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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:17 am on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 10:17 am, 8th October 2019

I thank my hon. Friend Sarah Newton for her excellent opening remarks, and for putting this subject back on the agenda. I also commend my constituents, hundreds of whom have spoken to me this year about their concerns in a way that has been constructive and productive, and that has helped me to understand my role as a local MP in bringing about change. We must do all we can to accelerate our charge to reach net zero emissions, as that is the right thing to do. The opportunity to improve people’s lives is significant, and much can be done straightaway. What is not to like?

We can improve and deliver cheaper-to-run homes and transport. Getting that right will lead to improved and sustainable farming and food production, improved and healthier natural environments, and improved skills and pay, particularly in vocational jobs. In places such as St Ives, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, vocational jobs in construction and renewable energy are a way of creating and spreading wealth.

This is a great opportunity for a progressive Government, and we need leadership. If we want to bring forward plans to ban the production of cars powered by dirty fuel—and I think we should—we must find a way to step up the production of electric vehicles and support low-income families to purchase them. We must properly roll out smart meters so that we use energy when it is available, and we must help households to generate and store energy. To achieve a significant reduction in carbon emissions, the Government can introduce helpful, exciting and ambitious legislation to bring those things together and help families to use better and cheaper transport.

My hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth talked about the opportunity to reduce emissions from our homes. As has been said, homes and transport contribute an enormous chunk of our carbon emissions. We can quickly accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions by addressing those things. With my background in the building trade, I know that it can be done. It is right to accelerate policy to make all new homes carbon neutral, and to look at providing interest-free loans to improve the efficiency of businesses and homes. However, as the draft environment Bill comes forward, we should quickly seize on the idea of having the most ambitious nature recovery network to benefit every corner of the country.