Cop27

– in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 21st November 2022.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion 3:34 pm, 21st November 2022

(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy if he will make a statement on the outcome of COP27.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

After COP26, we were able to say with credibility that we kept the pulse of 1.5° alive. Recent reports from the UN show that even in extremely challenging economic and geopolitical contexts, the Glasgow climate pact is working and we have made some progress. For the first time ever, global energy policies are strong enough for fossil fuel use within this decade to peak if they are implemented. I know that the whole House will join me in paying tribute to my right hon. Friend Alok Sharma for his inspirational leadership as President of COP26 and for his role during COP27.

At the G20, which was attended by the UK Prime Minister, leaders agreed to implement fully the Glasgow climate pact commitments to limit global warming to 1.5° and to accelerate coal phase-down and the transition to clean energy. The Glasgow climate pact remains the blueprint for accelerating climate action in this critical decade. With a difficult winter ahead of us all, more than 100 leaders arrived at the beginning of COP27. The Prime Minister pledged to speed up the transition to renewables, create new high-wage jobs, protect UK energy security and deliver on net zero. He chaired a high-level meeting on forests and announced new support for climate-vulnerable countries. The negotiations concluded in the early hours of yesterday morning, and the Minister for Climate and the previous COP President are both on their way back.

The progress made on loss and damage at COP27 is significant. It has the potential to support the most vulnerable and to increase that support in future. We had to fight to keep 1.5° alive, but the deal in Egypt preserves the historic commitments that countries agreed to last year in the Glasgow climate pact. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, we

“welcome the progress made at COP27, but there can be no time for complacency.”

Continuing to drive global ambition and the implementation of net zero commitments is vital to the future of our planet. More must be done.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

My first question is: why on earth was this not a Government statement? Why on earth have we had to drag a Minister here to answer an urgent question? Lovely as it is to see the Minister at the Dispatch Box, the subject is not even a central issue in her ministerial brief, as far as I am aware. She mentioned the Prime Minister’s statement at the end of the summit, but it was a 33-word tweet. That is just outrageous after such an important moment.

On loss and damage, the agreement at COP27 on a new finance facility is an historic step forward for climate justice, but to ensure that it does not just become another broken promise, it must be functional and properly resourced. First, what steps will the Government take to support its establishment and ensure that it is adequately funded with grants to help countries rebuild when disasters hit? Secondly, how much will the Government commit, and when, to specific funding for loss and damage—new funding, additional to existing finance? The £5 million already committed to the Santiago Network is for technical support, let us remember, and comes out of the UK’s already dwindling official development assistance budget. Thirdly, will the Minister support innovative sources of funding, particularly Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s Bridgetown initiative?

The final agreement from the summit fails to commit to India’s proposal to phase out all fossil fuels. Does the Minister recognise that in order to keep 1.5° alive and show any credible climate leadership on the world stage, our Government must urgently address their own climate policies? Will the Minister now reject the Rosebank oilfield and rule out any new oil and gas in the North sea? How will the Government maintain the high-level political engagement required to continue to push the COP process forward, given that the UK’s presidency is ending and nobody in Cabinet appears to be leading? Do we not need a special prime ministerial envoy?

Lastly, in his statement on 9 November about COP27, the Prime Minister said:

“With the Egyptian President, I raised the case of the British-Egyptian citizen Alaa Abd el-Fattah.”—[Official Report, 9 November 2022; Vol. 722, c. 260.]

Alaa has faced intimidation, has suffered fainting fits and mental breakdowns, and is currently on suicide watch, yet it seems that the Government are standing idly by. Will they now listen to John Casson, the former ambassador to Cairo, who has said that the time for “polite requests” is over? We need action now.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

There are so many important questions there, but as I have said, the fundamental negotiations concluded just yesterday and both the previous COP President and the Minister for Climate are on their way back—it takes a bit of time to get from Egypt to Westminster. The Climate Minister was indeed prepared to offer a statement tomorrow, but the hon. Lady secured a UQ and here we are.

As for providing a fund, COP27 agreed to establish a fund, which was negotiated just yesterday, to respond to loss and damage as part of the wider funding arrangements to mobilise support. The UK’s view is that discussions should consider the widest possible sources of contributions, which will be fleshed out in further negotiations. The UK commitment of £11.6 billion to support that commitment continues, and support will continue for the most vulnerable, who are experiencing the worst impacts of climate change. We will also triple our funding for adaptation, to reach £1.5 billion a year in 2025.

The hon. Lady also talked about new oil and gas licences. The UK remains fully committed to its COP promises, as well as our domestic climate commitments, including the UK’s target to reach net zero by 2050 and to phase out coal by 2024. In the near term, our priority is keeping our domestic production online to help the UK through what could be a difficult winter.

We achieved so much at COP26 in Glasgow, under the leadership of our very own COP26 President. When the UK took on the presidency, just one third of the global economy was committed to net zero. Today that figure is 90%. There is no time to be complacent, but we will continue to campaign, as we always have done, and continue to be leaders in this field.

I want to take a moment to raise the issue of Alaa Abd el-Fattah—and to make sure that my words are accurate, because I know that words matter at the Dispatch Box when we are dealing with this particular issue. Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s family and the UK Government have concerns for his welfare. The FCDO made a statement at the time of the verdict, noting:

“We do not consider this outcome consistent with recent positive steps to improve human rights”.

During COP27, the PM raised the issues of imprisoned writer Alaa Abd el-Fattah with President Sisi and resolving the consular issue. I do not have any further details on that right now, but I know that those words will be incredibly impactful.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Listening to the tirade of Caroline Lucas, one would not think that this country had cut its global emissions faster than any other G7 country. We have everything to be proud of. Will my hon. Friend pay tribute to the work of the Mayor of the West Midlands and Transport for the West Midlands? Coventry will be the first city in the United Kingdom to have over 300 electric buses, with an investment of £150 million, demonstrating that this country is indeed effective in cutting emissions.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend hits it on the head. When local leadership delivers net zero targets, so much can be achieved. I was the buses Minister in a previous life, so his question is close to my heart. I am so pleased that Coventry will be the first place in the country to be driving forward so many electric buses, with the £150 million grant that has been made available.

I know that the previous COP President said that the 1.5° target was hanging by a thread, but there is so much that came out of COP27 that we should be proud of. The Prime Minister reinforced the UK commitment to deliver £11.6 billion in climate finance and announced a tripling of funding for climate adaptation, to £1.5 billion in 2025. The UK also announced a further £65.5 million for the clean energy innovation facility, which provides grants to researchers and scientists in developing countries to accelerate the development of clean technologies. So not only are we leading with policy; we are also trying to help other countries to be part of the net zero technology revolution.

Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Shadow Secretary of State of Climate Change and Net Zero

May I start by echoing the sentiments expressed by Caroline Lucas about the case of Alaa Abd el-Fattah? The Government must ensure that his case is not forgotten. He must be released. I also pay tribute to the COP26 President for his service and to his team of civil servants in the COP unit.

Despite the welcome progress at COP27 on support for climate-vulnerable countries, which I acknowledge, we should be clear: on the crucial issue of 1.5°, this summit failed. The planet is hotter than it has been for 125,000 years. We already see the disastrous effects of 1° of warming, but rather than tackle this crisis, too many leaders are fiddling while the world burns. As a result, we are currently on track, according to the UN, for a catastrophic 2.8° of warming. We should tell the truth: unless we do something different and fast, we will leave a terrible legacy. Against this backdrop, no country can be patting itself on the back. As a country that considers itself a climate leader, we have a responsibility and opportunity to set the pace in the year ahead, and our moral authority in the negotiations depends on it.

First, to go further and faster, and to persuade others, too, I urge the Minister to commit, as the Opposition have, to a 2030 zero carbon power system, the new gold standard of international leadership. That means ending the perverse ban on onshore wind and the blocking of solar, the cheapest and cleanest forms of power.

Secondly, we need to acknowledge the elephant in the room: fossil fuel. The COP26 President argued, unsuccessfully, that the conclusions of COP27 should include the phasing out of fossil fuel. If we extract all remaining reserves, we will blow way past 1.5° to 3° and more, but the Government are indulging at home in a dash for new fossil fuel licences, which will not even make a difference to bills, and they refuse to rule out a new coalmine in Cumbria. What kind of leadership is it if we tell others not to have new fossil fuel exploration while saying it is okay for us to do it here at home?

Thirdly, we need to demonstrate to the world that climate leadership means we will not only set stretching targets but meet them, yet the Climate Change Committee says we are off track and our net zero strategy has been found to be unlawful. What will the Government do to put that right?

Finally, the next year, leading up to the 2023 global stocktake, is the last real chance to save 1.5°. In years to come, every Government and politician will be judged on how they responded at this moment of jeopardy for the world. I urge the Government to show consistent leadership, to lower bills, to create jobs and to act before it is too late.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

It is true that the COP26 President said 1.5° is on life support, but that does not mean COP27 is a failure. Significant progress was made, especially on providing support for the most vulnerable and increasing that support for the future. We have to keep fighting to keep 1.5° alive, but the deal in Egypt preserves the historic climate commitments agreed in last year’s Glasgow climate pact. It is important to recognise how much was achieved at Glasgow by the COP26 President.

Questions were raised on the further outcomes of COP, but I sometimes feel that, because so much has been negotiated, we do not appreciate how far we have come. During this presidency, there has been extensive lobbying for all countries to assess their 2030 nationally determined contributions to keep 1.5° in reach and to deliver on the Glasgow climate pact. More than 90% of the world’s GDP is now covered by net zero commitments, and 169 countries have put forward new or updated 2030 NDCs, resulting in reductions compared with previous NDCs. Of those, 29 new or updated NDCs have been submitted since COP26.

Full implementation of these NDCs is consistent with about 2.5° of warming, and full implementation of the net zero commitments could see warming as low as 1.7°. Fifty-four countries and parties have submitted long-term strategies so far, and this includes 10 new or updated submissions since COP26.

This remains a priority for the Government, and we not only have a Minister and a Department focused on climate and energy, but it is the Prime Minister’s focus, too. He came to the Dispatch Box just last week to make an extensive statement and to respond to colleagues’ questions. The legacy of COP26 will continue, and we will continue our leadership role, too.

Photo of Simon Jupp Simon Jupp Conservative, East Devon

Our energy security has never been more vital, and the bills arriving on doorsteps in East Devon are testament to that. Does my hon. Friend agree that the energy sovereignty we need will ultimately mean lower energy bills for households in Devon?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Absolutely. My hon. Friend is a true champion for his constituents, and I know energy bills are at the forefront of all our minds after spending another weekend at home in our constituencies dealing with the concerns of our constituents. Most of our constituents understand that energy security is now an issue, and they appreciate that the pressure on energy prices is down to Putin and his illegal invasion of Ukraine. This also shows that we have to be opportunistic in ensuring that we invest in the right technologies and the right renewables to ensure we are resilient and sovereign at home when it comes to fuel.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (COP26)

I also associate myself with the comments about Alaa Abd el-Fattah.

I pay tribute again to the role of the former COP26 President, Alok Sharma, in the negotiations. Demoting him from the Cabinet sent entirely the wrong message, and I commend the dedication and diligence he brought to the position. The SNP very much welcomes the news of the landmark agreement on loss and damage.

The former COP26 President and many others, including our First Minister, have condemned the agreement’s glaring lack of a clear commitment to ending our dependence on fossil fuels. To keep 1.5° alive, we need urgent action. Will the UK Government commit to building a coalition ahead of COP28 to ensure that phasing down and out fossil fuels forms part of the agreement? Do the UK Government acknowledge that, to have any authority in making this argument, they must recognise the weakness of their own climate compatibility check for new oilfields, which seems designed to enable exploitation of fossil fuels rather than to control and drive them down?

Finally, will the UK Government support discussions, as highlighted at COP and by the Bridgetown agenda, on the reform of multinational development banks to better support climate objectives?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I think we all have warm words for the COP26 President and the leadership he has shown. Obviously, he will continue to provide that leadership, and people around the world will be looking at him to see what he says in the future and at what was delivered at COP27.

We are leading a coalition to ensure that we are driving down emissions and investing in alternative renewable fuel and energy. That will ensure that we are resilient and can provide the fuel and energy that our constituents need up and down the country. We need a mix of fuel and energy, which includes offshore and nuclear as well. Unfortunately, the party that the hon. Lady represents is dead set against nuclear energy, which would enable us to have efficient, clean, green, resilient, homegrown fuel, allowing us to have a much healthier discussion when it comes not only to fuel resilience, but to energy prices, too.

Photo of Kieran Mullan Kieran Mullan Conservative, Crewe and Nantwich

Despite the usual doom and gloom and negativity from those on the Opposition Benches and from campaigners glueing themselves to roads, will the Minister confirm that, according to the independent climate change performance index, the UK is the only G7 country in the top 10? We are ahead of Germany, France, the US and China. Perhaps those people glueing themselves to roads and moaning should focus their energies on those other countries that need to catch up with us. They could glue themselves to the roads over there—though, of course, they should not fly to get there.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Once again, my hon. Friend hits the nail on the head. The climate change performance index is not run by the Government; it is an independent organisation that monitors these issues. The UK is the only G7 country to be in the top 10, which shows that we are world leaders. Obviously, I cannot comment on his points about how individuals and political parties with issues about reaching net zero would do better to focus their attention on those other countries that are not doing so well.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Is this Minister aware that, since I read and reviewed Professor Steve Jones’s book, “Here Comes the Sun”, I have been convinced that, unless we do something really radical, life on this planet will be extinguished? That is the level of the challenge. Not one senior Cabinet Minister is here today for this urgent question on the most important thing that faces us all. My party and her party must get their act together if we are not to face the end of life on this planet.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I do not keep a tab on what papers or books the hon. Gentleman reads. I am sorry that he is disappointed that there is not a Cabinet Minister in the Chamber, but, as I have said, they were involved in negotiations at COP and they are now on their way back. The urgent question was granted and here I am. No one is denying the importance of what is happening at COP. We must make sure that we reach net zero. That applies not only to this country, but to countries around the world with which we have to negotiate.

I am anxious that we do not leave this Chamber with a picture of doom and gloom. Negotiations have taken place and there has been some progress, but sometimes we overlook that progress. I know that what matters to my constituents will no doubt matter to the hon. Member’s constituents as well. On the forests and climate leaders’ partnership, for example, 23 countries and the EU are accelerating momentum to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The UK has also confirmed £150 million to protect rainforests and natural habitats. That is as a result of our leadership. It is not perfect, but we should be so proud of how far we have gone.

The accelerating to zero coalition has also been launched, and it has been announced that the zero emissions vehicle declaration has 210 signatories. Furthermore, the breakthrough agenda will result in tangible actions being taken by countries that account for more than 50% of global GDP. There is much more to do, but there is a lot to be proud of. We should continue moving forward.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

Will my hon. Friend explain exactly what discussions took place in Egypt between our Government and Germany on the issue of Germany’s intent to open up lignite mining and use lignite to generate electricity—lignite being the dirtiest form of electricity generation? Is there not something of an issue for us as a country in competing with Germany if it is quite prepared to ignore all the norms and use lignite to generate electricity, while we are reluctant to even open another coalmine?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. We often focus on what we are delivering in the UK, and that is important, but we make an argument that other European countries are somehow constantly cleaner and greener. His point is a valid one. That is why global negotiations and global collaborations matter. We must shine a light not only on countries far from home, but on countries closer to home, such as those in Europe, which unfortunately are not leading the way as much as we are.

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

I add my thanks to the previous COP President and his team. I must also say that other countries being bad is no excuse for being complacent in this country. It is estimated that in eight years’ time the costs associated with loss and damage will range from £290 billion to £580 billion. Those are huge sums, but they are dwarfed by the billions in subsidies that the fuel industry receives on top of its vast profits. When will the Government stop their subsidies to the fuel industry and set out their plan to phase out fossil fuels in this country? The Minister has not answered that question yet.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I have indeed answered that question and focused on the fact that we are aiming to reach net zero. We have to ensure that we have a mix of energy, and we have to phase out at a pace that means that we have a certain level of resilience and access to fuel and energy. We cannot just switch off the tap today and assume someone is going to step in tomorrow.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Labour, Brent North

That the UK is reducing emissions faster than other countries may be true, but it is not sufficient to meet the timescale within which we have to reduce emissions globally to realise 1.5°. Will the Minister tell me today what she is doing in terms of putting new money into that loss and damage fund, and to identify the new money? Much of what she has identified so far has been pre-announced—it is old money. Will she also tell me what she is doing to ensure that the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero will be adequately funded not only by the UK, but by other countries?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Gentleman has a valid question. The negotiations are so fresh—the agreement was concluded yesterday and the negotiations are still ongoing to flesh out the detail—that I do not have a direct answer. It is still being negotiated. However, the UK contribution will continue to ensure high value for money for the UK taxpayer from that international support, and of course we are dedicated to making sure that we reach our target and our commitment to the loss and damage fund.

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Brexit)

While thousands of the great and the good, the chattering classes and the global warming zealots are flying out of Egypt today in their private planes and fleets of airlines, patting themselves on the back that for the 27th time they have saved the world, does the Minister accept that we still need reliable fossil fuel energy to drive our economy and to lift billions out of poverty in the developing world? Does she accept that many people across the United Kingdom who were hit with big tax rises last week will be concerned at the demand for even more billions to pay compensation because we industrialised first? Will she assure us that she will not be taken on some kind of ecological guilt trip and end up committing to pay billions in compensation when we are responsible for less than 1% of CO2 emissions in the world?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

There was so much in that question. Rest assured, I am never driven by any guilt trip whatsoever. I am not sure how far I can push the envelope, but there is a certain something about people flying in and out while we are trying to drive down greenhouse gas emissions. There is some hypocrisy there.

We know there is a huge issue at home. We are dealing with fuel bills, and one of the answers to that is making sure that we have a mix of energy. Going forward, we are absolutely committed to offshore and nuclear, which will provide us with a certain level of security and will help to manage our bills. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that we have to accept our contribution to global emissions, and even more so our leadership position. We will make sure we honour that.

Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I was at COP27, and I spoke to people from pacific small island developing states—climate Ministers, speakers and chairs of environment committees—who are suffering the most horrendous effects of climate change: cyclones, rising seas and lack of electricity. In 2009, at the Copenhagen COP, they were promised $100 million a year. That money has not been delivered. When will the money come off the page, so that they can start building houses and seawalls and having new electricity systems? The UK is not delivering for those most at risk from climate change.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I know, from many of my family in Pakistan, of the devastation that has taken place there. Thirty million people have been displaced. There is a huge amount of work to be done to protect those countries and communities. We will make sure that they get back on their feet as quickly as possible, which is why the negotiations and the outcome of COP are so important. I mentioned the funding we have committed—more than £11.6 billion is already in the system. But if money is made available and negotiated at COP, we have to make sure that the international institutions deliver that money quickly to the communities that deserve it the most.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Independent, Islington North

I think the whole House owes a debt to Caroline Lucas for securing this urgent question and for raising the issue of human rights in Egypt. The Minister must be aware that Kenya and its five surrounding neighbouring countries have contributed less than 0.1% of greenhouse gas emissions in their existence, yet they are paying the price with climate change, flooding, devastation, and now famine and so much else. Thirty one years ago, Vanuatu asked for restitution from the richest countries in the world in order to help them to deal with the consequences of rising sea levels.

Will the Minister take this opportunity to do two things? Will she welcome the commitment of the newly elected President Lula of Brazil to protect the Amazon rainforest and ensure the biodiversity of his country as a contribution to world survival? Secondly, will she guarantee that no British companies or banks will finance any fossil fuel exploration, extraction or trading anywhere in the world?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The tail end of that question was answered by the Prime Minister when he gave his statement just last week. On the question about Brazil, at COP27 we committed to £90 million to the Congo basin, a part of the £1.5 billion put in place to invest in the world’s forests. I am not sure if I already made the point that the UK is playing a leading role in developing the Indonesia just energy transition partnership, which was announced at the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali and will mobilise £20 billion in the next three to five years. We should take a moment to recognise that the negotiations on Sunday morning will help a number of those countries that do not do as well as us and ensure that they have the support they need.

Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Shadow Minister (International Trade)

The Minister says that the Government want to address the energy crisis soon and roll out renewable energy, so will they recommit to onshore wind and solar power development, as supported by a significant majority of the population, including Conservative voters and the last Prime Minister?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Our focus is offshore wind and nuclear because we see them as the best way of ensuring cheaper, cleaner and more secure power. As for onshore wind, I believe that there is a commitment to a consultation to see which communities in England want to host new onshore wind infrastructure. Fundamentally, we are focused on offshore and nuclear.

Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Over the weekend, with a straight face the Scottish Daily Mail ran a front page, which at the top offered advice on how to battle a blackout while the main story stated that Scotland faces a “new windfarm invasion”. If we are to combat climate change and meet net zero, onshore wind is crucial. Does the Minister agree that that particular invasion as outlined by the Scottish Daily Mail would be one that we should all welcome?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Fortunately or unfortunately, I do not read the Scottish Daily Mail, so I cannot picture what that looked like. As I said earlier, our focus is on offshore wind farms and nuclear power. I find it extraordinary that, as we talk about what one would naturally call green issues, the hon. Gentlemen’s party just cannot come to terms with the fact that nuclear power is a clean, green and resilient form of energy on which we should focus as well.

Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Labour, Leeds East

The Prime Minister said at the end of COP that

“Keeping the 1.5° commitment alive is vital to the future of our planet”,

but the Government plan to accelerate North sea oil and gas production. We need deeds, not words. If the Government are serious about keeping 1.5 alive, should they not reject the application for the Rosebank oilfield, the largest undeveloped oilfield in the UK?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

We are committed to 1.5°, which is why we have a net zero strategy and why we hosted and led COP26 and continue to lead at COP27. I have already spoken about the number of programmes, policies and investments that we are making. Between 1990 and 2019, we grew our economy by 76% and cut our emissions by more than 44%, decarbonising faster than any other G7 country. Those are not words; those are deeds.

The hon. Gentleman talks about oil and gas. As I have said, the UK remains fully committed to its COP promises. We will continue to progress the expansion of renewable energy to generate 95% of electricity from low-carbon sources by 2030. No other major oil-and-gas producing nation has gone as far as the UK in addressing the role of oil and gas in their economy. The opening of the most recent licensing round by the North Sea Transition Authority followed the publication of the climate compatibility checkpoint, and it should be seen in the context of the North sea transition deal. That includes emissions-reduction targets consistent with the Government’s net zero strategy, which establishes the UK’s pathway for meeting carbon budget and international targets.

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)

Despite some progress being made at COP27, we did not see the transformation that the world so urgently needs. Will the Minister set out what the Government will do in the next year to drive this agenda forward?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I so enjoyed that question, but I am not the Climate Minister or in line to be the next COP President, so I cannot say what our negotiations will come to, but the point is that we are leading countries both in Europe and internationally. We want to ensure that they can come along with us and are as close as we are to reaching net zero targets. We will continue to provide that leadership.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Labour, Rochdale

The Minister might want to remind her Back Benchers that this is not a competition. The whole world is in this together; there is no one-country solution. In that context, how can she stand before the House without addressing how, if we develop oil and gas domestically, we can dictate to others—in the Arab world, for example, or Germany with lignite—that they should not do the same.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I can offer concrete examples of where we can confidently showcase what we are doing compared with other countries. I did not say it was a competition, but every time I offer up how we have moved forward compared with other countries, I am told that we are not going far enough. We have a jet zero strategy, and we know that maritime is a major issue when it comes to the climate, so we have a clean maritime plan—I believe that we were the first country in Europe to produce one. We have led the way on enabling many industries to reach net zero. We are also doing that because we know that there will be more than half a million skilled, green and well-paid jobs in all those industries, and we want to make sure that we provide that sort of support for communities up and down the country.

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

There is a dangerous loss of momentum around the 1.5° target, and continued fossil-fuel extraction is the greatest problem. Looking ahead to COP28—ironically, it will be in the United Arab Emirates of all places—what lessons have the Government taken from COP27 to better ensure that progress can be made next time around?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The hon. Gentleman challenges me again to put our programme forward before the COP27 delegation has even arrived in Westminster. I would argue that they want to ensure that, where we have not gone as far as we wanted at COP27, we can achieve those ambitious targets at the next COP. As everyone mentioned earlier, the world is watching and we cannot be in the situation of saying that 1.5° is hanging by a thread.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

The Minister has not mentioned methane and the disappointing agreement to reduce methane by just 30% by 2030. Why is her Department sitting on a green new deal for BioYorkshire that would put the science in place for global transformation around issues such as methane and fuel transition?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The most peculiar thing is that I assumed the Minister for Climate would be in the Chamber. I did my best to prepare for the methane question, but I am struggling to find the exact answer in front of me. If the hon. Lady will bear with me, I will make sure that she gets a written response from him, if not from me, by the end of the week.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Scottish National Party, Glasgow North

The President of the European Commission described the COP27 deal as

“a small step towards climate justice”.

The Scottish Government established a climate justice fund back in 2012. Now that the Secretary of State is sitting next to the Minister, can she confirm whether the UK Government understand and accept the consequences and concept of climate justice?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The UK Government absolutely understand, which is why we were leading the charge in Glasgow at COP26 and continued to do so at COP27. That is why the President of COP26 had the confidence to deal with the negotiations as they were. We knew that 1.5° was going to be tricky; it is an international negotiation. Considering the international players that were involved, we are in a good place, but we need to move forward. The hon. Member also mentioned the funding that was negotiated just yesterday morning, which is on top of the £11.6 billion. I am not sure it took an intervention by his party; it was a result of international negotiations that have been taking place at COP.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I thank the Minister for her answers. The primary cause of our climate crisis has evidently been the lack of winding down of our fossil fuel use. Disappointingly, we have simply repeated the call to accelerate efforts to phase down our use of coal power, with still little result.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

Will she commit to a joint approach with our COP allies to protect the world’s most vulnerable and their reliance on fossil fuels, and to work harder towards actions that keep alive 1.5°, which is very much what we want to try to achieve?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I was so keen to answer the hon. Gentleman’s important question. The answer to all those points is yes.