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Volume 693: debated on Wednesday 28 April 2021

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential opportunities for Scotland arising from COP26. (914671)

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential opportunities for Scotland arising from COP26. (914674)

I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues, as well as industry stakeholders, on the opportunities that COP26 offers across Scotland. The COP26 devolved Administration ministerial group brings together the COP26 President, territorial Secretaries of State and devolved Administration Ministers to support the delivery of an inclusive and welcoming COP26 summit that is representative of the whole United Kingdom.

Last year, the SNP Government missed their own legal emissions targets, with source emissions in Scotland actually increasing by 1.5% in 2017-18. Does my hon. Friend agree that, as we approach the crucial COP26 summit in Glasgow later this year, the Scottish people deserve a Government who are 100% focused on a green recovery, not on another divisive independence referendum?

I am sure you will agree, Mr Speaker, that it is not for me to answer for the failings of the Scottish Government. However, I assure my hon. Friend that the UK Government are absolutely focused on achieving a green recovery, as set out by the Prime Minister in his 10-point plan last year. This Government are also focused on safeguarding the Union, and I agree with my hon. Friend that a divisive referendum on Scotland’s separation from the UK at this time would be an irresponsible distraction from the necessary work required towards that green recovery.

I welcome the ambitious new target that the Government set last week to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. Does my hon. Friend agree that in the run-up to the crucial COP26 summit later this year, it is more important than ever for all parts of the UK to work together so that we can meet that target and build back better and greener from the pandemic?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. Our proposed world-leading target marks a decisive step towards net zero by 2050 and would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035, compared with 1990 levels. Through this year’s COP26 summit, we will urge countries and companies around the world to join us in delivering net zero globally. We continue to work together throughout all parts of the UK to achieve our net zero ambitions and a green recovery from the covid-19 pandemic.

The Minister should be embarrassed that renewables generators in Scotland face the highest locational grid charges in the whole of Europe. Ahead of COP26, we need to see a route to market for pumped-storage hydro and for wave and tidal, the go-ahead given for Acorn carbon capture and storage and a contract for difference for hydrogen. What capability does the Scottish Office, working with Cabinet colleagues, have to get those matters resolved?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I share his enthusiasm for all things related to energy renewables, but he will know as well as I do that, by law, transmission charging is a matter for Ofgem as the independent regulator. I imagine that he will also be aware that Ofgem is currently considering some aspects of transmission charging arrangements through its access and forward-looking charges review.

The SNP Scottish Government have committed to doubling their climate change justice fund if re-elected next week. This £21 million fund is used to help combat the effects of climate change in the global south while we tackle carbon emissions at home. In the year of COP26, will the UK Government follow Scotland’s lead and commit to a comparable climate justice fund to help those affected by climate change?

Not only will we commit to a comparable financial commitment, but the recent spending review committed to spending £12 billion on green measures to support the 10-point plan and boost the UK’s global leadership on green infrastructure and technologies, not just ahead of COP26 this year, but beyond as well.