The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Wednesday 9 November.
“With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a Statement on COP 27, which I attended in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday.
When the United Kingdom took on the presidency of COP, just one third of the global economy was committed to net zero. Today, that figure is 90%, and the reduction in global emissions pledged during our presidency is equivalent to the entire annual emissions of America. There is still a long way to go to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, but the historic Glasgow climate pact kept that goal within reach. I know that the whole House will want to join me in paying tribute to my right honourable friend the Member for Reading West, Alok Sharma, for his inspirational leadership as COP President.
The question at this summit was whether countries would deliver on their promises. I am pleased to say that our nation will. We have already cut our carbon emissions faster than anyone else in the G7, and we will fulfil our ambitious commitment to reduce emissions by at least 68% by the end of the decade.
I know that some have feared that Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine could distract from global efforts to tackle climate change, but I believe it should catalyse them. Climate security and energy security go hand in hand. Putin’s contemptible manipulation of energy prices has only reinforced the importance of ending our dependence on fossil fuels, so we will make this country a clean energy superpower. We will accelerate our transition to renewables, which have already grown fourfold as a proportion of our electricity supply over the last decade; we will invest in building new nuclear power stations for the first time since the 1990s; and, by committing £30 billion to support our green industrial revolution, we will leverage up to £100 billion of private investment to support almost half a million high-wage, high-skilled green jobs.
There is no solution to climate change without protecting and restoring nature, so at COP 27 the UK committed £90 million to the Congo basin as part of £1.5 billion we are investing in protecting the world’s forests, and I co-hosted the first meeting of our forests and climate leaders’ partnership, which will deliver on the historic commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
Central to all our efforts is keeping our promises on climate finance, so the UK is delivering on our commitment of £11.6 billion. To support the most vulnerable who are experiencing the worst impacts of climate change, we will triple our funding on adaptation to reach £1.5 billion a year in 2025.
In Glasgow, the UK pioneered a new global approach, using aid funding to unlock billions of pounds of private finance for new green infrastructure, so I was delighted to join President Ramaphosa to mark the publication of his investment plan, which delivers on this new model. South Africa will benefit from cheaper, cleaner power, cutting emissions while simultaneously creating new green jobs for his people. We will look to support other international partners in taking a similar approach.
We also made further commitments to support clean power in developing countries. This included investing a further £65 million in commercialising innovative clean technologies and working with the private sector to deliver a raft of green investment projects in Kenya.
The summit also allowed me to meet many of my counterparts for the first time. With the Egyptian President, I raised the case of the British-Egyptian citizen Alaa Abd el-Fattah. I know the whole House will share my deep concern about his case, which grows more urgent by the day. We will continue to press the Egyptian Government to resolve the situation. We want to see Alaa freed and reunited with his family as soon as possible.
President Macron and I discussed our shared determination to crack down on criminal smuggling gangs, and I discussed illegal migration with other European leaders too. We are all facing the same shared challenge, and we agreed to solve it together. I had good meetings with the new Prime Minister of Italy, the German Chancellor, the President of the EU, the President of Israel, and the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Kenya and Norway, as well as the UN Secretary- General.
In all these discussions, the United Kingdom is acting with our friends to stand up for our values around the world, to deliver stability and security at home. Tackling climate change and securing our energy independence is central to these objectives. Even though we may now have handed over the presidency of COP, the United Kingdom will proudly continue to lead the global effort to deliver net zero, because this is the way to ensure the security and prosperity of our country today and for generations to come. I commend this Statement to the House.”
Perhaps I will wait a moment for the House to settle as there does not seem to be as much interest in COP 27 as there was in the regency Bill.
My Lords, I welcome that the Prime Minister raised the case of Alaa Abd el-Fattah with the Egyptian President when he was at COP. The Leader of the House will be aware from my intervention last week how concerned we are for his welfare in your Lordships’ House. The news yesterday that Alaa is alive and, although he remains on hunger strike, is now drinking water, is to be welcomed. However, after being on hunger strike and not eating for so long, he is obviously weakened, and his family remain extremely concerned and desperate for Alaa’s release. Following that, and because the Prime Minister raised it at Sharm el-Sheikh, is the noble Lord able to tell us today what further action or representations the Government have made since that meeting? Has consular access now been granted?
Returning to the substance of COP 27, when I heard the Prime Minister’s Statement, I was struck by how optimistic and confident he appears on the issue. Perhaps this is why he initially felt it was not necessary for him to attend. I am all for being optimistic and the need to be hopeful about the future, but such a world-view needs to be rooted in reality. The Prime Minister admits in the Statement, as those who have read it will know, that:
“There is … a long way to go to limit global temperature rises to”
1.5 degrees centigrade, but he then praises the “historic Glasgow climate pact” for keeping “that goal within reach”. I must say that keeping a goal within reach does not sound like such a great commitment when the situation is so very serious. If it always remains just within reach, we will never get there.
The UN reports that the world is currently on course for a catastrophic 2.8 degrees centigrade rise in temperatures—almost double the recommendation—in part because the promises made in Glasgow were not met. In recent times, we have seen the consequences and human cost of climate change. Your Lordships will be aware of the floods, which were seen most recently in Pakistan, that leave death and destruction in their wake, and we have seen temperatures, particularly over the last summer, so hot that life and livelihoods are threatened. So often, those who are most affected are also the least able to prepare for, or cope with, the consequences.
In addition, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting war have shown just how crucial it is that we protect and enhance the security of our energy supply. Without that greater security, costs are going to rise even higher, and blackouts and power cuts remain a threat. In the Statement, the Prime Minister referred to the UK as a pioneer, as being “ambitious”, and as being a leader in the global war on climate change. There is an opportunity to be all those things, and pioneering such generational change, as we tackle the challenges of the climate emergency, could improve and transform our economy and energy resilience. So the Prime Minister’s assertion at COP 27 that we need to “act faster” on renewables is very welcome. However, given that assertion, can the Lord Privy Seal explain why, at the same time, Ministers were repeatedly ruling out onshore wind? On the one hand, the Prime Minister is saying that we are going to “act faster” on renewables and, on the other, Ministers are ruling out onshore wind—this does not make much sense. It is the quickest, cheapest and cleanest of renewables, but it is absent from the Government’s energy strategy. How does this match Mr Sunak’s speech at COP 27, or is it just that he was speaking to a different audience on a different day?
This is not just a matter of global responsibility; it is also a matter of seizing opportunities. Manufacturing and installing onshore wind could provide huge economic and energy boosts. Have the Government made any assessment—it is important that we get an answer on this specific point—of the number of quality green jobs that could be created by reversing government policy and embracing onshore wind? I hope that the Government have also been looking into what boost that could give the British economy in the longer term.
The noble Lord may be aware that my own party has committed to a genuinely world-leading plan for 100% clean power by 2030. That is ambitious, but in the same way as past generations were excited by, and embraced, new technologies for future prosperity, we must do the same. If we fail to invest in new technologies—for example, in green hydrogen, floating wind turbines, gigafactories, new nuclear, clean steel or tidal power—we will fail the next generation on every level. As we face the prospect of another austerity Budget, the Government could use this opportunity to boost green manufacturing. We have such a good record in this country on research, yet we continue to import the batteries—such as those for cars—that we should be manufacturing here in the UK. Can the Lord Privy Seal offer any hope or reassurance that the upcoming austerity Budget will include some long-term economic planning for investment in the technologies of the future and green growth?
Surely the Government have to up their game and bring in a more effective windfall tax on excess profits of oil companies that does what it says on the tin and not return 90p in every pound of investment in tax breaks. Our calculations have found that increasing the windfall tax as we originally proposed and extending it to 2027-28, eliminating that loophole for oil and gas companies, could bring in an extra £34 billion on top of the £28 billion currently expected by the Government. With cuts and tax rises expected this week, why do Ministers not pursue this course of action, which would help our finances and energy security and address our needs and our obligations on the climate emergency?
No one should deny that there is an emergency, and the Statement from the Prime Minister recognises that, but so far, although we have seen a recognition, we have not seen the ambition needed to make that step change towards green energy and green growth. We need to create that new clean industrial strategy for the future. Just saying that something is the case does not make it true. If the Government are serious about leading on this issue—and I hope they are—in planning for a green, clean and prosperous future, we need to see a Budget that not only understands that but lays the foundations to ensure that it happens.
My Lords, more than anything else, the Statement demonstrates the value of the Prime Minister going to COP 27 at all. Leaving aside the business of the conference itself, the Prime Minister lauds the fact that his attendance enabled him to meet a raft of world leaders for the first time. Nine are mentioned specifically. It also enabled him to raise non-climate related issues, from the plight of Alaa Abd el-Fattah to the refugee crisis in the channel. Had he not been forced by external pressures to reverse his initial intention to ignore the conference altogether, these opportunities would have been missed. I hope that that the Prime Minister has learned the lesson that, to promote British interests internationally, he has to take every opportunity to meet his counterparts beyond sporadic, bilateral visits. Sadly, however, the fact that the Prime Minister went to COP 27 only under duress has undermined the UK’s reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change. The world simply does not think that the Prime Minister’s heart is in it.
On the substance of the conference, there have obviously been some positive developments, such as the new investment plan for cleaner energy in South Africa. But there are worrying suggestions that both India and China are trying to push back on the 1.5 degree target, claiming that it is unrealistic. Will the Prime Minister use the current G20 summit to press his counterparts in India and China to stick to their climate change commitments rather than reneging on them?
As for activity in the UK, the Statement is extremely complacent. The Prime Minister claims that the Government will
“accelerate our transition to renewables”
but, if this is the case, to echo the noble Baroness, why has he turned his back on the cheapest and cleanest form of renewable—namely, onshore wind? Why are the Government still supporting new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, against the advice of the International Energy Agency?
The Prime Minister talks about “our green industrial revolution”, but the UK is lagging far behind France and Germany, for example, in investment in new technologies such as battery production and green hydrogen. This is not only bad for the environment but extremely bad for jobs, which, in the absence of our developing competitive facilities, will move offshore. We have already seen BMW’s decision to move electric Mini production to China. What assurance can the Government give car producers in the UK that they will be able to procure batteries manufactured in the UK, given the parlous financial state of the few battery production facilities now planned? The UK also lags behind the rest of Europe in its production of heat pumps, an essential component in driving down domestic energy consumption. Given that this has resulted in an acute shortage of heat pumps, what action are the Government planning to deal with this urgent problem?
The Prime Minister also talks about up to 500,000 high-skilled green jobs, but there is currently, according to PwC, a 41,000 green skills job gap. Where are the new workers going to come from, given the dire state of apprenticeships in green technologies, a lack of labour force planning and a lack of engagement with educational institutions? Do the Government understand that for companies to invest in and retain skilled staff, they need consistency in government policy, not least in respect of price and subsidy? Zig-zagging on policy in recent years has led many companies in, for example, the solar power sector, to lay off skilled workers because they have not had any certainty about their future operating environment.
The next major international conference on sustainability is the UN Conference on Biological Diversity, to be held next month in Montreal. Will the Minister tell us which senior UK Minister will be attending this crucial next step from COP 27? The Prime Minister managed to salvage some of his and the Government’s reputation by finally turning up at COP 27 but, both domestically and internationally, perceptions of the UK Government’s commitment to reaching net zero have been damaged and more action is now needed to prove the doubters wrong.
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness opposite and the noble Lord. Certainly, the slightly more favourable tone of the noble Baroness, who was trying hard not to praise the Prime Minister too much, contrasted with the view of the noble Lord, Lord Newby, that a Prime Minister in office for five minutes must be criticised because he went, at the first opportunity, to COP 27. I think the noble Baroness had it right when she said it was a good thing that the Prime Minister went, and that it was a source of optimism.
I will come on to deal with some of the specific questions, but first I shall address the very important point about Alaa Abd el-Fattah. We are deeply concerned about this case—the noble Baroness was absolutely right to put it first in her response. We are working hard to secure his release. It is true that the Prime Minister raised this with President Sisi in Sharm on Monday, when he stressed the UK Government’s deep concern and hoped that the case would be resolved. We are providing consular support to his family. I will have to provide exact details of where we are on that, because I would not want to mislead the House in any way. I am advised that we are, but I will get that clearly stated for the noble Baroness. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s family last Wednesday and recently raised his case when he met Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry. I also pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon who has met the family several times, most recently this month. This is an important case and I give an assurance that we will continue to follow it.
On the broader Statement, the noble Baroness is right to say that the 1.5% target is important. The Glasgow climate pact provided a road map for keeping that 1.5 degrees alive. As the noble Baroness knows, 1.5 degrees is an advance on the Paris agreement but, as my right honourable friend Mr Sharma said today, countries now need to step up their ambition and take action to deliver on those pledges. It is certainly an area of continuing importance.
The noble Baroness rightly raised the importance of vulnerable nations. We are already helping countries across the world to deal with the impacts of natural disasters and climate change, and we announced last week that we would triple funding for climate adaptation from £500 million in 2019 to £1.5 billion in 2025.
The noble Baroness was of course absolutely right about energy independence and dependence, and the impact of Putin’s violent war in Ukraine. We have over some decades, as I have said in the House before, perhaps not given enough attention to energy security at home. It was a pity, in retrospect, that the 1997 Labour manifesto said that nuclear would not form part of its programme. We need to move forward with a balanced approach in which renewables, about which the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, spoke, are at the heart of our policy. The UK is working alongside the G7 to end reliance on Russian energy. The UK has already ended all imports of coal from Russia and we will end imports of oil and gas by the end of this year. In fact, June 2022 was the first month since records began in 1997 in which there were no imports of fuel from Russia.
The North Sea was raised as a matter of concern. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Newby, we remain fully committed to climate targets, but they are not incompatible with support for the oil and gas industry. We will continue to need oil and gas to heat homes and fill up tanks for many years to come. The cleanest and most secure way to do this is to source more domestically by investing in our North Sea. Sourcing gas in the North Sea produces less than half the carbon footprint of importing liquefied natural gas.
I was asked a number of points about support for investment in different types of energy, which relate in some senses to what might be budgetary decisions. The House will have to indulge my being a bit reticent about going into some of those areas, but I note what was said about onshore wind, for example, for which both Front Benches opposite expressed their enthusiasm.
I was also asked about the windfall tax. For the same reason, I will not go into any tax decisions in detail, but I remind the House that we have already introduced a 25% energy profits levy on top of a 40% corporation tax rate paid by firms involved in the North Sea. It is true that there is a relief, to which the noble Baroness referred, to encourage investment. I will not comment on all individual taxpayers, but I point out that Shell has committed to invest up to £25 billion into the UK’s energy system over the next decade and BP has committed £18 billion.
I refute what the noble Lord, Lord Newby, said: Britain is seen as a leader. I cite the extraordinary leadership given by, for example, my noble friend Lord Goldsmith around initiatives on nature. What has been done and agreed at COP 27 in relation to forests and the £90 million investment in the Congo Basin show extraordinary progress in which the United Kingdom has been a leader, and it is only fair to recognise that. The same is true of the partnership on improving clean power, in which the arrangement with South Africa was a pioneer. I am pleased to report to the House that there has been a similar agreement at COP 27 with Indonesia. We also hope to reach agreements to support other nations going forward. I cannot answer which Minister will go to the Montreal conference, but I will write to the noble Lord on that point.
My Lords, I declare my interest as co-chair of Peers for the Planet. The Minister said that he could not comment in detail on onshore wind because of potential budgetary considerations. I am not sure that his reticence is necessary. The issue here is a planning one, not a budgetary one. There is currently a moratorium on new onshore wind and the replacement of existing onshore wind. The not-much-missed growth Statement said that the Government would lift the moratorium and bring in normal planning considerations for new onshore developments. We have now heard that that is in doubt. Given the need for more renewable energy in future, is it in doubt or will the statement that we will revert to proper planning procedures be maintained?
My other question is global. Many of the vulnerable countries to which the noble Lord referred are very indebted countries, and as well as trying to meet the costs of adaptation and sustainable energy, they are meeting the costs of debt repayment. The ex-President of the Maldives put forward the suggestion of a debt swap so that, in future, those debts could be used for sustainable projects in developing countries. Would the Minister give me an answer on that?
My Lords, I am sorry if noble Lords thought that I was being too reticent by not straying into some areas. We have a wide-ranging Statement about to be made, and I would not want the House to draw any conclusion from what I say or do not say. What your Lordships must understand is that this is a difficult time. There has been a lot of criticism of this Government’s commitment to renewables, but I underline that we have achieved a fourfold increase in renewable use since 2011. Renewables now make up 40% of our electricity supply—something that, in 2010, Mr Ed Miliband said was a pie-in-the-sky idea. That pie has come down from the sky, but we do need to make it larger and I will listen to the point that the noble Baroness made.
On wind, more than £1 billion of government investment is already boosting our offshore wind sector, and major port and manufacturing infrastructure, and safeguarding many jobs. The Hornsea wind farm—it is offshore, I concede—has lately come onstream, and it is one of the largest that exists. As to debt, I cannot be specific about that, but I will take away and pass on what the noble Baroness said. We are obviously conscious that there are specific nations with specific problems; for example, some of the small islands are nations that we are particularly concerned to address in a specific way.
My Lords, the Prime Minister’s commitment to UK net zero is admirable and reassuring. There are obviously some huge problems ahead, but there are also some very good signs. For instance, I read in the papers that Morocco is committing to provide 10 gigawatts of solar-driven electricity by cable to the United Kingdom, which is the equivalent of five nuclear power stations—so there are hopes as well as problems. However, the real difficulty is that 40% of global emissions come from Russia, China and India, and that proportion is going to rise in both percentage terms and volume terms. What exactly are we going to do about that?
Well, my Lords, we will use such diplomatic power as we have. I have discovered in life, at a relatively advanced age, that you may pour wisdom into many people’s ears but they will not necessarily listen. I think the whole House agrees with what my noble friend just said; it is essential that all nations step up to the plate. The best we can do—and I believe that we did it in Glasgow, and that the Prime Minister has done it at COP 27—is use the UK’s considerable diplomatic influence in partnership with our allies. For example, we are working on Just Energy action with South Africa and Indonesia, and we are working alongside other developed nations.
We must use our diplomatic power to the greatest extent possible and we must, by our exertions, set an example to the rest of the world. If I could tell your Lordships’ House that with a click of the fingers, I could change the policy of very powerful nations in other parts of the world, I would, but every time Ministers of this Government meet Ministers from high-polluting countries, we will certainly make that point.
My Lords, is the Minister able to confirm that the pledges for international climate finance are not being taken from the ODA budgets?
My Lords, on the ODA budget, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made it very clear that he wishes to see a return to 0.7% as the target for overseas aid. That remains the position of the Government. As far as specific action and lines of finance are concerned, I am not in a position to say anything at the Dispatch Box. Again, I will contact the right reverend Prelate, but I remind the House that we are a world leader in development support. We spent more than £11 billion on overseas development aid in 2021. We remain committed to the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015 and to spending 0.7% of GNI once the fiscal situation allows. That has been made clear from the top of the Government.
My Lords, the Minister mentioned energy security. Let us remember that this Government have had 12 years to develop some sort of plan for that. My question is: we still do not have enough legislation referring back to the policy that was decided in Glasgow, so are we going to see some legislation on the promises the Government made then and, perhaps, more legislation on the promises they are going to make in Sharm el-Sheikh?
My Lords, obviously there is energy legislation before your Lordships’ House. I remind the noble Baroness, whom I thank for the jam—
It was a bribe!
—that the United Kingdom was the first major economy to commit to a legally binding target of achieving net zero by 2050. That is the law of the land and we remain fully behind it. Again, the noble Baroness implies that not much has been done. Actually, we cut our emissions by over 44% between 1990 and 2019, and that is faster than any other G7 country. We have also set into law the world’s most ambitious 2035 climate change target. So let us seek to achieve those ambitious targets, and we will continue to accelerate the production of clean energy such as nuclear, wind and solar.
My Lords, we understand the difficulty of the fiscal position but it would surely be short-sighted and make it significantly more difficult to meet the net-zero target if Sizewell C were delayed or scrapped.
My Lords, I note what the noble Lord says. Again, the Government have made it clear that they see nuclear as being a significant part of the equation. There will be further announcements in relation to that but I take note of what the noble Lord says.
My Lords, I come back to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, about renewables: the need to have some form of battery holding the energy generated, which is also relevant to nuclear. If we do not have that capacity and the generation by wind or tide—or, indeed, nuclear—is during the night, when demand is low, we are not getting an efficient system. What attention are the Government giving to extending the pumped-storage schemes—we have one in Dinorwig in north-west Wales but, equally, others could be brought on stream—to ensure that cheap, clean energy is available when it is needed, generated originally by renewable sources?
Again, my Lords, the Government say—it is not always popular—that we are in the period of transition and we need to be flexible and adaptable. I am not commenting on any specific schemes or proposals. Obviously, our intention is to do the very best we can to secure resilience and a greater degree of independence at home. The noble Lord is absolutely right to say that with that comes jobs. I believe that there are already some 430,000 jobs in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains across the country, which is not widely enough recognised outside your Lordships’ House. Since November 2020, nearly 68,000 green jobs across the UK economy have materialised or been supported or secured for the future by government policy. However, there is a balance, and as I said in response to an earlier question, we are reflecting on the broad spectrum of energy need at this time, particularly given the tragic situation with the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
My Lords, may I come back to the issue of nuclear power stations? The Minister was a mite critical of the last Labour Government. He will remember that in 2008, the decision was made to go back to new nuclear. Since then, progress has been agonisingly slow because of the lack of funding, and we have only Hinkley Point in development. Can I take it from the Statement—the Prime Minister has emphasised the importance of building new nuclear power stations—that not only must Sizewell C go ahead, as the noble Lord has said, but we must have a very big sustainable programme of new nuclear development?
Again, I am sorry if I was mildly critical of the last Labour Government. When I hear my Prime Minister being criticised for going to COP 27, I might note that Mr Blair did not once go to COP during his period as Prime Minister. The noble Lord must not tempt me to stray into these party matters; he was a bit guilty of that.
A fundamental point that your Lordships are making to me, and which I want to take away, is that whatever happened in the past, we have to work together across your Lordships’ House—and as broadly as possible, I hope, cross-party—to ensure clean, safe secure energy for all in the future. That is our intention, and we have committed up to £1.7 billion to enable one nuclear project this Parliament, with £700 million available for Sizewell C to provide clean, reliable energy to homes. Nuclear energy is part of the equation, and I am sure that further announcements will come on that front.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for taking questions on the Statement, and I commend its stating that climate security and energy security go hand in hand. I am fully signed up to renewables, but does my noble friend agree that it would be much better if wind generated offshore and onshore were used and deployed by those living closest to where it reaches the shore? I do not think the public are going to like pylons—that was certainly my experience in North Yorkshire when we ended up with two lines of them. I also urge my noble friend to use his good offices to look at using more energy from waste schemes, and the energy generated staying close to where it is produced. That way, we will not lose 30% in transmission costs.
My noble friend makes some important points, and in in a sense she balances the opening question. Sometimes there are difficult issues; not everyone is as zealous on these matters as we in your Lordships’ House. The enthusiasm of the younger generation for these policies and the things we need to do is a great sign of hope. But we will seek to carry the whole population with us, in whatever way, in doing the important things we have to do. I agree with the substance of what my noble friend said.
My Lords, the IPCC says that there are two great drivers of carbon emissions. One is obviously fossil fuels, but the other is population growth. Today, as I am sure everyone knows, is the day the world population passed 8 billion people. Our budget towards the UNFPA used to be £200 million, but we recently reduced it by 85% to just £32 million a year. The agency reckons that, within the area that we supported, that has resulted in 14.6 million unintended pregnancies, as well as 4.3 million really unsafe abortions. All statistics show that if you empower women, especially in the developing world, it helps towards changing attitudes and behaviours and reducing population. Can the Government give us some reassurance that, at least on this specific part of overseas aid, they will look to restore that budget and encourage other countries to do the same?
My Lords, the noble Baroness invites me to go into some extremely sensitive areas which touch on every individual’s personal beliefs and aspirations—and the beliefs and aspirations of different nations and cultures. One thing that my right honourable friend Mr Johnson was extraordinarily keen on was the promotion of women’s rights, particularly young women’s rights, across the world. I think he was absolutely right on that. I hear what the noble Baroness said, but on some of these policies, we need young women to be fully and properly educated so they can then make informed choices for themselves in their places and nations.
My Lords, the Government are scoring international climate finance against ODA, and their 0.5% cap means that that spending has to be offset by cuts to developing countries elsewhere. The £90 million that the Leader referred to for the Congo Basin was actually part of funds announced last year in Glasgow. My question to the Leader is simple. Was any of the support announced at COP 27 extra money which will not have to be met from cuts elsewhere in the development budget for least-developing countries?
The noble Lord was typically enthusiastic about government policies. On the climate finance target, the Prime Minister said in the Statement that we regretted that the goal would be met later than 2020, as originally expected, but it is important to recognise that significant progress has been made. Under our presidency, 95% of developed countries have come forward with ambitious new commitments on finance, with some doubling or even going up to four times their commitment.
I agree that more needs to be done to ensure trust in the process. That is why we asked Canada and Germany to develop a delivery plan for the climate finance target with all developed countries. It remains one that, with commitments, we are confident can be reached, but we regret and acknowledge that the goal will be met later than 2020, as originally expected.
My Lords, the family of Alaa Abd el-Fattah will be grateful to know about all the remarks that the Leader has made today and the initiative of the Prime Minister, but he is still in prison and may go back on hunger strike. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people in his position in different parts of Egypt. Will the Foreign Office pursue this issue on the basis of the human rights situation in Egypt and not just one person? I am sure that that is what the family would like.
Yes, my Lords, I agree. I am sorry if I have responded at too great a length, because there are other important matters before the House, but I thought that this case—the noble Earl is quite right to reaffirm it—is important and goes wider. Human rights are important in every context. We continue to raise other cases with the Egyptian Government. For example, the former Minister for Africa raised the case of Karim Ennarah with the Egyptian Foreign Minister during her visit to Cairo last month. We have expressed our deep concern on the case of Alaa Abd el-Fattah, we hope it will be resolved as soon as possible and I can assure the noble Earl that, more widely, we are concerned about and interested in issues of human rights in that country.