COP26 Conference Priorities — [Steve McCabe in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:14 pm on 22nd July 2021.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West 2:14 pm, 22nd July 2021

It is a pleasure to be here, Mr McCabe. The basic situation is that, globally, fossil fuel subsidies amount to 6.3% of global GDP. That has grown from 5.5% in 2010. We are already 1.2° above the 1850 baseline. The Paris threshold of 1.5° will be breached by 2025 and, in fact, has already been breached across Europe, at 2° over, and in the Arctic, 3° over, because there is a differential impact. That means that 8,500 metric tonnes of ice are melting every second of this debate. A lot of that is due to the fact that China now has 28% of emissions, which is more than the EU and the US combined, with no plan to peak until 2030. It plans for an extra 300 coal-fired power stations, on top of the 1,037 it already has.

What we want in COP26, first, is a border carbon tax, which is being considered by the EU, so that we do not end up with dirty Chinese steel, for example, displacing UK steel, which produces half as much carbon. It is all very well saying that we produce less carbon than we did—here, it is 5.8 tonnes per person, but 7 tonnes per person in China—but that is because, basically, we have offshored our manufacturing and dirty energy production. On a consumption basis, it is 8 tonnes per person here.

With something like the Australian deal, BA has ended up buying Welsh farms to offset carbon that it uses to fly more people in planes and then we buy thousands and thousands of tonnes of Australian beef to shift across the world. That is plainly ridiculous. On agriculture, 12% of global carbon emissions are from ruminants. We cannot have a situation in which we eat more and more beef in our country or in developing countries.

On air quality—I chair the all-party group—the latest figures show that 8.7 million people die each year, or one in five, from air pollution. In eastern Asia, it is one in three—that includes China. We need to take leadership in COP by saying that we want the World Health Organisation air-quality standards of 10 micrograms per cubic metre for PM2.5 introduced by 2030. To do that, we will need to ban wood burning in urban environments, which contributes 38% of PM2.5. We should also stop burning wood in our power stations. Wood is a carbon store. We should use it in buildings instead of concrete. If concrete were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter, with 8% of global emissions. We want wood instead of concrete.

I turn briefly to incineration. The Government plan is to double incineration by 2030, even though we now know that ultra-fine particulates breach the filters and cause leukaemia. The Climate Change Committee has said that we need to halve our incineration by 2035. We therefore want a moratorium on incineration. We also want the same tax regime, or taxes on incineration, as there currently are on landfill, to stop the local authorities from building incinerators. Internationally, we cannot have the Asian Development Bank giving £73 million for the Maldives to have another incinerator there.

In a nutshell, our focus for COP26, in my view, should be a border carbon tax, World Health Organisation limits, and the UK taking leadership in such things and actually doing it itself.