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UK Transport Network: Decarbonisation

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 4 November 2021

Our world-leading transport decarbonisation plan sets out how transport will be cleaner and greener, leading to healthier communities and supporting tens of thousands of jobs.

I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

It is a world-leading plan, and there is so much going on in the rail industry. As the Secretary of State well knows, cars are still the biggest emitter and the biggest contributor to air pollution. The key is switching to electric vehicles and hybrids. What is his Department doing to encourage local authorities to put up more charging points so the inflection point can happen sooner?

My hon. Friend is right. As the House is bored of hearing, I have been driving an electric car for the past two and a half years, and they are fantastic. People need to be convinced that they will be able to fill up and add energy when required, which is why we have put £2.5 billion into the process not just for grants for those cars but for the infrastructure itself.

My hon. Friend will be interested to hear that yesterday I was looking at a new design that will be unveiled at COP26 next week for an iconic electric charger that I hope will one day be as familiar as the black taxi, the red phone box and many other iconic street items in order to encourage that move.

With COP under way, the Government should be sending the strongest signals on transport decarbonisation. On the one hand we have the chief scientific adviser telling people to fly less, as did a report from the nudge unit that the Government quickly deleted and suppressed, but on the other hand the Chancellor is cutting air passenger duty on domestic flights and the Prime Minister flew back from COP on a private jet for a supposedly urgent appointment that turned out to be a dinner for Telegraph journalists. Does the Secretary of State agree with the chief scientific adviser, or does he agree with the Chancellor and the Prime Minister? He cannot do both.

I will tell the hon. Lady who I do agree with: the Climate Change Committee. She may not be familiar with this, but it has said that its “overall assessment” is that our net zero strategy, launched this week at COP26, is “ambitious and comprehensive”. On the transport element specifically, the CCC says that it is very positive, rating our plans for transport decarbonisation as the highest in terms of planning; ours is the only sector with good plans and the funding, with incentives. So I hope she will accept that when it comes to transport we are doing everything we can.

The net zero strategy and the transport decarbonisation plan are full of climate buzzwords but are not backed up by the required investment. We have already heard about the paucity of active travel funding in England, but let us look at another area—buses. The Prime Minister boasted about his 4,000 green bus pledge, but that represents just 10% of the English bus fleet, whereas the Scottish Government have committed to helping fund 50% of our fleet—the equivalent of 20,000 buses. When will this Government’s ambition and investment match their rhetoric?

The hon. Gentleman points out the wonders of the Barnett formula, which allows our record-breaking funding of electric buses, which the Prime Minister has led, to be carried over into Scotland, where that money is able to be used in a way that is helpful. This does not get around the fact that, as we all remember, the Scottish Government have failed to meet their own carbon reduction targets. So I suggest he looks closer to home before criticising the enormous amounts of money coming through the Barnett formula.

We now come to Question 13, and, once again, the Member of Parliament cannot access the House to represent democracy and his constituents. Once again, these people are blocking democracy, and the fact that Members who are actually trying to talk about these issues are being blocked from doing so is totally counterproductive. So what I would expect is for the Minister to answer Question 13, please.