Climate Change: Wales

– in Westminster Hall at 11:23 am on 14th July 2021.

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[Peter Dowd in the Chair]

Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Labour, Bootle 2:30 pm, 14th July 2021

I remind hon. Members that there have been some changes to normal practice in order to support the hybrid arrangements. Timings of debates have been amended to allow technical arrangements to be made for the next debate. There will also be suspensions between each debate. I remind Members participating virtually that they must leave their camera on for the duration of the debate, and that they will be visible at all times, both to each other and to us in the Boothroyd Room. If Members attending virtually have any technical problems, they should email the Westminster Hall Clerks at westminsterhallclerks@parliament.uk. Members attending physically should clean their spaces before they use them and as they leave the room. I would also like to remind Members that Mr Speaker has stated that masks should be worn in Westminster Hall.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered measures to combat climate change in Wales.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mr Dowd.

Despite being confronted with a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, climate change remains the single largest existential threat to people across the world. The UK has a responsibility, as one of the first industrialised countries, to combat climate change and take a progressive, proactive approach to mitigate and reverse its effects.

In Wales, we are extremely fortunate to have access to natural resources that can provide cutting-edge alternatives to curtail our reliance on fossil fuels. How we deal with these issues in the next few years will have a defining impact on future generations and their wellbeing. Changing climate will cause huge problems across the globe and lead to massive population displacement and challenges for food production in many parts of the world. Rising water levels, loss of biodiversity and extreme weather events have already been seen in many places, and we must take urgent action to tackle that.

Wales is a small country, but it can play a big part in the solution. The Welsh Government are taking a progressive and proactive approach to mitigating and reversing the effects of climate change. I am proud that the Welsh Government have gone further than the target set by the Climate Change Committee for the UK and committed to a net zero target by 2050. That is an ambitious target, but one which we have to reach if we want to tackle temperature rises.

When I was granted this debate, I was contacted by the excellent parliamentary Digital Engagement Team and asked if I would like them to use their channels to engage with the public on this issue. The responses that came in were varied and really thoughtful. I would like to thank everyone who got in touch with ideas and comments. There were 168 replies to questions on a wide range of topics, such as reducing consumption, changes to transport use, and housing. There are too many excellent contributions to mention them all, for which I am really sorry, but I would like to pick out a couple and respond to them.

Wendy, along with others, said that we should:

“Retrofit or convert housing stock to passive housing to maintain human health while reducing dependence on energy sources to warm or cool homes”.

The Welsh Government are making £13 million of funding available through the innovative housing programme. The aim of that programme is to make 1,800 homes across Wales more energy-efficient. As well as helping to reduce energy bills for residents, optimised retrofit will help reduce the carbon footprint of each home. There are currently around 1.4 million homes across Wales that need to be made more carbon efficient to help with the 2050 net zero target, so getting retrofit right and making it happen by delivering the skills and training needed will be key to building a strong future economy and helping to tackle the climate emergency.

Several respondents to the consultation highlighted the importance of restoring nature. Both Joshua and Jools suggested that there should be targets for nature restoration and tree and woodland planting. I am happy to say that just this week, Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change in the Welsh Government, announced that Wales will plant 86 million trees in the next nine years.

To achieve our net zero target, we need to plant 43,000 hectares of new woodland. Planting those trees will not only help avoid catastrophic climate change, but create jobs and address the nature emergency, increasing wellbeing and mitigating floods and air quality issues. Hon. Members can find out more about that scheme and the support for individuals, organisations and companies that want to get involved in planting on the Welsh Government website.

As part of that, Wales is also putting in place a timber strategy. Using timber in construction has a number of benefits, including the capture of CO2 during growth, acting as a carbon store for the lifetime of the structure, and it can be used again after the building is no longer in use. The Welsh Government want an increase in off-site manufactured homes as a way of reaching net zero, and the timber industry will play a big part in that.

In Gower, we have one of the most efficient storers of carbon, our fabulous salt marshes. They are a haven for wildlife, with more than 20 species of salt marsh plants, which in turn support insects. They are also used by juvenile fish, and many different birds roost in them. Protecting and, in places, expanding salt marshes could store millions of tonnes of carbon and offset emissions.

I pay tribute to the National Farmers Union, which is encouraging farmers across the UK to take positive steps to make their farms net zero by 2040. We celebrate their positive actions leading up to COP26, to be held in Glasgow in November. There are so many farmers and growers, not only in Gower but across Wales, who are positively demonstrating that they are committed to taking net zero measures on their farms, to help the sector reach the 2040 ambition. I saw that at first hand recently, when my hon. Friend Ruth Jones and I visited the farm of NFU Cymru president John Davies. To see that vision in action and discuss the future of Welsh farming was very positive.

Climate change does not respect borders. We all know that the only way to tackle climate change is to work with other countries. That collaboration is sadly lacking in the relationship between Wales and the UK Government. Having promised to electrify the main line to Swansea, the UK Government decided to go only as far as Cardiff. After the big fanfare around the Swansea bay tidal lagoon, the Government decided not to go ahead with the project. That decision meant that, instead of becoming a world leader in tidal technology, we will now have to rely on other pilot projects to pave the way. I believe that Swansea bay will get a tidal lagoon but, instead of being able to export the associated expertise and technology, someone else will do that. We have got to push forward for Swansea and I commit to doing that.

There are many more subjects I could have covered, from halting all new road-building projects, to reducing our reliance on private cars, to buying local produce to reduce food miles. I thank everyone who got in touch with me about the debate; I will pass on all their comments to the Welsh Government. I want to finish with a quote I heard yesterday in Lee Waters’s speech. Mark McKenna, of the wonderful Down to Earth Project in my constituency of Gower, said:

“The solutions are there, we need to invest and we need to plan.”

I am pleased that that is what the Welsh Government are doing.

Photo of Jamie Wallis Jamie Wallis Conservative, Bridgend 2:38 pm, 14th July 2021

It is a pleasure to speak under your chairmanship, Mr Dowd. I pay tribute to Tonia Antoniazzi for securing this important debate.

The UK Government have been a world leader on this issue, with a 10-point plan presenting a vision for the UK that is green and more prosperous, and at the forefront of the industries of the future. The UK Government and the devolved Administrations have to work together to implement measures that will combat climate change.

In my constituency of Bridgend, an increasing number of residents are contacting me about air pollution, which concerns them a lot. They are worried about high levels of pollution outside schools, in particular from idling vehicles. They fear that that can be a cause and aggravating factor of many respiratory diseases. and action is needed. With little thought for wider infrastructure to support communities and a lack of investment in safe routes to schools, the local authority in Bridgend aids that growing epidemic of idling vehicles and worsens the pollution around our schools.

It is reprehensible that our Welsh colleagues in Cardiff Bay have halted plans for the M4 relief road to ease congestion in south Wales. That would also help with the levels of pollution around Newport. We agree with the Welsh Government that decarbonising the transport sector presents a key challenge to overcome to reach net zero, but rather than halting the development of necessary infrastructure, the UK Government’s vision for a net zero Wales includes accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles. Electric vehicle infrastructure funding schemes such as the on-street residential charge point scheme, the electric vehicle home charging scheme and the workplace charging scheme are examples of the Government helping to achieve 100% zero-emission cars and vans by 2035.

Wales will also benefit from further funding to aid our movement towards a greener economy, including the £289 million industrial energy transformation fund, the £250 million clean steel fund, the £240 million net zero hydrogen fund and the £1 billion carbon capture and storage infrastructure fund.

Decarbonising the UK steel industry is fundamental to our ambitious green industrial revolution. A movement to lower-carbon iron and steel production is essential to meeting our net zero goals. To do that, we must invest in new technologies and processes. Although the Tata Steel site is in the neighbouring constituency, in Port Talbot, many of my constituents work there, and it is concerning that they would struggle with the movement to the more mature technology of carbon capture, but a movement to hydrogen power, rather than coal power, could be a way forward.

The clean steel fund will support the British steel industry through the challenges of decarbonisation while ensuring that we hit the net zero target in 2050. We must also invest in the development of new technologies that can help ease our movement to net zero emissions and assist in combating climate change. I am proud that my constituency is home to some of the industry leaders that are developing those technologies. One such company is Cenin Renewables. It is at the forefront of visionary thinking: it purchased the first Tesla battery in Europe and is an early adopter of photovoltaic power production. It was recently awarded the Queen’s award for sustainable development, and its pioneering Solcer House, developed in conjunction with Cardiff University, is a blueprint for the carbon-negative and energy-positive home of the future.

A lot of constituents contact us about this issue. There are a number of people with a range of views on how best to proceed. Working together is in everyone’s best interests and in the best interests of our long-term future.

Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:42 pm, 14th July 2021

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Dowd. I am very pleased to speak in the debate. It is about an issue of great importance to many Newport West residents, and this afternoon I am giving voice to their concerns and calls for action.

It is no longer a surprise to any of us that we face a dangerous and very real climate emergency. We cannot sit back and watch our country burn, flood or, indeed, collapse without taking action—and we need to take action now. I am very grateful to my hon. Friend Tonia Antoniazzi for securing this debate on measures to tackle climate change and for all she does to preserve our planet and protect our environment in Wales and here in this place.

As well as being the Welsh Labour Member of Parliament for Newport West, I am the shadow Minister for the natural environment and air quality in Westminster. While many of my departmental responsibilities are powers devolved to the Welsh Government, measures to tackle climate change in Wales are very much at the top of the agenda. We need to implement bold, ambitious and proactive measures to tackle climate change in all four nations of our United Kingdom.

Like so many of my constituents, I very much welcome the bold commitments of the Welsh Labour Government to tackle climate change. Those commitments are exemplified by the creation of a Minister and a Deputy Minister for Climate Change. That is a reflection of how important the battle to save our planet is to Welsh Labour and to the First Minister.

In recent years, there has been sterling work in Wales that has seen more innovative ways of developing renewable energy and has ensured Wales is one of the top three recycling nations in the world. We have also seen more than 800,000 trees planted and more than 843 water refill stations installed. These are tangible and pragmatic policies that carry the people of Wales with them and that mitigate the worst effects of climate change. However, for all the positive steps taken in Wales—and there are many—there is still so much more to do. With the horrific flooding in Wales last year, we saw that we have far more to do to stem the unbeatable flow of physical effects triggered by climate change.

As the shadow Minister for the natural environment and air quality, I also have the delight of covering waste and recycling. Those are two important areas that see me often looking to Wales for inspiration. It is a case of, “Where Wales goes, so go the rest of the nations.”

I am pleased about the steps being taken in Wales to develop a national forest, which will give us the ability to offset emissions. I support the plans to ban 10 of the most common single-use plastics, such as straws, stirrers and plastic cutlery. I am proud that Wales currently has the third highest recycling rate in the world. Last year, 65% of all household waste across Wales was recycled and back home in Newport West we recycle 66% of waste, which saved over £5 million and prevented 21,000 tonnes of polluting emissions.

The Welsh Labour Government are committed to achieving a carbon neutral public sector by 2030 and to co-ordinating action to help other areas of the economy to make a decisive shift away from fossil fuels, including academia, industry and the third sector. We need rapidly to expand our ability to produce energy from renewables and I pay tribute to the companies developing offshore wind turbines in the Celtic sea and other areas. We also need to develop energy sourced from tidal and wave power. We need to ban plastics that cannot be recycled or composted, and I pay tribute to companies like TIPA who are developing compostable plastic packaging, which is another way of limiting our waste production.

I am gravely concerned that Tory inaction in England could have an impact in Wales. Indeed, the Welsh Labour Government may have difficulty taking the actions the people of Newport West want to see. For example, the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 means that the Senedd may be limited to banning just three plastic items to align with the low aspirations of England. Put it this way, level up with Labour in Wales or get left behind with the Tories.

Like so many of my constituents back home in Newport West, I urge this Conservative Government, from the Prime Minister down, to wake up and smell the coffee. We have no time left to waste. If they do not want to act, if they lack ambition and do not want to take the steps necessary to preserve our planet and protect our environment, they should get out of the way and let Labour lead.

Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South 2:46 pm, 14th July 2021

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Dowd. I pay tribute to Tonia Antoniazzi for securing this debate. It is a pleasure to follow Ruth Jones, who is a fellow member of the Welsh Affairs Committee, where we have heard from witnesses and discussed in great detail climate change and renewable energy in Wales.

I grew up in rural Wales at Lake Vyrnwy, a few miles south of my constituency, and there I experienced a community that had a healthy balance with nature. Our water came from a small reservoir above the hotel that my father ran in the hills and was filtered through a sand bed. A few years before we moved there, the electricity was still generated by the hydroelectric unit in the Vyrnwy dam, and I hope one day it can be back in action.

This highly formative experience has played a key part in my championing renewable energy schemes in Clwyd South, such as the hydroelectric potential of the River Dee in Llangollen. I warmly welcome the decision by members of Llangollen Town Council in April to set up a task-and-finish group to investigate the feasibility of using the site of decommissioned hydro units in the town.

Further up the River Dee in Corwen is the perfect example of a community energy project, namely the Corwen community hydro power scheme. People came together as a community to build a 55kW, high head hydro scheme in the town. The scheme is 100% owned and run by the community. The success of this first project has led to a second, larger project in Bonwm, near Corwen, where work is expected to start this autumn on building a 100kW hydro scheme, which will be completed ahead of the end of feed-in tariffs in July 2022.

The Corwen projects have benefited significantly from the support of the local landowner, Lord Newborough, whose Rhug estate has put sustainability firmly at the heart of its business mission, particularly through its own renewable heat and power generation. That has led to the recent announcement that Rhug has won a net zero award from the North Wales Mersey Dee Business Council.

There are many other examples of fantastic measures to combat climate change taken by residents and organisations across Clwyd South, including Wrexham and Denbighshire Councils, community councils, local companies, farms and voluntary organisations. I am delighted that the UK Government are pursuing dynamic and effective policies to support these local measures at a national level.

Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the UK Government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution will mobilise £12 billion of Government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030, level up regions across the UK and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs. The plan presents a vision for a UK that is greener and at the forefront of industries for the future. Through it, we will position the UK to take advantage of export opportunities in new global emerging markets in low-carbon technologies and services, providing jobs, supporting levelling up, and reinvigorating our industrial heartlands in Wales and across the rest of the UK.

Specific examples of the plan are many, but I will just mention one. That is the investment of £582 million in plug-in vehicle grants to incentivise take-up of zero or ultra low emission vehicles. Of course, this is as applicable to Wales as it is to the rest of the UK. Also, the cross-Government net zero strategy will be published ahead of COP26. Work is already under way across Whitehall to help inform the ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy. The strategy will set out the Government’s vision and how they will meet its ambitious goals as we transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

In conclusion, I am proud of the measures being taken by the UK Government to combat climate change, and their reflection in many exciting projects under way in Clywd South. I am also pleased that the Welsh Government are being closely engaged in this policy making and strategy, as we work together to create a greener and more prosperous Wales.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West 2:51 pm, 14th July 2021

It is great to be under your chairpersonship today, Mr Dowd, and it is a pleasure to join this debate, which was secured by my hon. Friend Tonia Antoniazzi.

I will just remind us of the scale of the problem that we face. Global temperatures are now 1.2° C higher than the 1850 base rate and are rising at 0.1° C a year, so by 2025 the world will breach the Paris limit of 1.5° C. In fact, the temperature is already plus 2° C over Europe and plus 3° C over the Artic, because of differential impacts. That means that for every second of this debate, 8,500 cubic metres or 8,500 tonnes of ice will melt from Greenland.

In particular, we have seen a massive escalation in the Chinese production of carbon. China now produces more carbon than Europe and the US combined—7 tonnes a person, compared with 5.8 tonnes in the UK. However, on a consumption basis, the UK produces 8 tonnes a person. The reason I mention this is that the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 committed to measuring our consumption as well, because we cannot simply subcontract out all our manufacturing and reduce our carbon footprint but then import it all.

That is particularly the case for steel, because Welsh steel has 50% less carbon than Chinese steel. What is needed is a carbon border tax. It is being initiated by the EU, it will be agreed at COP26 and is certainly supported by Wales, so that we have fair trading and do not have a situation where the Chinese are allowed to continue producing more and more carbon. China’s carbon production will not peak until 2030; it already has 1,037 coal-fired power stations and is planning another 300. Closing our coal-fired power station in Wales, at Aberthaw, accounts for 55% of the Welsh reduction in carbon. We need to think very globally about this issue, as well as taking our own initiatives. I am proud that the Welsh Assembly Government are the only Government, not only in Britain but across the world generally, to have sustainable development as part of the country’s constitution and the Assembly’s founding principles.

I welcome the initiative for the national forest. Clearly we need to plant trees—everybody knows that—because they store carbon, but we also need to use trees in our buildings as carbon stores, in place of concrete in particular. If concrete was a country, it would be the 13th biggest producer of emissions.

It is important that the UK Government back that approach and, indeed, stop the burning of wood. We have a ridiculous situation where we are importing millions of tonnes of wood, in particular hard wood, which we are simply burning. That wood could have been made, with minimal effort, into a pulp that could be used to insulate buildings, and it would remain as a carbon store.

I welcome the roads review: we cannot keep on building roads. That is not to say that we will not build any more roads, but we need to halt and think about whether we can plan differently. On that basis, I very much welcome today’s announcement by the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs, which is calling for HS2 to be an England-only scheme. That makes a lot of sense, because obviously HS2 does not run through Wales: it is more beneficial to Scotland than to Wales, and the UK Government tell us that it will displace jobs from Wales. I welcome that proposal, which should unleash a fair share of funding: in the same way that Scotland gets the money, this should unleash billions of pounds for Wales. I very much hope that will mean that we can make good the promises of David Cameron about railway electrification, and that we can get a high-speed frequent link to Bristol so that Bristol-Cardiff-Swansea, which is 3 million people, has the same level of service as Manchester-Leeds, for example. That has about eight services an hour; we have one.

I also welcome the move to reconsider how we improve and increase home working after the pandemic, and conversations at both a UK and, in particular, a Welsh level about local procurement to reduce our carbon footprint and help local jobs. Indeed, the Development Bank of Wales has a criterion that says, “If you want investment, you should ideally be contributing to net zero. You should be contributing towards economic growth, and you should have local involvement and inclusion in jobs creation.” I welcome that approach, as well.

In Wales, of course, we are blessed with wind, waves and solar, and I hope that—as my hon. Friend the Member for Gower has mentioned—we see the lagoon project delivered, perhaps with extra added value through the new proposals that have been put on the table. That will bring with it a mixed bag of other benefits, as well as energy.

I hope that we will work in partnership with the UK Government and that, when the Welsh Government come forward with new ideas, the money will follow to serve all our interests in helping to contribute towards a more sustainable world. Again, that includes the contribution at COP26. It will be interesting to hear from the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, who will be winding up this debate for the Government: he is a former climate change denier, but I think he may have suddenly seen the light and agreed that we need to combat climate change. Obviously, this is an issue on which we might have wanted to hear from a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Minister or a COP26 Minister as well.

Turning to the issue of plastic, my hon. Friend Ruth Jones mentioned that we have a problem with the Internal Market Act, in that we will not be able to recycle as much plastic as we would like. I very much welcome the fact that the Welsh Government’s initiative to tax plastic bags has been taken forward. I welcome taxing plastic, but the UK Government’s planned level of £200 per tonne is far below that of the EU, which is £685 per tonne. We need to increase that to reduce the amount of plastic used, because frankly, there is going to be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050 on current United Nations projections.

We do need to work together, and I am pleased that the Welsh Government have said that, from a public sector point of view, their planning and ambition is to be carbon neutral by 2030 by using a combination of net zero buildings—that would include wood, as I have mentioned—confronting mobility and transport, more electrification and hydrogen-generated transport, and better land use, including the woodland plan.

Finally, we on the Welsh Affairs Committee have heard that British Airways has been buying up large tracts of land, in Ceredigion in particular, by way of carbon offset. The Government need to do something about that. These schemes were meant to preserve the Amazon rainforest, not to put Welsh hill farmers out of business with no net impact on the climate. Let’s all work together. Well done to the Welsh Government, and let’s have the UK and Welsh Governments working together so that we can focus on COP26 and provide a shop window to the world on best practice for all to emulate.

Photo of Craig Williams Craig Williams Conservative, Montgomeryshire 2:59 pm, 14th July 2021

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mr Dowd. I first of all pay tribute to Tonia Antoniazzi, both for securing the debate and the tone in which you opened it. Your tone made me rip up half my speech, and I appreciate that balance. I also echo your comments on digital services and the engagement around this debate, which I think is terrific.

I could touch on the comments of other Members but, in the good old tradition of Welsh Westminster Hall debates, the Welsh Government are good and the UK Government are bad, unless the Member is a Conservative, in which case the UK Government are good and the Welsh Government are bad. We have approached this debate in the usual fashion. I will try to break that down a little bit. I appreciated a lot of the global context that Geraint Davies introduced. I was taken aback today at Prime Minister’s questions when it was noted that 52% of the world’s urban global greenhouse gases come from 25 cities, of which 23 are in China. Clearly, the pressure on COP26 this year is immense.

There is excellent best practice coming out of Wales, and there is excellent best practice coming from Powys County Council and the Welsh Labour Government. There is also a huge amount of work, finance and regulatory change coming out of the UK Government, and it would be churlish for Labour Members speaking after me not to at least acknowledge that, if those before me have not. It is absolutely fascinating to see the pace of change. I will touch briefly on an issue that I have a little bugbear with the Welsh Government about— I have been nice, but I will have a little bash—and that is new road building.

Montgomeryshire is blessed with clean air and low emissions. The one thing that has helped Montgomeryshire more than anything to tackle emissions and improve air quality is the Newtown bypass, with Welsh Government studies and independent studies unquestionably showing that emissions have dropped around Newtown—the biggest town in my constituency—and the quality of air has improved. That is to be hugely welcomed.

In conjunction with the banning of new petrol and diesel cars, that means that road building in the future will be very different. The vehicles on the roads of the future will emit very different pollutants, if any. It is old-fashioned and traditional thinking to see road building in the traditional sense—that the roads will have heavy-polluting vehicles on them. They will not. Clearly, that is demonstrated by the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles. Clearly, that is demonstrated by great companies such as Riversimple in Powys investing in hydrogen cars. Clearly, that is demonstrated by the huge investment in hydrogen production and electric car production in this country. I hope there is time for a pause for thought. I welcome that this is a review and not a blanket ban, but road building projects in the future should not be judged on the environmental effects of the past. That is incredibly dangerous thinking as we see smaller, better, cleaner cars emerging on to our roads.

Equally, I want to be nice: Wales has led. The plastic bag tax is hugely welcome. To give credit where credit is due, the Welsh Government led on that issue, and now the UK Government are following. We must do that more in future: where there is best practice across a border—in Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or across the channel into Europe, or even further—we need to share best practice. We should not be shy in stealing ideas; after all, I read Hansard regularly and we normally steal each other’s speeches, so we might as well share each other’s policies.

In closing, I will draw the private sector into this. Of course, there is a lot of public money and regulatory change, but tomorrow I will visit Garth Holiday Park in Machynlleth, in the middle of Wales, to celebrate its private investment in electric vehicle charging on the site. A huge amount of EV charging facilities are going in now. Wipak in Welshpool—if you pick up a pack of Cathedral City cheese in this country, the packaging comes from Welshpool, in the middle of Wales—is investing hugely. It is a European-based company that manufactures in Wales, and it is investing millions over the next years to improve its production and to help us achieve our net zero ambitions.

If we do this together—the UK Government, with their sheer scale and international leadership, the Welsh Government, with their devolved powers and regulatory functions; and the private sector as well—we can achieve it. I fear that if we continue with a dogmatic, narrow vision of, “We are bad, you are good. This is right, this is wrong,” we will not get anywhere near the achievements that we need, and we will do a great disservice to the constituents that really care about the issue.

Mr Dowd, I have added to the greenhouse gases with my six minutes, so I will sit down, but I very much welcome this debate.

Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Labour, Bootle

I remind Members not to use the second person singular unless addressing me. I call Jessica Morden.

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Shadow Vice Chamberlain of HM Household (Whip) 3:05 pm, 14th July 2021

Thank you, Mr Dowd, for allowing me to leave early to go to another Committee; it is much appreciated. I congratulate my hon. Friend Tonia Antoniazzi on securing this timely and important debate ahead of COP26 this autumn.

Like my hon. Friend Ruth Jones, I was reminded of the proximity of the conference this week when my hon. Friend and I welcomed and spoke at an event for the Young Christian Climate Network, which was stopping in Newport as part of an epic 1,000-mile relay on its way to the conference in Glasgow, not only to raise awareness of climate change, but to raise awareness of the UK Government’s promises to tackle climate change. It really did typify the dedication to climate justice shared by so many young people across our society—a generation that will really help to define the future of the planet left to them, so I thank them.

I also want to point out that in Newport East we have two of Wales’s 12 youth climate ambassadors, Maham Aziz and Poppy Stowell-Evans, who very much reflect that passion for a sustainable future. Members can hear more from Poppy, who will speak virtually at the all-party parliamentary group on youth action against climate change next week, so watch this space. The youth climate ambassadors’ campaigns are around making businesses in Wales more responsible for their carbon emissions, and they focus on the amount of plastic that people use. Those are initiatives that we would all like to get behind.

There are lots of volunteers and organisations across my constituency doing great work to restore local habitats and biodiversity, which goes hand in hand with the fight against climate change. I want to thank the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for its work in the Newport wetlands, the Gwent Wildlife Trust in Magor Marsh, the Rogiet wildlife-friendly village team, the Woodlanders, and the Bee Initiative at Penhow. As the young marchers we met last week said, “This is a critical decade for action to prevent climate change and for action to prevent future harm to our planet.”

The Senedd Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee’s third assessment report was published last month. It highlighted that in our children’s lifetime, Wales will experience wetter winters with drier, hotter summers and sea level rises of up to 2½ feet along our coast. I have looked at the maps and I have a coastal constituency, which is why it is so important, as other hon. Members have said, that the Welsh Labour Government have set a legal and ambitious commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and are pushing to get that ambition even sooner. Ambition is critical. Inaction is not an option; nor is doing the minimum.

We were the first country in the world—I was here at the time, along with David T. C. Davies—to pass a Climate Change Act in 2008, and under the Welsh Labour Government we were the first country in the world to enshrine in law the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, ensuring that any decision that our Government make must serve the needs of our children and grandchildren, including on environmental issues. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gower said, we have a Minister and Deputy Minister for Climate Change, too.

Others have highlighted our national recycling rate, which is at an all-time high of 65%. I say to Craig Williams that the UK Government could learn from that as we are the third best recycling nation in the world and the best in Europe. I thank Wastesavers at Newport Council for its work, and I look forward to the new youth centre in Magor opening shortly. As others have mentioned, we also have the national forest for Wales to improve air quality and remove harmful greenhouse gases from the community.

Others want to speak, so I will finish here. There is clearly much more to do. Lots of hon. Members have mentioned decarbonising steel. My hon. Friend Geraint Davies was right about the dangers of importing steel, which can make things worse. UK steel should be right at the heart of a green recovery, in terms of jobs and new skills, but also in terms of providing steel for solar energy, the tidal lagoons and for electrification. Green jobs for the future in new industries are important to us, too, as are transport, housing and energy efficiency—all of which are in Labour’s green recovery plan.

Wales and Labour have shown a lead on environmental issues, which the UK Government would do well to follow. As the host of COP26, the UK Government must strain every sinew to keep the possibility of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees, in line with the goals of the Paris agreement. We owe that to the young people who are out there campaigning for that this week.

Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Conservative, Ynys Môn 3:10 pm, 14th July 2021

It is a privilege to speak in this debate, which has been brought forward by Tonia Antoniazzi, and to follow Jessica Morden. The debate enables me to highlight the opportunities that my constituency of Ynys Môn has to contribute to the Government’s net zero 2050 target and to tackle climate change in Wales.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Wales and my constituency in particular could be fundamental to tackling climate change, not just locally but globally. Anglesey stands on the brink of becoming a centre of excellence for energy production. Morlais and Minesto are honing in on tidal energy and wave production, with innovative operations planned off the coast of the island. This month, the National Nuclear Laboratory has established a new office in M-SParc. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Welsh Government are seeking to establish a thermal hydraulic facility on Anglesey. There are currently only two such facilities worldwide—one in Italy and one in the US. In the March Budget, the Chancellor and this Government committed £4.8 million to develop the Holyhead hydrogen hub. And there is, of course, Wylfa Newydd.

Wylfa Newydd offers the best new nuclear power site in the UK, possibly the world. Anglesey is known already as energy island, but in all honesty it feels like we are treading water. To truly tackle climate change and to achieve our 2050 net zero targets, the UK needs a base-load generating capacity that can only be met consistently and within the timescales offered by new nuclear. Wylfa Newydd has the potential to power 2 million homes. It offers Wales’s biggest single contribution to tackling climate change. Not only that; it is a site that has the support of local people and would offer 8,000 construction jobs, 1,500 long-term, permanent, skilled, well-paid careers and thousands of supply chain roles across north Wales.

Wylfa Newydd would not just tackle climate change but transform the economy of north Wales, give our young people the opportunity to stay in their communities and keep the Welsh language alive for generations to come. I simply cannot overemphasise how important Wylfa Newydd is to Wales.

The UK Prime Minister has declared himself a “fervent supporter” of the project, but to make this happen we need a catalyst, and that catalyst is freeport status. A freeport would turbocharge Anglesey’s energy island credentials and give Wales a step change in its route to achieving net zero. This year, as we host COP26 and commit to building back better and greener, let us take a stand and show the world that Wales and the UK are truly committed to tackling climate change. Let us find a way to make Wylfa Newydd happen. We need the UK and Welsh Governments to work together to bring a freeport to Anglesey. Climate change is real and we cannot afford to delay when we have hard targets to achieve. Every day of delay is a day of irreversible damage to our fragile globe.

I end by echoing the wise words of my hon. Friend Craig Williams. Now is the time to cast aside our differences and work together, for the communities of Anglesey and the future of Wales, our Union and our children’s future in the world.

Photo of Beth Winter Beth Winter Labour, Cynon Valley 3:14 pm, 14th July 2021

It is a privilege to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Dowd. I thank my hon. Friend Tonia Antoniazzi for securing this debate.

We are in the grip of a climate emergency. My constituency of Cynon Valley has in recent times seen some of the worst effects of climate change. Last year, Storm Dennis had a devastating impact on it, and it was followed by a heatwave and further flash flooding. We worry about the future for our children and grandchildren. The Committee on Climate Change’s recent report on Wales’s progress on tackling climate change was damning and sobering. It found that 26 of the 61 climate change risks have increased in severity over the past five years, and that more action is required on 32 of them. It concluded that current plans are not sufficient and that the Welsh Government need to take urgent action.

Words are not enough. We need urgent action now at the local, national and international levels. I am pleased to say that in Cynon Valley and Wales, we are stepping up. Tackling climate change was one of my key pledges when I was elected, and since then it has underpinned everything I do. I have worked and continued to work alongside local people and groups in my constituency to do everything we can to tackle climate change.

We are taking a grassroots, bottom-up approach to bring about positive change. I am currently holding a series of climate assemblies in my constituency, involving a range of individuals and groups, on green jobs, transport and energy. I thank all the groups that have participated. We have our next one on transport next week. Speakers on those topics have included Member of the Senedd Lee Waters, future generations commissioners, Professor Calvin Jones of Cardiff University, and the Wales TUC, to name a few. The speakers are followed by a discussion in which people can put their ideas for change. We are going to produce a summary report of recommendations, called a Cynon climate action plan, which we will disseminate widely.

Local people have the power to force change from the bottom up, but leadership and sound decision making is needed from those in power. It is a two-way process. We all have a part to play, but there are major decisions and actions for the Government to take.

As I say, the Welsh Government have stepped up. I remain extremely proud that we were the first nation in the world to declare a climate emergency. I very much welcome the renewed energy, determination and urgency shown by the Welsh Government since the Senedd elections in May to address climate change. Mark Drakeford, our First Minister, said:

“The environment will be at the heart of our decision-making…In my new government, the environment doesn’t just have a seat at the Cabinet table, it will be a consideration in all we do.”

The Welsh Government’s recently published programme for government contains a raft of policies to help achieve that, from a clean air Bill to a target that 45% of journeys must use sustainable modes by 2040. As others have said, a new climate Ministry has been created to turn those words into action. The Welsh Government are not afraid of taking action—sometimes difficult and contentious action—in a short period of time, including a freeze on new road-building projects while a review is undertaken, which I very much support. Only yesterday, Lee Waters MS announced a national call to arms to plant more trees, which others have already spoken about.

The same cannot be said of the UK Government, who have paid lip service to climate change but remain hellbent on spending £27 billion on their new road-building programme, despite the findings of the Transport Action Network that it breaches the UK’s legal Paris agreement commitment to tackle the climate crisis and critically undermines the country’s standing ahead of the COP 26 summit. They have given themselves the power through the internal market to undermine some of the Welsh Government’s progressive determinations, as my hon. Friends have already mentioned.

That is why we will continue to take local action and mobilise to bring about change. Our Cynon climate action plan will be submitted to COP 26. I will take the recommendations to Parliament and push for change in all forums, including the Chamber and the all-party parliamentary climate change group, of which I am a member. I will also continue to support the climate and ecological emergency Bill promoted by Caroline Lucas. I will continue to call on the UK Government to give Wales our fair share of funding to enable us to fulfil our climate ambitions. We could be a world leader in moving towards a carbon-neutral economy. We have the resources in this country to do so much more.

Fundamental changes in society are required if the climate crisis is to be avoided. We cannot stop the acceleration of carbon emissions unless we change the way society works. As Professor Calvin Jones of Cardiff University has said, capitalism is bust. We must end the exploitation of fossil fuels, tackle multinational corporations, and instead put people before profit. Naomi Klein and Professor Tim Jackson both feel that we cannot sustain the current way of organising the world economy, exploiting all natural resources in the name of profit.

In conclusion, as one of my constituents, Morien Morgan, who has taught me so about climate change, has said,

“We can’t let future generations down and say, ‘It’s too late now. We’re on the Titanic so let’s open the drinks cabinet, strike up the band and dance until the end.’”

This is bigger than any party political stance. In Morien’s words, “This is existential”, and as another constituent said to me:

“We don’t own this planet. We only borrow it from our children and I want to leave it in a state that they can enjoy and benefit.”

Photo of Alex Davies-Jones Alex Davies-Jones Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 3:20 pm, 14th July 2021

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Dowd. I am very grateful to my good and hon. Friend Tonia Antoniazzi for securing this important debate. It is also a pleasure to follow my constituency neighbour, my good and hon. Friend Beth Winter Valley. Sadly, like her, my constituency of Pontypridd and Taff Ely has seen at first hand the devastating impact of the catastrophic flooding events and climate change.

In a matter of hours in February 2020, more than 300 homes in my local area were impacted by the worst flooding in a generation. In an instant, millions of pounds’ worth of damage had been caused to businesses, homes and local infrastructure. Indeed, the national lido of Wales, a wonderful space right in the heart of my constituency, was closed for more than a year after being absolutely devastated by flooding. Now, more than a year on, people are still feeling the effects of the floods, including through challenges getting access to home insurance, and there are also those who, sadly, are struggling with the long-term mental health impacts of flash flooding.

Communities such as mine are, sadly, not alone. Up and down this country, both in Wales and beyond, there are cities, towns and villages that have been devastated by the effects of climate change. The sad fact of the matter is that, left unchecked, climate change will lead to more catastrophic climate events such as floods, not just in Wales, but around the world too.

It will come as no surprise that I have genuine fears about the UK Government’s commitment to supporting those at risk. Colleagues may be aware of the real fight that I and other Rhondda Cynon Taff representatives, including my hon. Friends the Members for Ogmore (Chris Elmore), for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) and for Cynon Valley, had to put up to secure funding for Wales following the devastating flooding last year.

Although I am pleased that the UK Government eventually came up with some cash to help communities like mine, it is clear that only the Labour Government in Wales really understand and are truly committed to taking flood prevention seriously. Alongside our fantastic local council in RCT, they have acted quickly to support those hit hardest by the floods, both through emergency financial support and in bringing forward flood resistance measures for at-risk homes.

The Welsh Government have also recently committed to funding additional flood protections for more than 45,000 homes across Wales. Rather than spending funding on bureaucratic reports, they are focused on making real, lifelong changes that will support and protect communities.

Colleagues may be relieved to know that I also want to use my brief time today to show support for a number of other ambitious measures in which the Welsh Labour Government are investing to tackle climate change. In 2019, the Welsh Government introduced mandatory regulations on new housing developments to help reduce flood risk and improve water quality. Sadly, the important topic of sustainable urban drainage systems is not spoken about often enough, but the science really does speak for itself. Despite evidence showing that SUDS address flooding in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner, the UK Government have completely failed to introduce such regulations in England. I therefore look forward to hearing from the Minister what consideration the UK Government, particularly the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, have given to the possibility of introducing mandatory SUDS in England, too.

The Minister will also know that the Welsh Labour Government are leading the way on tree planting, as other Members have said. The creation of a new national forest stretching from the north of Wales all the way to the south is a vital step forward, not just in creating a sustainable timber industry for the future, but in supporting local communities by creating new cultural and recreational opportunities across Wales.

When we discuss climate change, it is absolutely vital to consider the impact that our actions and our Governments’ actions across the devolved nations are having on the lives of future generations. I have regularly been inspired by the fantastic engagement shown by young people in my community on the question of climate change. From plastic in our oceans to littering in our green spaces, climate change and environment policy is brought up time and again on school visits and on my social media channels.

A few weeks ago, I visited Tonyrefail Community School in my constituency to hear from young people about the issues affecting them. We talked about everything from recycling centres to single-use plastics, air pollution and overfishing, and their fears about the impact of climate change on the future. It is clear that young people in my community understand the scale of the challenges that we face, yet the Tory Government are doing everything in their power to make it harder for the Labour Government in Wales to take steps to address climate change.

The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 and this Government’s shameless attempt to undermine devolution and the democratic rights of the Welsh people are having an impact on the Welsh Government’s ability to legislate on issues such as single-use plastic. The Welsh Government reaffirmed in the 2021 elections their commitment to abolishing a number of single-use plastics, but they now face an unnecessary uphill battle to put that into action. On air pollution, yet again the Welsh Labour Government are setting and meeting far more ambitious targets than those at UK level. The UK Government voted down on multiple occasions attempts to include World Health Organisation clean air targets in the Environment Bill, despite clear evidence of the impact of air pollution on the health of the most vulnerable. But thankfully, all of us representing communities in Wales can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the Welsh Labour Government have confirmed that they will be legislating to set the highest international standards for air quality in law through the forthcoming clean air Bill for Wales.

Lastly, it would seem remiss of me not to refer to the coronavirus pandemic, which obviously is having an ongoing impact on all our lives. That is particularly true for our manufacturing and aviation sectors, which are both vital employers in my local area. As we see changes in manufacturing and industry across the UK, the Government have an opportunity to make radical interventions to ensure that skilled jobs are available across the whole country. We need proper, coherent policy from the UK Government to create jobs in green manufacturing. Labour’s plan for an electric vehicle revolution is one such plan. We have to ensure that electric cars are affordable for everyone and, crucially for communities such as mine, we need to ensure that charging points are accessible all over the UK and not just in London and the south-east.

I urge the Minister, if he is as committed to the Union as his party claims to be, to particularly work with and learn from the Welsh Government. The impacts of climate change are happening now for us all to see, and the Minister is in a position of real power to create positive change. I sincerely hope that he and his colleagues across the Wales Office and in DEFRA are listening. Diolch, Mr Dowd.

Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Wales) 3:26 pm, 14th July 2021

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for what I think is the first time, Mr Dowd. I congratulate my hon. Friend Tonia Antoniazzi on securing today’s debate and on her excellent and passionate speech laying out the challenges in front of us. Today’s debate has on the whole been very consensual and positive. I think that nobody in this room or, hopefully, across Parliament would underestimate those challenges. The fact that, as my hon. Friend mentioned, there were 168 replies to the online consultation regarding this debate demonstrates the level of public concern about these important issues.

During the debate, we have heard about, and my hon. Friend highlighted, the actions of the Welsh Labour Government. This week, there was the announcement about 86 million trees being planted over the next few years. It was also highlighted that, unfortunately, the electrification of the railway line to Swansea and the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon are two examples that demonstrate a lack of action from the UK Government.

Dr Wallis talked about decarbonisation, electric vehicles, the new technologies in his constituency and the opportunities to work together across his area. My hon. Friend Ruth Jones rightly said that we cannot sit back; we have to take action, and urgently. She also commended the pragmatic policies of the Welsh Government, including the national forest and the ban on single-use plastic—albeit with the challenges that are in place around that—and the fact that Wales has the third best recycling level in the world. I particularly liked her comment about levelling up with Labour in Wales—or not, as the case may be.

Simon Baynes talked about his experience, in formative years, with hydro projects in his area and about measures across the constituency. My hon. Friend Geraint Davies, who is particularly passionate about these issues, talked very eloquently about the scale of the problems facing us, the global challenges and global temperatures. He also talked about the need to look closely at supporting the Welsh steel industry against cheaper imported Chinese steel, and he particularly welcomed the Welsh Affairs Committee report with regard to HS2 being an England-only project and the need for a positive impact on funding in Wales.

Craig Williams talked about pollutants and the plea to follow best practice, wherever that may be. He commended the Welsh Government on the plastic bag tax, and referred to the challenges around road building and the cleaner vehicles of the future, which will be a positive step forward.

My hon. Friend Jessica Morden talked about young people in Newport and the work that has been done by the voluntary sector, including the wetlands trust, the Gwent Wildlife Trust and the Newport Wastesavers. Having spent time in a previous life working in the voluntary sector in that area, I know how passionate the voluntary sector is across Newport.

Virginia Crosbie talked about the opportunities in her constituency and that BEIS and the Welsh Government are looking at a thermal hydraulic facility, which will be the third of its kind in the world, if it comes about.

My hon. Friend Beth Winter talked about the challenges of flooding caused by Storm Dennis, the need to step up and the importance of grassroots, the power of local people and a bottom-up approach. I am sure we all look forward to seeing the Cynon climate change plan in due course. My hon. Friend Alex Davies-Jones talked about the flooding challenges of Storm Dennis and the required flood prevention works that are being taken forward by the Welsh Government and local authorities.

A number of hon. Members mentioned that climate change is one of the most important and talked-about topics among children and young people during school visits. That demonstrates a positive view of the future. That young people care about these issues so passionately should give us hope that these issues will be taken forward. One thing that has stuck with me is the strapline from the Rio summit in 1992: “Think global, act local”. That stuck with me, as I was quite a tender age at that point—well, tender-ish. We can all do our bit locally, which is the important message. We can all do our bit in our communities and schools, and add our small contributions together to make an impact across the country and the globe.

We know that our planet and way of life, in this country and around the world, is facing an existential threat from climate change. In the past few weeks, we have seen record high temperatures in the Pacific north-west, and we are increasingly familiar with extreme weather events closer to home, including the floods that affected my constituency and those of my hon. Friends the Members for Cynon Valley, for Pontypridd and for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), as well as other areas across south Wales and other parts of the country. I think it was the wettest February on record.

All that underlines the fact that this is not a challenge that can or should be left to future generations; it is one that we must face now, together. I, too, am proud that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley highlighted, the Senedd was the first Parliament in the world to vote to declare a climate emergency in 2019. That is why the Welsh Labour Government have brought forward measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Wales, with a target of net zero emissions by 2050. That target is vital to protect our planet’s future. It is an ambitious one that will require concerted effort from all of us: Governments, industries, communities and individuals.

Of course, Governments must take a lead. Through the Warm Homes scheme, the Welsh Government have installed energy-efficiency measures for more than 60,000 households experiencing fuel poverty. They have also invested in major renewable energy infrastructure projects, including the Awel y Môr offshore wind farm and the world-class centre for marine engineering at Pembroke dock. All the while, they have taken action to combat and limit those technologies that threaten our climate and environment in Wales, including opposing fossil fuel extraction and maintaining a ban on fracking. Wales has reached the milestone of generating more than 50% of the energy we consume from renewable sources, up from 19% in 2014.

Of course, there is more that must be done for us to meet the 2050 target and ensure a sustainable future for all communities in Wales. Colleagues will know that, as highlighted by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West and others, the Welsh Labour Government have recently established a new ministry for climate change, under the leadership of Welsh Ministers Julie James and Lee Waters. It is fair to say that this bold decision to bring housing, transport, planning and energy policy together under one roof is a clear signal that the Welsh Government will use all the levers it has to tackle the climate emergency. The Senedd and the Welsh Government will expand renewable energy generation by public bodies and community groups in Wales, working towards challenging targets in the public sector and community renewable energy capacity by 2030.

The transition to a fully green economy requires difficult choices. In Wales we are embedding the concept of a just transition through social partnerships, bringing together Government, trade unions and employers to consider the action that must be taken. These are just some of the measures that are being taken in Wales to combat climate change and I hope that there can be close co-operation with the UK Government, something a number of Members have called for this afternoon, as we focus all our attention on hitting that 2050 target.

The UN climate summit COP26, which this country is hosting in Glasgow this year, is a critical moment for our planet and for our country. The eyes of the world will be upon us and I hope that Ministers across Governments will use the opportunity to provide the meaningful leadership that we and our planet need. I hope the Minister can provide us with some of those necessary reassurances today.

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Assistant Whip 3:36 pm, 14th July 2021

Thank you for your chairmanship, Mr Dowd. I join the congratulations for Tonia Antoniazzi and it is a pleasure to follow Gerald Jones. He just said that this is a positive and consensual debate, and all I can say is that it probably is. You should see us in Wales when we are disagreeing with each other, Mr Dowd—but that is another matter.

The UK is the first country in the world to have enshrined legally binding carbon budgets into legislation. We are now into our fifth carbon budget and have recently committed to a sixth, which will set the UK on course to achieve a 78% emissions reduction by 2037, having achieved 40% so far, which is no mean achievement. This target is consistent with the Paris agreement, and the goal is to limit global temperature rises to well below 2 °C and pursue efforts towards 1.5 °C.

Geraint Davies made a point about the fact our contribution is not going to count for much unless the rest of the world follows. He is quite right and this is one of the rare occasions when I agree with him. I want to put in context the rest of what I say, because it will be easy enough for hon. Members to say, “Well, you could be doing more.” The point is that if we want the rest of the world to follow us, we had better do what we are doing well and we had better do it without there being an obvious, drastic cut in living standards for everyone in this country as a result of the actions we are taking. If we saw living standards cut and people being thrown out of work because of action we were taking, the rest of the world, particularly countries like China, most certainly would not follow us and therefore we would defeat the whole object of what we are doing.

It is estimated that four times more low carbon power generation will be needed by 2050. We cannot predict what the balance of energy generation technologies will look like, but we can take bold steps now to build the foundations of a low carbon system that is mindful of the need to keep costs as low as possible for consumers and the taxpayer, for the reasons I have just mentioned.

The next contracts for difference auction in December will aim to support up to 6 GW of renewables across Great Britain, which is enough clean low-cost energy to power up to 10 million homes. That mechanism has already played a key role in driving up the terms of renewables while driving costs down. The next auction will include revenue support for floating offshore wind, which was mentioned by Ruth Jones and which has significant deployment potential in the Celtic sea, where wind speeds are particularly strong. The Secretary of State for Wales and I have been to Pembroke Dock to look at the infrastructure there. We had a virtual meeting yesterday with one of the companies that is looking to deploy renewable technology there, and very exciting technology it is.

Some of the Swansea Bay city region growth deal projects were mentioned in passing as being funded by the Welsh Government, which of course they are, but hon. Members seemed to overlook the fact that they are also being 50% funded by the UK Government. We are very proud to be supporting those projects, including the Pembroke Dock marine programme, which is developing innovative floating offshore and wind technology.

We are also very well placed for marine energy generation more widely, providing it can offer clear value for money. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ran a call for evidence on marine energy last year, and we are considering policy related to wave and tidal stream energy as a result of the submissions we received. A few weeks ago, I visited the Morlais Menter Môn project in Ynys Môn, which has been championed by my hon. Friend Virginia Crosbie. Although that project is still being put together, from what I have seen it is well advanced, and I am confident that we may well see that project going ahead. Obviously, that depends on the business case, but it is an exciting and innovative project.

The hon. Member for Gower mentioned the Swansea bay tidal lagoon project, and I chaired the Select Committee inquiry into that with a Labour Member. There is a legal case going on at the moment, so I am not going to say too much about it, but I urge anyone interested in that project to look at the transcript of the meeting in which we heard from the developers. Since then, I have met Swansea Council to discuss the Dragon energy island proposal, and I can tell the hon. Member that I have a great deal of confidence in the competence of the council. That scheme is in its early stages, but neither I nor my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has any problem at all with the principle of tidal lagoon development.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower

I thank the Minister for the positive comments he has made about Labour-run Swansea Council and Dragon energy island. In any conversations that he has with other Ministers, the shadow Secretary of State for Wales or the Prime Minister, I urge him to push that agenda forwards for the future of Swansea.

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Assistant Whip

All I can say is that it has a lot of potential. The figures that were put to us by the leader of Swansea Council were very positive, but obviously the council has to make its case to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It is certainly not something that we have any problem with in principle.

We are developing a business model to support the application of carbon capture, usage and storage technology to the power sector. That, along with a range of other measures that we are taking, is of particular relevance to Wales, because of the higher proportion of electricity that Wales has historically generated from fossil fuels. We are taking the next important steps to cultivate next- generation nuclear technologies, committing £385 million for small and advanced modular reactors and £222 million for the UK’s first fusion power plant. Both actions align well with Wales’s advanced nuclear ambitions across fission and fusion technologies. I know my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn is particularly interested in those schemes.

That leads me to make another point: a lot of the actions that we are taking need the support of all those who care about the environment. One of the problems we have had with nuclear power is that those people who have clamoured loudly for electricity to be generated from carbon-free sources have not always been willing to commit themselves to technologies such as nuclear, which delivers just that and does so in a predictable fashion that allows the national grid to function properly. The regulation of the electricity network is a matter for Ofgem, and £2.7 million has been earmarked for investment in the distribution networks across Wales and Merseyside for the period from 2015 to 2023.

Turning to business and industry, I am sure hon. Members will welcome the Government’s commitment of £21.5 million to the south Wales industrial cluster, matching £18.5 million committed by industry. South Wales is the second largest industrial cluster in the UK in terms of greenhouse gas emissions—hence the need for targeted action in the region. That funding will enable the cluster to undertake detailed engineering studies into hydrogen and carbon capture infrastructure and to develop a strategic decarbonisation plan. I was very pleased to be in Swansea last week, discussing the region’s low-carbon growth deal projects. Those tie in with the aims of the cluster and are, of course, being supported financially by the UK Government.

All parts of Wales have the opportunity to benefit from funding through the £289 million industrial energy transformation fund, the £250 million clean steel fund, the £240 million net zero hydrogen fund and the £1 billion carbon capture and storage infrastructure fund.

In addition to our funding commitments, we are working to establish policy frameworks to support our industrial partners to make the transition to net zero. We have confirmed a new and ambitious UK emissions trading scheme to create the world’s first cap and trade market for greenhouse gas emissions and, as announced in the recently published industrial decarbonisation strategy, we are encouraging low-carbon fuel switching and growing the market for low-carbon industrial products. Meanwhile, we are developing business models to financially incentivise the take-up and usage of key decarbonisation technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen.

Turning to transport, as my hon. Friend Craig Williams pointed out, we will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. All cars and vans will be 100% zero-emissions from the tailpipe by 2035. Between 2030 and 2035 all new cars and vans will be required to have a significant zero-emissions capability, which would include some plug-in and full hybrids. That will of course entail a lot of changes for consumers, and it is only fair that we bear that in mind.

I share my hon. Friend’s disappointment at the blanket decision to stop building roads across the whole of Wales, because the roads of the future will not throw out the emissions of the roads of the past. He mentioned one in his constituency. The problems of congestion in Chepstow are appalling. We are seeing World Health Organisation guidance being breached. We know what the solution is: a bypass. At the moment, it cannot happen because the Welsh Government have halted all road building. That is a matter of great disappointment to many of us.

The measures that we have taken on transport send an unequivocal signal on the direction of travel that we are pursuing in partnership with industry towards a zero-carbon transport future, but as well as top-down market creation we also need bottom-up technological innovation. In that field, Welsh innovators are ahead of the pack, following in the footsteps of the fuel pioneer from Swansea Sir William Robert Grove, who I looked up on Wikipedia last night. He had a very interesting background.

We are looking to attract at least one gigafactory to Wales. We are supporting the development of electric heavy vehicle trucks in Cwmbran, in the factory that I know as Lucas Girling because I was one of the subcontractors there for many years. It is now known as Meritor, and we backed it with £15.9 million. I am looking forward to going back and visiting, and meeting some of my old friends on goods outward again.

Innovative companies such as Riversimple, which His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales visited last week alongside the Secretary of State for Wales, are developing hydrogen vehicles. Riversimple took me out for a spin in one recently in Monmouth, and good fun it was too. That is being supported by £1.3 million. In the Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced £4.8 million for the Holyhead hydrogen hub—another scheme that was championed by my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn. It is a proposal that aims to supply hydrogen fuel to the heavy goods and maritime vehicle markets on Ynys Môn. I am also aware of the exciting opportunity presented by the LanzaTech proposal to develop sustainable aviation fuel in south Wales, which came up during my visit in Swansea last week—[Interruption.] You are looking at me purposefully, Mr Dowd. I wonder whether I am exceeding my time limit.

Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Labour, Bootle

No, I just want to clarify that if people have a proxy vote we can carry on. If not, we will have to suspend for 15 minutes for the Division in the House.

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Assistant Whip

I am on a proxy, Mr Dowd, so I am happy to carry on.

Those projects and more show that Wales is leading the way when it comes to low-carbon transport innovation, and they will play a key part in the UK-wide effort to decarbonise the sector, which we will say more about as we publish the transport decarbonisation plan. The plan focuses on the challenges that we need to overcome to reduce transport emissions and ensure that the UK reaches net zero by 2050. It will also review the existing forecasts of future transport emissions from each mode of transport and set out a range of actions to drive further decarbonisation.

The Government are taking a range of actions to put our homes, which comprise a tenth of Welsh emissions, on a pathway towards clean power. A comprehensive overview of the key near-term actions that we will take will be set out in the heat and building strategy, which we expect to publish soon. The strategy will set out a range of policy levers to encourage consumers and businesses to make the transition to clean heat and improve the energy efficiency of buildings. We have already announced our intention to consult on the territorial scope and a key market mechanism to support the delivery of 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028. Hydrogen will be considered as a potential decarbonisation option for heat, and we will be assessing the case for encouraging or requiring new gas boilers to be readily convertible to hydrogen in preparation for any future conversion of the gas network. We will continue to work with the Health and Safety Executive to enable up to 20% of hydrogen blending in the gas network by 2023, subject to the success of testing and trials.

We recognise that different areas will have different heat decarbonisation requirements. Heat networks are one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions from heating, and their efficiency and carbon-saving potential increases as they grow and connect to each other. We have already provided £7.9 million to the heat networks in Cardiff, and I was very pleased to be able to visit them virtually back in April. There is another one in Bridgend, which I hope to see shortly— not virtually, but in reality. Backed by £36 million, the Active Building Centre in Swansea is one of Wales’s most promising innovation projects, working to transform the way in which buildings are designed, constructed and operated by integrating power generation technology into the fabric of the building itself, and of course there is a growth deal in the Swansea area, which is focused on retrofitting buildings. Again, that will be supported by the UK Government.

Central Government clearly have a leading role to play in the net zero transition. We can set regulations, help to incentivise the adoption and development of net zero technologies, and provide further funding for strategic projects. However, in Wales we are seeing our local partners rise to the climate challenge as well, through the city and growth deals and backed by £790 million of UK Government funding. Our colleagues in north Wales are paving the way for tidal energy and new nuclear technologies. Swansea’s low-carbon growth programme is pioneering hydrogen, marine-energy and low-carbon buildings. I have been very pleased to visit those regions and see first hand the innovative projects they are looking to deliver. Cardiff has identified energy and the environment as one of its priority sectors, and I am absolutely certain that, as the mid-Wales growth deal develops, it too will be pursuing net zero projects as part of the development.

Our job is to deliver a green industrial revolution that has reducing emissions as its core objective. It is also about jobs and levelling up: the infrastructure we build and the technologies we develop to reach net zero will spur on a whole new wave of economic development. It is estimated that delivering the net zero infrastructure required by the south Wales industrial cluster alone could create up to 5,000 jobs. Depending on the extent of local supply chain engagement, Rolls-Royce estimates that 40,000 jobs could be created across north Wales and the north-west of England if the production of small modular reactors reaches its peak. The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult forecasts that the first Celtic sea floating offshore wind projects could deliver 3,000 jobs across south Wales and the south-west of England, an opportunity that would support the Government’s target of reaching 60% of UK content in UK wind projects. Driving up prosperity and driving down emissions is the approach we are taking to confront two Government priorities simultaneously: levelling up across the UK, and fulfilling our obligations to reduce dependency on fossil fuel.

To conclude, the Government are in no doubt about the need to take bold and ambitious action to rise to the challenge of climate change. We have made significant progress, with emissions 40% lower now than they were in the 1990s. We do understand the need to go further, and we will work with local communities, partners, businesses, the Welsh Government, and international partners to do so. This is a collective effort in which we all have a role to play, and I thank hon. Members for their contributions today.

Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Labour, Bootle

Thank you, and I apologise for my virtual—and then actual—interruptions.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower 3:54 pm, 14th July 2021

I thank the Minister for his detailed response, and all Members present for participating in today’s important debate. I want to reflect on a few things that have been said, particularly the words of the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend Gerald Jones, who spoke about thinking global and acting local. That is so important, because so many of the community councils have been making really great progress in my constituency.

In Mumbles and Pennard, they have a plastic-free mission. There is a wonderful place called Pennard Stores. If hon. Members ever go down to Three Cliffs, they should go to Pennard Stores—Jamie runs it—because it is carbon neutral and everything there is just magnificent. These are small actions that local businesses and councils are taking, and it even goes down to the individual. There is a young boy called Sonny, who goes every day to do a litter pick, and we have two-minute beach cleans across Swansea bay. These things make a difference to climate change in Wales.

I thank hon. Members for their excellent contributions to the debate. One of the things that the Minister did not mention, though, was the electrification to Swansea, which was one of the Tory Government’s big promises to constituents in Swansea. That is a massive disappointment.

Photo of David Davies David Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Assistant Whip

The hon. Lady is quite right to say that I should have mentioned that. I was on the Welsh Affairs Committee—and she may have been as well—when this issue was looked at. The reality is that the costs of electrification from Cardiff to Swansea were absolutely extortionate and had gone up and up. The journey times were not going to decrease in any way, so there was no benefit to the consumer. If we recognise that we have a certain amount of money to spend on such projects, it would have been better—this is what the Government felt—to spend it somewhere where we were actually going to have more of an impact on carbon dioxide emissions.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower

I, too, was on the Committee, which is why it is really interesting to see the money going into HS2. It would not have been beyond the wit of man to realise back in 2015, when those promises were made, that it was going to be a challenge, and it is a challenge. The Minister makes a valid point, but it is still a lost dream now, and that is what is disappointing about it.

My hon. Friend Jessica Morden said that inaction is not an option, and I think that all hon. Members who have contributed to the debate agree that that is the case.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered measures to combat climate change in Wales.

Sitting suspended.