Skip to main content

Paris Climate Change Agreement

Volume 630: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2017

The UK was a leading negotiator of the extraordinary Paris agreement in which 195 countries agreed to act to keep the global temperature rise well below 2°. In 2016, only two countries in the world cut their carbon emissions intensity in line with that Paris goal: China and the UK. Last month, our clean growth strategy set out how we intend to go further and faster in cutting our UK emissions to reach the Paris goal, while delivering economic growth.

Many of my constituents have contacted me with their concerns about climate change. Following Paris, what steps is the Minister taking to ensure that there is a global political movement to combat climate change?

I will be going to Bonn next week for the 23rd United Nations climate change conference with the council of partners, where we will join other leading nations in reaffirming our commitment to the Paris goals and working on a variety of practical initiatives such as the phase-out of power generation from unabated coal. Britain, which started the industrial revolution using coal, now leads the world in phasing it out. We will also be working on the use of innovative financial solutions to mobilise private investment in low carbon technologies.

How does the Minister intend to support carbon capture and storage in the Tees valley, given that that, too, would improve our environmental ambitions and enhance economic growth?

The hon. Lady will know that the Tees valley has been incredibly assiduous in campaigning in many ways to be a location for the deployment of the new technology. We are working actively with it and we would like to see some investment proposals coming forward.

In reaffirming the UK’s commitment to the Paris climate change deal, will my hon. Friend assure me that she had her colleagues will continue to pressure and persuade other countries that have not signed up to it or that might be reticent about its merits and about why they should be involved?

My hon. Friend makes a good point: we are only as good as the partners that we are working with. Other countries, including India and China, have set progressive goals for their own countries involving very rapid decarbonisation. Paris remains fit for purpose and will not be renegotiated. We would like all countries, particularly the major OECD countries, to change their minds and get behind this groundbreaking agreement for the world.

The Committee on Climate Change clearly states that fracking cannot be compatible with the UK’s climate change targets unless three key tests—on methane gas, on gas consumption and on carbon budgets—are met. Given that the Government have not shown that those tests can be met, will the Minister’s Department refuse consent for fracking in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, which is currently under consideration, or is she planning simply to ignore the advice from the Committee on Climate Change?

We cannot comment on particular cases. Testing wells are being drilled at the moment, and we need to understand the scientific basis, so that we can prove or disprove these tests. I find it slightly odd that those who argue the loudest that people should accept the scientific basis for climate change refuse to have a conversation about the scientific basis that would prove or disprove the case for fracking.