Peter Aldous welcomes legislation to change the 2050 greenhouse gas emissions target in the Climate Change Act 2008 to ‘net zero’, which is a legally binding commitment to end the United Kingdom’s contribution to climate change.
I very much support this motion and I congratulate the Government on bringing forward this legislation so quickly after the passing of the motion on 1 May accepting that there was a climate change emergency.
I hope that the motion will be approved this evening. If it is, we must not rest on our laurels but move immediately to provide the full policy framework so we can deliver what is an ambitious target. The good news is that much of the framework is already there: the Climate Change Act 2008, the industrial strategy, the clean growth strategy and the sector deals. Some pieces of the jigsaw have been put in place, such as the offshore wind sector deal—the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), launched it in Lowestoft in March—which will help to revitalise the local economy.
Other pieces of the jigsaw are missing, however, such as a route map for decarbonising transport, a flexible policy framework for promoting local bespoke heating schemes and a comprehensive plan for meeting the domestic energy efficiency targets in the clean growth strategy, as put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton) in her ten-minute rule Bill last week. The UK has made significant strides in decarbonising the nation’s power supply, with offshore wind providing a means of regenerating coastal communities such as Lowestoft, but more work needs to be done, including providing a clear route to market for other clean energy technologies and getting on with delivering those big-ticket items of nuclear power and carbon capture, utilisation and storage, which are absolutely vital to delivering on the zero carbon goal. It is important for us not to be not a one-trick pony and concentrate only on power. We must immediately set about making significant strides in decarbonising transport and heat, as well as improving our performance in relation to energy efficiency.
The challenge is a big one, and the UK Government cannot deliver on their own. We need to be working with and leading other countries, and incentivising and encouraging the private sector to step up to the plate and invest. Norway is a country with which we have a great deal in common, as we share the North sea oil and gas basin. We must work with the Norwegians to ensure that oil and gas are produced in a low-carbon, efficient manner in future, and that we realise the full potential of carbon capture, utilisation and storage. Companies that were exclusively oil and gas businesses are responding to the winds of change and are making the transition to low-carbon forms of energy production. The Government must incentivise them to move as quickly as is practically possible, and to ensure that the highly skilled workforce on the United Kingdom continental shelf have every opportunity to move to jobs in the low-carbon economy.
The UK has a record of which we can be proud, but we now need to accelerate our efforts to meet the challenge, and the motion is the first step in that process. It is welcome, so let us now ensure that it is passed, and then get on with the enormous amount of work that is required for that challenge to be properly met.
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