Climate Change: Phasing Out Fossil Fuels

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 6th December 2023

(6 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for his good wishes, but I am very happy to be in the House answering noble Lords’ questions rather than being in Dubai. Two members of my department have been there. I do not recognise the picture the noble Lord presents. I regularly meet international investors; we have one of the largest investment flows of green finance into the UK of any industrialised country and one of the largest in Europe. Our sectors—solar, offshore wind, hydrogen and CCUS—are all benefiting from enormous flows of inward investment, which we welcome. The Global Investment Summit a couple of weeks ago saw a further £30 billion of commitments, so I am afraid the noble Lord is just wrong.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Lab)
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My Lords, last week at COP the Prime Minister said the UK is

“delivering on the historic Glasgow deal to end deforestation”.

When will the relevant regulations under the Environment Act be laid? It is now two years since it received Royal Assent, since when the EU has agreed more ambitious rules on deforestation. I hope the Minister will say that the regulations are imminent.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The responsibility belongs in a different department so I am not sure of the exact date of the regulations the noble Baroness refers to, but I will certainly write to her on that.

Decarbonisation

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Thursday 13th July 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

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Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone
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To ask His Majesty’s Government, further to their consultation on ‘Addressing carbon leakage risk to support decarbonisation’ published on 30 March, what assessment they have made of the case for extending green procurement targets beyond steel and cement to include other carbon-intensive sectors covered by the UK Emissions Trading Scheme, such as paper and power, and products made from materials covered by the UK ETS, such as vehicles.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government are currently exploring options for utilising public procurement to create demand for green industrial products. We have sought views via consultation to help develop proposals for policy measures that support the growth of low-carbon industries. The Government’s Construction Playbook advises that projects should be accompanied by a whole-life carbon assessment and PPN 06/21 requires suppliers bidding for major government contracts to commit to net zero by 2050 and to publish a carbon reduction plan.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Lab)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his response, but I wonder whether I can press him a little further. In the Government’s consultation, they propose to use minimum product standards to protect just two or three sectors from unfair competition from overseas and not to bring in these measures until late in the 2020s. Should not the Government be setting minimum product standards across a wider range of sectors, and sooner, to protect domestic manufacturing from unfair competition, especially from China, where grid electricity has twice the carbon intensity and is half the price compared with the UK?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The consultation only closed at the end of last month, so the noble Baroness will need to give us a bit of time to analyse the hundreds of responses that we received. It is a complicated issue, and we of course understand the desire for quicker action, but there is a whole range of factors to be taken into account. We have to be very careful not to indulge in some form of green protectionism, where we incentivise lower-standard products against others that are better performing. Across a whole range of sectors and procurement areas, it is a complicated issue that deserves to be studied properly.

SMEs: Net-zero Targets

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 7th June 2023

(1 year ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I normally agree with my noble friend, but I do not on this solitary occasion: I think he is wrong. Other major economies, including the EU, are essentially doing a similar job—they have made a couple of small exceptions to the ban with things such as novel fuels. Providing certainty for industry and business is the direction they need to go in. Supporting them in the appropriate areas, ensuring that the right gigafactories are completed in the UK, is the way to go, in my view.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Lab)
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My Lords, one way to help small and medium-sized businesses is to remove barriers to trade. Given that the UK and the EU both have carbon pricing, would it be possible for the UK and the EU to agree to waive the requirements for exporters and importers to calculate and report on carbon emissions from products traded between the EU and the UK?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness makes an important point. We want to make trade as simple and easy as possible. I will certainly take the point back to the trade department.

Climate Change Committee: Discussions

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Thursday 27th April 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Let me give my noble friend some other quotes from the letter from the Climate Change Committee, with which he is of course closely associated:

“UK extraction has a relatively low carbon footprint (more clearly for gas than for oil) and the UK will continue to be a net importer of fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, implying there may be emissions advantages to UK production replacing imports”.


I think he should read the letter that he sent.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Lab)
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My Lords, what steps are the Government taking to reduce the impact of flaring? I am sure the Minister is aware that routine flaring, which incidentally has been banned in Norway since 1970, has a very bad effect on the environment, as it releases methane 80 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year period. As a result, if Rosebank goes ahead, we will exceed our carbon budget.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As the noble Baroness is aware, we have a plan to reduce our flaring. We had a Question on that a few weeks ago. We have committed, along with many other countries, to eliminate flaring by 2030. The amount of flaring is declining rapidly across the North Sea and action is being taken.

Methane Emissions

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 22nd February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone
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To ask His Majesty’s Government, further to their commitment to the Global Methane Pledge launched at COP26, what plans they have to set a target for reducing methane emissions by 30 per cent on 2020 levels by 2030.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, the UK has adopted early and ambitious measures to tackle methane emissions. Between 1990 and 2020, UK methane emissions dropped by 62%, more than any other OECD country. The Government recognise the urgency to do more and are pursuing efforts to secure further emissions reductions in line with the net-zero strategy and our carbon budgets. The Government’s approach is consistent with the global methane pledge as a global reduction target.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Lab)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his Answer, but I am not absolutely sure whether he is saying that the UK itself is committed to a 30% reduction, or whether it is just taking part in a collective reduction. Can he clarify that? I also want to ask him about the vexed problem of landfill sites, where we are still capturing only 70% of the biogas coming from them—and the proportion has declined since 2016. How will the Government increase methane capture rates to nearer 90%, as happens in some sites, by both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and harvesting more useable gas for the economy? If he does not know the answer to these questions, can he write to me?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I do know the answers to the noble Baroness’s questions, she will be shocked to know. In answer to her first question, I say that the UK is signed up to, and helping to implement, a global target. On the waste sector, she is absolutely right that we need to do more. Landfill emissions over the last 25 years have been tackled in two ways: by reducing the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill, with the landfill tax being a key driver, and by increasing the efficiency of methane collection from existing landfills. The other thing we need to do more is to increase waste food collections, so that we can generate more clean gas through anaerobic digesters, which is part of my department’s policies.

Energy: Prices and Supply

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Thursday 14th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Certainly, we are well on the way to that commitment, and this spending review period allocated about £6.6 billion towards those targets. For example, we have spent £471 million to date on the social housing decarbonisation fund and £350 million on the sustainable warmth programme, and we are going out to bids later this year for another £800 million of spending under the social housing decarbonisation fund, so we are making considerable progress.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that it would make more sense to incentivise investment in the skills and technologies of the future, rather than in oil and gas companies, which are soon to become technologies of the past? Is there not a danger that investment in oil and gas could lead to stranded assets and stranded jobs?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness is partly correct. Of course, we need to invest in the technologies of the future, which is why we are developing our green finance policies and a green taxonomy to help direct investment in those technologies. However, we will also need oil and gas as transition fuels, so it makes sense to continue to exploit our own resources.

Energy Security Strategy

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Thursday 7th April 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As we debated many times in this House, we need both. We need nuclear and are pleased to have the support of the Opposition in accepting that we need it for long-term baseload power supplies. We also need renewables, which is why we already have the second greatest amount of offshore wind power in the world. We are seeking to ramp up those facilities as well. We are also deploying additional solar and hydrogen production. As I said, on onshore wind, we will look to go forward in partnership with supportive local communities. It is not a question of picking one technology over another: we need a diverse mix of energy supplies. The noble Lord was wrong to say that there was a problem with the UK’s energy security. There is no difficulty with energy security; there is clearly a short-term difficulty with the price of energy—particularly relating to gas—and we totally understand the difficulties that consumers are going through. That is why the Chancellor announced the £9.1 billion-worth relief package.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, perhaps I can push the Minister a little further on his reply to the last question. While of course it is vitally important that every conceivable measure to deal with our energy problems should be addressed, there is a question about what should be given priority and where the urgency should be attached. While I strongly welcome the Government’s decision to expand our nuclear energy facilities, surely priority should be given to the relatively cheap and relatively popular policy of trying to expand faster our onshore windfarms. More than 80% of the population welcome this, only 4% are opposed to it, so public opinion is behind it. Would it not be helpful to establish priority for that, as well as providing more money—I know the Government have provided some, but not a great deal—for insulation programmes as a matter of urgency?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I understand the thrust of the noble Baroness’s question, but we can prioritise a number of different things at the same time. That is why this is a comprehensive strategy. We are rolling out new nuclear, as indeed we should; we are also rolling out additional offshore-wind capacity and additional hydrogen capacity. As I said, onshore wind is also a priority, but it is a priority that we need to act on in cognisance and recognition of the concerns of local communities. With regard to insulation schemes, we are spending something like £6.6 billion over the term of this Parliament on insulation schemes. It would have been good to have gone further, but the Treasury would not support it.

COP 26

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Monday 28th March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made towards establishing the processes necessary to implement the ‘side deals’ made at COP26 on (1) coal, (2) methane, (3) forests, and (4) finance; and what discussions they have had with international partners about their implementation.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, we are implementing progress in a number of ways, including through, first, the Powering Past Coal Alliance, the COP26 Energy Transition Council and the Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa; secondly, the global methane pledge, working closely with the US and the EU; thirdly, the Glasgow leaders’ declaration on forests and land use; and, fourthly, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, whose work is being taken forward in dialogue with the Government, businesses and civil society organisations.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. A number of pledges for funding were made at COP 26 and, as I am sure he is fully aware, 141 countries signed up to the Glasgow declaration on forest and land use to halt land loss and deforestation by 2030. In these circumstances, are the Government taking steps to stop financial institutions operating in the UK funding businesses that are linked to deforestation? The due diligence processes proposed by the Government are of course very welcome, but could more be done to stop the flow of money going to harmful deforestation?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for her question. I am sure there is always more that can be done but we have made considerable strides in terms of green finances, as I am sure she is aware. We are working closely with the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, now representing more than 450 financial firms with £130 trillion in assets, to make sure that private finance goes towards green policies.

Global Warming

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Thursday 3rd March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The Government’s third climate change risk assessment sets out 61 risks and opportunities facing the UK from climate change, with eight priority risk areas identified as requiring action within the next two years. Action already taken includes £5.2 billion in 2021 for flood and coastal defences.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, following the IPCC report, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, on the damage to our ecosystem, can the Minister update the House on what further work is being done to engage the public on climate change and biodiversity issues? I think he agrees with me that evidence shows that, if these issues are understood, far more people are willing to change the way they live to reduce the impact of climate change.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My Lords, I agree with the noble Baroness; of course, we regularly undertake public information activities. The public are well aware of the risks presented by climate change and there is wide public support for action.

Net-zero Test for New Policies

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 11th January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The answer I gave my noble friend then was that tidal power is included in the latest contracts for difference round; I think the figure is £20 million that we propose to expend on it. My noble friend makes a good point that there are some very feasible tidal power projects, but we need to be realistic—tidal power will not contribute more than a small percentage of our power needs.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that the current levels of spending on climate-positive measures are far below what the Climate Change Committee has recommended to achieve net zero? If so, what plans do the Government have to increase expenditure so that we have a greater chance of achieving their net-zero target?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness makes an important point but it is not just government spending that contributes to net zero. Regulatory policies also have an impact. We are spending considerable sums; certainly, within my department we could always do with spending more, but the difficult job that the Treasury and Chancellor have is balancing tax income with net expenditure. Many government departments would, I am sure, prefer to be spending more money at the moment.

Oil and Gas Authority: Remit

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Thursday 2nd December 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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It remains the case that the petroleum sector is a net payer of taxes to the UK Exchequer. I frankly do not understand the argument that we should stop all production in the North Sea and instead import those materials that we will continue to need in every scenario. We would be declining to give ourselves the revenue and spending extra to import those same products.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, a global poll of energy workers showed that more than half want to leave the fossil fuel industry. What are the Government doing to support these workers in the UK to ensure that there is a fair and just transition both for them and for their communities?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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That is a very good question, and this is why we have our world-leading oil and gas sector transition deal, the North Sea Transition Deal. We are committed to it, with the support of all the oil and gas companies, to precisely bring about that happy state of affairs so that workers can transition to working in the clean economy.

Net-zero Emissions Target: Fossil Fuel Extraction Projects

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 3rd November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The problem with the noble Baroness’s argument is that we currently get three-quarters of our energy from oil and gas. It is a declining percentage as we decarbonise, but we currently get three-quarters of our energy in that way. Would the Liberal Democrats prefer that energy to come from Saudi Arabia or Russia, or from British workers paying British taxes in the UK, paying contributions to the UK Exchequer? That is the choice that faces us.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, we have pledged to reduce methane by 30% by 2030, along with 103 other countries. Have the Government carried out an assessment of whether that is possible while they simultaneously allow new fossil fuel extraction projects to go ahead, and, if they have not, will the Minister commit to doing that as a due diligence exercise?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Of course we keep all these matters under review, and it is important that we meet our target. We are on a projection for net zero in 2050; we have a legal obligation to do that. Oil and gas projects will play a small and declining role as the years proceed, but in the short term we will need new projects.

Emissions Trading Scheme: Transport

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Monday 11th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I recognise the points the noble Lord makes and he will be aware that, in the transport decarbonisation plan, there is a commitment to assess how economic instruments could be used to accelerate decarbonisation measures alongside all the other aspirations of the plan.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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How do the Government intend to respond to the report from the Climate Crisis Advisory Group on carbon pricing, which says that emissions reductions from the advanced economies fall far short of what has been promised? I quote:

“Much stronger policy action across all sectors is needed”.


In particular, can he indicate the Government’s intention on a carbon border adjustment mechanism, and whether such a mechanism could raise nearly €10 billion a year as the Financial Times has claimed?

Climate Change Committee: Carbon Budget Report

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 16th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by the Climate Change Committee Sixth Carbon Budget report, published on 9 December 2020, what plans they have (1) to engage the public on, and (2) to ensure the behaviour changes included in, the recommendations of that report.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, we are engaging the public on the challenge of net zero through regular dialogues, consultations and online advice services. In 2020, we launched the brand Together for Our Planet, with a dedicated website, stakeholder engagement and a push across government digital channels. We are also developing policies to support people to make greener lifestyle choices, such as buying an electric vehicle or insulating their home, which will form part of the upcoming sectoral decarbonisation plans.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer, but I am sure he will agree that we need more than a website. Four months ago, the Minister assured the House that a dedicated engagement team was up and running and working on how COP 26 could be utilised to best affect behaviour change. So far, the only civic society engagement is an art competition for under-16s and a hashtag. Assuming that that is not the extent of the campaign, can the Minister say when the behaviour change part will be launched, what areas it will cover and who is leading on it? Speed is of the essence.

Carbon-neutral Homes

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Thursday 10th December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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we are making considerable progress towards the target, but we recognise the role that energy efficiency will play in the decarbonisation of buildings. We remain committed to meeting our legally binding carbon budgets and will set out further action in the forthcoming heat and buildings strategy.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as set out in the register. The Scottish Government have published proposals for point-of-sale standards to require all owner-occupied homes to meet a rating of EPC band C from 2024. Do the Government plan to implement the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation that all homes—not just owner-occupied ones—are at least at band C by 2028?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We are constantly improving the number of homes: 34% of homes are now above EPC band C, which is up from 9% in 2009. Our various funding schemes. such as the ECO scheme and the green homes grant scheme, will all contribute towards raising those numbers.

COP 26

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 18th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, Article 12 of the Paris Agreement says that signatories must

“co-operate in taking measures … to enhance climate change education … public awareness … participation and … access to information”.

What action have the Government taken, in particular with the Department for Education, to fulfil this, and to ensure that all signatories will have acted on it before COP 26 in Glasgow later next year?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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That is the purpose of the campaign that we discussed earlier, and the Department for Education is fully on board with all of these campaigns.

World Energy Outlook 2020

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 20th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My Lords, I am sorry to disappoint the noble Lord. I cannot give him a specific answer to that, but we expect the White Paper to come shortly.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, do the Government accept that, while they must lead, changes in everyone’s behaviour will be needed? So how do they plan to engage with citizens on what net zero looks like, and the changes in behaviour that will be needed to get there?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness makes a very good point. It is important that everybody’s behaviour is changed. There will be a number of campaigns, both by government and by various NGOs and interested parties in the run-up to COP 26, which we see as a major global lever that we can use to change fundamental behaviours.

COP 26: Sponsors

Debate between Baroness Blackstone and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 6th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We will be working most closely with organisations that are committed to taking real, positive action and have strong climate credentials; for example, companies which have committed to achieving net zero and have published a credible plan of action on how they will achieve this.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, what exactly will sponsors receive, apart from exhibiting space, in return for their money? Will the Minister confirm that no sponsor will be allowed to sit in on any part of the negotiations?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We are looking for both monetary and value-in-kind sponsorship. Value in kind refers to goods and services that are acquired, or highly desirable, in exchange for branding, etcetera. There is of course no question of companies taking part in negotiations.