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Climate Change

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 21st January 2020.

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Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Conservative, Redcar

What progress her Department has made on tackling climate change.

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Conservative, West Worcestershire

What progress her Department has made on tackling climate change.

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I welcome and congratulate my hon. Friend Jacob Young on winning his seat—a great result. We have reduced carbon emissions by more than 40% since 1990, while growing our economy by more than two thirds. We are currently decarbonising our economy faster than any other G20 country, and more than half our electricity now comes from low-carbon sources. We have the largest offshore wind capacity in the world.

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Conservative, Redcar

Net Zero Teesside is potentially a world-leading carbon capture, utilisation and storage project in my constituency. Not only will it reduce emissions, but it will cut energy costs and help to secure our long-term industrial future. Will the Minister back Redcar’s industry and fully support that project?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Absolutely—I would be delighted to back Redcar’s big opportunities in CCUS. I was there last week when I had an instructive meeting with various stakeholders and industry professionals, and there is a huge economic opportunity.

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Conservative, West Worcestershire

Businesses such as Frank Matthews tree nursery in my constituency play a vital role in growing the trees that we will need to combat climate change. How will the Department ensure that the trees we plant are native, sustainable species?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

As my hon. Friend knows, the Government are absolutely behind such initiatives. We have a well-developed forest nursery sector, and we encourage the planting of UK-grown trees, as proven by our £640 million Nature4Climate fund. That builds on our support for preserving areas of great natural beauty, such as the Malvern hills in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and we hope to plant an additional 75,000 acres of trees a year by the end of the next Parliament.

Photo of Chris Evans Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn

Small things make a big difference when it comes to climate change. Waunfawr primary school in my constituency has an eco-community, and it decided to switch from plastic bottles to glass bottles to provide its milk. It had lots of problems finding a dairy that would provide glass bottles, but eventually it did. How will the Department ensure that fewer single-use plastics are used by businesses, and by those in local government and the public sector?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I do not know the detail of what is happening in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, but I would like to hear more about it. We have made strong efforts in this area, and we must trumpet the fact that we are world leaders in combating climate change. As he knows, we will be hosting COP26, and I would be happy to take him offline, as it were, and pursue this conversation further.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

Decarbonising transport will be crucial if we are to meet our net-zero targets, but the cost of electric vehicles remains high. What more can be done to ensure that that cost comes down and is within reach for the majority of people in our country?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Plenty has been done, and I commend my hon. Friend and welcome him back to his seat after a hard-fought campaign. He will know that through the Treasury and the £400 million fund, we are extending the provision of charging facilities for electric vehicles—that issue is the single reason that prevents people from buying EVs. Manufacturers are clear about our intentions and our 2040 target for the full roll-out of EVs. We are looking to bring that target forward, and the cost curve is coming down.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade

I am genuinely sorry that the Minister did not attend the International Renewable Energy Agency assembly earlier this month. Had he done so, he would have learned that solar auctions are now achieving 1.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which is less than £14 per megawatt hour. Is it time to consider making a global green grid alliance an objective of COP26, and seeing whether a feed-in tariff from the UK could incentivise the development of an interconnection with Morocco to deliver such low priced electric power in the UK?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Obviously, I am delighted to see the hon. Gentleman back in his place. I was more troubled to see that his leadership campaign was perhaps not launched with the sufficient energy and enthusiasm he shows so often at the Dispatch Box. On building alliances, the Government’s position is that we are always open to building alliances internationally. We are taking leadership with the COP26 conference. On the climate change agenda, we are taking coal off the grid. We are always open to building alliances internationally.

Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley

Will my right hon. Friend agree with the residents of Woodsetts and Harthill in Rother Valley that the best way his Department can tackle climate change is to make the moratorium on fracking permanent?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Absolutely. I welcome my hon. Friend to his place—another very successful campaign. On fracking, the moratorium is what it says: we are stopping it. The only way it can be resumed is by compelling evidence, which so far is not forthcoming. So the moratorium stays and fracking, for the time being, is over.