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COP 21 Climate Conference

Volume 604: debated on Thursday 7 January 2016

7. What steps her Department is taking in response to the outcome of the COP 21 climate conference in Paris. (902824)

My hon. Friends will be aware that the agreement reached in Paris in December was an historic step forward. Almost 200 countries committed to climate action, which, for the first time ever, they all agreed to review every five years and to be held accountable for. There will now be follow-up work in the UN to agree the detailed rules and prepare for the five-year reviews.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the deal in Paris sees the world signing up to the approach to tackling climate change adopted by the UK? Is she confident that her approach will ensure that we meet the goals agreed in Paris?

My hon. Friend is right. The UK can take pride in the structure that was put together in Paris because it mimics in some ways the Climate Change Act that we put in place so many years ago. The five-year review, the transparency and the need to come back all the time with an improved offer are the right way to go, and I am confident that we will be able to deliver on that. I am excited about the prospect of talking further to my international partners to make sure that we have in place the right system for delivering that over the next few years.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that ensuring that all countries which have signed up to the agreements submit regular and full updates, and that data on progress are crucial so that we can see which countries are sticking to the agreement?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Transparency in these reviews is essential and it is something that the UK fought hard for during the Paris negotiations to ensure that when other countries come back with their five-year reviews, they have made them clear in a way that we can examine so that we can be certain that the carbon emissions are being reduced.

New figures from the Department have shown that renewables were the biggest source of electricity in Scotland last year. The industry is a real Scottish success story and will play a significant part in helping to meet the targets set in Paris. Will the Secretary of State show her Department’s own commitment to this vital sector by accepting the case for the inclusion in the grace period for the renewables obligation of projects which have attracted significant investment and achieved all the technical requirements to meet the Government’s cut-off date of 18 June 2015, including the Binn eco farm in my constituency?

The renewables industry, the solar industry and onshore and offshore wind are indeed a great British success story, and other countries wanted to talk to us about them. There is a great opportunity for exports for business. I am happy to say that a number of Ministers spoke to me about this in Paris and I think there will be great opportunities. As regards individual wind farms or proposals, I must ask the hon. Lady to write to me separately so that I can look at those, but I gently remind her that the Government are committed to making sure that we deliver on our renewables target while ensuring that we keep bills down. That will always drive us to make sure that we get that balance.