I am very grateful, Mr Speaker, for your permission to give this statement on the proposed legislation I have tabled today to end our country’s contribution to global warming. There are many issues in this House on which we passionately disagree, but there are moments when we can act together to take the long-term decisions that will shape the future of the world that we leave to our children and grandchildren.
Just over a decade ago, I was the shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when Edward Miliband secured Royal Assent for the landmark Climate Change Act 2008. I was proud, on behalf of my party, to speak in support of the first law of its kind in the world, setting a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 relative to 1990 levels. Today, I am proud to stand on the Government side of the House to propose an amendment to that Act that will enable this Parliament to make its own historic commitment to tackling climate change—a commitment that has been made possible by many years of hard work from Members across this House of Commons on both sides, and beyond. I thank in particular Lord Deben for his leadership as chair of the independent Committee on Climate Change, as well as its members and staff, and Rachel Reeves and my hon. Friend Alex Chalk for their recent Bills that paved the way for today’s proposed legislation. I also pay tribute to the extraordinary work of my friend and ministerial colleague, the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth.
Today, we can make the United Kingdom the first major economy in the world to commit to ending our contribution to global warming forever. The United Kingdom was the home of the first industrial revolution. Furnaces and mills nestled in English dales, coal mines in the Welsh valleys and shipyards on the Clyde and in Belfast harbour powered the world into the first industrial age. We now stand on the threshold of a new, fourth industrial revolution—one not powered by fossil fuels, but driven by green growth and clean, renewable technologies. Once again, the United Kingdom and all its parts stand ready to lead the way. It is right that economies such as ours, which made use of carbon-intensive technologies to start the first industrial revolution, now blaze a trail in the fourth industrial revolution. Whether it is through our global offshore wind industry, our leadership on green finance, or our unrivalled research base that is leading the charge on electric vehicles, we are showing the economic benefits of how cutting emissions can help to grow our economy.
Through our industrial strategy, the UK is already forging that future, leading the way in the development, manufacture and use of low-carbon technologies. By responding to the grand challenges we have set, including on the future of mobility and clean growth, we are already creating thousands of new jobs right across the country. We are showing that there is no false choice between protecting our planet and improving our prosperity: we can and must do both.
Indeed, low-carbon technology and clean energy already contribute more than £44 billion to our economy every year. In 2017, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the UK reached their lowest levels since 1888. Last year, we secured more than half of our electricity from low-carbon sources. Just last month, we set a new record for the number of days we have gone without burning any coal since the world’s first public coal power station opened in London in 1882.
We have said that we will completely phase out unabated coal-fired power generation by 2025, ending the harmful impacts to our health and environment for good. Together with Canada, we have launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which has now seen 80 national and local governments, businesses and non-governmental organisations join together in a pioneering commitment to phase out unabated coal.
However, if our actions are to be equal to the scale of the threat, nations across the world must strive to go further still, and we in the United Kingdom must continue to fulfil our responsibility to lead the way. That is why, in October, following the latest evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Government wrote to the independent Committee on Climate Change to seek its advice on our long-term emissions targets. Just last month, it issued its response, recommending that we legislate for the UK to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, taking into account our emissions from international air travel and shipping. So I am today laying a statutory instrument—in fact, it is already before the House—that will amend the Climate Change Act 2008 with a new, legally binding net zero emissions target by 2050.
Ending our contribution to climate change can be the defining decision of our generation in fulfilling our responsibility to the next, but it will require the effort of a generation to deliver it. I am grateful to all those business leaders, faith leaders, scientists and climate campaigners who have written to the Prime Minister, me and many Members in this House to express support for this landmark proposal. It will require Governments and political parties of all colours to work with all sectors of business and society. We must fully engage young people too, which is why a new youth steering group, led by the British Youth Council, will be set up to advise the Government—for the first time giving young people directly the chance to shape our future climate policy.
The assessment of the independent Committee on Climate Change is based on the latest climate science. It drives our ability to take action on the international stage, and it considers current consumer trends and developments in technology. The committee has concluded that a net zero 2050 target is feasible and deliverable, and can be met within the exact same cost envelope of 1% to 2% of GDP in 2050 as the 80% target when that was set, such has been the power of innovation in reducing costs.
It is, however, absolutely right that we should look carefully at how such costs are distributed in the longer term, as Professor Dieter Helm recommended in his report to the Government. The Government are also today accepting the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change that the Treasury lead a review into the costs of decarbonisation. This will consider how to achieve the transition to net zero in a way that works for households, businesses and the public finances. It will also consider the implications for UK competitiveness.
In fulfilling the scale of the commitment we are making today, we will need technological and logistical changes in the way we use our land, with more emphasis, for example, on carbon sequestration. We will need to redouble our determination to seize the opportunity to support investment in a range of new technologies, including in areas such as carbon capture, usage and storage, and in hydrogen and bioenergy.
However, as the committee also found, the foundations for these step changes are already in place, including in the industrial strategy and the clean growth strategy. Indeed, there is no reason whatever to fear that fulfilling this commitment will do anything to limit our success in the years ahead—quite the reverse. In our industrial strategy, we have backed technology and innovation, including the UK’s biggest ever increase in public investment in research and development.
The International Energy Agency’s report on the UK, published last week, found:
“The United Kingdom has shown real results in terms of boosting investment in renewables, reducing emissions and maintaining energy security”.
By doubling down on innovation in this way, we can expect to reap the benefits as we move forward to meeting this target by 2050.
I believe that by leading the world and harnessing the power of innovative new technologies we can seize the full economic potential of building a competitive, climate-neutral economy, but we do not intend for a moment for this to be simply a unilateral action. If we are to meet the challenge of climate change, we need international partners across the world to step up to this level of ambition. While we retain the ability in the Act to use international carbon credits that contribute to actions in other countries, we want them to take their own actions and we do not intend to use those credits.
“an inspiration for many countries who seek to design effective decarbonisation frameworks.”
Just as we have reviewed the 2008 Act in making this amendment today, so we will use the review mechanism contained in the Act, within five years, to confirm that other countries are taking similarly ambitious action, multiplying the effect of the UK’s lead and ensuring that our industries do not face unfair competition.
Finally, I do not believe that this commitment will negatively affect our day-to-day lives. No G20 country has decarbonised its economy as quickly as we have. Today, the UK is cleaner and greener, but no-one can credibly suggest that our lives are worse as a result—quite the reverse. We are richer, in every sense of the word, for being cleaner, for wasting less and for cherishing, not squandering, our common inheritance.
We may account for less than 1% of the world’s population and for about 1% of global carbon emissions, but by making this commitment today we can lead by example. We can be the ambitious global Britain we all want our country to be. We can seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle one of the greatest threats to humanity, and we can make this a defining, unifying commitment of this otherwise riven and often irresolute Parliament—one that is agreed by all, honoured by all and fulfilled by all.
In the first industrial revolution, we applied the powers of science and innovation to create products and services in which this country came to excel, but which came at a cost to our environment. In this new industrial revolution, we can innovate and lead all over again, creating new markets and earning our way in the world in the decades ahead, but in a way that protects our planet for every generation that follows ours. When history is written, this Parliament can be remembered not only for the times that it disagreed, but for the moment when it forged this most significant agreement of all. I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. I echo his thanks, not least to the Committee on Climate Change, and to my right hon. Friend Edward Miliband, my hon. Friend Rachel Reeves and Alex Chalk. I, too, would like to welcome Claire Perry back to her place.
I begin by welcoming the statement. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was just wrong, in my view, recently to exaggerate the costs of achieving net zero, and it is good to see the Government listening instead to the experts at the Committee on Climate Change. The Labour party committed to a target of net zero emissions before 2050 at its 2018 conference, and it is welcome to see the Government move in a similar direction.
Now that the Government are prepared to legislate their duty, it is now imperative that they urgently take the strategic decisions necessary. Sadly, at last week’s Prime Minister's questions, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, referring to the UK’s carbon budgets, said:
“We are not off track”—[Official Report,
Vol. 661, c. 136]— in meeting those targets at all. It is, however, a matter of fact, confirmed by the Committee on Climate Change and official BEIS statistics, that the UK is off track to meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets. It would be helpful if the Secretary of State took this opportunity to correct the record, and to tell the House—if the Government are off track to meet their existing carbon budgets—what immediate strategic decisions he will make to ensure that the public can have confidence in the Government’s ability to meet even more stringent targets. That confidence can certainly be restored, but the Secretary of State must recognise that urgent commitments to investment and new legislation will be needed
Today’s statement is a welcome first step, but the Secretary of State has already recognised the scale of the task that lies ahead. Since 2015, when the Conservative Government secured a majority, they have systematically dismantled the policy frameworks that were designed to tackle climate change. They have effectively banned onshore wind, reduced almost all support for solar power, scrapped the zero carbon homes standard, sold off the UK Green Investment Bank, removed support for tidal power, and relentlessly pushed fracking—fracking, of all things! Moreover, there has been a 98% fall in home insulation measures since 2010.
At this point the Secretary of State will mention offshore wind, so let us be clear about that. The Government have committed themselves to bringing 30 GW of offshore wind on stream by 2030—well done!—but that is significantly less than the 50 GW that the Labour party has pledged, and dramatically less than the 75 GW that the Committee on Climate Change says we could need by 2050. Greenpeace has described the slow pace at which the Government have made contracts for difference available as “bewildering”, and analysis by Green Alliance has found that the Government are pushing the sector into a boom-and-bust cycle.
I could go on—these policy decisions have put the UK back by years—but, as climate change is still reversible, so is the Government’s track record. I am trusting the Secretary of State today to promise the House that, as one of his lasting legacies, he will turn that record around. I welcome his collegiate tone, because there are many—not least the Committee on Climate Change, the Labour party, other Members of Parliament, numerous industry groups, and energy and climate organisations—who have the ground-breaking ideas that are necessary. The Secretary of State need only reach out to those who are desperate to help him.
Achieving net zero before 2050 is necessary and affordable, and there is no need to rely on international offsets, which—let us be honest—does look like cheating. At this point, may I ask the Secretary of State whether aviation and shipping are excluded from the net zero targets, and if so, why? To achieve net zero, however, we will need huge levels of investment. We will need co-ordinated planning and new laws, and, as with any emergency, we will need significant Government intervention. I do not believe that that is ideological, or even party-political; it is just common sense, and that is why it is at the heart of Labour’s plans for ushering in a green industrial revolution.
I welcome today’s announcement, but I must ask the Secretary of State of State when he will start to act in accordance with it.
I thank the hon. Lady for her welcome. It contained some caveats, but it was there nevertheless, and I am grateful for it.
I think that the hon. Lady should take this opportunity to reinforce the joint determination—which is noted around the world—of parties in this House of Commons to commit themselves to leading the world. We have delivered on that. I do not know whether the hon. Lady has seen this week’s report from the International Energy Agency, but it is something of which she, and all of us, should be proud. The IEA—the world’s foremost body in commenting dispassionately on energy matters—says in its report:
“The United Kingdom has led the way in the transition to a low-carbon economy by taking ambitious climate action at international and national levels.”
That is its headline conclusion. As I said in my statement, it has also commented that the Government’s efforts—and I think we can include the efforts of successive Governments—are
“an inspiration for many countries who seek to design effective decarbonisation frameworks.”
This is a moment at which, for all the fractiousness of current debates, I think the House can be proud of the decisions that have been made.
The hon. Lady asked about carbon budgets, which were established by the Climate Change Act. As she will know, for the two carbon budgets that have been met—most recently in 2017—we have achieved surpluses of 1.2% in the first and 4.7% in the second, and we are on track for a surplus of 3.6% in the current one, which will end in 2022. As for the carbon budgets that follow, which run until 2032, at this stage—and we are talking about 15 years or more from now—we are already 90% of the way there.
An important feature of the report from the Committee on Climate Change is its recognition of the astonishing returns from investment in innovation. When Edward Miliband and I were debating the Climate Change Bill across the Dispatch Boxes—the right hon. Gentleman will remember this—the Opposition came close to defeating the then Government on the question of imposing an emissions performance standard on new coal-fired power stations: we were defeated by just a few votes. The need for such a performance standard is now cast into history, because we have no new coal-fired power stations and we are closing the existing ones. Such is the pace of change. So I am absolutely confident that we will meet the ambition that we have set today.
The hon. Lady mentioned solar power. The Committee on Climate Change has commended the action we have taken through the feed-in tariffs. They were always intended to kick-start the solar industry. The scheme cost £1.2 billion a year, and £30 billion has been spent on supporting the industry. It has been successful, as intended, in bringing prices down. Just as in every other advanced economy, as intended from the outset, it has now closed, but has been replaced by an export guarantee that allows those supplying surplus energy in the market to be paid for it.
Proposals of that kind have been endorsed by commentators around the world. In choosing to make this big increase in research and development, we can be confident that we can maintain and fulfil our ambition not only for the environment, but for the job creation in every part of the country that comes with a consistent and determined act of leadership. I am grateful for the support of the Opposition in that regard.
Today’s announcement has been broadly welcomed—by, among others, the Confederation of British Industry—but our energy-intensive industries such as steel, ceramics and cement are currently paying a higher price for energy than is paid in comparable countries. What reassurance can the Secretary of State give industries such as those that other industrial economies will follow our lead, and that the measures that will have to be introduced if we are meet the zero target by 2050 will not place those industries at a competitive disadvantage?
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. One of our requirements, which has been recognised by the Committee on Climate Change, is our need to invest in the energy-intensive industries in particular, to improve their energy efficiency so that they can compete effectively and also to enable us to capture, store and, in some cases, use the carbon they generate. The commitment to carbon capture, use and storage is one of the steps we must take to meet those ambitions.
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. I also welcome the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry, back to the Chamber—although she is no longer present—and echo others in thanking the Committee on Climate Change for its work.
We welcome the statement. It is important that we all work together to address this challenge. We especially welcome the intention to follow the Scottish Government by including aviation and shipping in the targets, but why not have the ambition to match the Scottish Government’s emissions plan? In Scotland the target date for zero net emissions is 2045 rather than 2050, and the carbon-neutral target date is 2040. So let us see if we can step up that ambition.
Even before the actions contained in Scotland’s climate change plan, actual emissions were down 3.3% between 2016 and 2017 and down to nearly half of the emissions levels of 1990. The Secretary of State’s Government must be more ambitious. The Committee on Climate Change said that this is “feasible and deliverable”, as was mentioned in the Secretary of State’s statement. Will he also accept the Committee’s recommendation which agrees with the CBI on the National Infrastructure Commission’s call that in the 2020s we really need to push ahead with renewables to meet the 2050 target?
The Secretary of State said that he is taking these actions to
“tackle one of the greatest threats to humanity”, yet the Committee on Climate Change, the National Infrastructure Commission and the CBI all say that investment in onshore wind and solar has stalled for political reasons. The CBI has said we should take the politics off the table for onshore wind, so will the Secretary of State drop the Tory ideological opposition to onshore wind?
Finally, there is another choice other than nuclear: carbon capture and storage utilisation. St Fergus near Aberdeen could be operational quickly, by 2023 with the right investment and commitment. At minimum it could capture 5.7 gigatons, equivalent to 150 years-worth of all of Scotland’s 2016 gas emissions, so will the Secretary of State reverse the betrayal over Peterhead and that carbon capture programme being withdrawn and commit to investing in St Fergus in order to deliver these benefits, not only for Scotland but for the UK and the rest of the planet?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He seemed to be welcoming the Committee’s report but criticising the Government for not agreeing with its recommendation to set a date of 2045 for Scotland and 2050 for the United Kingdom. That was its clear advice and we are following it. There were particular reasons, such as the greater potential for afforestation in Scotland, why it regarded a 2045 target as appropriate. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not take it amiss when I agree with the first part of what he said—that we should follow the Committee’s advice—rather than the second part, which is that we should then disagree with it.
On the points about carbon capture and storage, part of the opportunity and requirement for net zero is that it is possible to take carbon out of the atmosphere, especially from industrial processes, and of course Scotland and its industrial clusters will have an important part to play in that.
The hon. Gentleman mentions the National Infrastructure Commission, and again I welcome his respect for its expert analysis. We support what it says about increasing renewables. I hope that in the same spirit he will support its recommendation that we should have more new nuclear power—something he opposed. I do not want to be excessively partisan on an issue that I know from my discussions with the Scottish Government is a common commitment that we make to maintain and increase our ambition and at the same time create jobs in every part of the UK including Scotland.
Yesterday I was in Washington, where I was reminded that this is a fiercely partisan issue there that divides politics, perhaps more than any other. It is something to rejoice in that here there is a very bipartisan view on it. I am very proud that this Government have taken this decision today. They have listened to the scientific evidence and are acting on it, but does my right hon. Friend agree that this is the easy part? We have to carry our population with us as we decarbonise our economy further, change the way we travel, farm and move around, and be a beacon for other countries to do the same.
I completely agree with my right hon. Friend and pay tribute to him for his leadership both as a Member of this House and a Minister in DEFRA in pursuing this at a national and international level. He is absolutely right that we need to change the way we do things, but the prospects of leaning into technology mean that we can do that in a way that does not make our lives more miserable or more constrained. No one could look back on the last 20 or 30 years and think that, having achieved what we have in terms of emissions reductions, we have done so at the expense of our quality of life. That is the guiding philosophy we should take: we should harness technology to make sure our lives can be better and greener and cleaner in the future.
I warmly welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement and join those who have paid tribute to the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, because this idea had been lying around for a couple of years in the long grass of Government and it was she who took it out of that long grass and helped make it happen. I also welcome the five-year review mechanism because we might well need to bring forward the net zero date from 2050; that might not be the original intention of the review mechanism but it may be necessary. May I however ask the Secretary of State to recognise that in its advice the Climate Change Committee said very specifically that as well as setting the target itself, the Government must put in place the policies to meet the target? That means, as it said, a 2030, not 2040, cut-off date for new petrol and diesel vehicles; a proper decarbonisation plan for our 27 million homes, which we do not have; and an end to the moratorium on onshore wind—a moratorium I believe is now economically illiterate as it is now our cheapest fuel available? Can the Secretary of State assure us that henceforth there will be leadership not just on targets but on action?
I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for his own leadership in this. I think he will recognise that we are not credited simply with leadership in terms of legislation and targets but with achievement. Of the major industrialised countries we are the world leader in decarbonising our economy at the same time as growing that economy. We should be proud of that.
The right hon. Gentleman is quite right: the inclusion of the review mechanism in the Climate Change Act was a prescient one because it has allowed me to write to the Committee, which has resulted in the report to which we are responding today. I think five years is a good period of time in which to see how we and others are doing against that target and whether the pace of implementation is what is required.
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that policies to support that will be required. The essence of good policy is that it should not have unintended consequences. In terms of the automotive sector for example, I and Members opposite know that car companies need to be able to generate the returns in order to make the capital investment to install the new capital equipment that is needed to make electric powertrains, for instance, so getting that pace right so that they can have the returns to be able to reinvest is crucial; otherwise, there could be unintended consequences. The right hon. Gentleman talked about homes and wind, and of course all these things make contributions to meeting that target. The action from now on, including in the energy White Paper, is to set out the policy framework that supports our ambitions.
I warmly welcome the Minister’s statement today and his beautifully articulated ambition for the UK. Cornish engineers, scientists and miners were at the forefront of the first industrial revolution, and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly local enterprise partnership clean growth strategy shows that we want to play a pivotal role in this fourth industrial revolution. Will my right hon. Friend congratulate a team from Cornwall that yesterday won money from the Faraday challenge? Cornish Lithium and Wardell Armstrong came together to make sure we can set a path for extracting lithium from Cornish mines and create a supply chain here in the UK for the batteries we will need to power up this fourth industrial revolution.
I agree with my hon. Friend and I am grateful for her warm words. She is absolutely right to point out some of the possibilities for Cornwall, including the sources of lithium that are going to be in demand as we decarbonise and electrify cars and other forms of transportation. There are great opportunities for Cornwall and I know that companies there will be creating new jobs on the back of that prospect.
May I start by welcoming the statement and the commitment that the Secretary of State and the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth have given to this? May I also say how proud I am to be a Member of a Parliament that continues to lead the way globally in tackling climate change? I am pleasantly surprised that the Bill I presented to Parliament yesterday has been adopted so quickly by the Government. However, I would say to the Secretary of State that if we are going to will the ends, we also need to will the means, and I urge him to go back to the reports from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and look again at bringing forward the target date for phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles, getting on with the demonstration projects for carbon capture and storage, improving the energy efficiency of our homes by genuinely ensuring that all new homes are zero carbon, and asking more from our house builders. If we do that, we have a chance of meeting the targets that we are now signing up to.
The hon. Lady is a very influential member of this House, and when she publishes a Bill, the Government respond with alacrity. I will draw on the expertise of colleagues on her Select Committee, who have participated in the preparatory work that is needed to review the policy framework to support our ambition, and I dare say that her Committee will hold me and the ministerial team to account in terms of our implementation of the work that is needed.
Today is a fantastic day, and this commitment will be warmly welcomed by my constituents in Winchester and, I hope, by the young people watching in the Gallery who have picked a good time to come in. May I ask my excellent right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who has spoken so passionately on this, what role he sees local authorities playing in this new zero ambition and what targets we as a Parliament might set them so that they can match their words with action—not on everything, but on things like retrofitting existing housing stock and protecting the natural environment from developers? What targets can we set them?
My hon. Friend answers his own question in giving me some examples. It is important to acknowledge that each place has different challenges and different opportunities. My hon. Friend Sarah Newton talked about the potential for the exploitation of lithium in Cornwall, for example. Every part of the country will have its role to play. One of the areas in which local authorities have a signal role to play is charging for electric vehicles. If people have the confidence to accelerate the take-up of electric vehicles, that will make a big contribution to decarbonising the economy.
I too welcome this announcement. This is a significant day on the journey that our country must make towards a zero carbon future, although we recognise that some of the steps we have yet to take will be a little more challenging than the ones we have already taken. May I pick up the point that the Secretary of State just referred to? Part of the green revolution will have to be built on electric vehicles, not least because a third of our remaining emissions come from transport. We are seeing new electric cars being developed and the range extending, but having talked about responsibility of local authorities, will he explain who is going to pay for the charging infrastructure, particularly in residential areas, as this will be essential if consumers are to have the confidence to buy the cars, which will lead the manufacturers to make more of them?
The right hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. This is a shared responsibility, and part of the funding that we have made available—more will be needed—is to ensure that both the private and public sectors contribute to establishing a network that is not only available but dependable and also rapid in its ability to charge. That network needs to cover every part of the country—cities as well as rural areas.
I do recall the green deal, and it is fair to reflect that as we take decisions and adopt policies in this area, not every one of them is going to work in the way that is intended. It is an area in which we are innovating, and my view is that we should innovate in technology as well as in policy. I hope that the House will not be too harsh when innovations are attempted that perhaps do not work out in the way that was predicted. However, my right hon. Friend is right to say that we need to give incentives to individuals as well as companies to participate in this roll-out, and through the clean growth strategy and the forthcoming energy White Paper, he will be able to see more of that in the weeks ahead.
I welcome this historic announcement by the Secretary of State and congratulate him and the Minister of State on this achievement. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that any transition must be a just transition for the communities that are experiencing this if we are to avoid the social devastation that we saw in coalfield communities such as mine, where the mines were abruptly closed in the 1980s and 1990s with no plan? Given that there is no accompanying policy to today’s announcement, may I suggest that he follow the advice of the Environmental Audit Committee’s report, published on Monday, which is to phase out taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuel exports so that we are not exporting carbon dependency into low and middle-income countries while preaching about our own virtues here at home?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady. The work of her Committee will be important in scrutinising the policies that are set in place to meet our ambitions. I have not seen the report to which she refers, but it will be my bedtime reading this evening.
I very much welcome this announcement. In two weeks’ time, the EYE—eco, young and engaged—project that I founded in 2008 will hold its 11th eco-summit in Worthing, attended by 250 local schoolchildren, to share environmental best practice. Does my right hon. Friend agree that those who most enthusiastically embrace the need to take urgent action on climate change are our youngest citizens? If so, what more can we do to turbo-charge plans to do more in their schools and to lead by example on becoming more carbon neutral by doing more on renewable energy, energy monitoring, understanding food miles and environmentally friendly school transport plans?
I am grateful for the support of my hon. Friend, and, as I said in my statement, we have created a particular role for young people to advise on the policy framework in the knowledge that the consequences of climate change will be felt most particularly by the younger generations. There is a further opportunity. If we succeed, as I hope we will, in hosting the conference of the parties next year, that will provide a big opportunity for young people across the world, and especially in this country, to participate in the deliberations on some of the most important decisions that the world will take. I very much hope we will be able to give that opportunity to young people.
Thank you very much indeed, Mr Speaker. I warmly welcome this statement. It is a significant milestone, but does the Secretary of State agree that we now need to significantly increase the sense of urgency, particularly in decarbonising the heating of buildings and transport? We have no incentive at all to increase energy efficiency in the heating of homes other than for the most vulnerable households, we are still waiting for the consultation on building regulations to deliver zero carbon, and the plug-in grant for vehicles has been cut. This surely is not good enough, and we need to increase that sense of urgency.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and I congratulate him on his well-deserved knighthood. I think everyone will recognise the reasons for it—[Interruption.] Angus Brendan MacNeil will have to wait in line, I fear. The right hon. Gentleman is correct to say that we need to decarbonise all parts of the economy. That means reviewing our policies in every area, and it is important that we should do that. He mentioned the plug-in grant for electric vehicles, and one of the desirable features of policies is that a commitment can be made to kick-start the development of an industry to bring costs down, with the intention of withdrawing that commitment when the market has taken flight. We must not get into a position where we can never propose something without it needing to be there in perpetuity, because that would reduce our overall potential for innovation, which, as he knows from his work as Chair of the Select Committee on Science and Technology, would not be good for the UK or for science and innovation.
Anyone who truly cares about passing on a cleaner, greener, better globe to our children and grandchildren will warmly welcome the content of today’s statement and will be glad that the whole House has risen above party-political bickering to do just that. The Secretary of State mentioned the manufacturing of electric cars, so will he congratulate Dyson in my constituency on investing £250 million in research and development at Hullavington in my constituency? Will he seek to try to persuade Dyson to make good use of vacated automotive manufacturing facilities nearby, perhaps by manufacturing vehicles at the Honda site in Swindon?
I agree with my hon. Friend, and I congratulate and praise Sir James Dyson. He is one of our most brilliant inventors and entrepreneurs, and he makes a big contribution to our country, not only through the people he employs, but in the education training that he gives. I share my hon. Friend’s ambition for us to be able to attract Dyson to locate manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom. We have the research, the brains, the skilled workforce, and the facilities. I hope, in time, that we will be able to celebrate further opportunities that Dyson may have in the United Kingdom.
I do welcome this report, but I would welcome it a lot more if the Government had followed all the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, not just the ones that do not cause ideological indigestion. In particular, the Committee recommended that the emission reduction effort needs to be done here at home, not outsourced to poorer countries. Carbon offsetting basically slows decarbonisation, and it deprives poorer countries of the low-hanging fruit that they need in order to meet their own reduction targets. Will the Secretary of State therefore review the decision to rely on dodgy loopholes, and will he ensure that the domestic action is all done here at home?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for welcoming the commitment, but she knows that the Climate Change Act 2008 includes the use of credits. The Committee on Climate Change has not recommended that we should repeal that part of the Act, just that we should not aim to make use of them. We support, accept and agree with that recommendation, so we will not be making use of credits.
The Crawley-headquartered Virgin Atlantic had its first biofuel flight last year, and the Gatwick-based easyJet is now flying the new A320neo, which has a much-reduced carbon output. In moving towards net zero emissions, what support can the Government give to the world-leading UK aviation industry, so that it can play its part in ensuring that we can be an island trading nation while leading the world on environmental protection?
The aerospace sector deal that was concluded as part of our industrial strategy includes the research and development of electric power for aeroplanes, which positions us at the forefront of the development of that technology. That has the obvious benefits of contributing to the reduction in omissions and creating further success for what my hon. Friend correctly describes as an important and successful industry in this country.
The UK is making good progress on clean electricity thanks to policies introduced by successive Governments, but we are not yet making the progress we desperately need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport. What does the Secretary of State think the key problems and challenges are, and what we are going to do about them?
If the hon. Lady reflects on the progress that is being made, she will see that the accelerating take-up of electric vehicles makes a major contribution. Through the industrial strategy, we have funded the research and development of new electric powertrains for commercial vehicles—vans, lorries and agricultural vehicles—which will be important. We need to double down on that commitment, but we made the right strategic judgment three years ago when we targeted the future of mobility, including electric vehicles, as being one of the principal contributors not just to tackling climate change, but to creating jobs in the economy.
I congratulate the Secretary of State on this important announcement. As he says, the challenge is now all about implementation. May I therefore encourage him to look closely at the Marine Energy Council’s proposals for how to stimulate the production of that side of green energy, which is still the Cinderella of the sector? In addition, may I ask him to work closely with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to reduce the amount of illegal plastic waste currently being exported in a disgraceful way to Malaysia and elsewhere in south-east Asia, which will, if not stopped, damage our strong environmental commitments?
I agree with my hon. Friend and recognise his long-standing campaigning and his contribution to creating a clean environment. In the quest to pursue the possibilities of new technologies and their research and development, I agree that marine and tidal technologies have an important role to play. Since 2010, we have made available over £90 million in grant funding, and we will continue not only to do that but, working with our universities and businesses, to accelerate the research and development that is taking place in all parts of the United Kingdom.
In wholeheartedly welcoming this statement, may I ask the Secretary of State to do two things? First, will he reverse the Government’s decisions to abolish the zero-carbon homes regulations, to ban onshore wind, and to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow? Secondly, will he agree to meet me to discuss how we can decarbonise capitalism, particularly in the City of London? Given that the City funds 15% of global fossil fuel investment, if we can decarbonise the City, that can have a massive impact on the whole world.
I acknowledge the right hon. Gentleman’s experience and contribution to the cross-party efforts that have been made in this area. When it comes to wind, we sometimes have to make some strategic calls, and the decision we took to provide funding and incentives for the development of the offshore wind industry has allowed it to develop to the extent that we are now the world leader, creating jobs right across the country, so it was right to champion offshore wind. He also mentions the City, and it is important to recognise the contribution and the leadership that the green finance expertise in the City of London offers to the world. The City will be extremely important in financing many of the investments that will be needed in the years ahead.
I note that this statement marks 30 years of global British leadership on this issue, under both parties. Margaret Thatcher was the first P5 leader to devote the entirety of her speech to the United Nations General Assembly to this issue. Turning to the cost estimates, does the 2% envelope include the likely benefits that will come from the technology that will be generated from investment in this area? On the flipside of that, if British leadership fails to take the rest of the world with us, what kind of estimates have been made of the costs of protecting our country from the consequences of climate change?
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. Mrs Thatcher was the first world leader to declare a climate emergency. I recently reread the speech that she made to the UN, and I would commend it to any Member of this House. Its prescience and rigour are remarkable, and it bears reading again today.
The 1% to 2% cost estimate of the Committee on Climate Change is exactly what the House voted for in 2008. It is a gross figure, not a net figure, and does not include the benefits. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that it also does not include the consequences and costs of a failure to tackle climate change, although the committee’s report sets out in great detail some of the negative consequences were we and the rest of the world to fail to act.
I, too, welcome today’s statement as an important step forward. I hope the Secretary of State will join me in congratulating Birmingham City Council, which last night declared a climate emergency and a much more ambitious date to achieve zero carbon status. I hope he will also congratulate Birmingham Youth Strike 4 Climate, which has helped to lead this campaign in our region.
It would be a misreading of economic history if the Secretary of State forgot the mission critical role of a creative, active state in making industrial revolutions happen. In our region that means we need municipal energy companies to drive forward solar in the cities, green development corporations to help us build green council houses, an office of community wealth building to target the procurement spend we put into the market each year, a national education service to make sure we have the skills, and a regional investment bank to make sure we have the capital.
Will the Secretary of State work with us to help our region be the first to become zero carbon? That is the target we would like to set because, of course, we sparked the carbon revolution in the first place.
As the right hon. Gentleman says, the west midlands has a distinguished role not just in the history but in the future of industrial production in this country and around the world. He is right that that sense of place is important and that it is crucial the Government play an active role in this at every level. We just need to look at the success of offshore wind, which was driven, in part at least, by a framework in which private companies could invest with confidence, knowing that they would be supported.
It is open to local authorities and to companies to take decisions themselves as to when they can be carbon neutral, and many have done so. I am interested to hear that the right hon. Gentleman’s council has followed suit. He knows that the west midlands industrial strategy, which was mentioned in Prime Minister’s questions, has a substantial recognition of the opportunities across the region not only for participating in solving climate change but in reaping the benefits of the technologies.
I welcome the announcement. My right hon. Friend will appreciate that this has policy implications right the way through central Government, devolved authorities and local government. Can he reassure the House that central Government will lean forward and engage with every part of the United Kingdom to make sure we deliver this target so that we avoid negative targets such as the zero landfill target in Scotland, which sees opportunities lost and waste shipped to northern England, and so we see positive initiatives like the international environment centre in Alloa and, hopefully, geothermal in Clackmannanshire?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have set out a global ambition, and it would be absurd if we were divided within this United Kingdom on how we achieve it. We will work together to take advantage of all the opportunities, including in Scotland, to achieve the transition we need.
This is an important commitment, but will the Secretary of State make sure he publishes the impact assessment and the cost-benefit analysis so that, if we want to bring this forward to 2045, we can continue to review it and do so? Is it not a glaring omission that Brexit is not mentioned at all in this statement? There are a number of ways in which the European Union helps us to reduce carbon emissions. Will the EU emissions trading scheme continue? What will happen to the EU funding for low-carbon projects? Many of us believe that we should remain in the European Union if we want to leverage our impact on carbon reduction.
Sometimes I agree strongly with the hon. Gentleman, and on climate matters we have a record of leading in the European Union. The legislation that was passed and the achievements we have made are in advance of other European countries. It is within the capacity of this Parliament and this Government to make the necessary changes. I want us to lead Europe, as well as leading the world.
I warmly welcome this announcement. Will the Secretary of State join me in encouraging everyone inside and outside this House to see decarbonisation as an opportunity to be grasped, not a burden to be managed? Combining technology, particularly artificial intelligence, can lead to lower costs, economic benefits, efficiencies, cleaner energy and, of course, high-quality employment opportunities for our constituents.
I agree with my hon. Friend, whom I congratulate on being reappointed as the Prime Minister’s envoy on engineering, which makes a huge contribution. We need to have the skills to be able to take up the jobs and to implement the changes that are being made here. Training the next generation of engineers will be crucial.
From his work on the Science and Technology Committee, my hon. Friend knows the importance of innovation in this. Innovation enjoys prominent billing in my response today, and with just cause because it will be one of the ways in which we succeed.
It is a simple fact that we cannot reach net zero without a change in diet, a radical rethink of land use, at least a halving of food waste and embedding sustainability in the food chain from farm to fork. It is all well and good for Ministers to talk about carbon sequestration from soil and planting more trees, but that is very much the safe ground. We need to see a far more ambitious strategy both from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to achieve the reduction in emissions from food and farming that we need to see. Will the Secretary of State start by endorsing the National Farmers Union’s commitment to reach net zero by 2040?
I am always strongly supportive of the NFU and its work to make food and farming not only sustainable but a source of prosperity for this country. The hon. Lady is absolutely right that there are challenges and opportunities in how we use land. Across Government, and I hope across this House, we can work together to make sure those opportunities are reaped and applied so that we can benefit from them in this country and export them around the world.
This is hugely welcome. A legal commitment to net zero will help to preserve our planet while encouraging the kind of tech and innovation that we can export around the world. It is hugely welcome in Cheltenham, too.
I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State on their decisive and historic leadership on this issue. What is the plan to ensure that other countries face up to their responsibilities, too?
I commend my hon. Friend for his well-supported Climate Change (Net Zero UK Carbon Account) Bill and for his fantastic speech in support of it, in which he urged us in this direction. It is a source of great pleasure to me that we can meet his ambitions.
We will have an early opportunity to advance this cause with our international partners and with all countries around the world if, as I hope, we succeed in hosting the next conference of the parties, which takes place next year.
We would not be here discussing this today if not for Extinction Rebellion and the hundreds of thousands of young people who, week after week, grabbed this issue and brought it back into the mainstream. With that in mind, and given that many local authorities have more ambitious targets, will the Secretary of State agree to include in his plan at least an opportunity to meet this target at a much earlier time?
I have referred to the hugely important contribution that young people have made in advocating the action we are taking, and they are joined by many other campaigners in this country and around the world. The substantial report of the Committee on Climate Change, which I hope the hon. Gentleman will have a chance to study in detail, makes a proposal that is not plucked out of the air but is evidenced and referenced. In adopting and legislating for this target, we are doing so on the best possible advice. That is the best way to proceed.
I enthusiastically welcome today’s net zero announcement, because this issue has an impact on all of us, and especially on young people. I therefore particularly welcome the announcement of a youth steering group to advise the Government on this issue, and perhaps we could employ this model in other policy areas. When will we find out a little more about the role and purpose of this group?
Everything my hon. Friend does is with enthusiasm. We will publish the details of the terms of reference and composition of the group in the next few days, and I hope it will meet with his approval.
The Secretary of State knows that the reason for our leadership on emissions is that we have relocated much of our manufacturing to China and elsewhere, and closed our coalmines. Is he aware of the predictions of Professor Yangyang Xu, published in Nature magazine, which simply show that because there is more methane production than originally projected and less sulphur, which has a cooling effect, we are expected now to reach the 1.5° threshold not by 2040 but by 2030? In the light of that, will the Secretary of State look again at the assumptions underlying the report on which he is predicating his 2050 target, with a view to bringing that forward? Will he listen to some of the pressure groups, such as Extinction Rebellion, which want firmer action, be it getting rid of fracking, or action on wave, solar or wind, and move forward more quickly, because there is a desperate emergency and this statement is simply too little, too late?
The hon. Gentleman is wrong in saying that the reduction in emissions comes simply from exporting our production; he does a disservice to the hundreds and thousands of men and women who work in our renewables industry and lead the world in the development of offshore wind. It is a source of great national pride and I hope he will join in that. The Committee on Climate Change is a serious and substantial body that has done an important piece of work. It was rightly established by his party when he was in government, and those on both sides of the House have respected its advice. The Committee references and is impelled by the latest climate science, which, as he says, requires a more urgent response than was previously committed to. That is exactly why it has provided this advice and exactly why we are legislating to implement it.
Cornwall was early in declaring a climate emergency, and it will be glad to hear today’s commitment, not least because of the opportunity to create well-paid, skilled jobs by doing the right thing. The Committee on Climate Change recommendations talk about a massive skilled jobs programme and we have seen the need for that today. We are talking about the roll-out of smart meters, which helps to address the climate change emergency; the need for storage, as we heard from my Cornish colleague; home efficiency improvements; and even the management of waste food. Those things all require new skills and existing skills that people do not have at the moment. Will the Secretary of State work with the Department for Education and, in particular, with the Treasury to make sure that further education colleges, which are well placed to deliver these skills, have the money and have it quickly?
I will indeed do that. Let me give the example of the offshore wind sector deal, where one of the major commitments between the industry and government was to establish the skills needed in the supply chain to be able to create those jobs and allow the industry to flourish. This does not just apply to offshore wind; it applies across the clean energy sector. That is a good model for how to proceed.
I, too, welcome today’s announcement. However, the Liberal Democrats are setting out more ambitious targets to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, together with clear interim targets to make sure that we do not kick the can down the road and avoid difficult decisions now. Does the Minister recognise that today’s announcement somewhat contradicts Government policies on, for example, fracking, which is a fossil fuel, and on withdrawal from the European Union, which undermines international co-operation?
No, I do not. I am disappointed that the hon. Lady seems to be speaking on behalf of the Liberal Democrats in withdrawing the support for the Climate Change Act 2008, which set up the Committee to give advice to the Government. The Committee has been clear in saying that the ambition of 2050 is the right one for the United Kingdom. If she reads the report, she will respect the evidence on which that is based. It is always possible—and in our exchanges we have said that the Act provides for this ability—to review that progress and for the Committee to give further advice. I have said that in five years’ time we will go back to the Committee to ask it for an assessment of how we are doing.
What are the Government doing to support bioenergy and carbon capture and storage technology to enable the energy estuary of the Humber to become the UK’s first net zero industrial cluster?
The hon. Lady knows that the Humber is one of the prime areas that can benefit from the capture of carbon by the high emitters of CO2. We have a commitment to invest in carbon capture, usage and storage, and I know that across the Humber we have a strong contender for part of that investment fund.
Last night, at the Renewable Energy Association dinner, its chair, Nina Skorupska, said that the Committee on Climate Change should be renamed the committee for climate emergency. With that in mind, this net carbon zero statement is going in the right direction. A practical step to help what the Secretary of State is talking about would be to build a 600 MW interconnector to the Hebrides, rather than a 450 MW one. That would give us 33% more capacity for only 5% extra cost, and the extra electricity it would produce would probably drop wholesale prices and even eradicate that. Given today’s statement, will he make sure that Ofgem sees the big picture and gives the 600 MW the green light? Ofgem is currently not fit for purpose in this regard, because if it keeps its blinkered formula, its policies will result not in 600 MW or 450 MW, but in net zero MW.
I know that the hon. Gentleman is frustrated at the decision that Ofgem has taken. He and I had a successful and productive meeting in Stornoway a few years ago, as he will recall, to make it possible for remote islands to benefit from wind. He knows that Ofgem has an independent role, but I will follow up on his concerns.
This morning, the all-party motor group, which I chair, met a wide range of senior representatives of UK automotive companies, and there was a real welcome for the announcement that the Government have committed to net zero by 2050. However, they also noted that there is so much more to do if we are going to get there. That has to include a step change in infrastructure investment, making sure that the rapid charging points are available in the quantities and places needed, and that they are interoperable, and ensuring that the grid can cope. They also noted that we have to manage the transition more effectively, which means ending the confusion in the Government’s signals about intermediate technologies, about the regulatory frameworks to be put in place and about the kinds of incentives that can help to change consumer behaviour. In that context, may I gently say to the Secretary of State that cutting back on the plug-in car grant does not necessarily help, in a market that is not yet mature?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for conveying the support of the automotive industry, which has a crucial role to play in this transition. He is right about, and in earlier exchanges I have paid particular attention to, the importance of getting that transition right, so that it does not have unintended consequences of depriving of investment an industry that is crucial to making that change. Of course we will look at all the policy components. The plug-in grant was established and has been successful in launching an industry—or, at least, in expanding the early take-up of an industry. It was intended that it should come to an end when its budget was exhausted, but of course, through the spending review, decisions will need to be taken on how the industry can be supported in future.
The Secretary of State was correct to refer to the important role that the Clyde shipyards played in the first industrial revolution, but of course they will also have an important role to play in the next green industrial revolution if there is an appropriate industrial strategy. That is why I am dismayed that in respect of the offshore wind sector deal that the Government announced, they buckled to the lobbying by large energy companies and diluted the requirement for 60% of manufactured content to be made in the UK down to 60% of through-life content. As a result, EDF is sending the £2 billion contract for manufacturing a wind farm off the coast of Fife to Indonesia, instead of building it in the BiFab yards that lie 10 miles away on the coast of Fife and employ 1,000 people. Will the Secretary of State address this glaring inconsistency in the offshore wind sector strategy and ensure that we maximise British manufacturing of heavy engineered products in British renewable energy projects?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that our heritage and skills in shipbuilding are now being put to use throughout the country in marine energy and offshore wind in particular, but he will acknowledge that the commitment in the sector deal was to increase UK content. That was the right ambition to establish and it was agreed between the industry and the Government, although it can of course be kept under review. We always want to see content produced in the UK, including in the very shipyards that the hon. Gentleman mentioned that were so important in our first industrial revolution.
I warmly welcome the commitment to net zero emissions. Does the Secretary of State agree that to help to achieve that we need to do far more to encourage people out of their cars where possible, and to make more journeys by cycling or walking? We know what works to achieve European levels of cycling; will the Secretary of State commit to looking into the evidence and meeting me and the all-party group on cycling to see what further can be done to achieve those targets?
I would be delighted to do that. I am a strong advocate and have campaigned for and achieved the establishment of some important new cycle routes in my constituency. They are a good example of something that makes a contribution to the environment as well as giving us all opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and in many cases the countryside, including in the hon. Lady’s beautiful constituency.
My Lancashire constituents want to step up and play their role in meeting the climate emergency, including by choosing greener transport options. Will the Secretary of State look into opening disused rail lines, such as the one into Fleetwood, as part of the strategy? Does he recognise that fracking locks us into a reliance on fossil fuels for years to come? Will he review the Government’s support for fracking?
I will of course talk to my colleagues in the Department for Transport. As the hon. Lady said, we need to look into all the options to give people a choice of how to get about that is environmentally sustainable. On gas, whether derived onshore or offshore, the Committee on Climate Change has always been clear that in the transition to net zero there is a role for gas in all scenarios. In my view, if we have a domestic contribution to that, that helps with the resilience of our energy supplies.
The Secretary of State rightly referred in his statement to the historic opportunity before Parliament to make real progress in tackling climate change by achieving net zero carbon emissions. In order fully to realise that opportunity, will the Government reconsider existing policies—such as those relating to maximising the extraction of offshore oil and gas deposits—to ensure that they comply with the aspiration outlined this afternoon?
As I said to Cat Smith, the Committee on Climate Change, which advises not only the Government but the House and the country on this issue, recognises the need for a transition and that gas and oil will be required in that context. As we recognise the jobs and exports generated by gas and oil, it seems to me that we should do that as efficiently as we can and with the best deployment of technology that we possibly can.
As the Secretary of State knows, I am usually supportive of our bid to host COP 26, on which I led on a joint letter with Mr Clarke that was signed by more than 100 Members, but I am concerned that we are due to miss the fourth and fifth carbon budget targets. The explanatory notes that accompany the statutory instrument laid this morning say that the Government will leave headroom for emissions from international aviation and shipping. When will we adopt a Norwegian-style plan on aviation and shipping emissions that will eradicate those emissions and mean that we can meet our carbon budget targets?
We have followed the advice of the Committee on Climate Change and our plans for net zero cover the whole economy, including international aviation and shipping. We await the committee’s advice on how to legislate. One opportunity that our hosting the COP would bring forward is the ability to accelerate international agreements. I hope the hon. Gentleman would welcome that.
I join others in welcoming the legislation, but does the Secretary of State genuinely believe that the machinery of government is currently organised in such a way as to facilitate the type of ambitious policy response that we will need in this Parliament in order for the target to have credibility? He will know that we used to have a clean growth inter-ministerial group, but no such body now exists. Does he agree that, given the scale and pace of the transition required, we will almost certainly need to make changes to the institutional architecture of government to co-ordinate and drive progress across all Departments?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that we should have the best arrangement. In fact, that inter-ministerial group does exist, and my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth chaired its most recent meeting just last week. The hon. Gentleman should reflect on the creation of my Department, which brought together the responsibilities for business and industry with energy and climate change, because that is a recognition that if we want, as we must, to take action to achieve the targets, we must make sure that the economy is run and companies operate in a way that supports that action. It is a practical example of just the kind of thinking and acting that the hon. Gentleman advocates.
The 2050 deadline is of course important, but anyone who has seen how Parliament is squandering its time ahead of
I am happy to meet anyone who has a contribution to make, both to reducing our emissions and to achieving technological advances. On the nuclear industry, the hon. Gentleman knows that the financing of new nuclear power stations has been done commercially, and we are reviewing the financing model to see whether a different approach might address some of the difficulties that private sector investors have had in financing the scale of investment required for new nuclear. That review will report soon.
On behalf of the Democratic Unionist party, I welcome the Government’s continuing commitment to deal with this vital issue. It is important that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland does its bit to safeguard the environment for our children and grandchildren. Will the Secretary of State confirm that other countries are also committed and will do all that they can do to address the issue with equal determination?
I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman said; I know that he has regular discussions with the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth and is a strong advocate. Northern Ireland is one of the parts of the United Kingdom that has benefited strongly from clean energy and its deployment. We will continue that effort and I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s support.