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Climate Change Committee: 2023 Progress Report

Volume 737: debated on Tuesday 19 September 2023

5. What assessment she has made of the implications for her Department’s policies of the Climate Change Committee’s 2023 Progress Report to Parliament, published in June 2023. (906456)

I am grateful for the work of the Climate Change Committee, and I pay tribute in particular to the commitment of its outgoing chair, Lord Deben. The Government will respond to the committee’s report in October.

The latest Climate Change Committee report found that, out of 50 key indicators of Government progress on tackling climate change, just nine were on track. According to Energy UK, even before the disastrous offshore wind auction, the UK was forecast to have the slowest growth in low-carbon electricity generation of the world’s eight largest economies up to 2030. Does the Minister recognise that the Government’s failure has cost every family £180 in higher bills?

Our climate leadership is measurable and real. We have reduced emissions by more than any other major economy since 1990. We were the first to legislate for net zero. We have eliminated coal, which as late as 2012 produced nearly 40% of our electricity supply—the legacy of the Labour party—and we have lifted renewables from 7% to 48%. We have cut emissions by more than others, transforming our energy system, and we are leading on this issue internationally and domestically. That is exactly what the Government rely on in fulfilling their aspiration to climate leadership.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that one consequence of the Climate Change Committee report is to increase our country’s reliance on Chinese technology and raw materials?

China has even greater offshore wind capacity than ourselves—it has the largest wind and largest solar capacity in the world—and it has a significant level of production. We recognise that we will need technology from all over the world, including China, if we are to meet our net zero aspirations.

According to the Climate Change Committee,

“the private sector…is being held back…by weak policy signals, uncertainty, and barriers to investment,”

and perhaps we would not need to be so reliant on China if those issues were addressed. Just last month, UK investors representing £1.5 trillion in assets wrote to the Prime Minister, warning that that could mean the UK missing out on 1.7 million jobs. Will this zombie Government listen to investors and their own advisers, look at the game-changing interventions in the States and bring forward a UK version of the Inflation Reduction Act before it is too late to save British businesses and British jobs?

Yet another unfunded spending commitment from the Labour party—the party that left us with less than 7% of our electricity coming from renewables and that left us reliant on coal; a party that wants to nationalise the industry and drive out all those companies that have transformed the North Sea basin, led the world in cutting the cost of offshore wind, and made us the European leader in offshore wind and the global leader in cutting emissions. The Labour party is the biggest enemy of net zero and the biggest enemy of the private investment in this country that will help us get there.