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Topical Questions

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 14 July 2021

Last week, we set out our high-level two-week programme for COP26. The conference will open with a world leaders’ summit followed by a range of themed days of activity, including on finance, energy, youth, nature, adaptation, gender, science, transport and the built environment. These days will also be an opportunity to showcase specific global action on tackling climate change. I look forward to welcoming parliamentarians to Glasgow and we will very shortly be inviting Members of both Houses to formally register their interest for attendance at COP26.

As the president-designate says, it is not just world leaders and Governments who are needed to make COP26 a success, but parliamentarians from around the world. As chair of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, we will be hosting events for parliamentarians around the world, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will encourage his officials to accredit as many parliamentarians from international delegations as possible.

Obviously we want to ensure that we have a physical event and that those who apply have an opportunity to try to get accredited. As I said, for parliamentarians in this and the other place, we will be opening a registration process shortly.

The Copenhagen summit of 2009 was undone by deep mistrust of the developed world by developing countries. Rather than learning from that, rich countries are still failing to deliver on the promised $100 billion of climate finance and the billions of vaccine doses still required by poorer countries. Yesterday, shamefully, the Prime Minister decided to press ahead with the cut in our aid spending. When the COP26 President went to see the PM yesterday, did he explain that COP26 is not some international photo opportunity, but a complex and fragile negotiation, and that the aid cut simply deepens mistrust, damages our moral standing and undermines our COP presidency?

The right hon. Gentleman raises two issues. On vaccines, he will know that we now have an offer open so that any accredited delegates who are not able to get vaccinated in their home country are able to receive vaccinations through the programme that we are setting up. Secondly, I can tell him that there is huge appreciation for the UK’s leadership on climate action around the world. That is based on conversations that I have day in, day out with world leaders.

The COP26 President knows that world leaders and others are asking him why the UK is the only G7 country cutting aid spending in the year that we are hosting the COP. He knows that delivering support to developing countries is not just morally right, but essential to building a coalition to pressure the world’s largest emitters.

The most significant of those emitters is China. To have a chance of keeping global warming to 1.5°, we need China to ensure that its emissions peak and start to decline by 2025 at the latest. Does the COP26 President agree? If so, can he tell us what the Prime Minister is doing to engage directly with China on the issue and persuade it to step up?

We are engaged with all big emitters; as the right hon. Gentleman knows, I am travelling around the globe talking to different countries. To come back to his point about aid spending, I just point out that this year we will spend more on aid as a percentage of our GNI than the US, Japan, Canada or Italy.

In contrast to Kettering, which generates enough renewable electricity locally to power all 45,000 homes in the constituency, this week the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, reported that 52% of the world’s urban greenhouse gas emissions come from just 25 megacities, 23 of which are in China. Will the COP26 President focus on that at COP26? (902727)

My hon. Friend raises a very important point. That is precisely why, as part of our work, we are aiming to support countries to make a clean energy transition to solar, to wind power and to other renewables.

Will the COP26 President join me in congratulating the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, on pressing ahead resolutely with the recommendations of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Commission on Climate, which was established by the Mayor’s predecessor and chaired by Baroness Brown? It is a fantastic example of what can be done locally in the run-up to COP26. (902726)

I congratulate all local areas and local leaders who are doing their bit on climate action. As I said, today we are launching the local authorities and Mayors engagement pack, which I hope local authorities and Mayors will use to encourage climate action across their areas.

Cleaning up our air, here and across the globe, is a major challenge for all of us. The conversations that I am having with local people and businesses in the Cities of London and Westminster make it clear that we have a key opportunity at COP26 for the UK to become a global leader in promoting cleaner, greener urban environments. With that in mind, will my right hon. Friend confirm that he will do all he can to accelerate action to tackle urban air pollution through collaboration between Governments, businesses and civil society? (902729)

The UK is already leading the way on tackling air pollution. The Government are backing a £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle air pollution, investing in green transport and working with local authorities just like the City of Westminster. My hon. Friend will be keen to read the transport decarbonisation plan, which will be published later today and will set out the world’s first “greenprint” for decarbonised transport and clean air.

What proportion of the billions of pounds of private sector investment and how many of the 250,000 highly skilled green jobs contained in the Prime Minister’s 10-point green industrial revolution plan to level up across the UK will go to Wales? (902728)

We are supporting industrial clusters around the world, as the hon. Lady will know from the 10-point plan that the Prime Minister published at the end of last year, and we are seeing action across the country. She will know that the Government have recently funded some new offshore wind ports and we have seen the investment that is going into battery manufacturing for electric vehicles.

There is real concern regarding the UK Government’s accommodation for COP26, which is to be provided by MCI Group with extremely high costs and unreasonable terms and conditions. Will the President provide details of the MCI contract to the Committee that is scrutinising COP26, and can he assure us that delegations, many of which operate on very small budgets and are among the worst affected by climate change, will not be deterred from attending? (902730)

I would just point out to the hon. Gentleman that MCI has secured only about a third of the market availability for hotel rooms, and that there are alternative options for booking accommodation, which are still available. If he has specific issues, I would be happy to speak to him separately.

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that a British sign language interpretation of the proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.