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House of Commons Hansard
12 October 2017
Volume 629

  • I should like to make a statement on “The Clean Growth Strategy”, which we are publishing today. It contains 50 policies and proposals, of which 30 are brand-new announcements today. As the Prime Minister said in her foreword to the strategy:

    “Clean growth is not an option, but a duty we owe to the next generation”.

    My Department is dedicated to creating an economy that works for everyone through our modern industrial strategy. That means putting more money into research, development and innovation, investing in skills throughout the country and working with businesses to encourage growth in the areas where the UK has an advantage. It also means identifying and capturing the economic and industrial opportunities of the future. With the signing of the Paris climate agreement—an agreement in which UK leadership played a pivotal role—there is an unstoppable global shift toward clean technologies, infrastructure, industry and jobs. This offers UK businesses and innovators a huge opportunity to shape the future of clean growth and to capture the benefits, so we can have hundreds of thousands more good jobs right across the country.

    We have already shown that action on climate change and economic growth go hand in hand. Since 1990, we in the United Kingdom have grown our economy by almost 70%, and in that time we have reduced our emissions by over 40%, which is the best performance in the G7. The latest research shows that the UK was the fastest of any country in the G20 to decarbonise in 2016. This achievement shows that a low-carbon transition can go hand in hand with economic growth, and it is our belief that the UK can lead the world in creating clean technologies, jobs and businesses. This is the core message of the clean growth strategy. It will sit at the heart of our industrial strategy and will build on the successes I have already mentioned to benefit businesses, consumers, the air we breathe, our health and the climate.

    For example, it will help British businesses improve how they use their energy, by aiming to increase their energy productivity by at least 20% by 2030, worth at least £6 billion for our British businesses. As announced today, we will establish an industrial energy efficiency scheme to help large companies cut their bills, and we have also announced today a new commitment to demonstrate international leadership in carbon capture, usage and storage, including with new investment in leading-edge innovation to drive down costs. Significantly, there are only five carbon capture and storage plants operating globally that are not reliant on using the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery. The technology can be better and the costs can be lower, and we intend to lead that challenge.

    The plan announced today will also make our homes warmer and cheaper to run, as we invest about £3.6 billion to upgrade around 1 million homes through the energy company obligation and, as I announced today, extend that support out to 2028. Also today, we are setting a new ambition that every home in the country will reach an EPC—energy performance certificate—band C by 2035, where practical, cost-effective and affordable.

    On our roads, our strategy will help reduce air pollution by increasing the number of electric vehicles and creating the best charging infrastructure in Europe. As announced a few weeks ago—the gun was jumped—we have also now set a plan to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in this country by 2040.

    But just having the Government making these changes is not enough on its own. We must ensure that British businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs capture the economic opportunities of this transition, both at home and abroad. There are already 430,000 jobs in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains right across the UK. The most recent research shows that the UK’s low-carbon economy is growing rapidly, by between 10% and 12% a year from now until 2030, four times faster than growth in the broader economy as a whole. By that estimate, in just 13 years, we could see up to 2 million more UK jobs in this sector and increase our exports by up to £170 billion each year. We need to capture that opportunity. That is why this Government are making such a significant increase in spending on research, development and innovation—the biggest increase in 40 years—and today, for the first time, in the clean growth strategy I have shown how we are spending £2.6 billion of that innovation in supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy.

    For example, through the Faraday challenge we are investing nearly £250 million in battery technology, to guarantee that the UK leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of batteries for both electric vehicle development and distributed energy storage. The strategy announced today builds on that with new financial support for innovations in heating, energy efficiency, industrial fuels, and carbon capture and storage. I strongly believe that these are the right decisions to make and now is the right time to make them.

    The success I am talking about today is built on many years of work, strongly supported by colleagues right across the House. I particularly want to highlight the contributions of the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband), who is no longer in his place, and the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey), and thank them for their efforts, both in government and opposition, which were pivotal in getting us to where we are today. I also thank the many other Members across both Houses who have doubled down and faced this challenge.

    I also pay tribute to the former Prime Minister and former right hon. Member for Witney, who sustained his support for action on climate change despite the difficult economic circumstances we inherited. Maintaining a political consensus on the need for ambitious action both across Westminster and our devolved Administrations has been a critical part of the UK’s success to date.

    Time and again, we have shown how the United Kingdom is a world leader in tackling climate change. We were the first country in the world to set a statutory Climate Change Act, which binds us to our five-year carbon budgets and has committed us to cutting our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050. I set out today in the strategy how we are on track to over-deliver on our carbon budgets 1, 2 and 3 and well on track to meet our requirements for carbon budgets 4 and 5.

    By putting the measures in our clean growth strategy into action, we not only continue our work in cutting emissions, but we can also cut consumer bills, drive economic growth, create high-value jobs right across the UK and improve our quality of life. It is a win-win opportunity: it is ours for the taking, and I commend this statement to the House.

  • I welcome the final publication—after, we have to agree, many delays—of “The Clean Growth Strategy”, and I agree with the Minister that the UK has been, as it should be, towards the front of the pack in action to decarbonise our economy. I also agree that the responsibility for getting us to that position lies with the Members to whom she has paid tribute today. I also welcome the Minister’s clear position that she is fundamentally onside on the need to radically decarbonise our country to meet climate change imperatives—unlike, I have to say, many of her Back-Bench colleagues. I warmly welcome her efforts in this direction and clear commitment to the tasks we have to undertake.

    I also welcome many of the additional policy directions that are contained in the document. I particularly welcome the commitment to further rounds of offshore wind to assist with the decarbonisation of the energy sector, and what I hope will be an intention to return to the development of onshore wind. These new policies and commitments, among many others, are important because it is clear that on present policies the UK is set to miss its key targets for decarbonisation, set out in the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, which this House has endorsed. That is surely the point of judgment for the efficacy of this plan: does it do what it is required by the terms of the Climate Change Act 2008:

    “The Secretary of State must prepare such proposals and policies”

    as

    “will enable the carbon budgets that have been set…to be met”?

    On that measure, it is clear from the report that the Government have failed in that task.

    Even with the additional measures set out in this plan, as the report states on page 41, it is estimated that the UK will over-emit at the conclusion of the fourth carbon budget by 6% above that budget and at the conclusion of the fifth carbon budget by 9.7%. What additional proposals does the Minister have in mind to rectify that deficit—or does she consider that somehow we will get there without anything other than what is in this plan?

    On getting there, does the Minister recognise just how far behind in decarbonisation we are in the heat sector? Does she consider that the funding set out for the renewable heat incentive up to 2021, which appears to be a restatement of what is already there, and of the energy company obligation, which appears to be a time extension of present funding for energy efficiency, will get us anywhere near the indicative heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency carbon reductions set out by the Committee on Climate Change in the fifth carbon budget?

    The Minister will recall what emphasis the Committee on Climate Change placed on the role of carbon capture and storage. She mentioned in her statement that the Government now appear to be waking up once again to the idea that carbon capture and storage is a good thing. While I welcome that apparent renewed interest in actually doing something about the establishment of CCS, both for energy generation and energy-intensive industries, does she consider that taking away £1 billion of funding for the development of CCS, as the Government did in 2016, and replacing it with up to £100 million of development funding in this plan will get us anywhere near the level of CCS use that the Committee on Climate Change recommends?

    The Minister will be aware of how very important the traded sector is in the UK in terms of carbon emission reductions. The traded sector is kept on track by the EU emissions trading scheme. In her report, the long-term importance of the EU ETS is underlined, yet we currently have no certainty that the UK will remain within the EU ETS on Brexit, or that there will be any commitment, if not, that a substantive and internationally connected UK trading scheme will be established that can continue to keep the traded sector on target. Does she agree about the importance of the EU ETS in this sector? Can she commit today to work towards continued UK membership of the EU ETS in the future?

    I agree with the Minister that a low-carbon transition can go hand-in-hand with economic growth, and she has today and on other occasions emphasised that the use of industrial strategy to drive decarbonisation, while providing for jobs, supply chains and manufacturing in the process, is a very important fundamental platform for our decarbonisation approach generally.

    Labour has committed itself to attain the key mission of industrial strategy that 60% of all energy—all energy, including electricity and heat—would arise from renewable and low-carbon sources by 2030, the middle of the fifth carbon budget. That would in itself ensure that the targets of the fifth carbon budget were met. Will the Minister today indorse the setting of that target and work with the Opposition to bring it about?

  • I thank the hon. Gentleman for his refreshingly scientific comments. It is always a pleasure to discuss this subject with him. I will try to answer some of his questions.

    I welcome what I think was a compliment; of course I am very committed to this agenda, but I have to say, and he can perceive this from the fact that the Prime Minister wrote the foreword of this document, that from the Prime Minister downwards—she also mentioned this at the United Nations Assembly a few short weeks ago—and right across the Government, we are all completely committed to this agenda, because not only is it the right thing to do, but the opportunities that arise from it are enormous. I would like to reassure him about that.

    I want to spend a moment on what the hon. Gentleman points out is the carbon budget page—page 41. To reassure him, some of the estimates we have for our delivery of carbon savings from the policies and proposals in the plan today are very well advanced, and we have included carbon savings from about 30% of the new proposals today. Some of them, of course, we have to continue to work to shape, particularly in the light of issues like the Hackett inquiry around the Grenfell review of building regulations and fire safety, so we will be sequencing our consultations in accordance with such work, and that will enable us to set additional reductions in carbon budgets once we have further developed those policies.

    I want to reassure the hon. Gentleman, however, and I have helpfully set out on page 41 the fact that, should we have to, and with the consent of the Committee on Climate Change, we can use flexibilities. My intention is that we do not have to use them. Because we have over-delivered, and will over-deliver so substantially on current projections, up to carbon budget 3, more than enough will have been built up in terms of flexibilities to cover carbon budget 4 with more left over. My sense is that, given the ambition, the pace of change and the extraordinary changes in the cost and adaptation of new technology, we will comfortably exceed these budgets. But he is right that we have a statutory duty to report on this. This is a very good example of legislation making politicians focus on what is important, over the political cycle. I thank him for his ability to question, which enables me to confirm those points.

    The hon. Gentleman discussed the EU ETS. I am actually off to Luxembourg tomorrow. The UK’s piloting of the emissions trading scheme was absolutely vital in designing the scheme. We remain a very important partner, and I have been absolutely clear that we will do nothing that in any way disadvantages our own economy or that of our EU partners, as we negotiate the new terms of our relationship with Europe.

    I admire the hon. Gentleman’s shadow ambition for renewable energy, but I want to be clear today that when we look at new technologies, it is important that we apply the triple test. First, the technology must decarbonise sufficiently; secondly, it must be affordable—we have to see a very good cost trajectory; and thirdly, it must build capabilities that Britain can build on, so that we can export and grow our own economy.

    I would be delighted to sit down over a cup of coffee and review the hon. Gentleman’s plans for renewables and see whether they meet those tests. I think those are very appropriate tests, through which all technologies should be reviewed as we go forward.

  • My hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) produced a series of essays for the Conservative Environment Network recently. I do not know whether the Minister got a chance to read one on the circular economy by—by me, actually. [Laughter.] If she does read it, she will realise why I am so happy today to see that hardwired across Government is an understanding that resource efficiency is not just something that we require of businesses, congratulating them when they achieve it, but that we must lead, and lead not only in this country but globally. I pay great tribute to what she has produced, but we should ask ourselves, “What more can we do as a Government to encourage business and Government to manage our resources more efficiently?”

  • Of course I always assiduously read anything written by my right hon. Friend and neighbour. Like him, I welcome the fact that as part of our 50-point policy and plans we have No. 41, which is to develop a world-leading resources and waste strategy, on which I am working closely with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon) is absolutely right: it is right for the planet and it is right for business that we do this, so we will progress on that.

    I have read the excellent document produced by the Conservative Environment Network, and I want to remind the House that the first person who raised the issue of man’s activities—men’s and women’s activities—on the impact of the climate was, of course, Mrs Thatcher, who understood the core Conservative principle that you take care of what you inherit and try to pass it on to the next generation in a better form. I am proud to be the latest person to carry that flag for Conservative environmentalism in this House.

  • It is interesting to hear that Maggie Thatcher’s policy of shutting down coal mines and importing coal was down to some strategic vision about climate change. On a serious note, however, I thank the Minister for early sight of the statement and welcome the document’s publication, although she will understand that I have not yet had a chance to read it from cover to cover.

    The clean growth plan clearly needs to be strategic and must bind other Departments. As the shadow Minister said, it must tie in and deliver the desired outcomes of the carbon budget and our climate change commitments. That is the spirit and intention of the strategy, but Government need to ensure that that actually happens, meaning that Treasury commitments are necessary. Some £2.5 billion of investment was outlined in the statement, but that is in reality only a fraction of the investment that is needed to decarbonise the UK.

    All future energy scenarios rely on carbon capture and storage, but the strategy both includes and dismisses the use of CCS, so I am not exactly sure about the Government’s policy. We need a real commitment to delivering CCS, and the shadow Minister correctly said that pulling the £1 billion funding was farcical. Although the document states that £130 million has been spent on CCS R and D to date, that money has effectively been wasted. That was highlighted by a National Audit Office report, which said that the previous investment did not deliver any real outcomes. Investors need to have confidence in CCS, so the Government need to take a lead. The same can be said of tidal lagoons. If lagoons are to deliver, we need a much better show of commitment from the UK Government and we need it soon.

    Another strategic aspect that the growth plan must link into is air quality. The strategy sets out the ambitions for ultra-low emission vehicles, but we need more than investment in charging points; we need real incentives to get people to purchase those vehicles, so a diesel scrappage scheme should be considered. The Government must also look at how they are going to tackle pollution from transport refrigeration units. A proper strategic review of infrastructure, transmission charges and energy efficiency is required, and it should consider in particular how to tackle private landlords. Onshore wind and solar are cheap, and such methods of electricity generation must be able to bid in the next round of contracts for difference. The Government need to keep an eye on this subject as the Brexit negotiations proceed and make changes as required.

  • I thank the hon. Gentleman for an exhaustive and intelligent list of questions. I am happy to grab a cup of coffee with him and run through the document, because the strategy represents a genuinely UK-wide set of commitments. The Scottish and Welsh Governments have produced excellent plans using their devolved powers, which we welcome and in many cases support. As we implement the policies and design new ones, we are keen to work in a cross-Government and cross-party spirit of co-operation, because that is how we will get the best outcomes. I am happy to discuss all the opportunities with the hon. Gentleman and to listen to what he and his colleagues have to say. For example, I think we both welcome the remote islands announcement, which shows that we are absolutely committed to working within the current structure of various auctions and schemes to ensure that we maximise the contribution of low-carbon and low-cost energy from wherever we can source it.

  • I welcome this important strategy, but will my hon. Friend ensure that the resulting vital investment is directed at the most efficient and reliable sources of renewable energy, such as tidal power?

  • My hon. Friend will know that we try to be technologically neutral in the auction structure to ensure that sources of energy are the lowest cost and the most effective in terms of decarbonisation, creating a strategic base upon which we can innovate and invest. The excellent policy work has been striking, and I pay tribute to some of my predecessors in the Department. For example, our work on offshore wind, which involved setting a framework, investing up front and then driving down costs, has been amazing. Those are the sorts of processes that we would like all renewables to go through. My hon. Friend mentioned water power, and we have the second-highest tidal range in the world after the bay of Fundy—I know that only because I was a geography student—and exceptional amounts of power are being generated from our coastline.

  • Will the Minister tell us whether the newly privatised Green Investment Bank has fully signed up to the clean growth strategy? If so, how will its business plan be adapted or enlarged as a result?

  • To reassure the right hon. Gentleman, not only has the Green Investment Bank—it is now known as the Green Investment Group—signed up to the plan, it has joined our green finance taskforce. We have asked our leading minds and operators in financial services, insurance, risk assessment and financial regulation to come together so that we can not only mobilise the level of private capital that we need to drive this transformation in the UK, but export that incredible professional expertise right across the world. The taskforce is already coming up with solutions, and we will again be able to lead the world by mobilising capital and investing the right amount that we need to decarbonise.

  • I congratulate my hon. Friend on producing this brilliant strategy. It is brimming with ambition and full of good ideas, as we would expect from her. It is great stuff, but I just want to ask about one issue. The strategy tells us that transport emissions have been cut by 2% since 1990 compared with an average of well above 20% in all others sectors, so if we are to hit the 2050 targets, we will need something really radical in transport. The strategy talks about banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and I want my hon. Friend to reassure me that that will be equal to the challenge we face.

  • My hon. Friend will of course know that per vehicle emissions have actually dropped. Cars are now about 20% more efficient, but we are using more of them. Reducing congestion and getting cleaner air is a really important benefit of taking action, but I hear what he is saying. The ambition is accelerating all the time. We announced ending the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and it is interesting that the Netherlands has come out with something similar. We are all doing this together. Things are the same with unabated coal. We said that we would phase it out by 2025 and Canada has said similar things. There is a genuine, exciting ambition, and things happen when we set such ambitions.

    We have been talking about ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars for years, but we set the ambition and had that conversation and then many of the major manufacturers that are producing cars in the UK brought forward their plans for electric and ultra-low emission vehicles. For example, BMW announced that it will be building the electric Mini in the UK. This country already makes one in five of the electric vehicles sold in Europe, and it is through setting ambitions and then investing in innovations such as the Faraday challenge that we can be a world leader in making such vehicles and accelerating their transformation. However, this is not only about the vehicles; we also have to be able to charge them up. It is therefore important that we accelerate the roll-out of what we want to be the world’s most effective charging network so that performance and price, not charging, are the only considerations when buying a car.

  • I was not there myself, but the Minister told the Tory party conference that she viewed carbon capture and storage as a vital technology for the future, and I welcome its revival on the Government’s policy platform. They are certainly seeing sense. CCS is also vital for Teesside and for the jobs that the Minister talked about. Will she back the Teesside Collective project with real resources and, as she develops new initiatives, engage with the all-party parliamentary group on carbon capture and storage, which I chair?

  • The hon. Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) is always welcome at the Conservative party conference. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Mr Clarke), the hon. Member for Stockton North does a great job of affirming the commitment and energy that is demonstrated by the Teesside Collective. As we say in the strategy, Teesside is one of several areas with rapidly advancing projects, and with our renewed commitment and desire to be world leaders in this area and in new investment I would like to see such ambitions taken forward.

  • Does the Minister, like me, welcome new investment in exploration for gas—a lower carbon option than coal—in the North sea and onshore, helping the UK achieve its carbon targets?

  • As we set out clearly in the document, we think that gas, particularly its lowest carbon form, absolutely has an important role to play in our energy mix. That is why a renewed focus on and investment in CCUS is important.

  • I welcome today’s announcement about carbon capture and storage. Should I tell the regional dinner of the Yorkshire and Humber CBI, meeting in Leeds tonight, that there is fresh hope for the most ambitious carbon capture and storage project ever in this country—the White Rose pipeline project, which is backed by many in God’s own county?

  • I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take back a positive message about the opportunities for businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber from the clean growth strategy and urge those CBI members to bring forward their ideas so that we can capture them, make the investments and create the thousands of good jobs that we need.

  • I warmly welcome the Government’s clean growth strategy—an excellent document with 30 new policies among the 50 policies and plans that have been announced. I pay particular tribute to the focus on energy efficiency. Will the Minister confirm that the 10-year extension of the energy company obligation will have a fantastic effect on the supply chains that do so much for home efficiency, and within commercial premises as well?

  • I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the fact that there are many new initiatives, particularly to do with the energy efficiency angle—especially business energy efficiency. Yes, there is the extension for ECO. Not only does that support a brilliant supply chain but it helps the many people who struggle with fuel poverty. We are keen to use the money effectively to help upgrade more than 1 million homes and extend support for home energy efficiency until 2028 at the current level of ECO funding.

  • This long-awaited strategy sets out a good story, and I welcome the sentiment that it contains. In reality, however, it makes a mockery of clean growth and does not give any certainty for business. The ability to compete in global low carbon markets and meet our needs from clean energy is the foundation of a prosperous low carbon economy.

    At the moment, the Government are failing to give a clear steer on emissions targets, have given no answers on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and are not investing in any meaningful way in renewable energy or energy efficiency. Will the Minister seek to introduce legally binding targets for renewable energy, as the Welsh Labour Government announced they would earlier this month? Successful markets need a clear strategic vision and leadership, and an effective regulatory regime. This Conservative Government have neither.

  • It is a shame; I can only assume that the hon. Lady has not read the report. I genuinely think that for the first time we have the clearest set of cross-Government ambitions, policies, initiatives and funding—[Interruption.] The hon. Lady should have come to the launch, where the chief executive of Siemens talked about how businesses such as his completely welcomed and supported the strategy and were investing in their supply chains on the back of it.

    We have an effective, legally binding regime that operates right across the UK. It is called the Climate Change Act, introduced with cross-party support in 2008. We have to produce our carbon targets. I have set out today why I think we are on a good trajectory towards them. However, I fear that the hon. Lady wants to be one of those “command and control” Marxists who wants to predict every single thing that happens in the economy at all times. That is not how innovation works. We set out a framework for investment. We try not to pick technologies; we want the lowest carbon, the lowest cost and the most innovation. We then work with the private sector to create the most innovative ecosystems so that we can capture the opportunities. I will be very happy to have a cup of coffee with the hon. Lady and give her a slight cheering up. There is a lot of good stuff in the report, and she should be supporting it.

  • I warmly welcome the clean growth strategy. How can we maintain the great momentum behind it across Government Departments?

  • This is not an end point, but a stock take. Over the next few months, we will be bringing forward many of the detailed proposals that we need to deliver on these ambitions and policies. I would warmly welcome input from knowledgeable colleagues on both sides and the many stakeholders and campaigning organisations out there. We want to shape these policies for the future.

  • The greenest energy is fast becoming the cheapest energy. I thank the Minister for her kind words about my role and in that spirit take an approach unusual in this House: reserving my judgment on the strategy until I have actually read it.

    I want to push the Minister on the importance of energy efficiency regulations. Will she confirm that the regulation on private landlords in respect of minimum energy efficiency standards is going ahead next April and will be fully enforced? Will she revisit and overturn the bad decision by the former Chancellor to scrap the zero-carbon homes standard on new build homes?

  • The right hon. Gentleman and I are both really pleased at what has happened in the renewables sector. He is right to focus on energy efficiency because of course that drives down people’s bills—there is a huge win there. Yes, I can confirm that we are going forward with the legislation. He and I were both heavily involved in the design of the green deal, one of the facilitating mechanisms. Clearly, it did not work out as we would have liked.

    We want to consider new ways of financing that transition, which is why we are asking our green finance taskforce to focus particularly on green mortgages and see whether we can bring forward other financing mechanisms. I understand the right hon. Gentleman’s point about zero-carbon homes, but I want to make sure that our regulations are absolutely fit for purpose, both for new homes and any additional works done. He would agree that we cannot do that work unilaterally without full reference to the Hackett review of the Grenfell fire safety issue. We intend to consider those regulations to see what more can be done, but it is right to sequence it in that matter.

  • Will my bills go up?

  • The answer is no. Although we have all invested in some of these progressive energy investments, prices are clearly falling. Only a couple of weeks ago, I opened the first subsidy-free solar farm in the UK. As we have pushed towards this low carbon future, my right hon. Friend’s bills have likely gone down. He will be using less energy in his home because of the LED light bulbs he has installed and all the new appliances he has bought, which are much more energy efficient.

  • If we had succinct questions, we might get succinct answers. “No” would have been helpful.

  • The strategy rightly supports the continuing roll-out of district heating across the country. May I impress on the Minister the real risk that the environmental benefits of the technology will be overshadowed by systemic problems in the industry? There are scores of such schemes in my constituency and many more in the pipeline. In each and every case, constituents are convinced that they are not getting a fair deal on tariff pricing, standing charges, transparency on consumption and billing, and system performance. The situation cries out for effective statutory regulation. As the Minister takes the strategy forward, will she bear that issue in mind so that we can win the confidence of consumers as the industry expands?

  • Coal-fired power generation ceased in Rugeley last year. That commercial decision on the part of the owners represented the end of an era. The Government are committed to phasing out coal-fired generation by 2025. One of the frustrations for my constituents is when they go to other countries and see coal-fired power generation. Will the Minister outline what success we have had in encouraging other countries to follow our example of committing to end such generation?

  • To reassure my hon. Friend, I should say that, as I mentioned, Canada has agreed to end it, as has the Netherlands. China has agreed to reduce its carbon emissions by 60% to 2032 and India has said that it wants to lead the world in solar generation. All countries—with the exception, perhaps, of one big one—have woken up to the fact that the world is moving away from coal. In doing so, they are creating prosperity and jobs.

  • I have spent the morning reading the clean growth strategy. On first reading, it appears mainly to be a repackaging of old announcements, with only small packets of new funding and increased existing funding being spent over longer periods. I am glad that the Minister touched on electric vehicles. The gap with respect to the old plans that we already have is 12 megatonnes of CO2. Today’s announcement does not bridge that gap, as can be seen in the chart on page 85 of the strategy. The gap remains. The funding for electric charge points is woefully inadequate, and I call on the Minister to look again at supporting large-scale electric vehicle charging funding, working closely with local authorities to ensure that EV charging points are in commercial and residential areas, not just on major roads. I ask her to commit to a minimum level of public EV charge points per head of population or per electric vehicle. I am glad she mentioned the Netherlands, because it has one public EV charge point—

  • Order. Members are meant to ask a succinct question.

  • I will just get the question—

  • Just give it now or else you will be sitting down.

  • The Netherlands has a charge point for every two to seven vehicles, whereas the figure in the UK is much higher. Are we going to have the same—

  • I think the Minister has got the gist.

  • I would be happy to meet the hon. Gentleman. He will be pleased to hear that in the automated and electric vehicles Bill, we will be bringing forward new powers to make sure that all these things he has talked about in terms of statutory powers are at our disposal, because we want to have the world’s best rapid charging network.

  • Unlike some Opposition Members, I wholeheartedly welcome this strategy, with its commitment to the low carbon transformation. It will have enormous spin-offs not only for the environment but for business, as was so eloquently outlined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon). Home energy efficiency is a key part of our drive towards our targets, so will the Minister update us on what is being done to encourage house builders to play their part in this eventual drive towards zero-carbon homes?

  • As I have mentioned, we need to look closely at new building regulations and sequence those appropriately. My hon. Friend will see that we are keen to ensure that we phase out having houses off the gas grid, as many in my constituency are, where they currently rely on what can be high-cost fossil fuels; we will start with new homes. That is a process of working with the industry, as getting people to think about energy efficiency happens not just because someone is sitting at home, but often because a builder, architect or plumber recommends it. We therefore need to work much more closely with industry to deliver on these targets.

  • My constituency already has onshore wind, solar generation and new battery storage technologies, but we have to seize the opportunities of tidal power, district heating from my local industrial estate of Avonmouth and the power of co-operatively owned generation, storage and distribution. Does the Minister agree that the investment that Governments make to create new markets is an important part of this policy approach? Will she confirm that her second test of affordability will not prevent this important public policy position from growing new markets and new technologies?

  • I commend the hon. Gentleman for the efforts of his constituents and local businesses, and answer him by saying yes, absolutely; we are looking at the pathway on costing. I would be happy to have a further meeting with him to understand how this is done, because the problems that his constituents have solved are stopping many other communities taking these important steps. Perhaps we could set up a meeting.

  • I welcome this important statement. May I applaud the Minister’s enthusiasm in presenting the strategy? I welcome the affirmation that action on climate and economic growth can go hand in hand, and that it is our plan to make the UK the world leader in creating clean technology jobs and businesses. Will she say whether the Treasury are considering changes to stamp duty to help energy-efficiency improvements?

  • It is not energy but caffeine that is doing this. My hon. Friend asks an important question, and I welcome the opportunity to clear this up. We see many suggestions and all sorts of ideas as to how we meet our carbon budgets, but tax matters such as stamp duty are ones for our excellent Chancellor and his Budgets. It would be a brave Minister who tried to make those points at the Dispatch Box.

  • I echo what colleagues from across the House have said about this being an excellent announcement, and I congratulate the Minister on everything she has done to bring it about today. I echo what the hon. Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) said about how this will be particularly warmly welcomed on Teesside. May I invite the Minister to agree with me that Teesside is the natural starting point for CCS in the UK, owing to its concentrated and diverse industry, proximity to north-east storage sites and optionality for future low-carbon technologies, such as hydrogen?

  • I hope there are many pints lined up in the bars in Teesside for both my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham), because Teesside makes a powerful case for exactly this sort of investment. We look forward to reviewing that, along with the other proposals that we have.