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Transport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:39 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Transport 4:39 pm, 5th February 2020

I welcome this opportunity to debate transport and climate change. Despite some of the less well-thought-out jibes across the Dispatch Box, we are all pretty much in agreement on the need to address this issue; after all, we have all legislated to reach zero carbon by 2050. That may be where the agreement ends, but it is only right, in that spirit of co-operation, also to agree that this country has made remarkable, world-beating progress towards the targets in recent years, particularly in the past decade or so.

We have already heard mention from the Dispatch Box today of all the solar installations, 99% of which have been installed since 2010. We have seen a huge increase in the amount of renewable energy, particularly from offshore wind—53% of the power now produced comes from wind, solar and nuclear. That means we are getting much more renewable in our energy. That is a good thing and we ought to be celebrating it, but clearly many greater challenges are coming down the line. That is why decarbonisation is so important, but also why we should recognise that we have decarbonised faster than any other G20 country; last year, we led by passing that legislation. Across the House, we clearly agree on reaching zero emissions by 2050 and making that legally binding, which is essential. We are consulting on bringing forward the date for ending the sale of fossil-fuel diesel and petrol cars earlier than 2040, which was previously highlighted.

When I hear us being lectured about the electrification of our railway lines, it is worth remembering that in 13 years of power the Labour party electrified one mile of lines per year. We have done 10 times better, having electrified hundreds of miles. I was grateful to hear Andy McDonald welcoming the new line that I helped launch yesterday. Indeed, I helped work on getting the treaty signed. He described it as London to Amsterdam, but in fact trains were already running from London to Amsterdam and this was about the journey the other way around; the launch means that people no longer need to decant at Brussels, which was a 50-minute process, to go through passport control. From April, people will be able to come straight back, without getting off. He is absolutely right to say that that is an enormous benefit in terms of efficiency and saving carbon dioxide when travelling from Europe.

The new line is the not the end: we are looking to develop further routes, including Frankfurt, and, in the summer, Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux as well as many others. This is an excellent example of how, although we have left the EU, we have most certainly not left Europe and we are able to strengthen our ties in a meaningful way.