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Climate Change Committee: Progress Report

Volume 741: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2023

9. What assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the Climate Change Committee’s 2023 progress report to Parliament. (900339)

The Climate Change Committee itself has said that there was “no material difference” in our overall projections after we made the changes to policies in September. The Government have taken considerable further steps since then, including our introduction of the zero-emission vehicle mandate, our agreement with Tata Steel on industrial electrification in Port Talbot, and reform of electricity grid connections.

The Climate Change Committee has stated that the UK needs to

“regain its international climate leadership”,

but last year the Prime Minister was uninterested in attending COP27. The committee’s recent report to Parliament made it clear that the UK was

“no longer a climate leader”.

Since then we have seen approval for massive oilfields, weakened climate targets, and the resignation of a Minister because the Prime Minister is so “uninterested”. COP28 is days away, and there is still confusion over whether the Government will push for the phasing out of fossil fuels. Given all that, is it not fair to say that the Government are failing to do everything possible to halt the climate breakdown?

The UK has one of the most ambitious climate targets in comparison with any of our international peers. The UN’s emissions gap report, published just last week, shows that the UK is expected to reduce emissions between 2015 and 2030 at the fastest rate in the G20 group. We remain extremely ambitious about climate change. We have over-delivered on all our carbon budgets to date, and the work that has been done shows that we will continue to do so.

The committee’s recent progress report advocated a faster transition to lower-carbon energy. What fiscal and regulatory measures are the Government taking to encourage more capital investment by business in this important area?

We are already taking steps. We have set out new plans for another round of renewable auctions, and we have set out the most radical plans to unlock the electricity grid since the 1950s. We have also launched a new gigafund that will unlock supply chains across all these areas, and we can see that investors are voting with their feet.

When it comes to national and household energy security, ownership matters, as championed by the Co-op party. The Labour party is committed to 1 million owners of UK-produced renewable energy, with 8 GW that will be cheap, green and owned by the people here in the UK, so why will the Government not meet that ambition?

I think the hon. Gentleman’s argument is completely wrong-headed. Let us look at what the UK Government have done since 2010. We now have the first, second, third, fourth and fifth largest offshore wind farms anywhere in the world. As I have said, the plans we have set out meant that yesterday we were able to secure £29 billion of investment into this country. That will drive jobs and prosperity. The Opposition’s plan is to borrow £28 billion, which would only drive up inflation.

Yesterday was Lancashire Day and today is Bedfordshire Day—happy Bedfordshire Day to all Members. It is the job of the Climate Change Committee to be enthusiastic about achieving our net zero goals. It is the responsibility of the Government to be fiscally prudent in achieving that objective. Does my right hon. Friend agree with the Prime Minister that we need to be clear with the British public all the way along about the costs that will be incurred to achieve our net zero ambitions?

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. It is really important that we are honest with the British public. We are pursuing the most ambitious climate targets, but we will do so in a sensible way that protects the economy, grows jobs and investment, and ensures that we can deliver for the country not only on energy security but on our climate change ambitions.

I have to say that I spent the first 40 years of my life in Bedfordshire and I had no idea that Bedfordshire Day was a thing, but happy Bedfordshire Day anyway.

Fifteen years ago, the Labour Government introduced the Climate Change Act 2008, a landmark piece of legislation that has guided climate policy and progress in this country and inspired similar action around the world—admirably led, it has to be said, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband). But where is that leadership now? How can the Prime Minister show his face at COP when, in the words of the Climate Change Committee, his entirely cynical backtracking has created

“widespread uncertainty for consumers and the supply chain”,

has increased

“both energy bills and motoring costs”

and made

“Net Zero considerably harder to achieve”?

I think the hon. Lady is putting a lot of words into the Climate Change Committee’s mouth there. What it actually said was that, in terms of emissions, it would make no material difference. As I have said, the UN’s emissions gap report showed just last week that the UK was expected to reduce emissions between 2015 and 2030 at the fastest rate in the G20 group. This is yet more doom and gloom from the Opposition. If we look at what we have actually achieved, we can see that we have the most ambitious targets in the world and we have set out unprecedented levels of detail. We will continue to do so.