Net Zero Target

Energy Security and Net Zero – in the House of Commons at on 21 May 2024.

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Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

What progress she has made on reaching the Government’s 2050 net zero target.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

We are on track to reach net zero by 2050, and we will do so in a way that brings the public with us. We overachieved on our third carbon budget by 15%, and we announce today that we will not be rolling that over as we think that we will be able to overperform on carbon budget 4 as well.

Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

I congratulate the Government on us being one of the first major economies in the world to set out the ambition for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport with regard to a revenue support mechanism for sustainable aviation, as well as ensuring that feedstock for sustainable aviation fuels takes priority?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

I know from experience that my hon. Friend is a doughty champion for his local area and for the aviation sector. My Department is in regular contact with the Department for Transport and the Treasury on aviation decarbonisation and the important role for sustainable aviation fuel in that transition. On 25 April, DFT published a consultation on options for a revenue certainty mechanism alongside details of the SAF mandate, which together will support both decarbonation and the growth of the sector.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Chair, International Trade Committee, Chair, Energy Security and Net Zero Committee, Chair, Energy Security and Net Zero Committee

Tapadh, Mr Speaker.

There are many criticisms of the Government—I am sure they are aware of them—that they are too slow and indecisive about giving signals to the market for particular technologies, which means that, when they need to commission new energy, they are stuck with only one option: gas, which, as we know, is not exactly the way to net zero. What will the Secretary of State be doing to move things a bit quicker and give the market signals as to which energy path the UK will be taking?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

I remind the hon. Gentleman that we have one of the most remarkable records when it comes to renewable energies. The only country that has built more offshore wind than us is China, we have set out the largest expansion for nuclear, and we are at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies such as fusion, hydrogen and carbon capture.

Photo of Andrea Jenkyns Andrea Jenkyns Conservative, Morley and Outwood

Meeting our net zero targets, which will be extremely difficult and eye-wateringly expensive, has been enforced on my constituents. Does the Secretary of State agree that we must be more honest and open about the enormous costs of net zero on the British taxpayer? Will the Government commit to publishing a detailed analysis of those costs in advance of my Westminster Hall debate?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

There is a balance to be struck, which I believe we are striking, in ensuring that we can make the most of the jobs and opportunities of the energy transition, which will support up to 480,000 green jobs in 2030. But, yes, when it comes to additional costs, we are taking a measured approach because we want to protect households.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

In the Climate Change Committee’s latest progress report, it was made clear:

“There continues to be an overly narrow approach to solutions, which crucially does not embrace the need to reduce demand for high-carbon activities.”

So when the Secretary of State goes back to the drawing board to revise the Government’s carbon budget delivery plan, as she now must, will she finally reduce the reliance on unproven technofixes and look instead at demand reduction measures—or, following the recent embarrassing judgment from the High Court, is she aiming for a hat-trick, with her Department’s climate plan declared unlawful for a third time?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

I would find the hon. Lady’s questions more credible if she would at least once welcome the fact that we are the first country in the G20 to have halved emissions. On our progress, I am proud that one of the reasons that we have come so far is technological fixes, because of the remarkable progress that this country has made in renewable energy. That is why we overshot on our first, second and third carbon budgets, and we are on track to overshoot on our fourth.

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

Two weeks ago the Government were found, for a second time, to be in breach of the law over their climate targets. That failure will mean that families across the country will pay higher energy bills. The Court found:

“The Secretary of State’s conclusion that the proposals and policies will enable the carbon budgets to be met was irrational”.

Last time, the Government claimed that their breach of the law was just on a technicality. What is the right hon. Lady’s “dog ate my homework” excuse this time?

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

Let us be clear: the Court did not question the policies that we have set out, which we have done in more detail than any of our peers. It did not question the progress that we have already made, as the first G20 country in the world to halve emissions, and it did not question the ambition of our future targets, which are among the most ambitious of our peers. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to look at what would smother the transition and private investment in this country, he need only look at his own mad, unachievable 2030 target.

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

With a defence like that, I can see why the Government lost in court not just once but twice. Buried in the court documents is the confidential memo that reveals the real reason they lost the case—officials were telling Ministers that they had low or very low confidence that half their carbon reductions would be achieved. That is why they were found unlawful. The right hon. Lady comes to the House each month with her complacent nonsense, but the court judgment exposes the truth: the Government are way off track, abysmally failing to meet the climate emergency and pushing up bills for families as a result.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

I have learned in this role that the right hon. Gentleman likes to call people who disagree with him names. Last week, representatives from the Tony Blair Institute said that his plans would raise bills and harm our energy security. Are they flat earthers? An industry report said last week said that his plans would see up to 100,000 people lose their jobs. Are those people who are worried climate deniers? When will the right hon. Gentleman admit that his plans are based on fantasy and ideology and are the last thing that this country needs?