It is shocking that we had not had a full debate in the House of Commons chamber on climate change for over two years. It is also disappointing that the debate took place at a time when it is difficult for all MPs to attend. I believe the Government needs to give this issue proper time in the House of Commons so that we can discuss what must be done to make progress towards a net zero carbon future.
The climate emergency facing the world is extremely worrying. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear, we need to act on climate change over the next 12 years or forever miss the opportunity to do anything about it. Everything the Government and we in Parliament do must therefore be judged by whether we are making progress on reducing carbon emissions and fighting the effects of climate change. This means doing things in an entirely different way, so we have a permanent low-carbon sustainable economy.
Unfortunately, I am concerned that the policies set out in the Government’s clean growth plan fail to meet even our existing emissions reduction targets. The first step towards a zero-carbon future must be to fundamentally alter this plan to allow us not only to meet current targets, but to be ready for the more ambitious climate goals we need, such as a target of net zero emissions by 2050, which I strongly support.
At the 2017 general election, I stood on a manifesto that committed to ensuring 60% of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030. But I believe we should be much more ambitious still. The evidence is clear that we must tackle climate change in a radical way. We must use all the powers of government to decarbonise our economy, while creating green jobs to benefit the entire country. For example, I support plans for a seven-fold increase in offshore wind, a doubling of onshore wind and almost tripling solar power. This would be enough to power 19.5 million homes and generate over 400,000 jobs.
I am afraid that I was unable to attend the debate as I was hosting a public meeting in my constituency on Fife’s poor Scotrail service.