New Clause 1 - Assessment of impact of the Act on compliance with climate change target

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 16 January 2024.

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“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within one year of this Act being passed, publish an assessment of the impact of this Act on the Government's ability to meet—

(a) the duty under section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008 (the target for 2050), and

(b) its obligations and commitments under the Paris Agreement of 2015.”—

This new clause would require the Chancellor to publish an assessment of the impact of the Act on the UK Government's ability to meet its duty to achieve Net Zero by 2050 and its obligations under the Paris Agreement.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

As we have heard today, the range of subjects we have covered has included air, road, shipping and much more, and yet the issue of climate change has not made a significant appearance, to the detriment of our proceedings. There is a climate emergency, and the public demand clarity on what is being done. The UK Government have shown time and time again that they do not take their published climate ambitions seriously and that they will simply, as they have demonstrated in recent months, do a U-turn on previous commitments and promises at the drop of a hat. Even their own former COP President says that they are not being serious on this issue.

We know how damaging that is, not only from an environmental perspective but in the sense that the UK Government greatly undermine investor confidence in renewables across the nations of the UK. UK investment levels have fallen to 4.45%, compared with almost 10% worldwide. The UK cannot keep delaying and muddying the rising waters on climate change. The UK Government are shirking their responsibilities even as we face this emergency. Surely it is time that this Bill and every Bill that this House passes had a requirement to demonstrate that it is compatible with the UK targets, so when the appropriate time comes, Mr Paisley, I will press the new clause to a vote.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 2:30, 16 January 2024

It will not surprise you to learn, Mr Paisley, that I respectfully disagree with many of the comments made by the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey. The Government are—[Interruption.] As I said and as always, I disagree respectfully. The Government are fully committed to delivering on our legal obligations to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The net zero strategy and the “Powering Up Britain” publication set out the actions that the Government will take to keep the UK on track for its carbon budgets, and establish the long-term pathway to net zero. The UK has already made good progress, reducing emissions by 48% between 1990 and 2021, faster than any other G7 country.

The autumn statement delivered the cross-economy enabling environment for investment that will be vital to deliver the net zero transition. It did so with measures such as permanent full expensing for plant and machinery investments, accelerating grid connections, and reforming planning. The package provides long-term certainty for industry to invest in decarbonisation and supports firms through the transition.

The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero is responsible for upholding duties under the Climate Change Act 2008, but His Majesty’s Treasury and HMRC consider climate change and the environmental implications of relevant tax measures, with a climate assessment published in all relevant tax information and impact notes. HMT and HMRC are exploring options to strengthen the analytical approach to monitoring, evaluating and quantifying the environmental impacts of tax measures.

Given all the work that is under way and the substantive work on these issues that has already taken place, I urge the Committee to reject new clause 1.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Division number 1 Finance Bill — New Clause 1 - Assessment of impact of the Act on compliance with climate change target

Aye: 2 MPs

No: 9 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 2, Noes 9.

Question accordingly negatived.