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Topical Questions

Volume 707: debated on Wednesday 19 January 2022

I have just concluded constructive visits to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, the respective holders of COP27 and COP28. I met a range of Government Ministers and businesses, and we agreed that we would work closely to ensure the lasting impact of climate negotiations and other climate commitments made in Glasgow.

Just days after the Glasgow COP ended, Tory Ministers were wining and dining with senior fossil fuel executives, including from Shell and BP, apparently to urge them to keep on drilling for oil and gas in the North sea. As COP President, does he not agree that, instead of being in the pockets of fossil fuel giants, Ministers should be following the United Nations’ call for an end to all new fossil fuel projects—[Interruption.]

Order. Topicals are meant to be short and quick. You cannot have a full statement—other people have got to get in.

The hon. Gentleman is definitely making my job harder by the amount of hot air he is emitting—I wonder whether he will offset those emissions. Let me be clear that we have a commitment to have a managed transition in our energy mix, and that is what we are doing.

T3. Will COP26’s Clydebank declaration for green shipping corridors set the course for more zero emission shipping routes? That is particularly significant for air quality for my constituents in Eastbourne and Willingdon, who live alongside the busiest shipping lane in the world. (905152)

It certainly will. The declaration aims to support the establishment of at least six green corridors by the middle of this decade while aiming to scale up activity in the following years. We definitely want to see more such green corridors in operation.

T2. Surely a just transition means not leaving millions to cope with soaring energy prices as inflation hits its highest level for 30 years. Why will the Government not heed Labour’s suggestion to protect them by introducing a one-off windfall tax on North sea oil and gas producers who have profited from the surging prices? (905151)

I am surprised that the hon. Member is pursuing that line of inquiry. Labour’s motion here in this Chamber last Tuesday totally unravelled and was rejected comprehensively. The Government are taking action—we are supporting vulnerable households through winter fuel payments, cold weather payments, the household support fund and so on—but the Labour proposal unravelled tragically last week, Mr Speaker, as you saw.

T4. My right hon. Friend is well aware of my concern about deforestation in the Amazon. As he deals with the Brazilian Government over the coming months, will he put pressure on them to make sure that they not only keep their commitments made at COP26, but stop the illegal deforestation that is taking place now? (905153)

My right hon. Friend raises a really important point, and of course I will continue to work very closely with Brazil on the commitments that have been made to make sure they are implemented. I will be speaking to Minister Leite, the Environment Minister, in the coming weeks to reaffirm those commitments and our view that they should be followed through.

T5. With millions of species at risk of extinction and deforestation accelerating across the globe, it is imperative that we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees to halt this catastrophic decline, so will the Minister now accept Labour’s call for a net zero and nature test to align public spending and infrastructure decisions with our climate and nature commitments? (905154)

If the hon. Member was at COP 26 or was following what was going on, he will have seen the huge commitment to protecting nature. Of course, we also want to ensure that CBD15 is a success.

T6. How does the COP President reconcile his narrative of the global leadership required for COP26 and net zero with the acute reality that we still need to extract hydrocarbons, not least to keep energy costs down? (905156)

Of course, as I said earlier, we want to see an orderly transition to net zero in our energy mix, which includes oil and gas, but the answer to delivering net zero, keeping bills under control and ensuring security of supply is to continue to build out our world-leading offshore wind sector and invest in nuclear and hydrogen, as this Government are doing.

T7. The Government have just upped the risk of climate-triggered wars in the coming decades from medium to high. Our planet is on fire, but this Government are too busy fighting fires in Downing Street instead of showing leadership, and slashing aid for climate-vulnerable communities, locking them into fossil fuel. How long will it be before they stop being embroiled in their own scandals and realise that we are embroiled in a climate scandal? (905157)

The Prime Minister has absolutely been leading on this agenda for years—[Interruption.] He has been leading for years. I would just say that it was a Conservative Government who put in place net zero by 2050, and Members should just look at the commitments we have made under the current Prime Minister, with our nationally determined contribution and our carbon budget 6. We are leading the world when it comes to going green.

The Minister will know that Teesside is the hydrogen capital of the UK, where we already produce more than 50% of our commercially viable hydrogen, so will he consider throwing his weight behind Redcar and Cleveland’s bid to become home to the UK’s first hydrogen village by 2025?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. He knows that we are co-operating very closely internationally and domestically on hydrogen. On Redcar’s bid, he is a passionate advocate for all things related to Redcar, and his message has been heard loud and clear by the Government.

Two years ago, Together Energy was providing 350 jobs in my constituency, leading on innovation for small and medium-sized utility companies. Yesterday, it went bust. While his Prime Minister and his Chancellor are missing in action doing other stuff, can the Minister tell me what his Government and Ofgem are doing to support small and medium-sized utility companies deliver zero emissions and deliver jobs in my constituency?

I am not going to take any lectures from the hon. Gentleman. He knows very well that the Government are working very closely with the sector. He knows that we have put in place a price cap, and he knows that, when it comes to jobs, this Government are investing, and we want to see 2 million green jobs created over the coming decades.

Order. [Interruption.] I certainly do not expect any more. For the moment, we have one more question before Prime Minister’s questions.

If the Government had not scrapped the green homes grant last year, they would have saved thousands of households money. When will the Government reform and bring back the green homes grant?

We are supporting the green transition across all sectors through the work we are doing. I am sure that the Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change would be delighted to speak to the hon. Lady about the issue she raises.