I am passionate about tackling climate change. I introduced onto the floor of the House of Commons (before XR had come into existence by the way!) the Net Zero Bill, which commits our country to net zero GHG emissions by 2050. You can watch me introducing the Bill here. I introduced the Bill because I have long said climate change is one of the three most serious challenges that our country, and indeed our world, faces. I am proud of the fact that the UK is the first G7 country to make this commitment, and we are phasing out coal just as other G7 countries are bringing coal-fired power stations back on-line.
As I said in the above speech in Parliament, it is not some future, theoretical possibility - it is a present, practical reality. The five warmest years in recorded history have been since 2010, glaciers are retreating around the world, and the Ross ice shelf in Antarctica is melting ten times faster than expected. We can choose to dismiss these events as a coincidence, ignoring the fact that they are taking place alongside soaring levels of carbon dioxide. Or we can listen to the overwhelming majority of climate science. The conclusions of that majority are clear: evidence of humankind’s influence on the climate is compelling and established beyond all reasonable doubt.
So I am very sympathetic to the argument that it is better to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Although that would be my instinctive position, the inescapable fact is that we are going to continue to need gas for a little while to come – not least to produce the steel required in green technologies like wind turbines. It is also more environmentally friendly to secure supplies here at home rather than burn vast quantities of heavy fuel oil (one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet) transporting liquid national gas in in tankers from Qatar in the Middle East to Milford Haven. Indeed, although the majority of the UK’s imported gas comes from Norway, a considerable amount is imported by ship.
I strongly believe that renewables are the future, and I welcome the ambition to ramp up our targets for offshore wind production by 2030. We currently produce around 10GW of power (the largest amount in the world after China incidentally) and plan to produce 40GW by 2030.
The Government’s Energy Security Strategy sets out how Britain will accelerate the deployment of wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen to boost long-term energy independence and champion cleaner power. There is an urgent need to safeguard and boost domestically produced clean energy. To that end, the Government is launching the UK's new public body to oversee our energy network. The new Future System Operator will boost security and resilience of UK energy supplies and support transition to net zero emissions.
As part of the approach, we also need to help reduce energy consumption. I welcome the long-term measures that the Government is taking to improve energy efficiency. These include:
- publishing the landmark Heat and Buildings Strategy with an accompanying £3.9 billion of support
- nearly £1.8 billion targeted at low-income households through the Home Upgrade Grant and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. This brings capital spending on buildings decarbonisation over the lifetime of Parliament to £6.6 billion
- expanding the Energy Company Obligation to £1 billion per year from 2022-2026, helping 133,000 low-income households annually to improve their energy efficiency (combined, all this funding will improve up to 500,000 homes, saving households hundreds of pounds per year on their energy bills and reduce our reliance on gas)
- setting a 2035 date by which we intend to phase out the sale of new and replacement gas boilers
- introducing a package of measures to increase deployment of heat pumps to 600,000 installations per year by 2028, and expanding heat networks through the Green Heat Networks Fund and designating heat network zones.
I have copied the link to the strategy here for further information: British energy security strategy - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)