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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:08 am on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Melanie Onn Melanie Onn Labour, Great Grimsby 10:08 am, 8th October 2019

A net zero target is right, but we must be aware in our battle to tackle the climate emergency that time is fleeting. The greenhouse element of carbon dioxide is not a tap we can turn off. Approximately a fifth of the carbon dioxide emitted in the past year will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. The damage we cause now will not go away if we decide to start acting responsibly in, say, 31 years’ time; it will become a feature of human life for millennia. The cumulative nature of climate change means that the more radical we are now, the less radical future generations will have to be to stop even more catastrophic change and fix the damage we have already caused.

The climate emergency has climbed up the agenda over the past months, but it is far from a new issue. The previous synthesis report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out more than five years ago, and the Government have had plenty of time to digest its findings and implement the drastic policies that we need to tackle climate change. Sadly, however, that is not what we have seen.

We have seen the end of the White Rose carbon capture and storage project, and the end of solar subsidies and support for biomass. The Green Investment Bank has been sold, and we have given up on zero carbon homes. The Swansea tidal lagoon has been stopped, and the green tax target cancelled. Fracking continues despite local opinion in different areas of the country and an increase in ground tremors, and still the Government stubbornly refuse to lift their ban on cheap and green onshore wind. Indeed, we are led by a Prime Minister who said that wind farms could not

“pull the skin off a rice pudding”.

Action on climate change is not just necessary to protect our future; it can also provide future-proofed and sustainable jobs for many of our communities. We have seen glimpses of that prosperity already through the wonderful work of companies such as Ørsted in Great Grimsby. I was pleased to open its new £14 million east coast hub, and it also works with local schools and colleges to train the next generation of workers to be ready for a green economy. However, we seem to have a Prime Minister and Government who are genetically opposed to taking sensible decisions to protect the planet, and if we are to avoid even more catastrophic damage to our planet, we need a drastic change in governance.