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Renewable Energy and Carbon Budget Targets

Volume 628: debated on Tuesday 12 September 2017

As I have mentioned several times, the UK has led the world in introducing legally binding carbon budgets with cross-party support, and we have exceeded our budgets to date. We are also on track to exceed our ambition to generate 30% of our power from renewables by 2021—it is looking like we will deliver 35%. However, all that has not been done at the expense of economic growth and productivity. Indeed, yesterday’s PwC report says that Britain is leading the world in clean growth and is reducing emissions while growing the economy.

Millions of tonnes of wood pellets from clear felling biodiverse forests in the US, Canada and the Baltic states are burned to make electricity for the UK every year. In the light of clear evidence from the old Department—what used to be called the Department of Energy and Climate Change—that that results in carbon emissions at least equal to those of coal, will my hon. Friend reconsider the huge annual subsidies for large-scale, inefficient biomass electricity generation?

My hon. Friend’s question demonstrates his deep knowledge in this area, but I am happy to reassure him that my Department’s follow-up, which was published in February this year, to the biomass energy counterfactual study that he references showed that the UK’s imported biomass is both sustainable and carbon beneficial. Although there is a risk of non-sustainable practices, they are not happening thanks to our strict sustainability criteria, and we continue to monitor the situation, because we are determined to maintain our global reputation for clean growth.

19. Pope Francis warned yesterday that history will judge adversely politicians who do not act on climate change, so when will the Government heed his words and publish their long overdue report and fifth carbon budget emissions reduction plan? (900802)

Again, I refer back to the fact that politicians, led by the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues and with cross-party support, published in 2008 the world’s first legally binding plan to reduce emissions. We also led the world in the Paris agreement that out set long-term, binding targets for the rest of the world. He should be proud of what we have achieved in this House and should join us in spreading the word that the UK is a leader in clean growth. Given the results of yesterday’s auctions, there is no longer a trade-off to be made between the cost of energy production and clean growth. We can both decarbonise and grow the economy, and he should be jolly well proud of that.

The Minister clearly leads a joyous existence. We have again received evidence of that today, for which we are grateful. We will take one further question.