Climate Change

Part of Kew Gardens (Leases) (No. 3) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 6:49 pm on 24th June 2019.

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Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Chair, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee 6:49 pm, 24th June 2019

I am proud to speak in this debate, and I am proud that the country that first legislated with the Climate Change Act in 2008 is going a step further today by updating the Act and will be the first G7 economy to legislate for net zero. I think we should all be proud of those achievements. But the role of Parliament, and my role as Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee is, where appropriate, to push the Government to go further in a whole range of areas. Those areas include electric vehicles and carbon capture and storage, on both of which my Select Committee has produced reports. Another is energy efficiency, on which a report is coming shortly looking at energy efficiency in homes and at the building of homes—we must not build homes today that we know are not fit for the future given the new commitments that we are making.

Other such areas are international aviation and shipping, which I am disappointed are not included in the SI we are debating today. The chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, Chris Stark, who gave evidence to our Select Committee, said that it was absolutely imperative to include international aviation and shipping in our climate change commitments, because they contribute 10% of our carbon emissions. I hope the Government will look at that evidence again and update our legislation in light of it.

There are other things that we need to do. Our Committee took evidence last week, including from the World Wide Fund for Nature, which said that a target of 2045 was eminently possible. We heard other evidence that by 2050 we should be looking not at net zero, but at taking carbon out of the atmosphere, as my hon. Friend Dr Whitehead said earlier, with a 120% target to do exactly that. I hope that when we have the five-year review we can look at being more radical and going further, so that we achieve net zero before 2050 and continue to be a world leader and ensure that we are at the forefront of creating green jobs and taking the opportunities that meeting this target will offer.

However, achieving all that goes well beyond our debates and the decisions we take in this House, and that is why I am also pleased that, along with five other Select Committees, my Committee announced last week that we will be setting up a series of citizens assemblies to bring the public into this debate. Debates and resolutions in this House are not going to take carbon out of the atmosphere; they are not going to get somebody to buy an electric vehicle, or eat less meat, or farm in a different way, or build houses in a different way. To do that we need to take businesses and everyone with us. I hope that those citizens assemblies will look at the evidence, take evidence from a range of experts and deliberate on how all of us can play our part, and I hope that we collectively find that we have in us, in all our communities, the solution to the challenges we face today so that all of us can play our part in achieving a really important objective. That is what all of us should set out to do.