My ministerial colleagues and I recognise the importance of climate action and, while the UK accounts for only approximately 1.2 per cent of global emissions, clearly, global action is required. The UK was the first G7 country to legislate to achieve net zero by 2050 and is decarbonising faster than any G20 country. The Prime Minister has stated that the Government is keen to reach net zero in a way that is proportionate, pragmatic and does not place unnecessary burdens on household budgets.
Global energy supplies have been disrupted and weaponised by the likes of Putin causing household bills to soar and economic growth to slow around the world. It is essential that the UK has energy independence and security, and the Government is determined to safeguard our energy supply.
Ministers are bolstering domestic renewable energy production through the Energy Security Strategy. This sets out plans to accelerate the deployment of wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen, while supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term, which could see 95 per cent of electricity being low carbon by 2030. New ambitions include producing up to 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 – more than enough to power every home in the UK. The strategy will support 480,000 new clean jobs by the end of the decade.
The Government remains firmly committed to its net zero target. However, oil and gas will be required in the transition to net zero, and simply turning off the taps would mean we would have to import oil and gas, leaving us susceptible to global circumstances. The Government is boosting energy security by committing to hundreds of new oil and gas field licences in the North Sea, ensuring that we are not reliant on expensive, foreign imports. In addition, I understand that the 2030 date for the end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars remains Government policy.
Regarding water quality, the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan sets out strong targets to protect both people and the environment and is supported by up to £56 billion of investment. In July this year, the Government announced new legislation that will mean that those that pollute the environment will face unlimited penalties which will deter organisations from polluting. Further information on this new legislation can be found here: https://www.mimsdavies.org.uk/news/mims-davies-mp-welcomes-new-legislation-strengthen-environmental-sanctions
Further, I am aware that a range of plastic items, including single-use plastic plates, trays and cutlery, will be banned from October 2023. This builds on Ministers’ work to eliminate avoidable plastic waste, including a ban on microbeads in 2018, restrictions on single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds in 2020, as well as a Plastic Packaging Tax in 2022.
Finally, Ministers recognise that nature-based solutions can make a positive contribution to supporting flood and coastal resilience. The Environment Agency’s £15 million Natural Flood Management programme has demonstrated the important role that nature-based projects can have in helping to slow water flow and store flood waters. Measures included in the 60 pilot projects included planting trees, creating leaky barriers and restoring salt marshes.