In recent weeks and months, concern about climate change has been growing to unprecedented levels. Climate protests and large lobbies at Parliament have energised the public debate. I fully recognise the importance and urgency to act.
This Government has already made good progress on climate change. Just recently, the UK became the first G20 country to implement net zero targets. France, Spain and New Zealand are currently considering implementing 2050 targets but are yet to adopt this in legislation. This 2050 net zero target is important as it make the UK a world leader in decarbonising our economy and signifies this Governments commitment to acting. A 2050 target does not rule out achieving net zero sooner, but it is important to set realistic and achievable targets as it is a legally-binding framework. The independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised that a 2050 target would be an ‘appropriate UK contribution to the Paris Agreement’ that is in line with other climate leaders, as well as being achievable. The Government is going to achieve these goals in the most cost-effective way, spending taxpayer’s money wisely, but has accepted the CCC projection that the costs of reaching this target will be between 1-2% of GDP.
The Government also has a series of net zero policies. The UK has been breaking more coal-free records recently, with two full weeks not burning any coal, which is the longest time since the Industrial revolution. The UK has had 1,500 coal free hours so far this year, and total coal power use dropped by two-thirds compared with the first four months of 2018. £92 billion has been invested by businesses in clean energy since 2010, with renewables now generating 37.1% of the UK electricity. In 2010, this figure was only 6.1%. The Government has also pledged to introduce a Future Homes Standard by 2025 for new build homes with low-carbon heating and world leading energy efficiency levels and the latest technology. The Government has also invested £200 million, matched by private investment, into a £400 million charging investment infrastructure fund.
Furthermore, the Government is introducing an Environment Bill, which is a broad bill that will include legislative measures to take direct action to address the biggest environmental priorities, such as air quality, waste and resource efficiency, and nature recovery. It will establish an independent Office for Environmental Protection. In the 25 Year Environment Plan, Government has committed to developing a nature recovery network, with the long-term goal of creating or restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat outside the protected sites.
Further afield, the International Development Secretary has pledged to double his departments investment on climate change and the environment over the next five years, up from the £1.1 billion it is currently expecting to invest this year. This funding will support the creation of nature zones, access to clean energy, and help millions of people around the world cope with and adapt to the effects of climate change and natural disasters. The Environment Secretary Michael Gove has been at the front of calls to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. He recently created 41 new Marine Conservation Zones ensuring that the UK leads this at home, as well as abroad. To date, the UK has already protected an area of ocean the size of India in the UK and the UK’s overseas territories. Additionally, the Government has made a very clear commitment that future trade agreements must uphold our country’s high standards on both food and animal welfare.
The Government is taking huge steps to tackling climate change and will continue to do all it can to be remain a world leader on climate change. I am encouraged that we are witnessing an unstoppable momentum towards a more ambitious global response.