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Carbon Emissions

Volume 628: debated on Tuesday 12 September 2017

The UK’s measurement of carbon emissions is considered among the best in the world, with a 97% accuracy rate. Indeed, our inventory of carbon emissions is among the world’s most comprehensive, covering all sectors of the economy. However, we are always looking to improve our accuracy in this area, and that work is guided by the National Inventory Steering Committee, which meets twice a year.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will also consider excellent the fact that we overachieved against our first carbon budget to 2012 and that we are on track to over-achieve by 5% and 4% respectively against our second and third carbon budgets. However, I am afraid that he is being his usual mischievous self in asking about the fourth carbon budget, which is something that I shall be talking more about when we launch our clean growth strategy, so he will have to be patient just a little bit longer.

The Minister’s response is simply not good enough. We have waited for report after report, and these carbon budgets have been delayed time and again. I know that we have had an unnecessary and uncosted election, but even the United Nations is saying that our air is not clean. It is time that the Government took this seriously, acted and told the House the exact figures.

I think the hon. Gentleman is showing the effect of our late sitting hours with his grumpiness. He should be celebrating the fact that Britain has led the world in decarbonising our economy, while growing the economy at a greater rate than any other G7 country. If he wants more affirmation, he should read the PwC report on that. What we have to do now is set out a very difficult and long-term plan to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets and to go beyond. As always, that requires all of us to support this difficult progress right across the economy. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will have a cup of coffee and cheer up.

The Minister is right to say that we have an excellent method of calculating our emissions, but she might have pointed out that other countries do not, and that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is currently preparing updated guidelines on how best to account for emissions. Will she confirm that, for that vital work to proceed, the UK Government will be one of those who increase their financial contribution to the IPCC to make good the shortfall left by President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement? Does she also agree, now that the cost of offshore wind energy has fallen by a half in just two years, that those are the easiest emissions to calculate, because they are zero?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will celebrate the fact that we entirely agree and have committed to increasing our contribution to the funding of that agency, directly as a result of the pull-out of the USA from the Paris agreement—although technically it cannot withdraw until 2020.