Climate Change Committee: 2021 Annual Progress Report

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 21st September 2021.

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Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

What steps he is taking in response to the Climate Change Committee’s 2021 annual progress report to Parliament.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Government are carefully considering the Climate Change Committee’s progress report and will respond to it in full as part of our forthcoming net zero strategy ahead of COP26. That strategy, which will outline our path to meet net zero by 2050, will contain policies and proposals that will allow the Government to respond substantively to the report’s recommendations.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Well, it needs to, because the report was pretty damning. The Environmental Audit Committee recently made a number of recommendations to support community energy projects such as Greater Manchester Community Renewables in my constituency. Will the Minister emphasise the importance of community energy in the upcoming net zero strategy, as recommended specifically by the Committee, and put in place some practical measures to harness the potential of community energy, including support to enable groups to get investment for energy transition projects?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Yes, of course we take community renewable initiatives very seriously indeed. We also take the Environmental Audit Committee very seriously indeed and I look forward to appearing before its Chair, my right hon. Friend Philip Dunne, in due course.

The hon. Gentleman is wrong to say that the CCC progress report was damning. For example, the report says:

The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions”,

and:

“The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance”.

Recently, John Kerry himself, the President’s special envoy on climate, praised the UK approach.

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I too welcome the Minister to his new post, my opposite number in the Department, and hope that he will last a little longer in the post than his immediate predecessor.

The Climate Change Committee’s report to Parliament highlights how little progress has been made with the upgrading of insulation in buildings and points out that

“insulation rates remain well below the delivery achieved in 2012 before key policies were scrapped.”

Does the Minister accept that, had those insulation policies been pursued, energy customers would have been in a much better position to cope with the energy prices rises and the cost of living crisis that we have currently. Does the Minister now take responsibility for the abject failure of the Government’s home insulation policies, and, most importantly, what will he now do about it?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Gentleman has managed to pack a lot into that question. Let me try to answer it in three ways. First, when it comes to the heat and buildings strategy, he will just have to wait until we publish it. We are doing the right thing. Secondly, when it comes to energy price rises, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointed out at great length the action we are taking to protect customers, including vulnerable customers, with the rest of the support that the Government provide. Thirdly, when it comes to the Climate Change Committee, we have done very well on achieving, for example, last year’s recommendations. Actually we have achieved in full or in part 40 of the Committee’s 92 recommendations last year; 32 are already on their way. We are looking forward to responding as well to this year’s recommendations.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

The Kettering constituency generates enough wind power to power all local homes, but if we are to meet our net zero target by 2050, we need to develop more offshore wind power. Can the Energy Minister confirm that we are on track to increase the capacity of offshore wind from 30 GW to 40 GW by 2030?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I always call my hon. Friend Mr Kettering, Mr Speaker, as he has been a councillor there for a long time and the Member of Parliament representing Kettering so diligently and astutely in this House. He is right: the UK currently has 10 GW of offshore wind capacity, which is around a third of the world’s total. We are looking to grow that to 40 GW by the year 2030.