Government Plan for Net Zero Emissions — [James Gray in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth 9:30 am, 8th October 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the Government plan to reach net zero by 2050.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I am grateful to the huge number of Members from all parts of the House who have come along to Westminster Hall this morning. It really underlines the absolute priority that this House and the Government give to tackling the huge challenge facing us all.

There is no doubt that the UK leads the world on tackling climate change. We have decarbonised faster than any other major economy, reducing our emissions by 38% since 1990, but we all know that we need to go further and faster, which is why Parliament supported the world-leading net zero target, making the UK the first major economy to do so. The Government must now outline a strategy, with concrete policies and a road map showing how we will get there.

Climate change and the decline of nature is the most serious threat we face. Unchecked, it will lead to more extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, damage precious natural habitats, and cause sea levels to rise. The impacts could be irreversible. The response must be similarly comprehensive, and action must be taken across the whole of our economy. I am confident that we can do that, because there is concern and support for action not just in the streets outside, but in every home, every business and every community across our country. We are an imaginative, creative and innovative nation, and I think we have what it takes to rise to this challenge. It is an opportunity to grow our economy more sustainably. What is good for nature is good for human health and wellbeing.

Every week, like all hon. Members, I meet people from a wide range of organisations—local councils, students, schools, local businesses, and environmental activists—all of whom are fully invested in ensuring that we achieve our net zero target. In every meeting, there is agreement on what the challenge is and why we need to act, and the conversation moves on to how and when they can play their part. If we are to harness that enthusiasm and expertise, we need first and foremost to provide more information about the Government’s plans.

In this debate, we will hear lots of ideas for new policies to help reach net zero, and I hope that the Minister will take them on board. I will highlight just one: my recent ten-minute rule Bill, which makes the compelling case for the Government to set out a plan to retrofit energy efficiency measures in homes across the country. That Bill asks the Government to publish a plan for meeting the domestic energy efficiency targets in the clean growth strategy, to make provision for monitoring performance against milestones in the plan, and to establish an advisory body for the implementation of the plan. As we prorogue tonight, the Bill will fall, so I ask the Minister to take its provisions forward into the next Session. The Committee on Climate Change says that that action should be a priority, and the National Infrastructure Commission has also made it a priority.

The technologies required to enable decarbonisation of the building stock and energy systems are largely available today. Industry body representatives have set out clear plans, as have leading charities such as National Energy Action. Taking action on energy efficiency has the dual benefit of reducing carbon emissions and saving people money.