Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:08 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn 5:08 pm, 1st May 2019

It is a pleasure to follow the thoughtful speech from James Heappey. I begin by congratulating the newest Member of the House, my hon. Friend Ruth Jones, on her maiden speech.

Moving on to the subject matter, the science is absolutely clear: the climate is warming and the global mean temperature is rising, enhanced by human activity. The protestors I met last week said that, the young people I meet daily in my constituency tell me that and my family tell me that. We need to act. I received a thoughtful letter and petition from students at Ysgol David Hughes comprehensive school in my constituency, who went on strike. Our young people get it.

To be fair, my local authority is a leader in the United Kingdom on recycling, the Welsh Government have a good record on recycling and Surfers Against Sewage declared the isle of Anglesey a plastic-free county. I am proud of our local record.

I say this to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy because it is important—and I worked with him when he was in opposition and our party was in Government, and I give him credit for his consistency: Wales spends twice as much on energy efficiency measures as the UK Government, and Scotland spends even more. Northern Ireland, which does not even have a sitting Government, spends one and half times more than the UK Government. These are important matters to highlight, because we are going backwards, and England is the largest of the four nations of the United Kingdom. We need to do more. I understand the point about austerity, but all parts of the UK—local authorities and the nations’ Administrations—have had to deal with austerity as well. We need to concentrate.

We built a consensus in the House around the Climate Change Act, and I was proud to be a part of that. We were world leaders. We now need to reset the energy button, which is why I want to concentrate on power. We need to invest in our natural resources more. Subsidy is not a dirty word. All technologies in this country were once subsidised. Oil and gas were 100% subsidised. The Secretary of State will know what I am going to say: we need to invest more in tidal and wave energy. It is so predictable. We need to do it now. First-of-its-kind technology will be very expensive, but if we do not do it, we will be back here in years to come saying, “We just about missed out target”. We could meet our target with a proper funding system for large energy infrastructure projects. I will work with him to ensure that happens. We should consider the Welsh Water not-for-profit model. It puts customers first and our environment first. We in the House must follow suit.