Zero Carbon Emissions March 2016

Thank you for contacting me about climate change and the Government's commitment to enshrine the goal of net zero emissions in UK law.

I believe that tackling climate change is an environmental and economic necessity. I also believe it is an issue of social justice. The UK has a strong legacy of international leadership on climate change and the previous Labour Government enshrined the world's first legally binding carbon emissions reduction targets in the Climate Change Act 2008, which commits the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% (from 1990 levels) by 2050.

In the run up to the UN climate change conference in Paris last December, I supported a global, legally-binding and ambitious agreement including a goal of net zero global emissions in the second half of this century. I therefore welcome the historic agreement that was reached in Paris and believe it takes us much closer to climate safety and sets us on the path to a cleaner, greener future. 

I also welcome the UK Government's acceptance that we must ultimately build a carbon-neutral economy. The independent Committee on Climate Change is looking at the implications of the commitments made in Paris and is expected to report in the autumn. The Government will consider its recommendations and has indicated it will then work on a cross-party basis to determine how best to enshrine in law the goal of net zero emissions.

While I welcome the Government's announcement, I am concerned about how it intends to make good on this commitment, and on the promises made in Paris, when it is dismantling the clean energy schemes that could help tackle climate change at home. The Government is ending subsidies for onshore wind and has cut support for solar power - two of the cheapest forms of clean energy. It has also ditched support for low-carbon technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage and is failing to provide the investment we need in energy efficiency. The Tory Government cannot be allowed to break its promise, as it has many times before—climate change is too important and too pressing an issue. 

I believe that the Government's chopping and changing of energy policy is damaging Britain's energy security and has put off urgently needed investment in new, clean power stations. I am also concerned that consumers will pay the price through higher fuel bills.  It is not only the planet that will suffer if the Government fails to follow through.  Those already hit the hardest by Government cuts will suffer further as fuel poverty will increase. 

I can assure you that I will do all that I can to hold the Government to account on its promise to enshrine the Paris goal of net zero emissions in UK law. I will also continue to press the Government to change course domestically and pursue a more balanced approach to energy policy in order to meet our climate change commitments. 

I believe this is vital if we are to make progress towards the ultimate goal of a completely carbon-free global economy in the second half of the century.  We must ensure that the Government fulfils its promise—we owe it to our children and many generations to come. 

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.