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Climate change objectives and obligations

Volume 629: debated on Monday 9 October 2017

The petition of the residents of Dulwich and West Norwood,

Declares that there is widespread concern that the Government is not on track to meet the fourth or fifth carbon budgets; welcomes the Prime Minister’s continued verbal commitment to the Paris Agreement; notes that in order to meet the UK’s commitment to achieve the carbon budget action is necessary; further notes that the Committee on Climate Change reported in June 2017 and concluded that the UK can successfully navigate the transition to a growing, low-carbon economy but new policies to deliver that transition are overdue; and further notes that much domestic legislation for reducing emissions and tackling climate changes is either contingent on the UK’s membership of the European Union or ends in or around 2020, including but not limited to the levy control framework supporting low carbon power, fuel efficiency standards for new cars, renewable heat incentives, capital funding for flood defences to protect homes and businesses and targeted biodiversity plans to help build the resilience of the natural environment to climate change.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to lay before the House their plans for meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, as well as committing to protecting existing environmental protections.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Helen Hayes , Official Report, 19 July 2017; Vol. 627, c. 949 .]


Observations from the Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Claire Perry):

The Government are committed to tackling climate change and to the UK’s Climate Change Act. The Act introduced carbon budgets to put us on a pathway to meet our legally binding 2050 target to reduce emissions by at least 80% against 1990 levels. We have met the first carbon budget (2008-2012) and we are on track to meet the second (2013-2017) and third carbon budgets (2018-2022).

In delivering these targets, we have led the world in reducing emissions while growing our economy. Since 1990, we have cut emissions by more than 40% while our economy has grown by two thirds—meaning that we have reduced emissions faster than any other G7 nation on a per person basis. We were recently ranked by the independent Climate Action Network as the third best country in the world for tackling climate change, and PwC’s Low Carbon Economy Index shows that the UK has been the fastest of any country in the G20 to decarbonise in 2016.

The UK is also well placed to take advantage of the huge economic opportunities of the transition to a low carbon economy. Our early action on clean growth means that we have nurtured a broad range of low carbon industries, including some sectors in which we have world-leading positions. Around 430,000 people are employed in the low carbon sector and its supply chain, and a recent report for the Committee on Climate Change estimated that the UK low carbon economy could grow by an estimated 11% per year between 2015 and 2030—four times faster than the rest of the economy.

Our leadership covers a range of sectors. For example, our financial sector is already a world-leader in green finance. We recently announced a package of measures, including the establishment of a Green Finance Taskforce, to build on our leadership position.

The UK played a leading role in negotiating the Paris Agreement, and the Prime Minister has made clear that we believe that the Agreement provides the right global framework for protecting the prosperity and security of future generations, while keeping energy affordable and secure for our citizens and businesses.

Our Clean Growth Strategy will set out our proposals for decarbonising the UK economy through the 2020s, building on the impressive progress to date. We are working to ensure that our strategy is ambitious and robust, and will publish it shortly.