Climate Change

Part of Kew Gardens (Leases) (No. 3) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 6:53 pm on 24th June 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 6:53 pm, 24th June 2019

It is a pleasure to follow Rachel Reeves, the Chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, which I have the privilege to serve on, and I concur with everything she said. I wish there was more time for this debate, because I would like to celebrate the fact that this issue has engaged the imaginations of the young people of this country. I would especially like to thank Sir David Attenborough for the extraordinary work he has done in raising public consciousness on this matter.

I am a grandfather, and I want my grandchildren to have a future in a cleaner and more sustainable world of wonder, and for that to happen—or to be a real prospect—we need to act now. To bring this into stark contrast, reference was made to the speech given nearly 30 years ago by Margaret Thatcher at the United Nations; she is the only Prime Minister, I believe, who was a scientist before assuming office. She said in that speech that it is life itself—human life, and the innumerable species of our planet—that we wantonly destroy. It is life itself that we must battle to preserve; we must never lose sight of the nub of this issue. So I fully support the Government’s ambition to achieve a net zero target in CO2 output by 2050—a target that will set a benchmark for the whole world to follow.

However, while I applaud the objective, a goal is only a wish if we do not have a fully detailed plan complete with milestones, and we need to fully communicate the implications of those details for our current way of life, because we will all need to change certain aspects of our daily lives and adjust the expectations that we have largely assumed. We owe it to the people of this country to have a frank and full discussion with them about the implications of what we are doing in this House this afternoon. It will require the very strongest signals from Government and from this Parliament for the target to be realised, and it must be agreed on a cross-party basis.

I want to say a few words about electric vehicles. Transport, energy-intensive industries, housing and agriculture will all need to be brought firmly under the microscope, but let me talk about transport. My right hon. Friend Sir John Hayes offered some really interesting ideas when he was a Transport Minister in relation to electric vehicles and charging points. We need more charging points up and down the country, and they need to be visible, recognisable and user-friendly. If we want driver confidence in making the move to EVs to increase, we must make a dramatic extension to the existing network of charging points; it is currently under-deployed. My right hon. Friend said that we would have a national design competition to create something recognisable and pleasing to the eye; I ask the Government where we are with that idea.