that will bear as much scrutiny as we care to give it.

Colleagues will be aware that public concern about climate change has grown to levels never seen before. In recent weeks, it has been incredibly powerful to see people of all generations, across the world, voicing their concerns about a warming climate and demanding a global response to this global crisis. We have heard loud calls today that we should declare a climate emergency. My answer to that is that we can say words from the Dispatch Box all we like; what counts is actions. I hope to set out the many actions that we are taking that have enjoyed cross-party support. My fervent hope is that we will continue to tackle this enormous crisis in that spirit.

There is no doubt that climate change is the most profound environmental challenge facing the world today, and one where more action is urgently needed. We should not shy away from that fact; we must recognise it. We welcome the strong and growing pressure for action to cut our emissions, but we should also ensure that, while we acknowledge the scale of the challenge ahead, we try as hard as we can to build consensus around change so that communities across the UK and, indeed, across the world feel secure, optimistic and involved in our shifts to decarbonise the economy.

As I said earlier today, we should be talking about hope, not fear, communicating the progress that we have made globally and that we have made here in the UK. That demonstrates that this urgent action to decarbonise the economy can comfortably sit alongside opportunity, growth and employment. The Government entirely accept, and I accept, that concerted action—more action—at national and international levels is urgently required. However, I still feel that we must focus on the fact—because it shows that this is possible—that we have shown real leadership in the UK thanks to the cross-party consensus that we have forged on this since the passage of our world-leading Climate Change Act 2008, over a decade ago.

I want to update colleagues on this progress and to outline priorities. Again, I hope that Members will forgive me if I cover some of the ground that we covered extensively earlier. In 2008, we were the first country to introduce legally binding long-term emissions reduction targets. Edward Miliband was very instrumental in bringing that legislation forward, but it also enjoyed strong cross-party support. For me, the Climate Change Act has been an absolutely seminal piece of legislation, because I am one of the few Ministers in the world who can stand here with high ambition and high aspirations as well as a legally binding set of budgets that we have to report on to Parliament. It is a great way of ensuring the climate action survives the political cycle, and it has delivered. Since 1990, as many Members will know, we have cut our emissions in the UK by 42% while growing the economy by 72%. We are independently assessed as leading the G20 in decarbonisation since 2000.

People talk a lot about the disparity between territorial emissions and consumption emissions. I invite Members to consider the latest data that shows that our greenhouse gas emissions, on a consumption basis, fell by 21% between 2007 and 2016. Indeed, they fell by 6% year on year—in the year to 2016. [Interruption.] It is true—that is the data. I would be very happy to write to all Members and share it with them.