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Climate Change: International Co-operation

Volume 679: debated on Tuesday 8 September 2020

What progress the Government has made through international co-operation on tackling climate change. (905640)

What progress the Government has made through international co- operation on tackling climate change. (905665)

The UK is leading by example on climate change. We are the first major economy to legislate on net zero by 2050. Globally, we have provided 33 million people with improved access to clean energy and helped 66 million people cope with the effects of climate change. As co-host of the conference of the parties and president of the G7 next year, we will bring together accelerated action on the climate change crisis.

With the UK being president of the climate change conference, COP26, I am really pleased to see the Government bring forward proposals that would prohibit large businesses from using products that have been grown on illegally deforested places such as the Amazon, but what steps is the Minister’s Department taking to ensure that this is a workable and successful policy?

As a Government, we have worked for many years to tackle deforestation, and specifically deforestation caused by trade in unsustainable agricultural commodities, including timber. For example, in Indonesia, we have worked to improve regulations, improve independent monitoring and improve law enforcement. I am pleased to say to the House today that 100% of timber exports from Indonesia are sourced independently from audited factories and forests.

Next year, the UK will both host the UN climate change conference and assume the presidency of the G7, so does my hon. Friend agree that, at this crucial time for our foreign policy, now is the perfect opportunity to bring together security, foreign and development work and leverage that behind tackling climate change?

I do agree with the thrust of the question. The world is looking for the UK to show global leadership in one of the greatest challenges of our time. The creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office brings together our diplomatic and development experiences, which means that we can do more to tackle climate change. The Department and I are working very closely with ministerial colleagues to support this agenda. In particular, we are working with Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, who is known well to Members in this Chamber.

If we are to achieve our goal of carbon net zero by 2050, some form of effective carbon taxation that takes account of the challenges of international trade will be necessary. Given that, what negotiations has the Department had with our European partners on the establishment of an effective system of carbon border adjustment payments?

I have discussed this incredibly important and technical matter with Treasury officials. I can reassure the House that we remain a global leader on decarbonisation and recognise that, as we cut domestic emissions, it is important to ensure that that does not lead to emissions elsewhere. An active debate is under way on which interventions are going to work, and the Government are monitoring and actively engaging with those discussions.

To avoid scrutiny, the Secretary of State snuck out cuts of £2.9 billion from the aid budget on the day Parliament rose for the summer recess. That is around 20% of the aid budget, despite the fact that projections of an economic downturn suggested a required fall of something closer to 9%. Can the Secretary of State tell us where those cuts will come from, and how the Government will ensure that they tackle poverty and the climate crisis and deliver value for money for the British people? Will he today commit to ending the use of UK aid and investment to fund fossil fuel projects in the global south?

The Government take our responsibilities very seriously. I remind the hon. Lady that we have delivered on 0.7%, but that does mean that the budget goes down as GDP goes down. In our prioritisation process, we have looked at a number of things to protect, including, in particular, the vulnerable, the bottom billion, climate, girls’ education and using Britain as a force for good overall. The details of that will be presented to the House in due course.