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Carbon Reduction Targets

Volume 635: debated on Tuesday 30 January 2018

If you will indulge me, Mr Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to the hon. Lady’s predecessor, who made an amazing and powerful speech in the other place. It was quite astonishing.

We should all be proud of the excellent progress the UK has made in meeting its carbon reduction targets. The current numbers show that we have met out first budget, are on track to exceed our second and third budgets and are 97% and 95% of the way to meeting our fourth and fifth budgets. The clean growth strategy that I brought forward last year sets out an ambitious set of 50 policies and proposals that will help us to meet those targets.

I thank the Minister for her tribute to my predecessor, Baroness Jowell, who is much loved in Dulwich and West Norwood.

Southwark Council confirmed last week that it has invested its £150 million pension fund in a low-carbon investment, concluding that continuing to hold significant investments in fossil fuels in the context of climate change would present a long-term financial risk to the fund. Will the Minister tell me what conversations she is having with private firms with large pension funds to encourage and facilitate divestment from fossil fuels, which is now clearly the most responsible decision for pension fund members and the future of our planet?

The hon. Lady points out the very powerful fact that the Government can set policy and bring forward achievable targets, such as our renewables ambition, but we also need the private sector and private capital to be involved in financing this transition. I have numerous conversations with companies about what they are doing with their own investments and, equally, about what they will be doing to help other companies to invest in a more sustainable future. I refer her to the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which I launched with my Canadian counterpart last year and which is helping the world to get off the dirtiest form of fossil fuel heating.

Given that more than a year has now passed since the Hendry review reported on the potential contribution of tidal lagoon technology, when does my right hon. Friend think that Ministers will be able to respond positively to that report and give a green light to this important environmental technology?

I am left in no doubt by my right hon. Friend and others about how anxious people are to see this review go forward. We want to get our future investment in renewable energies right. We continue to look very closely at this, and I hope that we will be able to inform the House shortly.

The Minister will have seen the recent report by the Committee on Climate Change about the Government’s clean growth strategy in relation to the fifth carbon budget. Indeed, I know that she has seen it, because she wrote the committee a nice letter thanking it for its report. What plans does she have in place to rectify the shortcomings and omissions in that strategy, as identified by the Committee on Climate Change in its report?

As the hon. Gentleman and I both know, the report basically said there had been a sea change in our ambition for future climate reduction actions. I was extremely grateful to the committee, as I always am, for its scrutiny and information. We were the first country in the world both to pass a climate change Act and to set up an independent scrutineer. As we all know, we have to do more, particularly on business energy efficiency and new homes standards. I am looking forward to working in a consensual way, cross-party, to bring forward those measures.