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COP Presidency: Objectives

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 20 July 2022

The Glasgow climate pact was a historic agreement that the United Kingdom forged among almost 200 countries. Our presidency year has been all about getting nations to deliver on the commitments they made at COP26 across the areas of mitigation, adaptation and finance, and we will continue this work up to COP27.

The heatwave this week shows the need to take serious and immediate action on climate change. The Glasgow call for a phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is one prompt way in which the Government can swiftly work towards delivering net zero plans. Does the Minister agree that instead of fossil fuel subsidies, the Government should focus on home-grown, cheap, clean energy sources that guarantee our energy security?

The Government are focusing on that, and I refer the hon. Gentleman to the energy security strategy that was published a few weeks ago, and also to the recent contracts for difference auction process for offshore wind, which delivered a price for offshore wind that is almost 70% lower than in 2015 and four times less than the current gas price. The future has to be green energy.

Our schools often set a great example in raising awareness of the climate emergency. On my recent visit to Ysgol Rhyd-y-Grug in my constituency, the pupils told me of their concerns about deforestation in the Amazon and about the 1 million species at risk of extinction. We must urgently halt and reverse this loss, so will the right hon. Gentleman support the call, led by my hon. and right hon. Friends on the shadow Front Bench, for a “net zero with nature” test to align all public spending and infrastructure decisions with our climate and nature commitments?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, we got an agreement at COP26 from more than 140 countries, representing more than 90% of the world’s forests, to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. We now need to make sure this is delivered, and we are looking at mechanisms to keep this issue on the table so that countries are seen to be delivering on their commitments on an annual basis.

The COP26 President will have been as struck as I was at COP26 by the plight of low-lying island nations, and he will have been moved by how they are doing everything they can to protect themselves through nature-based solutions. Above all, they need the large, developed countries to tackle climate change. Will he redouble his efforts to persuade some of these large, developed countries to do better?

My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. The small island developing states face a very acute climate emergency that is putting many millions of lives and livelihoods at risk. Yes, we need every country to come forward and deliver on its commitments, and particularly the biggest emitters: the G20.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published some excellent new targets for incineration in March. Will the COP26 President follow through on that and make a moratorium on waste incineration one of his objectives for the remainder of his presidency?

In this role, as my right hon. Friend knows, I am trying to corral international action. He raises an important point, and I will make sure it is raised with the appropriate Department.

Last month the Climate Change Committee issued a scathing annual progress report warning of “major policy failures” and “scant evidence of delivery” on net zero. This week, as we have heard, the Government had to be dragged to court to be told their climate plans are so woefully inadequate that they are unlawful and must be revised.

What kind of leadership does it set if the country holding the COP presidency cannot get its own house in order? I know the COP President will say that the Conservative party’s leadership candidates have paid lip service to net zero, but does he really have any confidence that things will get better?

The Climate Change Committee has described the net zero strategy as “ambitious” and

“the world’s most comprehensive plan to reach net zero”.

I have discussed the legal findings, but the principle is right. We need to do everything we can to make sure we deal with this issue. The last few days have been a real wake-up call for everyone in this country, and it is what many millions of people across the world experience on a regular basis. We have to deal with this issue.