Public concern about climate change has been increasing recently and a number of constituents have contacted me about it. I do understand the concerns that are being raised - climate change is one of the most serious long-term environmental and economic threats that this country, and the world, faces. It is clear that tackling it is at the forefront of many people’s minds and I am pleased that it is being taken extremely seriously by the Government.
We were the first country in the world to pass a climate change Act and the Government is continuing to take a leading role as the world works towards a global deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the Paris Agreement.
For example, we have asked the independent Committee on Climate Change to advise us on how best to reach our net-zero target - the first industrialised country to do so. Ministers will receive its advice shortly and will then engage with colleagues of all Parties on the next steps.
We are also bidding to host the crucial United Nations climate change talks next year, again with cross-Party support.
The UK is already a world leader in clean growth and the Government has invested more than £52 billion in renewable energy in the UK since 2010. The Clean Growth Strategy and Industrial Strategy identify and target the huge potential opportunity for the UK from clean growth and transition to a low carbon economy; while the National Adaptation Programme 2018-23 sets out a strategy for dealing with the effects of a changing climate. The Government has also agreed to support and expand offshore wind and made the historic commitment to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025.
Since 1990, we have cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds - the best performance on a per person basis than any other G7 nation. The Government's Energy Act also puts Britain firmly on track to meet the 2050 target to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by 80 per cent and underpins the remarkable investment that the UK has seen in its low carbon economy since 2010.
In addition, the Government has:
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since 2010, faster than any other G20 country.
Encouraged Greener Homes by bringing an end to fossil fuel heating systems in all new houses by 2025.
Established the International Climate Fund to provide £5.8 billion to help the world's poorest adapt to climate change and promote cleaner, greener economic growth.
Taken cross-Government action including a new resources and waste strategy, the creation of a vast northern forest, and published a 25-year environment plan.
I welcome latest figures showing that, last month, renewables contributed to over 40% of our electricity supply, up from 6% in 2010. And last weekend we had our longest ever period of no coal contributing to electricity generation in the UK.
All of this is positive progress which I very much welcome. However, I appreciate that we could always do more and we need to continue and accelerate the decarbonisation of our economy. The Government believes the UK will need to legislate for a net zero emissions target at an appropriate point in the future, to provide legal certainty on where the UK is heading. In the meantime, Ministers will continue to seek advice from the UK's independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, on the UK's long-term emission reduction targets and I await the outcome of their advice with great interest.
TEN CLIMATE ACTIONS TO CELEBRATE
- The UK passed the world’s first Climate Change Act over a decade ago with cross-party support. This gave us both a framework to set statutory carbon budgets and set up the independent Committee on Climate Change.
- Since 2000, independent analysis shows that no other major industrialised country has done more than the UK to cut CO2 intensity (the measure of carbon for each pound of GDP). We have seen reductions of an average of 3.7 percent a year, compared to the EU average of 2.3 per cent and a G7 average of 2.2 per cent. The last time emissions in the UK were this low was in 1888 when Queen Victoria was on the throne, and our progress is accelerating; between 2010 and 2018, we reduced UK greenhouse gas emissions by approximately a quarter overall.
- Ending coal use in our electricity generation through a huge shift to renewables and gas driven by decisive policy action: a UK carbon floor price (in addition to the European ETS). We have seen coal use on the grid tumble from almost 40 per cent in 2012 to our first “coal free” generation day last April and the longest coal free stretch ever (90 hrs 45 minutes) just this last weekend. By 2025 the UK will have no coal powered electricity generation.
- We’ve used this achievement to establish the global Powering Past Coal Alliance with Canada – a coalition of 80 national and sub-national governments, businesses and organizations committed to phasing out unabated coal generation by no later than 2030.
- Renewable electricity generation has quadrupled since 2010 and clean electricity now gives us over 50 per cent of our total.
- Our renewables mix is diverse but we are rapidly developing the incredible potential for offshore wind around our coastlines, with the world’s largest offshore wind capacity (8GW) and a launch last month of new £250 million sector deal to provide at least 30 percent of our electricity from offshore wind by 2030 (and a requirement that at least 60 per cent of the supply chain is UK sourced by 2030).
- The low carbon sector and its supply chain is now providing almost 400,000 green collar jobs in the UK (more than aerospace) and is growing much faster than the main economy – with estimated potential exports of more than £60 billion by 2030.
- The government is investing more than £2.5 billion in low carbon technology over this parliament – the largest ever public R&D investment in clean growth.
- We want to go further and faster and the UK was the first major industrial economy to ask for independent advice (from the Committee on Climate Change) on how to reach a Net Zero economy after the publication of the IPCC report last year.
- We have consistently been in the vanguard of international action, helping to lead the Paris 2015 Climate conference, delivering more than £6 billion in International Climate Finance over this Parliament and bidding to host the crucial 2020 UN climate negotiations here in the UK.