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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:33 am on 8th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy) 10:33 am, 8th October 2019

I will be extremely brief, Mr Gray. Labour Members are proud of the Climate Change Act 2008, but we are even prouder of the green new deal that we passed at the Labour party conference, which takes forward the principles of decarbonisation, jobs and justice. That is why we held a citizens’ assembly in Birmingham within 24 hours of Parliament declaring a climate emergency. Several ideas emerged from that, which I will touch on.

First, we need green power. We spend £10 billion a year on green power in our region. Some 99% of that spend leaves the region, which is why we need a municipal solar company to turn our rooftops into power plants across the region.

Secondly, we need to decarbonise our transport system. We cannot do that unless we connect transport together. That is why we need powers over bus and rail franchising. Crucially, we need to transform the number of electric vehicle charging points. There are more EV charging points in Westminster than in the whole of the west midlands; that is not acceptable. We need to decarbonise our housing stock, which means we need devolved control of the £175 million of ecofunding that is our entitlement. We need to start building homes to A plus standards.

Finally, we need to make sure that we have a regional investment bank to back the green firms that are creating green jobs.

None of this will change the imagination without a significant investment in nature. At the moment, we need a forest the size of Tunisia to absorb all the carbon that is produced by the west midlands. That will not happen, but we could insist that our airports become carbon neutral and use that investment to replant Shakespeare’s great forest of Arden. The citizens in Parliament Square remind us that it is not acceptable for politics to remain frozen while the planet is warming. That is why we need to crack on.