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Written Statements

Volume 723: debated on Friday 25 November 2022

Written Statements

Friday 25 November 2022

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

COP27: UK Presidency

After COP26 we were able to say with credibility that we kept the pulse of 1.5°C alive. We welcome the progress made at COP27, but there is no cause for complacency.

We have seen progress since COP26 during our presidency year, and outstanding work is taking place to cement the gains of the Glasgow climate pact. A full breakdown of progress has been captured in the “Presidency’s Outcomes” publication, and I will place a copy in the Libraries of both Houses.

In the challenging geopolitical context and amidst a global energy crisis, the UK’s objective at COP27 was to secure continued delivery of the Glasgow climate pact, make further progress to keep 1.5° in reach and support those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pledged at COP27 to speed up the transition to renewables to create new high-wage jobs, protect UK energy security and deliver on net zero.

He also chaired a high-level meeting on forests, which built on momentum secured through the Glasgow leaders’ declaration for forests and land use.

With regard to support for the most vulnerable, the Prime Minister reinforced that the UK is delivering on the commitment of £11.6 billion in international climate finance, and made a number of other financial announcements within this: the tripling of funding for climate adaptation from £500 million in 2019 to £1.5 billion in 2025; recommitting to spend £1.5 billion on forests; £90 million for conservation programmes in the Congo basin; £65 million in funding for the nature, people and climate investment fund; and £65.5 million for the clean energy innovation facility.

In parallel to COP27, at the G20, leaders agreed to implement fully their Glasgow climate pact commitments to limit global warming to 1.5°C and accelerate coal phase-down and the transition to clean energy.

To demonstrate delivery on COP26 commitments, we hosted a series of high-level side events at COP27 which helped to drive progress on the key sectoral areas: the breakthrough agenda, forests and nature, energy transition and zero-emission vehicles. Events at the UK pavilion covered a range of topics, including finance, adaptation, indigenous leadership, youth and education, gender, forests and nature, energy and sustainable agriculture.

The negotiations were challenging, concluding only in the early hours of Sunday morning. The UK negotiating team played a key role throughout and particularly in the final 24 hours in mobilising countries behind ambition. The deal made significant progress on loss and damage, and the agreement that was reached to establish new funding arrangements, including a fund, took place against the backdrop of increasing climate impacts globally. Designed and implemented well, this has the potential to increase support for the most vulnerable from a range of sources.

The deal in Egypt also preserves the historic commitments to keep 1.5° alive that countries agreed to last year in the Glasgow climate pact. The UK rallied nearly half the parties to push for further ambition, including on fossil fuels and peaking global emissions before 2025. Those were not taken up by the presidency, but we did secure a reiteration of the commitment made in Glasgow for countries to revisit their NDCs before the end of 2023 to ensure that they are aligned with the Paris agreement, as the UK has done. Progress was made on the work programmes on mitigation and adaptation agreed in Glasgow, on carbon markets and on the new post-2025 finance goal.

My right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary, the Business Secretary and the Environment Secretary also announced a range of investments throughout the summit, including more than £100 million to support developing economies to respond to climate-related disasters and £65 million for the world’s first large-scale industry transition programme.

Just energy transition partnerships were pioneered with UK leadership at COP26. At COP27, a joint statement on the South Africa investment plan was published during the world leaders’ summit, while the Prime Minister joined other world leaders announcing the Indonesia JETP at the G20 summit in Bali.

The Government are grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma) and his team for their service and leadership as COP presidency over the past two and half years. The UK will continue to deliver net zero in the UK and to support other countries in their own transitions, ensuring we leave no communities behind and keep 1.5°C alive. We will use all our levers—including through the G7 and G20, our bilateral partnerships, our climate finance, trade and diplomacy, as well as our deep UK expertise and track record—to uphold the legacy of COP26, and we will continue to work with all countries through to COP28 in the UAE.

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Justice

Intimate Images Abuse Offences

I wish to inform the House that the Government intend to legislate to introduce a package of new criminal offences on intimate image abuse when Parliamentary time allows. We also intend to make some of these changes earlier by way of Government amendments to the Online Safety Bill.

Intimate or sexual images can now easily be taken, copied or shared without consent and used for unacceptable, cruel or malicious reasons. This behaviour can be highly intrusive, humiliating and distressing. It is therefore important that we ensure that our legal framework effectively deals with this behaviour.

The Government intend to bring forward a package of criminal offences based on the recommendations made in the Law Commission’s report, “Taking, Making and Sharing of Intimate Images Without Consent”, which was published in July 2022. We will create a new “base” offence of taking or sharing an intimate image without consent, and three further, more serious, offences. Two of these more serious offences will cover instances where the intimate image is taken or shared without consent, and with the intention of obtaining sexual gratification, or of causing humiliation, alarm or distress to the victim. The third more serious offence will target those “threatening to share” an intimate image. Finally, we intend to introduce a fifth new offence, aimed at prohibiting a person from installing equipment with the intention, or enabling them or another person, to commit the offence of taking an intimate image without consent.

These measures will involve the repeal or amendment of several current offences, and the creation of a new, more coherent package of measures. While we have already created criminal offences to deal with upskirting, revenge porn and breastfeeding voyeurism, this new package of offences will also ensure that we deliver on the PM’s pledge to criminalise “downblousing”.

These new offences will provide the police with the powers they need to fully investigate this increasingly intrusive and disturbing behaviour, and address mounting public concern around the law’s ability to deal effectively with the harms caused by non-consensual taking, making and sharing of intimate images.

In addition to this medium-term plan, we do have the opportunity in the Online Safety Bill to address some of the current concerns with the criminal law. We will therefore bring forward a Government amendment to the Online Safety Bill during the Lords stages of the Bill to address concerns in relation to the sending of intimate images, including addressing matters concerning intent and the type of images the offence will cover. Introducing these specific measures in the Online Safety Bill will ensure that we provide victims with the additional protection they deserve sooner rather than later.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks for all the important work that the Law Commission has carried out as part of this review, which has enabled the Government to conclude there is a need to legislate.

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