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It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I add my congratulations to Caroline Flint, who has done so much. She really does feel passionately about the importance of climate change and a clean energy future. I salute her for that.
Last week the Secretary of State set out a clear new direction for our energy strategy, with security and keeping the lights on at its heart. It recognises the need for investor certainty, but also that security is not possible without action on climate change. The system is not delivering for consumers if energy is unaffordable. So clean energy investment is critical to successfully delivering our strategy.
In the Paris climate change talks, the UK will play a leading role not only in meeting our own ambitions for our decarbonisation targets, which are some of the toughest in the world, but in working to influence other nations in being more ambitious about their need for a clean energy future. It is disappointing that so many Opposition Members are pretending otherwise. I believe we have cross-party agreement on the need for ambitious decarbonisation targets.
A key pillar of our new direction is to consult on a shift from unabated coal to gas. Gas produces half the carbon emissions of coal when used for power generation: it is one of the most cost-effective and significant steps we can take in reducing emissions from our electricity sector and sends a very powerful message to the rest of the world about the level of our commitment.
My hon. Friend David Mowat absolutely rightly made the point that in Germany and Austria, in spite of a high level of renewables deployment, emissions are increasing because of their use of coal. One of the biggest decarbonisation efforts we can make is to move from coal to gas.