I am grateful for your calling me early, Madam Deputy Speaker, and for being able to contribute—albeit briefly—to the debate. I start by agreeing with the Leader of the Opposition; he was right to call for consensus on tackling climate change. I also thought it entirely appropriate that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs clearly showed the cross-party support for delivering on the UK’s ambition and global leadership in this area, as well as pointing out how far the UK is delivering on this agenda. We need to introduce some balance into this debate, and I am pleased that both did so. I join others—on both sides of the House—in suggesting that we should proceed with efforts for London to host next year’s climate change conference. I very much hope that it does.
I am a member of the Environmental Audit Committee, and as such have the opportunity to review the Committee on Climate Change’s and activists’ claims and challenges, as well as to hold the Government to account on the delivery of the sustainable development goals and their climate change priorities. I was pleased therefore to support my hon. Friend Alex Chalk when he yesterday introduced his 10-minute rule Bill, which was very well supported by Conservative Members. It is absolutely right that the House seek to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, and this in itself will require facing up to many significant challenges—some have already been mentioned, I am sure others will be—on land use, transport, energy sources, energy efficiency, joining up Government policy and showing international leadership to share the burden across the globe.
Taking that further and faster, however, as some have called for, would increase the challenge. As a farmer, I join the Secretary of State in applauding the NFU for accepting a net zero emissions challenge for agriculture by 2040. This will require very significant changes to land use, as has been graphically highlighted by the “Zero Carbon Britain” report from the Centre for Alternative Technology, which shows that diversifying land use is required across most of what we currently do today. We would need to double the land used for food for human beings in this country; to dramatically reduce the grassland for livestock; to double the forested area to a quarter of the entire UK; and substantially to increase the areas for biomass and renewable energy.