Climate Justice — [Sir Charles Walker in the Chair.]

Part of Innovation in Hospital Design – in Westminster Hall at 3:41 pm on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 3:41 pm, 4th February 2020

I am grateful to Nadia Whittome for securing this important debate on climate justice. I am also grateful for the contributions from my hon. Friend Theo Clarke, Wera Hobhouse, my hon. Friend Harriett Baldwin, and the hon. Members for Coventry South (Zarah Sultana), for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), for Sheffield, Hallam (Olivia Blake), for Dundee West (Chris Law) and for Nottingham North (Alex Norris). It is particularly apt that every Back-Bench speaker has been female, given that my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for West Worcestershire, touched on the role that women can play in addressing the injustices of climate change.

At same time as severe drought across east Africa has left 15 million people in need of food aid, devastating fires have raged across Australia. These events serve to remind us again that no country is immune from the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Here in the UK, the Met Office predicts that our summers will become hotter and drier and our winters increasingly warmer and wetter. As recently as November 2019, flooding across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and West Mercia, left more than 1,000 homes flooded and over 500 businesses impacted.

As all hon. Members said, on a cross-party basis, the science is clear: carbon levels in the atmosphere have reached their highest for 3 million years and climate extremes are already damaging prosperity, security and human safety globally. I am proud that the UK is at the forefront of action to tackle climate change, both domestically and internationally. In June 2019, we set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the UK economy by 2050. We are the first major economy in the world to legislate for a net zero target, which will end the UK’s contribution to climate change.

We have already shown that, with our world-leading scientists, business leaders and innovators, it is possible to cut emissions while growing the economy. Between 1990 and 2017, we reduced our emissions by more than 40% while growing our economy by more than two thirds. We have decarbonised our economy faster than any other G20 country.