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Transport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:40 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Conservative, East Hampshire 5:40 pm, 5th February 2020

It is a huge pleasure and privilege to follow our new colleague Tahir Ali, who spoke with passion about some incredibly important issues. I was particularly pleased to hear him talk about National Apprenticeship Week. So many of us have had opportunities to interact with it in Parliament this week, and will continue to do so when we are back in our constituencies in a couple of days. The hon. Gentleman’s own career is clearly a very impressive back story, and I think it is abundantly obvious to all of us that he will be a great asset to this place.

Climate change is the defining challenge of our age. Although there is still so much to be done, we can take some pride in the fact that this country has been decarbonising faster than comparable countries in the G20. Much the greatest part of that reduction so far has been our success on energy supply; transport is now the sector with the most emissions, and we must therefore prioritise it strongly.

I do not know where the figures in the Labour party’s manifesto come from, although, to be fair, not knowing where the figures come from is hardly a novel experience with today’s Labour party. I challenged Andy McDonald, the shadow Secretary of State, to say what had happened to transport emissions under the Labour Government, but he declined to engage in that conversation. I can tell him that, in fact, they rose in the 10 years after Labour came to power in 1997. At the time of the financial crash of 2007-08 they did fall dramatically, but for all the wrong reasons. Then, when we returned to government and started to rebuild the economy and build up employment, they rose from their level in 2012-13, but not to anywhere near the level to which the Labour Government had taken them in 2007.

It turns out that, although our success on energy is something of a stand-out story, our experience of transport emissions being stubborn and difficult to reduce is rather more common in other countries. The European Environment Agency has added together domestic emissions and international aviation emissions, and has found that between 1990 and 2017—the latest period for which it has figures—the change in transport emissions in the UK was basically the same as that in France, and comparable with what happened in Germany. Only Liechtenstein experienced substantial decreases in its transport emissions, and I am afraid that in the EU28 as a whole they rose by 28%.