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Volume 742: debated on Thursday 14 December 2023

May I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, as well as all the staff of this House and colleagues across the House, for all your hard work this year? I wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

It was a privilege to attend the summit in Dubai over the past two weeks. I was proud to represent a country that has cut greenhouse gas emissions more than any other major economy since 1990; that has boosted our share of renewable electricity from a rather dismal 7% in 2010 to almost half today, while almost entirely phasing out coal power; that has led the world in mobilising green finance; and that is now ensuring that we bring the British public with us on the transition to net zero, thanks to the Prime Minister’s plans to protect families from unnecessary costs and give people more time to adapt to changes.

While we are on track, the world is not. The global stocktake confirmed that emissions need to peak by 2025 and fall by 43% between 2019 and 2030 to achieve the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C. The current pace of global decarbonisation is well behind that trajectory, and the urgency of the climate challenge means that we cannot delay any further.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has underlined the importance of transitioning towards renewables, which are less vulnerable to price shocks. That is why our objectives throughout COP28 were clear: we needed to agree urgent action to ensure 1.5° remains viable as a ceiling, including trebling global renewables, doubling energy efficiency and phasing out unabated fossil fuels; and we needed to reform international finance to unlock the trillions required in climate funding.

Today I am delighted to say that we have secured a final agreement that supports those goals. For the first time ever, we have a global agreement on a transition away from fossil fuels. The agreement on fossil fuels builds and expands on the UK’s leadership at COP26, which had the first reference to phasing down coal power, secured agreements behind efforts to decarbonise key sectors of the global economy and, most notably, saw the proportion of global GDP covered by net zero targets increase from around 30% to 90% during our presidency.

This week’s COP28 agreement is not perfect. We wanted to see more action on coal, and on ending the construction of new coal power plants in particular. Like some of the small island states, we wanted greater clarity and fewer loopholes in the agreement. None the less, this is a turning point. We are unifying the world around a common commitment, listening to the islanders of the Pacific and elsewhere, whose voices must be heard, and showing that we are responding to the science by moving away from fossil fuels and raising a torch to inspire action.

Throughout the summit, the UK made significant progress on delivering that action, building on our legacy from COP26. We were pleased to be one of over 130 countries to support the global pledge to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030. As co-chair of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, I was delighted to welcome 13 new members, including the United States of America and the United Arab Emirates—all committing to phase out unabated coal power. Through the Energy Transition Council, we are working with developing countries via our rapid response facility to help support them through the energy transition.

We also announced £1.6 billion-worth of new international climate finance projects, which will support developing countries to transition to net zero and adapt to the impacts of climate change, while also expanding green industries on a global scale. We joined the UAE’s climate finance framework, which sets out new principles to reform the global financial system, and we announced plans to launch the climate investment funds capital market mechanism to raise up to £7.5 billion over the next decade for green projects.

However, we recognise that keeping global warming to less than 1.5° is impossible without urgent action to protect, sustainably manage and restore forests. Following the historic agreement at Glasgow to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, the Prime Minister made forests and nature a top priority for COP28. We agreed £576 million to safeguard 10 million hectares of forests and help half a million people in poor, rural communities, which are the most vulnerable to deforestation. I joined Brazil’s Environment Minister, Marina Silva, to welcome the Prime Minister’s pledge of a further £35 million for Brazil’s Amazon fund. That is on top of the £80 million we announced earlier this year, making the UK one of the scheme’s top three contributors. Finally, the new forest risk commodity measures in the Environment Act 2021 will ensure that there is no space on our supermarket shelves for products linked to deforestation.

However, that is not all. We secured the expansion of the breakthrough agenda—our clean technology accelerator—to cover 57 members and seven economic sectors, representing 60% of global emissions. Up to £185 million was announced for a first-of-a-kind, UK-led facility to help countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America to commercialise green technologies. Essential commitments to support resilience included up to £60 million of UK funding for loss and damage—a significant outcome of Sharm el-Sheikh, now carried forward into operation—an agreement on the framework for the global goal on adaptation, and an international green public procurement pledge to boost the use of green steel, cement and concrete. The UK endorsed a bold plan to triple nuclear power capacity globally, mirroring our domestic strategy for nuclear to make up a quarter of electricity production by 2050. There were also new partnerships with Brazil supporting industrial decarbonisation and hydrogen transitions, and a roadmap for the expansion of zero-emission vehicles in the developing world, backed by major donor countries. The great news is that British businesses will benefit hugely from all that, because as the world decarbonises it will use British expertise and skills as a springboard to realise the net zero transition.

Just as the Prime Minister announced measures to ensure that we bring consumers and households with us on the energy transition, our negotiations at COP have been about bringing countries with us, helping richer nations to set an example, encouraging the biggest polluters to replace fossil fuels with clean energy and working with developing nations to finance green growth. COPs are, above all, about people and our long-standing, trusted relationships with partners all around the world— from big emitters to small island developing states—afforded us significant influence. I am proud of the role that my team played.

I pay tribute to the UAE presidency and Dr Sultan al-Jaber, who acted as COP President, as well as a host of others, including the High Ambition Coalition for its leadership jointly to deliver this result. I was delighted that the UK was able to support a strong delegation of international parliamentarians at this COP, including the first ever pavilion dedicated to parliamentarians. Despite this landmark agreement, and however successful the UK’s record to date, we still have such a long way to go to finance the transition and achieve our global ambitions, so the UK will continue to encourage others to join the UK on a net zero pathway in this critical decade and help deliver a just, prosperous and secure future for all the peoples of the planet.

I thank the Minister for his statement and, indeed, for his regular commuting between Dubai and Westminster. Given that he brought the last Government down over fracking, I think he did not want a repeat performance, hence his return.

I welcome some of the key outcomes from COP28, including in particular the commitments on renewables and, crucially, a transition away from fossil fuels. That shows that the COP process, however flawed and imperfect, can provide a forcing mechanism for action by Governments. I pay tribute to the civil servants in the Minister’s Department for their hard work. Indeed, by a remarkable coincidence, the breakthrough in the negotiations occurred in the 24 hours when the Minister came home and they were left in charge.

But, for all the advances made, the truth is that the world is still hurtling towards disaster, way off track for keeping 1.5° alive. While we need an over-40% reduction in emissions by 2030, we are currently on track for emissions not to fall but to rise, and a temperature rise of approaching 3°. Even after the agreement, that is the reality, so the question for the world in the run-up to COP29 in Azerbaijan and COP30 in Brazil is whether good words at COP28 are finally matched by actions equal to the scale of the emergency.

These will be the defining two years in this decisive decade, which will shape the lives of generations to come, so we need a Government in the UK who will stop congratulating themselves and using the UK’s record as an excuse for future inaction and instead lead at home in a way that is consistent with what we are demanding of others. The Minister complained about a lack of action on coal at the COP, but the Government are opening a new coalmine, watering down emissions targets, seeking to drill every last drop in the North sea and starting a culture war on net zero. That has sent a terrible message to business, investors and other Governments; one that was heard loud and clear by people at the COP.

Let me ask the Minister four questions about the Government’s approach. First, the COP decision says that we need to “transition away from fossil fuels” in line with the science. The science is unequivocal: for us to meet 1.5°, we must leave the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground. He is right that many countries fear that some will seek to use loopholes in the COP agreement to avoid that reality. Our Government are doing precisely that: they say they want to drill every last drop in the North sea. The International Energy Agency, the Energy Transitions Commission, the Climate Change Committee and the former president of the COP, the right hon. Member for Reading West (Sir Alok Sharma), all say that that is incompatible with the science. Can the Minister explain how he expects to persuade other countries in the next two years that they must leave their fossil fuels in the ground when he wants to extract all of ours?

Secondly, on targets for 2030 and beyond, the COP decision makes it clear that we need not just ambition but policies that will meet those targets. However, the Climate Change Committee says that we are way off track for our 2030 nationally determined contribution. Can the Minister explain how he expects to persuade other countries to have policies to meet their targets when anyone can see that we are miles off meeting ours?

Thirdly, on finance, I welcome the contribution on loss and damage, but does the Minister recognise the lack of confidence that the Government will meet their promise to provide £11.6 billion of climate finance? Can he explain how he expects to persuade other Governments to keep their promises on finance when people suspect we will not keep ours?

Fourthly and finally, when the Prime Minister spends his time at home describing net zero as a massive burden—which is what he does—how does he remotely expect to persuade others, particularly those in the developing world, that it is a great opportunity? The Prime Minister claimed that nobody at COP raised with him his dither and delay; I suspect that was because he was not there long enough to hear the truth. His U-turns have been incredibly damaging for our country.

The positive outcomes at COP came despite this Government, not because of them. Britain needs a Government who will show climate leadership again—not climate hypocrisy—to cut bills, deliver energy independence, grow our economy and protect future generations. In the next two years more than ever, the world needs climate leadership from Britain. Is the truth not that people at home and abroad have seen enough to know this Government cannot provide the leadership that the world so urgently needs?

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his questions. I welcome what he said about the overall COP result and the need to celebrate it and build on it, and the fact that we need to ensure actions match words in this critical decade. That was one of the things we were wrestling with most, because new NDCs for 2035 are being worked on now for announcement ahead of the Belém COP in the Amazon in 2025, but it is in this decade that we need to bend the curve further. It is absolutely right that we do so.

The right hon. Gentleman has focused on performance, and I am pleased to say that this Government have met every single carbon budget to date. The only major targets set on climate change in this country that have been failed were—let me think—the target of 10% renewables by 2010, set by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member. The target of a 20% reduction in emissions by 2010, again set by the Government in which the right hon. Gentleman served, was also failed. Every single carbon budget for which this Government have been responsible since my then party leader became the first leader to call for the Climate Change Act 2008 has been met. Our record is without parallel, and I will not have it trash-talked down by the right hon. Gentleman, whose record in government is so at odds with the words he uses.

On oil and gas, we are a net importer. We are transitioning; as I have set out, we are reducing our emissions faster than any other major economy on this planet. None the less, according to the Climate Change Committee, about 25% of our power will come from oil and gas even in 2050. We will be using mitigation technologies to offset that, but the idea that we should replace domestically produced gas with imported gas with four times the embedded emissions, when it will make no difference to our consumption, is environmental nonsense. That is why we are standing up for the 200,000 people who work in our oil and gas industry as it transitions; it is why we support the £50 billion in taxes that comes from that industry; and it is why we must retain the expertise of people in the sector going forward. The Labour party puts at risk our net zero transition—a transition that it did not set out on properly when it was in government, and that this Government are delivering on. As I said, we have met all our carbon budgets to date.

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s point about loss and damage. I assure him and the House that we will meet our target of £11.6 billion in climate finance on the original timetable set out by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister came to COP, personally committed and passionate about ensuring that nature and forests—on which we have been a leader—were championed at that COP. Hopefully, I will be able to give more detail about that when answering other questions. As we move into the coming year ahead of the Baku COP, we will focus on a new, collective, quantified financial goal. The Prime Minister, with his focus and expertise, will ensure that the UK is an absolute leader in getting that right, amplifying the billions we have today into the trillions we need tomorrow.

I agree that we saw significant progress at COP28, particularly the agreement on transitioning away from fossil fuels in the energy system. However, that agreement and all previous agreements are literally just words on a page; they will come to fruition only if all countries follow through in their domestic policies.

The Minister talked about raising the torch to inspire others. Once again, will he please review the plan to issue these annual oil and gas licences, and consider whether they are consistent with the international commitments we have made? Secondly, will he ask our right hon. Friend the Chancellor to urgently review the tax regime that gives significant subsidies to new oil and gas projects? This is a matter of trust. The Minister talked about the voices of the most climate vulnerable; they will be listening and watching, and they want to see action, not just from the UK Government but from every Government.

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for his efforts at COP26 in Glasgow, including the significant measure on phasing down coal. [Interruption.] Could the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) be quiet for one second? He did so little in government, and he has so much to say now—it is quite a contrast, is it not?

Returning to my right hon. Friend’s serious and respectful question on oil and gas licences, as I said, we are a net importer. We are producing our own oil and gas to ever higher standards, and I am proud of the North sea transition deal, which has seen the industry work with Government to cut emissions from production by 50% by 2030. My challenge back to my right hon. Friend is this: in what way is there any linkage between producing to ever higher standards and a falling level of oil and gas? New licences simply allow us to manage the decline of a basin that is expected to fall at 7% a year and to halve in a decade, and will see us growing our independence from imports, even with those new licences. That is why we are issuing them.

On the issue of subsidies, our tax regime is set at 75% —among the highest in the whole world. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Doncaster North cannot win the argument when he is on his feet, so he tries to do it when he is sitting down. If only he had shown the same energy when he was in government, we would not have had the woeful inheritance that we alone have had to turn round. We are expecting £50 billion in taxes from the oil and gas sector, and without new licences to allow for the greening of the basin so that we reduce emissions, we would not be able to ensure that each barrel of oil and production of gas comes with a lower level of production emissions than it does today. That is our ambition.

I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement.

At COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland became the first developed nation in the world to commit funding to address loss and damage. Does the Minister agree that loss and damage funding should be prioritised to meet the needs of the communities that need it most, and distributed in a way that does not add to the debt burden of the global south? Scotland’s First Minister has welcomed the deal, especially the new pledge of $700 million for loss and damage, but of course, that still falls short of the funding that will ultimately be required. What is the UK doing to push for more funding down the line, and how much will it contribute now?

The former president of COP, the right hon. Member for Reading West (Sir Alok Sharma), made an excellent point. The new agreement reached at COP28 commits all countries to transition away from fossil fuels. We welcome that agreement, to which the UK is of course a signatory. Can the Minister outline how the UK Government’s plan to increase oil production in the UK aligns with the plans to transition away from fossil fuels, and how can we trust them?

The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight the success of the loss and damage fund being operation-alised, but also to highlight the fact that it does not match the need for the quantum of finance. He asked me how we will be working on that. We have been delighted to contribute £60 million, of which £40 million will be going directly into the fund to help get it going. However, if we are to get it to the scale we require, it is going to need more than donor finance, which is why we have explored, and will continue to explore, options for innovative financial flows. So much of the change we have made there, even if there was an opportunity for increased debt, would not be debt financeable anyway, and that is why, as he said, we must make sure that those who are most vulnerable are rightly dealt with.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the increase in production from oil and gas in the North sea. We are not seeing an increase in production; we are actually seeing production expected to fall at 7% a year. It is falling faster than is required globally. The IEA says that countries should be looking for a 3% to 4% reduction, and we will be reducing at 7%. As he knows, the UK has cut its emissions more than any other major economy on earth, has the most ambitious plans of any major economy to 2030 and, I believe, is the only one to have put into law a 77% reduction in the mid-2030s.

It is in that context, as we lead the world in reducing demand for oil and gas, that, none the less, our dependence on imports will grow. So it makes no sense whatsoever to see Scottish workers thrown out of their jobs in oil and gas, while we simply bring in imports from abroad with higher emissions, and lose the very subsea and engineering capabilities that we need for floating offshore wind, carbon capture and hydrogen. There is a complete disconnect in this crazy opposition to the maintenance of an already declining industry, which is fundamental to delivering the energy transition. Even if I have little hope for the right hon. Member for Doncaster North, who has always managed to have inconsistent and incoherent thoughts in his head all at the same time, I am hoping that perhaps the Scottish nationalist party can come to its senses and support Scottish workers and the energy transition.

I strongly welcome this statement. I congratulate the Minister and my noble Friend Lord Benyon on the negotiations, but also officials such as Alison Campbell and many of the officials in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who played a blinder in working towards and securing the agreement. I also want to pay tribute to the Minister for single-handedly making it possible for so many MPs to attend COP28. I pay tribute to him for doing that, recognising his previous presidency of GLOBE International UK.

I would like to say to my right hon. Friend that I was particularly proud of the mangrove breakthrough moment. I am conscious that the combination of nature and climate going together started very strongly in Glasgow and has accelerated. May I seek assurances from my right hon. Friend that we will commit to the £11.6 billion international climate finance funding? I know we have already started spending some of that. Will he also consider some of the approaches to things such as saltmarshes, the UK’s equivalent of mangroves, to make sure that continuing integration is part of our policy?

I thank my right hon. Friend for her question. I also thank her for her attendance at the COP and her continuing passion and ability to communicate the importance of nature as a value in itself, but also how, dealt with in the correct way, it is complementary to development and to the maintenance of carbon sinks. Nature, and making sure that an understanding of it is central to our thinking, is so important.

My right hon. Friend thanked my officials, and she is right to do so. When Dr Sultan al-Jaber made the historic announcement of the UAE consensus, the central text of the various texts we agreed was that on the global stocktake. Having thanked the two Ministers who led the work on the stocktake, he immediately thanked Alison Campbell and Mr Teo from Singapore for their fundamental role. Our officials and my team were very much involved in drafting and pulling together words, and I was delighted to be supported by them as we met those from Saudi Arabia to China, India and other partners. I pay tribute to all those countries that, just like us, had to move from their initial positions to find a consensus.

My right hon. Friend mentioned the presence of MPs. My first COP was in 2005 in Montreal, and I remember feeling then that the elected parliamentarians, who make the political weather, were not properly accounted for. When I look back to that historic Climate Change Act 2008, I am proud of the fact that my then party leader, the noble Lord Cameron, was the first party leader to support it—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) could just be quiet for a moment, I was talking about parliamentarians. It was a combination of Friends of the Earth working with Back-Bench parliamentarians and a new green Conservative party, and an early-day motion—an instrument here that is often looked at askance—that triggered the Climate Change Act, which has been significant not only for the UK, but for the world.

One of the key themes at COP28 was food system transformation. Given the Climate Change Committee’s damning criticism of this Government’s failure to make progress on cutting emissions in the agricultural sector, could the Minister tell us what changes he expects to see in UK domestic policy as a result of the agreements reached in Dubai?

Again, the UAE can be very proud of the fact that, among so many other things, it really made sure that food was seen as an important part of this COP. He is right that land-use issues, agriculture and more sustainable agriculture are fundamental to delivering net zero. Under both my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) and her successor, we are working very hard to do that at home, but we were also able to announce at COP support for more sustainable agriculture and land use abroad. He is absolutely right that this is an area on which we must keep complete focus. We must make sure that we deliver in that area, as in so many others, to pull together and maintain our net zero pathway.

In the very hot summer of 2022 almost 1,000 wildfires swept through Essex. We are not immune from the real dangers of global warming, so it was a huge honour to be one of the representatives, from this Parliament’s Energy Security and Net Zero Committee, at the COP recently. The rate of new solutions, the rate of innovation and the rate of investment, as well as this new agreement, do bring hope, but promises must be delivered, and there is a gap between the science and the promises. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we must continue to do all we can—locally, nationally and internationally—to close that gap?

I thank my right hon. Friend, and it was good to see her out in Dubai following up on so many of the issues, not least in recognising the needs of the most vulnerable and the poorest communities and countries around the world to ensure that they are not left behind and that we do have a just transition.

My right hon. Friend highlights the fact that she was a parliamentary delegate there, and we were proud to support GLOBE International UK, of which the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) and I were previous chairs, to provide the first ever parliamentary pavilion at COP28. I pay tribute to Malini Mehra, who has headed up GLOBE. She came in when it was in a troubled position for a promised maximum of six months, and she is still there. She is committed to ensuring that parliamentarians are armed with the information they need.

The answer to my right hon. Friend’s specific question is, yes, absolutely. When we consider that the country that has decarbonised most over the 31 years from 1990 to 2021 has reduced its emissions by 48%—namely, us—and that the world, on a 2019 basis, has to cut by 43% by 2030, with many large emitters pointing in the wrong direction, we can see that the challenge and the gap are not to be underestimated. COP28, with the UAE consensus, is significant, but there is so much more to do, and it has to convert into real change if we are to bend the curve further.

There is much in the Minister’s statement that I commend and agree with, and in particular I reinforce his praise to our officials who played such a significant part in the negotiations. I regret the tone of some of his responses to colleagues, because the cross-party consensus on this issue over the past 30 years has been fundamentally important to the progress that we have been able to make. The science is clear; the world’s Governments are not. Those who are ready to deliver the transformation required to win the war against climate change are now considering whether the United Nations framework convention on climate change process is capable of delivering it in time. How long does the Minister think it will be before we see coalitions of the willing, such as the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance, imposing sanctions on those recidivist countries who are still driving our world towards disaster?

On the coalitions of the willing, the world is changing, and the EU has already legislated for a carbon border adjustment mechanism for selected parts of industry, which will put up a carbon tax or a carbon price at the border. There is a certain intellectual inevitability about that if costs of production in one country are not reflected in others, and ensuring that that is done in a just manner is important. I would hate to look back at COP28 and find that it was one of the last times that countries around the world were able, on the basis of mutual trust, to talk to each other and come to a common agreement. The hon. Gentleman, who is highly experienced in this area, knows just how tender—I am sure there is a better word. The hon. Gentleman knows just how fragile the process could be if we do not all step carefully and ensure that we carry people with us.

The commitment that 24 countries have made to triple nuclear energy capability by 2050 shows that the world has woken up to the most powerful, least land-taking, reliably proven net-zero energy provision that we have in the world. That is testament to my right hon. Friend, his Department and this UK Government, who committed first to 24 GW. Will he join me in recognising that without the world-class skills—I draw Members’ attention to my entry in the register, because I am happily married to a nuclear welder with 45 years’ experience—and the blue-collar workers and nuclear operators working every hour, every day on sites across the UK, we would not, and the world would not be in a position to back atomic energy? Will he join me in commending Britain’s energy coast, which recognise that for us to tool up, retrain, train and recruit, we must regenerate nuclear communities, which are often coastal communities? That is exactly what Britain’s energy coast, and the energy coast business cluster, is doing so well in west Cumbria.

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend and her energetic, continual and well-informed—not least by marriage—understanding of the nuclear industry and its importance. I remember being at Sharm El Sheikh and it seemed that the only people talking about nuclear were 95 youngsters from some tiny pavilion at the back, who were going around promoting its importance. The science says that we cannot get to net zero without nuclear, in the appropriate places and with all the caveats. I remember saying to the incoming UAE presidency that, given their success with their Barakah reactors, and given the need to deliver nuclear and the UK’s determination for a renaissance, surely all countries involved need to come together and send a signal to the world, so that we are not leaving teenagers alone to champion the importance of nuclear. We as a country should step up loud and proud, and face down those who oppose nuclear from an ideological perspective, because it is so important not only to delivering net zero, but to delivering so many jobs in constituencies such as that of my hon. Friend around this country.

Licensing aside, what sensible proposals does the Minister have to offer hope to the 1,500 people living in my constituency, and the other 200,000 people he referenced earlier, whose jobs depend on oil and gas now, and who could power our clean energy future? Offshore Energies UK estimates that if we get the transition right, the workforce could swell by 50%. Where is his plan for those workers?

I thank the hon. Lady. In her coded way—we all know there is an election coming up—I suppose that is as far as she could go in opposing the opposition of those on Labour’s Front Bench to sustaining those jobs as we go through the transition. Those jobs and that skillset will be required for the transition. If we pull them and say that there will be no new licences or investment in the North sea, those jobs will disappear or simply go abroad, and that makes no sense. Along with Michael Lewis of Uniper, I co-chair the Green Jobs Delivery Group, and we will be coming forward with a green jobs plan in the first half of next year. It is a transition, and as the hon. Lady will know, if she can persuade those on her Front Bench to get off their ideological opposition to something that is fundamental to the delivery of the transition, as well as maintaining our energy security today, I am fully behind her.

I, too, was at COP28, and I congratulate the UAE on what we have all been achieving there. The Minister is right to underline what Britain has done in moving from 7% to half of our energy requirements coming from renewables. He is also right to say that we are still behind the curve. We punched through a 1.5°C increase from pre-industrial levels in July this year, and climate change will soon overtake human conflict as a cause of loss of life. We are familiar with the long-term targets of 2030 and 2050 that the Minister has mentioned, but they are a long way off. Would it be wise to start introducing annual targets —a yearly roadmap—so that we can see incrementally how we will meet those long-term objectives?

Interestingly, my right hon. Friend takes us back to the days before the Climate Change Act 2008 when, if I remember correctly, Friends of the Earth was arguing for annual targets, and that was the Conservative party position. Once the Labour Government agreed to take the legislation forward, they realised, as did the civil servants involved, that there needs to be a period over which these things can be balanced out. I think their thinking was right and that the five-year carbon budgets were right. We do provide an annual report on our performance to date, but overall we have to allow for things such as the pandemic and all sorts of crises that come along. I think the architecture was right—I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Doncaster North and his Government at the time—and it has withstood the test of time.

As we have heard, the global stocktake decision text that was agreed in Dubai commits the parties to transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems. Can I press the Minister to clarify what the Government believe the implications of that aspect of the agreement are for the UK? Will it mean that the UK Government now have to accelerate action to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels in what remains of this decade? If so, what new measures will be needed? If not, are the Government really saying that the COP28 agreement changes nothing for the UK when it comes to fossil fuel usage?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question, which is a good one. Our nationally determined contribution and emissions promise for 2030 is for a 68% cut from the 1990 basis—far more than any of our peers. We can be proud of that. It was set precisely because it was, on the advice of the Climate Change Committee, aligned with a pathway to net zero 2050. None the less, the hon. Gentleman is right to say that we keep our policies under review, and as that committee pointed out this year, there are still gaps that need to be made up to ensure we deliver on that. We have always managed to do so before, and I am confident we will do so again. He is right to say that we should continually look at our policies to ensure that they keep us there, whether or not that deals specifically with fossil fuels. We are trying to move to zero-emission vehicles. Today we have made an announcement on hydrogen, with 11 projects being funded to produce green hydrogen around the country. We are, step by step, across the piece, putting in place the required policies. That means doing everything within the window to keep ourselves in our world-leading position, which is cutting emissions more than any other major economy.

May I build on the wise words of my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Trudy Harrison), and congratulate the UK Government on signing the statement on civil nuclear fuel co-operation with the United States, Canada, France and Japan? That statement to secure supply chains, particularly of uranium, is so important, and the Government-led $4.2 billion of external investment will go a long way to securing our energy side when we need an energy mix. Does the Minister agree that that is exactly what the UK needs, not only for its energy security, but to meet its net zero targets?

My hon. Friend, as always, is well informed and insightful. We were pleased, along with 21 other countries, to join NetZero Nuclear, because nuclear has such an important part to play. As I said in a previous answer, we need literally everything, and we are pushing the envelope across the piece. By doing so, we are developing technological solutions that will not only serve our needs, but can be exported around the world for many years to come.

The Minister is right that COP is about people and relationships. I was also at COP, and heard first hand what country representatives were saying about the recent actions and messages coming from this Government, in stark contrast to some of what he is saying today. The Prime Minister has spent recent months wrongly telling the country that net zero is a huge burden, rather than the economic opportunity of the 21st century. How can he as a Minister go to developing countries saying that they must seize these opportunities provided by net zero, given his Prime Minister’s message at home?

As delightful and pleasant as the hon. Lady is outside the Chamber, she is always challenging within it. The Prime Minister remains committed. He has insisted on our commitment to net zero and our 2030 nationally determined contribution, while ensuring that we carry people with us. He was delighted to announce £1.6 billion of UK funding for new climate projects while at COP, including £887.8 million of new and additional financing, with other announcements focused on driving forward climate action on forests, finance and net zero transitions. This Government are walking the walk while ensuring and making no apology for the fact that we seek to maintain the national consensus and carry people up and down the country with us as we continue to lead. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Doncaster North insists on giggling, but we are leading in the way his Government singly failed to do before 2010.

May I start by thanking the Minister? Politics aside, there is much we can all agree on in the deal at COP. I would like to see us go further in some areas, but I recognise that we have to build a coalition, and I thank him for the work he has done. However, it is about not just what we do, but what we say and how we say it.

Following on from my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff North (Anna McMorrin), the way that the Prime Minister recalibrated the Government’s policy in this area had the opposite effect to the one we all would like to have seen. We got the following headlines: “Sunak’s U-turns make net zero harder” in The Guardian; “Could Rishi Sunak’s green review threaten UK net zero?” on the BBC; “Sunak’s net zero backsliding ‘deeply damaging’ for Britain” in The Daily Telegraph; and “Climate tech backers slam Rishi Sunak net zero retreat” in the Evening Standard. Does the Minister not get that these messages are heard across the globe? Will he go back to No. 10 and ask the Prime Minister to be just a bit more careful in his language and how he says things so that we can get net zero over the line?

In maintaining the public commitment to net zero, it was important to say to people in my rural east Yorkshire constituency, for example, who are off the gas grid and fearful concerning heat pumps, that they would not see their boilers ripped out when they did not think there was an affordable and deliverable alternative. As the Prime Minister announced, we combined that with a 50% increase in the heat pump subsidy level to £7,500, and we saw a tripling of interest in the following week. Words do matter, but there are many constituencies to talk to. I look to the hon. Gentleman to help provide the proper balanced and nuanced view. This country has cut its emissions more than any other major economy on earth and we have more ambitious plans going forward. The Prime Minister is behind net zero. We must have a balanced discussion to show that we are not inflexible. We are prepared to work with people and ensure we do it in the right way.

The Minister said that we have to ensure we are not inflexible. The reality is that a number of the policies and issues we are discussing will have an impact on the next generation and the one after that. Whenever I go into schools in my constituency, the young people raise climate change with me. The reality is that climate change is harming children’s rights and access to food, water, healthcare and education. Does the Minister agree with UNICEF on the need to build towards a climate change action plan for children and young people by calling for an expert dialogue on children and climate change to be held mid-year at the session of the subsidiary bodies in 2024?

The hon. Lady is right to highlight children, who will inherit the planet we leave behind. In the meantime, they are peculiarly vulnerable to the negative impacts we are already seeing this year, let alone those we will see if we get to 1.5°C or beyond. She is right to highlight that. I cannot comment on the specific question she raises, but I will make sure that it is heard on the Treasury Bench and let her know as and when a decision is made by the Government. She is right to say that, just as we must ensure that the voices of the small Pacific island states and others are heard, because they are so much on the frontline, the voice of youth must be heard. I was pleased to meet youth representatives at COP28. We must ensure that we look to the people who will inherit the policies that we of a slightly greater age make in this Chamber.

I dare say that it might seem slightly implausible to people here in the Chamber when I say that I worked in oil fabrication, but I did, and the yard where I worked built some of the mightiest structures in the North sea today. What the Minister says about transitioning and redeploying skills is music to my ears and those of my electorate. I long to see the day when offshore wind structures are fabricated in the Nigg yard. However, there is a problem, which is that since the auction, some costs have risen by almost 40%. I suspect that the incentives will not be sufficient to get the industry to where we want it to be to make these things happen. Does the Minister recognise that, and does he have any thoughts as to how it might be addressed?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question, which, as ever, is well informed and extremely reasonable. He is absolutely right. I visited the port of Nigg. I was interested to see nascent floating offshore wind work, fixed-bed offshore wind work and oil and gas work, and I wandered into a hall where they were making a large and sophisticated piece for Hinkley Point C, extraordinarily. That was all at Nigg.

The hon. Gentleman gets to the point about financing and whether the auction, which has been brilliant at lowering prices, has in fact helped drive too much of the industry out of this country. Behind the day job of transforming our generation, my passion will be to see how, without following some others with WTO-breaching local clauses, we can nudge and support more industry here. That is why we are bringing in sustainable industry rewards—non-price factors, in the jargon. We expect those to come in from allocation round 7 onwards as we work to make sure that we look after consumers first, while not missing any opportunity to utilise, maintain and grow jobs here. On offshore wind alone, our expectation—this is what the industry says—is that we will go from around 30,000 jobs in the industry today to more than 100,000 in the next six years. One of our biggest challenges is finding those people, training them and making sure we are ready to deliver them, as much as it is having more done here.

I thank the Minister very much for the positives in his statement and the significant targets that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is setting to achieve our goals. Some of the figures he has referred to are encouraging. I wholeheartedly support help for poor countries, as he will be aware. Will he outline the parameters of the loss and hardship fund that has been mentioned as they pertain to ensuring that the fulfilment of human rights obligations is in the requirements for any award?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his as ever gracious question. One of our disappointments—there were things we were disappointed with in the UAE consensus—was the watering down of elements we would have liked to see on human rights. He is right to highlight that. We have always wanted loss and damage to focus on the most vulnerable. The least financeable of all are people in an already parlous economic position, often at low scale, who are under threat from climate change. We hope that the funding that has been created for loss and damage can complement adaptation funding as well as mitigation work, and have climate justice at its heart. We have to look after the weakest and poorest on the planet. However unsympathetic the science, we have to ensure that policy recognises the realities for people all over the world.