Climate Change: Aims for COP 28

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Tuesday 28th November 2023

(6 months, 4 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what they aim to achieve at COP 28 this week.

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, we want progress in five areas: ambitious new commitments and action, including a pathway to keep 1.5 degrees centigrade within reach of the global stock-take; scaling up clean energy through commitment to triple renewables, double energy efficiency and moving beyond fossil fuels; progress on finance reform, delivering on $100 billion for developing economies; building resilience to climate impacts, including doubling adaptation finance and establishing a loss and damage fund; and, finally, progress towards restoring nature.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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I thank the Minister for his reply. As he will know, one particular focus at COP 28 is the agricultural sector, and in particular how it will be possible to reconcile feeding a growing world population and reducing the very extensive emissions from the agricultural sphere. Can he say a little bit more about what kind of agreement we are likely to see at the end of COP in relation to the agricultural area?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble and right reverend Lord makes an important point. Agriculture is one of the most difficult areas to decarbonise. It is of course linked into a lot of the action that has been taken on nature. It is one of our priority areas and we will be doing what we can to progress agreement.

Offshore Wind

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Monday 11th September 2023

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord asks a lot of different questions within what he said. I think his figure of £65 billion refers to the cost of upgrading property to EPC level C, which is a long-term aim. His separate question on hydrogen for heating is indeed a controversial subject. We will make a decision on whether to go ahead with a hydrogen village trial by the end of the year. Similarly, another issue facing us is whether to allow blending of hydrogen into the gas network; you can blend up to about 25% with the current network. Again, that is an issue where, frankly, there are a lot of pros and cons on both sides of the argument. We will make a decision on that by the end of the year as well.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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The next round comes in six months’ time. Are the Government confident that the price will be set at the right level to attract a good number of significant bids?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Of course, that will be our aim. As I said, we want to see more projects consented to and we will try to get the balance right. We will certainly learn the lessons from this round. It is obviously disappointing that we did not attract bids this time, but the offshore wind industry has been a tremendous success for the UK. We have by far the largest capacity in Europe. We have the largest offshore wind farm in the world, the second largest, the third largest and the fourth largest. One reason that developers were unable to proceed this time was pressure in the supply chain. There is pressure in the supply chain because every other country in Europe wants to copy our example, because they can see the success we have made of the offshore wind allocation rounds through the contracts for difference price system. Most other European countries are trying to adopt the same model; they are a long way behind us but trying to adopt the same model now. Of course, that brings pressure in the supply chain, which, adding in the Covid pressures as well, contributes to the increase in costs that industry is experiencing.

Climate: Behaviour Change (Environment and Climate Change Committee Report)

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Wednesday 7th June 2023

(1 year ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the committee for its important and wide-ranging report and the Government for their response. Particularly welcome is the assumption of both documents’ recommendation 38 that if there is to be a change in individual behaviour it involves engagement with all sectors of society. I believe that behaviour change is brought about by two main factors: a shared vision of the kind of world we want and an appeal to what is in our interest. Recommendation 65 talks about

“a shared vision of net zero and environmental sustainability”.

I suggest that, as stated, this is more in the nature of a goal, which is good in itself, but that a shared vision goes wider than that. I think we would all agree that at its heart this is a moral issue, for it concerns the well-being of our children and grandchildren and, not least, those people living in parts of the world at risk from rising sea levels and increasingly severe floods and droughts. I also suggest that it is a spiritual issue, for it concerns humanity’s place on earth and our attitude to nature, whether it is one of exploitation irrespective of consequences or one of respect for and co-operation with natural processes.

Those of my generation have, on the whole, been terribly slow in responding to the challenge which has been put to us at least since the 1960s, some 60 years ago now. A combination of blindness, indifference and short-term interests has left us now with very little time to act. On the other hand, as we know, many young people care deeply about the planet and what is happening to it. It matters to them. They have a vision, a genuine, serious care for the earth and its future, and for many of them it is a kind of spiritual vision. Not many of them claim to have an official religion, but they see this as a spiritual matter.

In that connection, I wonder whether the Government, in their public engagement strategy, should not be making more of the role that the different major religions in our country could play on this issue. Although religion is not fashionable in the media, there are large and significant Muslim, Hindu and Sikh denominations, in addition to the Christian denominations. I was very glad to listen to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford about what is going on his diocese. I believe that, in their different ways, all religions could play an even more prominent role, not just in achieving a particular goal but, behind that, in giving people a spiritual vision of what it is to be human in relation to the rest of the earth and in shaping an attitude of respect for the environment. There is one brief reference to faith groups in the recommendations, but I should like to see more being done by the Government—perhaps a behind-the-scenes initiative by the departments for business and local communities. I believe that faith groups could have a greater role in fostering that attitude of respect and co-operation with nature, which is so essential for the future and which lies behind particular goals as an overall vision.

A shared vision of the kind of world that we want is one major factor for change; the other is an appeal to what is in people’s best interest. This means that the Government must not be frightened of using their power to change behaviour, by both regulation and financial incentives and disincentives, as set out in recommendation 15 and elsewhere. The Government have a responsibility to use the power that they have, for this is not just an individual private matter but about the good of all. Not least, they must not be frightened of using their power in relation to business. In particular, given the fact that business is driven by what it thinks of as its interest—often seen in very short terms—the Government have a clear responsibility to be aware of corporate lobbying, as mentioned in recommendation 18, and to counter false claims and half-truths, as set out in recommendation 63. Self-interest can be shaped and guided but, sometimes, short-term interest has to be thwarted, and there will be occasions when the Government must be very clear and firm in relation to business.