Climate and Ecological Emergency: UK’s Response

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:27 pm on 9th February 2021.

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Photo of Anne-Marie Trevelyan Anne-Marie Trevelyan Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth) 8:27 pm, 9th February 2021

I congratulate Caroline Lucas on securing this Adjournment debate on such an important subject. I am really pleased that I was able to share some of my time with colleagues, because this issue speaks far more widely than this Parliament—it is a global challenge. How we act on climate change is the most pressing issue of our time; I completely agree with her.

While we find ourselves in the midst of this very difficult pandemic, which of course is our short-term priority, we must not abandon and have not abandoned our planet’s need for urgent care, because we risk so many further crises for our children. Climate change is happening now, and this Government are determined that the UK will be a world leader in ensuring that the Paris agreement takes root across the globe. We will demonstrate through our commitment to bring down our country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and acting this year as the president of COP, that we will be a global leader.

The Prime Minister has made a critical commitment to doubling our international climate finance to £11.6 billion, with £3 billion of that going to nature-based solutions. We were the first major economy in the world to set a legally binding target to reach net zero carbon emissions across our economy by 2050, and we have shown that rapid progress on decarbonisation is possible alongside a thriving economy. Our emissions are down by almost 44% across the last 30 years, and our economy has grown by 78% in the same period. We have been absolute in our commitment to power past coal over the last 10 years, with a reduction in electricity generation from coal from 40% in 2012 to less than 5% today, replaced by renewables. We have made significant progress in meeting our climate targets, meeting our first two carbon budgets and projected to meet the third by 2022. We exceeded the required emissions reduction of the first by 1.2% and the second by nearly 14%, but now is the time to double down and decrease our emissions further and faster. To do this, the Prime Minister set out his 10-point plan last year to lead the world into a new green industrial revolution. We set out ambitious policies, backed by £12 billion of Government investment. The plan will support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs across the UK and accelerate our path to reaching net zero by 2050 while laying the foundations for building back greener.

The 10-point plan will develop the cutting-edge technologies needed to drive down those emissions in industries across the UK through significant investment in hydrogen, new nuclear and carbon capture technologies. The 10-point plan will go further. We are backing our world-leading automotive sector, including in the west midlands, the north-east and Wales, with a £2.8 billion package to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and transform our national infrastructure better to support that electric vehicle revolution. Working with industry, we will drive the growth of low-carbon hydrogen. As part of the 10-point plan, we are aiming for 5 GW of low-carbon hydrogen by 2030. That will see the UK benefit from around 8,000 jobs across our industrial heartlands and beyond.

Importantly for me, we are determined that this transition must be a just and fair one. The Treasury is conducting a review into the cost of net zero. In its review due to be published this spring, it will outline how the transition to a net zero economy will be funded and ensure that contributions are fair between households, businesses and the taxpayer. We must ensure that the net zero transition works for everyone.

Throughout the UK, more than 2.5 million highly skilled people employed in manufacturing make a huge contribution to the wealth and character of their communities. We must not take those skills away from people, so as industry changes, our lifetime skills guarantee will ensure that people are equipped with the skills they need to adapt to the new products and services that we want them to provide. We have also launched the green jobs taskforce, bringing businesses and unions together with skills providers and Governments to develop plans for new, long-term, good-quality green jobs by 2030.

This year, we find ourselves in the privileged position of being the president of the G7 and of hosting and holding the presidency of COP26. We are determined to use these key international events to promote ambitious action to deliver the transformational change required by the Paris agreement. I have the extraordinary honour of being not only the Minister for Energy but the international champion for COP26 for adaptation and resilience. One of the critical challenges that we have as a global leader is not only to ensure that we walk the walk in demonstrating our decarbonisation in the UK, taking our country to a place where our greenhouse gas emissions are no longer impacting on the planet, but to help those developing countries that need to be able to grow and support their communities in a green way, building back better after the traumas that covid has caused to so many of the very poorest developing countries.

We will bring forward our own bold proposals, including our net zero strategy, in the run-up to COP26 to demonstrate that we will be cutting those emissions, creating new jobs and bolstering those new industries across our country to lead on that global stage. We will make sure that the UK’s voice is heard, that we deliver on our commitment to net zero and that protecting our planet for our children and for theirs in the future is something on which we can deliver.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.