Climate Change

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons on 21st May 2019.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of Government funding to mitigate climate change.

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

We have a proud record as a nation, reducing carbon emissions faster than any other G7 country since 2000. We have done that with a combination of spending measures and market mechanisms.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

The Liberal Democrats were the first major political party to call for a zero-carbon Britain. We believe that target must be met by 2045. What assessment have the Government made of the climate change mitigation costs that would be incurred by 2045, of the support that would be needed for businesses to help them achieve a zero-carbon Britain by 2045, and of the health and environmental benefits?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

We are currently assessing the report of the Climate Change Committee on this subject. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman is a regular reader of the Treasury Green Book on the way we assess investments. Last year, in the new Green Book, we specifically included looking at natural capital as a way of making that assessment. That is one of the lenses through which we shall be looking at the spending review.

Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Chair, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Climate change is increasing the risk of flooding, and despite devastating floods in my constituency in 2015, the Government have not yet committed funding for the one-in-200-year scheme that the Chief Secretary knows is needed to protect businesses in Kirkstall in my constituency. The gap now is just £23 million, so will the Government make it a priority in the comprehensive spending review, even if that spending review is just for one year?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I agree with the hon. Lady that Leeds does need flood protection. I remember visiting with her a few years ago to see the scheme. We have already achieved phase 1 with the £32 million for that, and the Government are putting forward £65 million for phase 2. My understanding is that Leeds City Council is keen to work with us on that, and we are keen to make progress.

Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Thank you, Mr Speaker; take two. The Environment Secretary said to Extinction Rebellion that he, at least, had got the message, but of course days later his Government were panned by the Solar Trade Association for new tax changes that will affect solar and storage schemes. That contrasts with Labour’s announcement last week of plans for 1.75 million households to benefit from the solar energy revolution. So will this Government abandon the damaging changes to VAT, match Labour’s solar investment plans and actually start taking renewables seriously?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

As I said, we have an exemplary record in terms of our reduction of carbon. We are the top performer in the G7. It would be good to hear Opposition Members acknowledge the massive progress that we have made. The fact is that we are going to make more progress not by supporting a bunch of anti-capitalists that glue themselves to public transport, but by using market mechanisms instead, helping the economy grow. That is the way we improve the environment.