The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Northern Ireland Office (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
My Lords, with your permission I will repeat a Statement currently being made in the other place by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The Statement is as follows:
“Mr Speaker, I am delighted that my first Statement as the Business and Energy Secretary is on a subject that matters so much to every Member in this House and to every person on this planet. As we heard from a 16 year-old girl, Greta Thunberg, it is vitally important to act now so that our children and grandchildren have a bright future ahead of them. We have only this planet and it is the duty of all of us to do all we can, cross-party and cross-industry, to leave it in a better place than we found it. So today, I would like to make a Statement on the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday of this week.
The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Development joined the UN Secretary-General, world leaders and key figures from business, industry and civil society at the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday. The science is clear about the speed, scale and cost to lives and livelihoods of the climate crisis that is facing us all. Costs show that total global damages from climate-related events were more than $300 billion in 2017 alone and we know that, globally, emissions still continue to rise year on year. And with tragic impact, we also know that the world’s most vulnerable are being hit hardest by the impacts of climate change: natural disasters are already pushing 26 million people a year into poverty, with hundreds of millions of people potentially facing major food shortages in the coming decade. The Prime Minister and other world leaders met because they wanted to take decisive collective action to cut emissions and improve the resilience of countries and communities.
The Prime Minister showed clearly what decisive climate action looks like at home and abroad. In the UK, we have cut emissions by 42% since 1990 while growing the economy by 72%, cutting our use of coal in our electricity system from almost 40% to only 5% in just six years, and leading the world in deployment of clean technologies such as offshore wind. In just one renewable sector, the UK is home to almost half the world’s offshore wind power. We became the first country in the G20 to legislate for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and we already see thousands of jobs being created as part of this transition. Almost 400,000 people are employed in the low-carbon sector and its supply chains, a number that we plan to grow to 2 million by 2030.
We are also playing a critical part on the world stage. In his closing speech, the Prime Minister set out his determination to work together with others to tackle the climate crisis. He called for all countries to increase their 2030 climate ambition pledges under the Paris agreement and confirmed that the UK will play our part by raising our own nationally determined contribution by February next year.
To help developing countries go further and faster, we also committed to double the UK’s international climate finance from £5.8 billion to £11.6 billion over the period 2021-25. This funding will support some of the most vulnerable communities in the world to develop low-carbon technologies and to shift from fossil fuels to clean energy. This will help to replace, for example, wood-burning stoves and kerosene lamps used by millions of the world’s poorest families with sustainable and more reliable technologies like solar power for cooking, heating and lighting.
This new funding will also help protect our incredible rainforests and mangroves, which act as vital carbon sinks, and help restore degraded ecosystems, such as abandoned land, which were once home to forests, mangroves and other precious habitats. So many of us have been glued to David Attenborough’s incredible “Blue Planet” and “Planet Earth” series which really brought home the scale of destruction and the need for global action. Doubling our international climate finance will help those most vulnerable deal with the damaging effects of climate change and become more resilient. It includes support for early warning systems in communities vulnerable to extreme weather events like droughts or floods, giving people vital extra hours, days and even weeks to prepare.
On Monday, as a part of the international climate finance commitment, the Government clearly put technology at the heart of our response with a new £1 billion Ayrton fund to drive forward clean energy innovation in developing countries. The fund is named after the British physicist and suffragette Hertha Ayrton, whose work at the beginning of the 20th century inspired the Ayrton anti-gas fans that saved lives during the First World War. This is new funding that leading scientists and innovators from across the UK and the world can access.
Our Prime Minister was not alone in taking action. We led on the summit’s adaptation and resilience theme with Egypt, and delivered a powerful call to action joined by 112 countries. As part of this we launched a first-of-its-kind Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment to transform infrastructure investment by integrating climate risks into decision-making, ensuring that schools, hospitals and other buildings are built taking into account climate risk. We also launched a new risk-informed early action partnership which will help make 1 billion people safer from disaster by greatly improving early warning systems of such dangerous events as floods and hurricanes. We were delighted that 77 countries, 10 regions and 100 cities committed at the summit to net zero by 2050. We saw the incoming Chilean COP25 presidency announcing a Climate Ambition Alliance of 70 countries, each signalling their intention to submit enhanced climate action plans or nationally determined contributions.
Businesses are also taking action. More than 50 financial institutions pledged to test all of their $2.9 trillion in assets for the risks of climate change. Nine multilateral development banks have committed to support global climate action investments by targeting $175 billion in annual financing by 2025.
The Climate Action Summit was, however, by no means an end in itself. It was a call for global action: one that the UK and many others heeded. But we cannot and will not be complacent. Coming out of the summit, the combined commitments of all those countries and all that good will still does not put us on track to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. People right across the country and right across the world are every day sending a clear message that we all must go further. As the Secretary-General said, “Time is running out”.
Globally, much more is needed. The UK, as an acknowledged world leader in tackling climate change and as the nominated host for COP26 in 2020, now has a unique opportunity to work with countries and businesses across the world, to build on the foundations laid at this week’s summit, to drive this action agenda forward and to turn the tide of emissions growth. There is no other planet: this is it, and we must look after it”.