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Economic Recovery from Covid-19: Climate Action

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 14 July 2021

What steps he is taking ahead of COP26 to help ensure that climate action supports the covid-19 pandemic economic recovery. (902695)

What steps the Government are taking ahead of COP26 to promote (a) climate action and (b) a green recovery from the covid-19 pandemic. (902704)

What steps the Government are taking ahead of COP26 to promote (a) climate action and (b) a green recovery from the covid-19 pandemic. (902713)

What steps the Government are taking ahead of COP26 to promote (a) climate action and (b) a green recovery from the covid-19 pandemic. (902714)

The Prime Minister’s 10-point plan sets out our blueprint for a green industrial revolution. The plan commits to investments in green technologies and industries, and leverages billions of bounds of private sector investment to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs across the UK. It is a clear plan to build back greener from the covid pandemic. The Government will publish their net zero strategy before COP26.

Two weeks ago, I went on a fantastic community litter pick with the fantastic Hannah Picken, who leads a local environmental group called Wild Earth Movement. Within an hour, we collected 244 kg of litter and waste—a quarter of a tonne in old terms, so it was pretty significant—the majority of which was plastic. Does my right hon. Friend agree that individuals need to do more and show personal responsibility for us to achieve the net zero carbon goal?

My hon. Friend is leading by example. I commend Hannah and her local group, the Wild Earth Movement, for their impressive clean-up operation—but, of course, it is a depressing one to have to do. The challenge we have is to educate and encourage all our citizens to make this wonderful group’s activities redundant by stopping plastic pollution. Through our Together for Our Planet campaign, we are building awareness and understanding of COP26 in every part of the UK to help educate our children and families on the behaviours to change so that we are all part of that positive impact on our carbon footprint.

The success of the UK presidency requires leadership at home. The Government have pledged to consider the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation for near-zero emission iron ore steel- making by 2035, but a plan for decarbonising steel production must be published before COP26. Hydrogen is among the emerging technologies offering solutions, and its use is progressing across the rest of Europe. The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit recently reported on 23 pilot projects—planned or live—across several countries producing 10 million tonnes of clean steel annually by 2026. Are the Government considering hydrogen-based pilots as part of their plan for steel?

The hon. Gentleman will know that we will shortly publish our hydrogen strategy, which will set out in much more detail the commitment that the Government are going to make to that developing technology, and a £250 million fund will be available in due course for pilot projects to develop those skills.

I am often contacted by young constituents who care passionately about climate change and want to see Ministers taking bold action. The UK’s credibility as COP president rests on climate action at home. The Government have set legally binding net zero targets but are currently off track to meet their fourth and fifth carbon budgets, which are calibrated for previous, more lenient targets. When does the Minister expect the UK to have its house in order so that I can let my constituents know that their words are not falling on deaf ears?

I would be thrilled for the hon. Lady to go back and say to her constituents that in putting carbon budget 6 into law, as I did just a few weeks ago, we are driving up not only the ambition, but the policy making, frameworks and business models that will help industry to decarbonise and us to change the way that we travel and live in our houses of the future to ensure that we are all part of the solution to meeting that net zero target by 2050.

Recent United Nations analysis makes it clear that the current climate pledges will achieve emission reductions of only 1% by the end of this critical decade, not the 45% required to stay below 1.5° C. What has the Minister done to pressure large emitters such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and Russia who have merely resubmitted old pledges or, in the case of Brazil, have backtracked even further, to step up and do their fair share?

The COP presidency has an incredibly important role in drawing everyone together and driving up ambition. As the COP26 President set out in answer to an earlier question, we have shifted the dial in terms of the ambition brought forward through nationally determined contributions by many countries, but there is much more to do and we are under no illusions that the challenges that we all face as a planet to meet that are yet to be resolved. We continue to work tirelessly as a team and across the globe to encourage more ambition.