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Tackling Climate Change

Volume 712: debated on Wednesday 20 April 2022

12. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Glasgow climate pact on tackling climate change. (906496)

Countries made significant commitments at COP26 on emissions reductions; finance and support for developing nations; and adaptation, loss and damage. We are continuing to press countries to deliver on their promises. Together with the COP27 presidency of Egypt, I will next month be co-chairing a meeting of a representative group of Ministers from around the world, hosted by the Danish Government, to take stock of progress on the delivery of the Glasgow climate pact.

I thank my right hon. Friend for coming to Winchester earlier this month for my “ask the Minister” session, which was attended by hundreds of my constituents and children from many schools across the patch, including Peter Symonds College, and for answering their questions so elegantly and openly. I am sure he would agree that the young people from those schools were so positive and care so much, that they asked searching questions, as they should, and that they are very optimistic about this presidency and the whole agenda. What more can we do to empower them to push forward this agenda during our presidency year?

I very much enjoyed my visit to Winchester and I commend my hon. Friend for all the work he does in his local community. We had some excellent questions from the very many young people at the event and they were positive in their outlook. In the planning for COP26, and in the country visits I continue to make, listening to the views of young people has been invaluable. That is why in the Glasgow climate pact we have urged countries actively to involve young people in climate change processes.

As the Minister knows, the UK accounts for only 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions, yet the steps we are taking to combat climate change will cost businesses and the Government untold billions. Does he agree that while the UK does what is perceived to be the right thing, it is highly likely that other nations will miss climate targets and that the enormous expense and impact on our own economic competitiveness will all be in vain?

Tackling climate change is the right thing to do and it is also economically the smart thing to do. That is why at COP26 we had $130 trillion of private sector money signed up to net zero. It is why our presidency has managed to persuade 90% of global GDP to sign up to net zero. It is why our net zero strategy talks about many hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of inward investments. My hon. Friend talks about costs, but I just say to him: look at what the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates as the unmitigated cost of climate change. We are talking about almost 300% debt to GDP by the end of this century. I know that he is a fiscally responsible Conservative, as I am, and he would not want to burden future generations with that level of debt.

The Minister will of course know that one reason why Britain’s emissions are so low now is that we have exported most of our filthy, polluting manufacturing industries to poorer nations of the world, so those countries are being polluted in order to provide for our lifestyle. It is almost nine years since world leaders agreed to establish a climate change impacts loss and damage mechanism. Last year, the Scottish Government led the world in committing millions of pounds to that mechanism. When do the UK Government intend to follow Scotland’s lead?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, at COP26 we agreed the Glasgow dialogue on loss and damage. That was the first time we had significant text in the cover decision on this issue. That work is going forward, as is work on the operationalisation of the Santiago network.

Of course as we urgently seek to combat climate change it is vital that we do so in a just and fair way, particularly for communities in the north-east of Scotland. Bearing that in mind, does the Minister agree that his Government should do three things: fund the Acorn carbon capture and underground storage project; match fund the Scottish Government’s £500 million just transition fund; and finally, eventually, reform the TNUoS—the transmission network use of system—charging scandal that is happening at this moment in time?

The hon. Gentleman has eloquently raised a number of domestic policy issues and I know that the Energy Minister would be happy to write to him on all of them.

The recent climate assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was deeply worrying, saying that current global policies will lead to warming of more than 3°, but it also offered hope in the dramatic fall in the price of renewables, which means they are now the right choice for cheap energy and to tackle the climate crisis. Given that onshore wind is the cheapest, cleanest, quickest form of power to deliver and is also supported by a large majority of the public in the UK, will the COP26 President explain why the Government persist—including in their recent strategy—with planning policies that in effect block onshore wind in England?

I certainly agree that we need to do more in terms of renewables, which is what the energy security strategy is all about. We already have 14 GW deployed throughout the country and there is another 5.8 GW in the pipeline. On future developments, we have said that we want to work in partnership with supportive communities that will host new onshore wind farms, and in return they will enjoy such benefits as local energy discounts.

The COP26 President knows that the Prime Minister caved in to those who wanted to block onshore wind—and I think the Minister for Energy knows it too.

Let us try another. To tackle the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency, energy efficiency measures are a no-brainer, but the Chancellor steadfastly refused to offer a penny more for energy efficiency in the recent strategy, meaning higher bills for people and more people in fuel poverty. The COP26 President is responsible for holding Departments to account for net zero; is it not time for him to wield some presidential power, knock heads together and sort this problem out?

The cost of living is an issue facing many families in all our constituencies throughout the country, which is why the Government have put forward more than £9 billion-worth of support in respect of the cost of living. On energy efficiency specifically, the right hon. Gentleman knows that we are investing more than £6.6 billion over this Parliament to improve energy efficiency and decarbonise heat. That will of course lead to lower bills, particularly for those most in need.