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Transport Decarbonisation

Volume 688: debated on Thursday 28 January 2021

What plans his Department has to facilitate a green recovery from the covid-19 outbreak through transport decarbonisation. (911493)

Transport decarbonisation through more active travel, electric vehicles, greener aviation and shipping, is at the heart of our green recovery.

With our borders open and our schools closed and the Prime Minister introducing new quarantine measures, the recent aviation test and release announcement is now in tatters. We want to decarbonise and we want to give the industry confidence, but the Jet Zero Council, much lauded by the Prime Minister, has met only once and has no workstreams and the Government are dithering over financing the airspace modernisation programme. When will the Secretary of State step up?

I am disappointed that the hon. Gentleman missed my speech yesterday at Davos where I addressed that subject in detail. In fact, I want to correct the record of the House: the Jet Zero Council has actually met on two occasions and—wait for the punchline—has sub-committees that have met on many occasions, because they are the work horses of the Jet Zero Council and they bring together academia, the sector itself, Government and international partners to deliver zero-carbon flight by 2020. I refer him to my speech of yesterday, which he can get to from my tweet at @grantshapps.[Official Report, 1 February 2021, Vol. 688, c. 5MC.]

More needs to be done to create jobs in decarbonised transport. I have three asks of the Secretary of State: introduce mandatory e10 fuels; provide funding for sustainable aviation fuel plants; and provide a bus strategy that copies the combined Scottish Government-EU initiative that saw the world’s first hydrogen double-decker buses in Aberdeen. The bus strategy needs to include orders for Scottish and UK manufacturers. Will he confirm dates and funding for these initiatives and in writing as well, please?

I certainly share the hon. Gentleman’s enthusiasm for all things hydrogen, and I think I am right in saying that the UK Government fund a hydrogen bus project in Glasgow.[Official Report, 8 February 2021, Vol. 689, c. 2MC.] He will know that we are also funding a hydrogen train project. In fact, I have ridden on the HydroFLEX train. We have also announced the country’s first hydrogen hub, which happens to be in Teesside. Mr Speaker, given the Prime Minister’s 10-point decarbonisation plan from last month, you will not find a more pro-decarbonisation Government than this one. I look forward to working with the hon. Gentleman on many more measures, including in Scotland.

I do not know about you, Mr Speaker, but I cannot wait to read the Secretary of State’s speech to Davos. As he very well knows, Scotland is more ambitious in this area and is world leading in its pursuit of rail electrification, with the editor of Rail magazine saying last week that Scotland has made big progress here, all while the major English electrification projects got cancelled by his Department. Moreover, in our electric vehicle industry alone, domestic charge point funding and e-bike loan schemes have also been deemed world leading. When will the UK Government match their climate emergency rhetoric and decarbonise transport and improve transport sustainability?

The audio was not perfect there, but I got the bit where the hon. Gentleman was saying that he is very enthusiastic about zero carbon and getting to the point where the UK Government are the first major economy in the world to legislate for net zero by 2050. I am pleased that he is so enthusiastic. He will no doubt be backing the UK Government’s plan to get to zero carbon cars, starting with the end of the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. I know that he will be welcoming the enormous sums of money that will have gone right the way across the United Kingdom, which has enabled—credit where credit is due—the Scottish Government to roll out an impressive number of charging stations for electric vehicles. Let us work together to get this job done. It seems that we are better when we do these things together.