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Paris Climate Change Agreement

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2018

19. What steps he is taking to ensure that investment in renewable energy contributes to the achievement of the 1.5° C global warming limit set out in the Paris climate change agreement. (905075)

The hon. Gentleman will know that investment in renewable energy is vital so that we can get towards our interim targets, as well as the 1.5° C target. With a combination of the binding statutory budgets, the investments we have made and some good policy design, we are cranking ahead with renewables. More than 30% of our energy came from renewables last year, and I am sure we will all celebrate the fact that just in the past month we went for 77 hours without coal contributing to our grid.

Satellite data shows that 5% of the methane produced by fracking is leaked through fugitive emissions. Given that methane is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in global warming terms, that makes fracking twice as bad for climate change as coal. Will the Minister commit not to proceed with fracking and to proceed with the Swansea bay tidal lagoon project to deliver on climate change?

I think the hon. Gentleman has seen some of the same slides that I have seen, which show a hypothetical model put forward by some scientists. We are of course always concerned about fugitive methane emissions, and we will bear that in mind going forward.

Germany, France, India and China are building coal-fired power stations by the hundreds while we are relying on more and more expensive sources of energy. Does the Minister not recognise the damage done to our economy by pursuing means of expensive energy while turning her back on cheap energy? Does she really believe that erecting a few windmills will affect the world’s climate, which is determined by the sun and by natural forces beyond the control of man?

It is always good to listen to the right hon. Gentleman on this point. We could debate the science, but the truth is that we and 57 other countries, states and cities around the world have committed to phase out coal, because it is the most polluting fossil fuel. We do not need it, because we have a big investment in renewables and we have clean gas as part of our energy mix, which we must maintain going forward.

We are running late, but I am very keen to hear the voices of Harlow and of Washington and Sunderland West. We will begin with Harlow—I call Mr Robert Halfon.