Climate Change

Part of Kew Gardens (Leases) (No. 3) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 6:58 pm on 24th June 2019.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West 6:58 pm, 24th June 2019

I welcome this statutory instrument, but have to say that although it is necessary it is insufficient. The Government lack ambition in this area; an 80% reduction on 1990 levels and a 2050 date are not the levels of ambition that I would expect if we are to avert catastrophic climate change. This is not net zero; this is net zero-lite.

I am also concerned about the Government’s ability to meet even this modest ambition. For instance, the Minister raised the matter of the Leeds and Birmingham city councils’ clean air zones, and those councils do a magnificent job; however, the Government have not stepped up to the plate because they are delaying the implementation of vehicle charging and the payments system, which means that we cannot implement those clean air zones in January 2020 as planned in Leeds.

The Green Alliance has briefed me that the Government will be unable to meet their fourth and fifth carbon budgets, and I am hosting a roundtable on this subject tomorrow. The Minister is welcome to attend it. The explanatory notes to this statutory instrument state that the Government

“will continue to leave headroom for emissions from international aviation and shipping”,

but I urge him to take that headroom out. We cannot allow headroom in aviation and shipping to take us even further away from our carbon budget targets.

As others have said, the implementation date for the diesel and petrol car sales ban is far too far into the future and needs to be moved up to 2030 at the latest. In this House, I have raised the need six times for electric vehicle charging points in my constituency, mainly with Claire Perry. The Minister will be pleased to hear that we are getting our first vehicle charge points in three weeks’ time, so I will no longer be annoying members of the Government about installing points in Leeds North West. We have achieved that ourselves through Leeds City Council, which has a fleet of more than 100 electric vehicles. When the Environmental Audit Committee raised this same issue with the NHS, it told us that it had no plans to transition to an electric vehicle fleet. Why can the Government’s own fleet not transition to electric vehicles just as local councils are doing?

On housing, the code for sustainable homes was set up by the last Labour Government but scrapped by the coalition. We have had eight wasted years with houses being built to poor standards that will not meet our carbon budget targets under the Paris agreement. And where is the onshore wind? I want the Minister to commit today to returning onshore wind.

However, I will finish on a positive note. I acknowledge that the UK has been a climate leader for the last 25 years or more and that that is reflected in our being awarded the COP 26 conference in 2026, which my right hon. Friend Edward Miliband referred to earlier. I wrote a letter with Mr Clarke on this matter, and I welcome the conference coming here, but I want it to be a net zero COP. I want to see Britain having a real net zero strategy and leading the world on net zero, not just this net zero-lite that we have been presented with today.