Net Zero Emissions Target

Richard Benyon Excerpts
Wednesday 12th June 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 1:23 p.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He seemed to be welcoming the Committee’s report but criticising the Government for not agreeing with its recommendation to set a date of 2045 for Scotland and 2050 for the United Kingdom. That was its clear advice and we are following it. There were particular reasons, such as the greater potential for afforestation in Scotland, why it regarded a 2045 target as appropriate. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not take it amiss when I agree with the first part of what he said—that we should follow the Committee’s advice—rather than the second part, which is that we should then disagree with it.

On the points about carbon capture and storage, part of the opportunity and requirement for net zero is that it is possible to take carbon out of the atmosphere, especially from industrial processes, and of course Scotland and its industrial clusters will have an important part to play in that.

The hon. Gentleman mentions the National Infrastructure Commission, and again I welcome his respect for its expert analysis. We support what it says about increasing renewables. I hope that in the same spirit he will support its recommendation that we should have more new nuclear power—something he opposed. I do not want to be excessively partisan on an issue that I know from my discussions with the Scottish Government is a common commitment that we make to maintain and increase our ambition and at the same time create jobs in every part of the UK including Scotland.

Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con) Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 1:24 p.m.

Yesterday I was in Washington, where I was reminded that this is a fiercely partisan issue there that divides politics, perhaps more than any other. It is something to rejoice in that here there is a very bipartisan view on it. I am very proud that this Government have taken this decision today. They have listened to the scientific evidence and are acting on it, but does my right hon. Friend agree that this is the easy part? We have to carry our population with us as we decarbonise our economy further, change the way we travel, farm and move around, and be a beacon for other countries to do the same.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 1:25 p.m.

I completely agree with my right hon. Friend and pay tribute to him for his leadership both as a Member of this House and a Minister in DEFRA in pursuing this at a national and international level. He is absolutely right that we need to change the way we do things, but the prospects of leaning into technology mean that we can do that in a way that does not make our lives more miserable or more constrained. No one could look back on the last 20 or 30 years and think that, having achieved what we have in terms of emissions reductions, we have done so at the expense of our quality of life. That is the guiding philosophy we should take: we should harness technology to make sure our lives can be better and greener and cleaner in the future.