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 am going to make a bit of progress because so many Members want to speak and I want them to be able to do so.

Businesses have an important role to play, and it has been great to see businesses come forward with their own net zero targets. The water industry, for example, has committed to carbon neutrality by 2030. To give hope to the citizens who are so worried about climate change, that information should be captured so that people can see what all sectors of our society are doing. To level up the expectation on all businesses to take action, the Government should require goods for sale to include climate impact on their labelling. That requirement could cover food, electronic goods, and so on. It would help consumers to make smarter choices when shopping and ensure that companies measure the carbon footprint of individual products. It will add a cost to business, but that is why we must create a level playing field by insisting on the provision of that information. We do not want businesses who do the right thing to be undercut by those who do not. Information is power and it will enable every workplace and home to make smarter choices.

To co-ordinate that activity I want the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to be given overall responsibility for net zero in the Cabinet Office. We should raise the status of the Environment and Clean Growth Inter-ministerial Group to a Cabinet sub-Committee. The Treasury could introduce a new net zero test for every Budget and spending review, to ensure that all new Government spending and investment is aligned with the target, or at least is not harming decarbonisation efforts. The Government could ask the Office for Budget Responsibility to scrutinise whether the targets are being met.