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Outcome of COP26

Volume 709: debated on Wednesday 2 March 2022

At COP26, almost 200 countries agreed to the historic Glasgow climate pact, which keeps alive the aim of limiting the average global temperature rise to 1.5°. At the Munich security conference last month, John Kerry, the US special envoy for climate, referred to COP26 as perhaps the best or one of the best of the COPs, saying that it did more than Paris; it really gave life to Paris. We now need to ensure that the commitments are acted on.

Given the horrible events that we are witnessing in Ukraine at the moment, does my right hon. Friend agree that the move from COP towards more renewables is more important than ever, particularly for our European neighbours? They need to wean themselves off Russian gas and oil for the good of our world.

There is a lot of consensus in the House that the UK’s significant expansion of renewables in the past decade, particularly in the offshore wind sector, has reduced our dependence on gas. My hon. Friend is right that we need to continue to push out on this to ensure our domestic energy security. As I say, we want more on renewables, more on nuclear and more on hydrogen.

Now more than ever, we have to ensure security of supply. Following COP26, does my right hon. Friend agree that investing in technologies such as new nuclear is so important for constituencies such as mine and for the wider Lancashire area?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. When I was Business Secretary, we set out our 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, in which we made it very clear that we would be supporting nuclear. We have followed that through; I know that my hon. Friend will have particularly welcomed the funding that is going towards new small modular reactor technology.

I recently met the brilliant people at Rolls-Royce who are working on small modular reactors, which will help to fill the gap between fossil fuels and renewable energy. Does my right hon. Friend agree that more investment in nuclear power will help to combat global climate change and, more importantly, help our desperate constituents who are having to choose between eating and heating right now?

I share my hon. Friend’s view: nuclear has to be part of our clean energy mix. We are investing in SMR technology through Rolls-Royce, as he has acknowledged. It also provides an export opportunity for the UK and the creation of jobs in our industrial heartlands.

Will my right hon. Friend set out what steps he is taking to ensure that the Glasgow climate pact starts delivering this year, in 2022?

Delivery of the Glasgow climate pact is very much the focus for this year. As I said in Glasgow, we managed to keep 1.5° alive, but its pulse is weak and will strengthen only if Governments honour their commitments. Since COP, I have engaged with Ministers from more than 30 countries. I will continue to engage and press them to honour their commitments.

The credibility of the presidency depends on action at home. Next month, the Advanced Construction Skills Centre in my constituency will host my apprenticeships fair. Does the COP26 President agree that the jobs of the future and apprenticeships offer a credible way to take action at home? Will he support my fair? Will he say how his Government are supporting the jobs of the future?

Apprenticeships, of course, are a big focus for this Government. We have created many hundreds of thousands over the past years. Ensuring apprenticeships in green technologies is vital, and I wish the hon. Lady well with her fair.

Mr Speaker, do you and the Minister agree that, if we are to take COP26 seriously, it should be about what we do locally as well as what we do nationally? Is the Minister aware that the company that the House of Commons Commission has chosen for the contract to construct the holocaust memorial building, which I fully support, rather than putting all the materials and the waste and all that traffic on the river, which would be easily done, will put it on the road, to snarl up London traffic and pollute the air? Could we look at this question locally and nationally, right now?

I note the point that the hon. Gentleman has made. He will appreciate that it is not part of my responsibilities, but I am sure that you, Mr Speaker, and other relevant colleagues will have heard his call for action.

In its report this week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put forward its bleakest warning yet, stating that

“progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks”.

It emphasised the urgency of immediate action, concluding:

“Half measures are no longer an option.”

Given that, will the COP President outline what concrete steps have been taken since COP26 to scale up finance for adaptation, whether he will increase ambition in the light of the report, and whether he will commit to bringing a plan to this House on how we will meet the 2025 target?

The hon. Lady raises a very important point. Of course, the report was a stark warning—yet again; another code red—that we need to take action. I set out in answer to earlier questions what we are doing to push forward, particularly on finance—we are doubling adaptation finance. We will ensure that, by the time we get to COP27, the trajectory has moved forward.