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Paris Climate Change Conference

Volume 600: debated on Tuesday 20 October 2015

2. If the Government will invite a Minister of the Scottish Government to join the UK delegation to the Paris climate change conference in December 2015. (901648)

Yes, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change wrote to all three devolved Administrations last month to invite the relevant Ministers to join the UK delegation in Paris.

That is welcome news, as it will give the Scottish Government Minister a chance to speak about Scotland’s ambition to tackle climate change. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that that is particularly important, given the criticisms that the UK Government are facing today from the United Nations environment programme, which has stated that their cuts to renewables are completely at odds with the pledges being made by 150 other countries ahead of the Paris summit?

I obviously welcome the participation of Scottish and other devolved Ministers in the UK delegation, but I really think that the hon. Gentleman should do a bit of homework and remind himself that the UK is well on track to achieve its emissions reduction targets by 2020, en route to the 80% reduction by 2050. And I am sorry that he did not even mention the Prime Minister’s commitment of a further nearly £6 billion in additional climate finance to help the poorest countries to adapt to the challenge of climate change.

Does the Secretary of State agree that if the devolved Assemblies are being represented at the conference in Paris, the British overseas territories should also be given representation? They are not part of the British Isles and could therefore be affected by climate change in lots of ways. Surely they should also have a voice at this important conference.

The Foreign Office will, of course, be very much involved in the UK delegation at the Paris climate change conference, and every Foreign Office Minister always keeps the interests of the British overseas territories closely in mind. We know that my hon. Friend will always make sure that we continue to do so.

At this rate, it will not matter who gets on the plane to Paris, because when they get there the UK will be a laughing stock as a result of this Government’s lack of commitment to tackling climate change. We are haemorrhaging jobs in the solar industry and in the insulation sector, and all because of a lack of Government policy. How can Foreign Office Ministers do their job if we are not taking the right action at home?

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not revise his question after hearing my previous answer. I remind him that not only are we on track to meet the climate change targets we have set, but we are setting a lead by committing large sums of additional British taxpayers’ money to help the poorest countries adapt to climate change. This country is the world’s sixth largest green exporter, and the record is one of which we can be proud.

Perhaps the Minister would like to revise his answer, given that Al Gore has said:

“It is time for the UK government to honour and live up to that legacy, and return to its global leadership position, domestically and abroad, by supporting an ambitious international agreement in Paris”.

It appears the Prime Minister may have lost interest in the subject, and the solar industry is in crisis domestically.

First, may I welcome the hon. Lady to her new responsibilities on the Opposition Front Bench?

For the reasons I have already given, I think that this Government continue to have a good record on climate change, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister takes a very close interest in this in all the international discussions. This was a major item he discussed with President Hollande during the President’s recent visit to Chequers. We are very committed to helping the French Government to deliver an ambitious outcome at Paris which commits all countries to significant emissions reductions, and to targets binding in international law and help for the poorest countries, which will struggle most to make the change.