UK Decarbonisation and Carbon Capture and Storage — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 3:23 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education) 3:23 pm, 24th January 2017

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Betts. I congratulate Philip Boswell on introducing the debate. I suspect he will quickly find that we are not on the same side, but it is important, especially in the week when the Government have launched their industrial strategy, to have serious debates in the House on current and future energy policy. Of course, no industrial strategy can sit in isolation from a realistic energy strategy.

The first point of contention I want to make is that we seem uncritically to have accepted the mantra that we must decarbonise energy production. I know people say we have the Paris agreement, climate change obligations and so on, but we also need to look behind the mantra to see what the term means and has meant, and how it currently affects households, industry and business in the United Kingdom. The old Department of Energy and Climate Change estimated that to decarbonise the electricity and energy industries effectively by 2040, we needed 40,000 offshore and 20,000 onshore wind turbines and a new fleet of nuclear power stations, and that all coal and gas use would have to be subject to carbon capture and storage. That would happen at enormous cost, and we have already seen the impact on fuel poverty.

According to the Scottish household survey, there was a 25% increase in the number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland between 2011 and 2013. In Northern Ireland, there was an increase of nearly 100%. Why? Fuel bills go up because we have decided we want to produce energy more expensively. That is the first thing we need to realise in the debate. Decarbonisation means significant costs to the economy. Of course, this is at a time when we are talking about becoming more globally competitive, and when China and India, which signed the Paris agreement, tell us that every year they will increase their CO2 by the amount of our total CO2 emissions.