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Topical Questions

Volume 701: debated on Wednesday 20 October 2021

When the UK took on the COP26 presidency, less than 30% of the global economy was covered by a net zero target; that figure is now 80%. Under the UK’s G7 presidency, for the first time every G7 country has committed to ambitious near-term emission targets aligned with net zero by 2050. However, to keep 1.5 °C within reach, every nation, particularly the biggest emitters, has to step forward in what needs to be the decade of ambition.

The Government are setting ambitious five-year carbon budgets and we have set out how we are going to meet those, but will the Minister consider setting interim targets to reassure my concerned constituents that we are on track?

The net zero strategy has committed to provide a public update every year from 2022 on progress against the delivery pathway to net zero set out in the strategy, and this will include an update on progress against the targets and ambitions that have been set out.

T3. A third of people globally do not have access to a waste management service, and 90% of waste in lower-income countries ends up being either dumped or burned and causing emissions. Can the President confirm that waste management will feature on the agenda at COP26, and what plans are there to allocate climate finance for this problem? (903723)

Waste management is a critical part of helping us to reach net zero across the planet. I was very pleased to see in the Duke of Cambridge’s Earthshot prize awards on Sunday that the Indians had a really interesting solution to the problem that ensured they could reduce their waste management and not have to burn their crops.

T2. Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition is staging its first climate action festival to coincide with COP26. It is full of events promoting ways that people can decarbonise their lives, with businesses, academics and community groups involved. Will the Minister join me in congratulating them on this excellent initiative and perhaps consider joining us for the second festival? (903722)

There is no festival better than a climate action festival. I congratulate Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, which has brilliantly demonstrated that tackling climate change is an all-of-society endeavour bringing together business, civil society and government.

T4. Is it the COP President’s view that if the world is to be set on a 1.5 °C pathway, states will need to report on an annual basis rather than waiting until 2025, the next five-year reset? (903724)

That is part of the discussion that needs to take place, but it is also vital that we reach agreement on the transparency framework at COP26 so that we know that the commitments being made are actually delivered on.

T5. Reaching net zero is not a commitment that can be reached by the Government alone; the private sector needs to play its part in achieving a shared commitment. A third of FTSE 100 companies have committed to net zero, but more businesses must work with Government to decarbonise our economy. In his presidency of COP26, will my right hon. Friend highlight the importance of more companies committing to net zero and show the world that when it comes to climate change this Government mean business? (903726)

Business action is critical if the Government are to achieve the goal of reaching net zero by 2050. That is why, since the COP President-designate took on the role, he has been actively calling for business to join the race to zero—a UN-backed campaign supported by the UK Government. It requires businesses to take robust short-term action to halve global emissions by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible. There are now 4,470 companies that have signed up to Race to Zero.

T6. I thank the Secretary of State for International Trade for her visit earlier this year to the European Marine Energy Centre in Stromness, when she heard that it has a very compelling case for the next round of contract for difference auctions to have a pot within a pot for tidal stream generation. We are disappointed that the first draft does not include the pot within a pot, so will she and the President of COP26 renew their representations to the Treasury for its inclusion so that we can take advantage of the opportunities? (903727)

It was a wonderful visit and I thank the right hon. Gentleman and the community for welcoming me so heartily. All these new technologies will help us meet net zero, not just in the UK but across the world. We want to continue to see investment in them. I know that the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my right hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) will continue to champion these issues.

T7. As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on fisheries, I have spoken to many fishermen who are small businesses in their own right. What conversations has my right hon. Friend had with those who fish about potential environmental agreements? (903728)

Reaffirmed by our 25-year environmental plan and our fisheries White Paper, the Government are committed to sustainable fishing and the principle of maximum sustainable yield. My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that we are also committed to helping industry to reduce the adverse impacts on the marine environment and to adapt to climate change.

Only 13 of the G20 nations have committed to net zero by law. Does the COP President expect all G20 nations to commit to net zero by law at COP26?

I would like every country to step forward with a net zero target. When we started, it was 30% of the world economy; it is now 80%. Of course, we also need those nationally determined contributions to come forward before COP.

Before we come to questions to the Prime Minister, I point out that the British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on