Amendment 1

Part of UK Infrastructure Bank Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 4 July 2022.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 3:30, 4 July 2022

My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman. I also welcome the Minister’s and the Government’s change of mind, if you like, on including energy efficiency specifically in the Bill. We all know that the International Energy Agency cried out about developed nations not doing anything about energy efficiency. We also know that it is the cheapest and most effective option: this programme would avoid huge amounts of further capital expenditure. We have not been good at making sure that we pursue that for our housing or building stock.

Having said that, energy efficiency, as measured by output against energy per year, has gradually increased over the years in this economy. This is the silent way of reducing the energy bills that so many of us receive in our inboxes these days—I was going to say through our letterboxes—and I really welcome that. But it is not enough.

I put down an amendment, similar to the noble Baroness’s, on including “biodiversity” and the recovery of nature as an objective. I do not understand why the Government do not find it straightforward to include this, because it accepts that there is a biodiversity emergency. The Treasury in particular produced the fantastic Dasgupta report, which went through the whole area of natural capital, partly covering how we can solve this issue but also clearly painting the challenges. I congratulate the Treasury on having initiated that report but perhaps not quite so much on the follow-up to date. But here is an opportunity to put this into the Bill.

However, if we cannot have this as an objective in the Bill, I very much support Amendment 6A tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, which references

“the circular economy, and nature-based solutions”.

This could be a major step for government policy on the circular economy, which was very well described by the noble Baroness. But I get the impression that, out there in the real world, people are enthusiastic about local repair shops and being able to mend the stuff they buy so that they do not have to buy it again, saving money and resources and helping on climate change. So, the circular economy element is equally important.

Of course, nature-based solutions are a natural way—literally—not just for a number of climate change and biodiversity recipes but to help the natural environment in all sorts of ways. They do this more cheaply and, compared to just pouring concrete, have wider effects, as we know, on areas of adaptation like water quality and flooding, which have been so neglected, as the noble Baroness said.

I favour Amendment 9, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett. If we saw any UK Infrastructure Bank investment in roads, we would be concerned about its climate change objectives. I also strongly support, and have put my name to, Amendment 11 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch. I am sure that she will explain this herself, and I will not remark on it at this stage.