There have been 13 exchanges between Lord Ravensdale and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
|Mon 14th December 2020||Green Economic Recovery (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (73 words)|
|Thu 19th November 2020||Fossil Fuels: Business (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (69 words)|
|Tue 20th October 2020||World Energy Outlook 2020 (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (139 words)|
|Wed 14th October 2020||Rolls-Royce (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (76 words)|
|Mon 28th September 2020||Energy White Paper (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (82 words)|
|Thu 17th September 2020||Energy: Hydrogen (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (74 words)|
|Tue 15th September 2020||Renewable Energy (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (110 words)|
|Thu 2nd July 2020||Environmental Projects (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (60 words)|
|Thu 6th February 2020||Climate Change (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (677 words)|
|Tue 14th January 2020||Nuclear Power: Emissions (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (182 words)|
|Tue 29th October 2019||Net Zero Carbon Emissions (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (83 words)|
|Mon 15th July 2019||Space Science and Technology (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (467 words)|
|Wed 26th June 2019||Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (751 words)|
(1 month, 1 week ago)Lords Chamber
The noble Lord makes a very good point; the Midlands green growth conversation is an important piece of work, and I look forward to the Midlands Engine growth action plan, which I understand is being published in the new year. The 10-point plan sets out our intention to “reinvigorate our industrial heartlands”, such as the north and the Midlands.
(2 months ago)Lords Chamber
My noble friend makes an extremely good point: we want to be a world leader in carbon capture usage and storage technologies. He will have noted the announcement of an extra £200 million to add to the £800 million already committed in the plan, for a total of £1 billion in this world-leading technology.
(3 months ago)Lords Chamber
The World Energy Outlook 2020 report examines how the global energy system could develop under different scenarios in the coming decades. We welcome its focus on the impact of the pandemic and the choices needed to enable a sustainable recovery. We also welcome the focus on the path to reaching global net-zero emissions. We will continue to draw on the analysis as we work to accelerate the global energy transition, including through COP 26.
(3 months, 1 week ago)Lords Chamber
I congratulate the noble Lord on getting the Royal Navy, a matter close to his heart, into his question again. But to be serious, I agree that we need to develop the next generation of small modular reactors, and we are providing support to enable that to happen.
(3 months, 3 weeks ago)Lords Chamber
The noble Baroness makes a very good point. As I am sure she is aware, we have created a carbon capture and storage infrastructure fund of at least £800 million to establish at least two UK sites—one by the mid-2020s and the other by 2030—and £500 million to help energy-intensive industries to move to low-carbon techniques and decarbonise carbon-intensive regions such as Humberside.
The White Paper will look at the whole system of energy within the UK as part of our commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. I reaffirm the key role that nuclear will play as part of that future energy mix. I can tell the noble Lord that we will respond to the RAB consultation in due course.
(4 months, 1 week ago)Lords Chamber
I agree that we need to look at all available technologies for the production of hydrogen, whether blue or green, including electrolysis and other methods. It will be a key fuel for our decarbonisation efforts and we need to consider all available technologies.
(4 months, 1 week ago)Lords Chamber
My Lords, we welcome the recent NIC report and will consider its recommendations. The Government are committed to reaching net zero through a sustainable, diverse and resilient energy system. This will require significantly increased renewables deployment. Renewables are on track to deliver the majority of electricity by 2030, having reached nearly 50% in the first quarter of this year. The energy White Paper will set out plans to further accelerate renewables deployment.
The noble Lord will understand that the spending review is of course a matter for the Treasury and that I cannot comment ahead of its decisions. However, we are prioritising investment in the renewables sector. We are accelerating new capacity through the contracts for difference scheme, which gives us certainty to drive private sector investment and has been very successful in driving down costs.
(6 months, 3 weeks ago)Lords Chamber
I welcome my noble friend back to the Chamber. I agree with her that we are committed to building back better and greener. I am sure the overseas territories will have an important role to play in that, and of course we will consider requests for funding from them.
The noble Lord is correct: the net-zero challenge is fundamentally cross-cutting. That is why in the run-up to the COP 26 summit we will bring forward ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy, including an energy White Paper, a transport decarbonisation plan and a heat and building strategy. We need to avoid siloed thinking in government across these endeavours.
(11 months, 3 weeks ago)Lords Chamber
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, for bringing this important report to our attention. I agree with it on a couple of key areas: we must not be misled by techno-optimism. Techno-optimism leads us to think that we can have a business-as-usual approach and just change the technology behind it. It also suggests we can have a one-for-one replacement of fossil-fuel cars with electric cars when, instead, the vast bulk of the replacement has to come from walking, cycling and good, affordable, reliable and convenient public transport.
Some of that techno-optimism lies in the idea of carbon capture and storage, which, rather like nuclear fusion, is a fantasy that has been receding decades into the distance for a very long time. Similarly, there is the idea of off-setting. I was at the Bonn climate talks three years ago, where there was an understanding that off-setting was dead. We need nature-based solutions; we need to grow many more trees and to treat our land very differently, but that is as well as slashing our carbon emissions, not as an alternative. It cannot be a trade-off.
Where I disagree with this report is on the goal of either net-zero carbon or zero carbon by 2050. I know your Lordships’ House has found this a very stark message, but I would say, as the science and the IPCC say, that we have to get to those levels by 2030. We need much faster change. I also very much disagree with a particular aspect of the language of this report. It talks about “lifestyle change”, which suggests a focus on how individual people behave. In fact, many people have no choices in changing their behaviour, because they are forced by the system to act the way that they do now. There is no point in telling people to leave their car at home and catch the bus if there is no bus service; it cannot be done. That is true in so many cases—people cannot afford the locally grown, organic food because it is more expensive. What we need is system change.
Perhaps to add further to the pessimism, the climate emergency is just one of the planetary limits that we are running up against. We are also trashing our planet with the nature crisis—of biodiversity and bioabundance —we are filling our oceans with plastic and we are destroying our soils. Behind all that are, essentially, externalised costs. Our current economic system is built on some people—big multinational companies, by and large—drawing large amounts of profit, with all of us carrying the weight of the cost of the climate emergency. We need system change, not climate change. We have seen growth as an alternative to equality: the poor get the crumbs; the pie gets bigger and so they get a few more crumbs. That cannot continue. We cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.
Instead of techno-optimism—and to shift in tone—I want political optimism. That is what we can offer. In a democratic system we can offer people a better life: the green new deal and a just transition. The Minister will be very familiar with the phrase “levelling up”. We are talking about levelling up for the inequality of the north and other areas of the UK. That has been seen to mean more stuff—more high-energy transport—but let us think about levelling up life across the UK with a four-day working week as standard with no loss of pay. That can cut carbon emissions and improve people’s lives. Let us level up with affordable, reliable, convenient public transport. Let us level up with warm, affordable homes for everybody. This is the political optimism we can offer the people in a democracy to make the change.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, for bringing COP 26 into this debate. This is the crucial position we are now in. What will the future remember about the United Kingdom? Almost nothing that has ever been said in this House, but if we deliver a successful COP 26 in Glasgow, it will be remembered as a crucial turning point in global history. If we fail, that also will be what history remembers about the United Kingdom. A number of noble Lords have referred to Donald Trump and Scott Morrison. To quote the Governor of Texas at the Bonn climate talks, “Donald Trump is not an excuse for any of you.”
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Browne for securing this debate and we have heard some very interesting speeches. I will focus on transport, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Birt, said, is one of the biggest current polluters. My worry is that a lot of us, as well as a lot of speakers in this debate, have focused on one or more new technologies, or possibly lifestyle changes, but we have to guard against focusing on the one solution that may cause us the least inconvenience. There are people in many other parts of the world at risk of drowning through weather events or suffering famine as well as everything else, which really has to be taken seriously.
Current government policies look like they will have a lot of catching up to do if they are to achieve what I think we all want as we move forward. Heavy funding is still going into new roads. The Government’s forecasts for traffic growth indicate that there will be an increase of 50% in traffic by 2050. We are looking at extra airport capacity. Why? We are looking at fuel duty, which has not gone up for many years while rail fares are rising. Why, if we want to encourage people on to rail? Where is the funding for buses, which are much more environmentally friendly than people driving around? Worst of all, while we rightly have endless debates about who is building more houses where, how are people supposed to get from those houses to their schools, offices, shops or wherever they want to go without a car? Public transport needs to be integrated with where people want to go.
We have an even greater problem with the movement of freight. We already have electric cars, but electric trucks bringing oranges from Spain are probably impossible at the moment. If they were possible, the cost of manufacturing the equipment would be very high. Cheaper rail fares and lower charges for rail freight would be a good thing, and perhaps the Government would like to follow the example of the German Government, who have just cut access charges for rail freight by 10%. I hope the Government will come up with some new policies on this before COP 26 in the autumn.
It is worth reminding ourselves that Friends of the Earth suggests that traffic reduction by 2030 should be somewhere between 20% and 60%. That is the opposite of going up by 50%. Surely that is something we should really be looking at much more seriously.
There is a great deal to be done on behaviour and the changes that will need to happen in our population growth, the nature and location of work, education, housing, healthcare and leisure. As the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, mentioned, digital technology is also very important. There is also paying for road use or electricity and possibly even reducing the need to travel in going about our business. Flying should increase in cost. We never mention shipping very much, but some of the emissions from ships need serious challenging as part of this campaign. We really need more rail travel for people—more stations and freight terminals—and to be aware, if we want hydrogen-producing transport, that it costs energy and electricity to make hydrogen. It is easy to go down one route and forget about how the rest of it will happen.
There needs to be a plan of action. As a colleague, Professor Anable of Leeds ITS, told me, we need traffic- reduction targets—not an increase, and not just for roads but for rail and air—and some real incentivisation to co-ordinate transport and planning objectives with the need to reduce travel. We need to do many other things, such as regulation and increasing investment in non-car modes, but it ends up as quite a change in lifestyle as an example to the rest of the world —which will be miles behind, if we are not careful.
(1 year ago)Lords Chamber
My Lords, a substantial increase in low-carbon generation will be needed to reduce our emissions to net zero by 2050. Nuclear power currently provides a fifth of our generation and will have an important role in securing a low-cost, stable, reliable low-carbon system by 2050. The Government will publish an energy White Paper in 2020, which will provide further detail of the necessary transformation of our energy system.
The simple answer to that question is yes, but more details are required. The first thing to remember is that by 2030 all but one nuclear power station will be closed.
The noble Lord’s second point is correct: we do need replication on a common theme to help us, but there are other factors too, not least of which is experienced management in the construction industry and sometimes constructing nuclear reactors in greater numbers on the same site. Each of these can make a significant difference, and in order for us to increase capacity we need, in the energy White Paper, to give serious consideration to them, at which point the decision-making will be made clear.
(1 year, 2 months ago)Lords Chamber
We are anchored to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and we have our own climate change committee putting the science at the heart of our work. However, the challenge we face is that we alone cannot bring about the necessary steps, so this must be a global endeavour. We are living through a new geological age which has been termed the Anthropocene—we are bringing about change in our very own environment.
I am happy to assure the noble Lord that nuclear will remain part of our strategy. It is indeed a low-carbon approach. We are strongly committed to small modular reactors and right now we need a baseload to complement our renewable electricity supply.
(1 year, 6 months ago)Lords Chamber
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for tabling the debate. As noble Lords know, we circled the moon before we landed on it, and on Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to leave the earth’s orbit. As the astronauts completed their circle of the moon, they saw in front of them an astounding sight: the exquisite blue sphere hanging in the blackness of space. They photographed it and the result was the image known as “Earthrise”. It is without a doubt one of the most profound events in the history of human culture and, without a doubt, an amazing photograph. For the first time we saw ourselves from a distance. Our earth, our home, in its surrounding dark emptiness, seemed not only infinitely beautiful but infinitely fragile and precious.
The photograph graced the cover of James Lovelock’s groundbreaking work Gaia. Lovelock showed us for the first time that everything on earth is connected, and that it is regulated for its own good and thus for our good as well. Rainforests, oceans and the soil beneath our feet ensure that that we have air to breathe, food to eat and natural resources from which to thrive. Initially, Lovelock’s view was pilloried and thought a hippy interpretation of the photograph, but now it is accepted science. “Earthrise” spurred many people to think differently. In 1970, the United States set up the Environment Protection Agency and in 1971 both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth were founded. Our own Department of the Environment followed in 1972.
Later in his life, William Anders, the astronaut who took the photograph, said:
“This is the only home we have and yet we're busy shooting at each other, threatening nuclear war and wearing suicide vests”.
It took our leaving the planet to fully understand how awesome and vulnerable it is. Sadly, we are still not learning the lesson. Some 50 years ago, the brilliance of humanity rose to the challenge laid down by President Kennedy when he said that man will go to the moon. We succeeded, triumphantly, so 50 years on, let us put that combined brilliance to work again to save the very precious world that we are all lucky enough to inhabit.
My Lords, I first congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and send good wishes for the People’s Moon project. I hope that the media give it the coverage it deserves and that it succeeds.
My locus in speaking in this debate is twofold. I hope it is not thought of as one-upmanship to say that I was in Downing Street on 14 October 1969 when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were received by Harold Wilson as part of the world tour that followed their journey to the moon. I have a son, James, who works in Munich as a space vehicle controller—a title that slightly worries me, but he assures me it is perfectly safe.
The past 50 years have seen an amazing movement forward in unmanned exploration. The noble Lord, Lord Rees, was right to draw attention to the fact that we were probably right: the brief we have had and “8 Days: To the Moon and Back” showed, perhaps more than we knew at the time, just how perilous that journey to the moon was.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said, we really are going into a new space age, with lots of encouraging things happening—not least the work by Professor Brian Cox, which has been mentioned, Tim Peake and his adventures and successive Governments in the past 10 years giving legislative and investment support to our space industries.
There are, however, still things that worry me. The noble Lord, Lord Rees, mentioned the future of our participation in the European Space Agency. The Government must really make clear what their intentions and hopes are for our participation in the European Space Agency. I worry that we are moving away from:
“We came in peace for all mankind”.
The Chinese, the Russians, the United States and France all seem to be developing military capacity in space. What is the Government’s view of these dangers? A number of speakers have also talked about the environmental clean-up in space.
I was very interested in the comment from Buzz Aldrin in “8 Days: To the Moon and Back”. On the way back from the moon, he said that space travel would continue because of,
“the insatiable curiosity of all mankind”.
My son James has told me that what has inspired him more than anything else was that “Earthrise” image taken by Apollo 8—our earth suspended in the void. It is a reminder of both our urge to explore new frontiers and our responsibility to our fragile blue planet.
(1 year, 7 months ago)Lords Chamber
Absolutely. That is what we ought to do in this House: look closely at these things. That does not mean to say we reject them. Unless we know the cost of this measure, which is potentially enormously costly, we are really buying a pig in a poke. I hope the House will focus on that point: should we go ahead and pass this without an impact assessment, or should we at least demand that the Treasury comes forward with such an impact assessment and a distributional assessment as soon as possible?
That distributional assessment is important, because these measures tend to fall disproportionately on low-income households. We have seen that in any country where the cost of climate change measures has come into political contention, those on modest incomes have tended to vote against them. We saw it in Australia and Canada; we have seen the gilets jaunes in France. We should beware and be aware that we are imposing large costs on ordinary households, and we should not go ahead and do that lightly and without knowledge of the figures.
My Lords, I declare my interests as in the register. This massive proposal, which is imaginative and exciting in many ways, is being rushed through Parliament, partly because the departing Prime Minister has a desire for a legacy and partly because of the claimed emergency over climate change or global warming. I am in the minority as I was rather sympathetic to the Prime Minister on many things—but not on this issue.
On the latter issue, warming, we have certainly experienced a mild warming cycle for some 140 years, with carbon emissions playing a significant role in it. I have never questioned that. I listened carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Turner, but I cannot find any sudden acceleration. According to Met Office figures, the past 20 years show a rise of 0.3%, which is broadly in line with the whole cycle. It is slightly slower than the further warming in the last quarter of the 20th century, so it is of concern, but it is not a sudden emergency.
The excitement occurring now may arise from the forecasts by models of a boiling planet later this century. That may happen—anything may happen—and I understand people who want assurance, but so far there is no observational scientific evidence for it. Nearly all those models—there are more than 100 of them—have been deeply inaccurate so far and have been seriously biased towards overheating, sometimes by up to 300%. Interestingly, only the Russian model has been accurate for this syndrome, so these models should be treated with care.
There has quite rightly been much discussion of costs. The climate change committee’s prediction of a net benefit cost of £50 billion per annum by 2050 may be optimistic. Other outside estimates reject it; the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy puts the cost 40% higher, at £70 billion per annum. That was quoted by the Chancellor in his letter to the Prime Minister. All seem to agree that the total expenditure by 2050 will be more than £1 trillion. That seems testing. The committee’s figures seem to omit carbon taxes and renewable subsidies, amounting to around £1 trillion, and the decarbonising of heat by refurbishing all houses. I should point out that that figure was from a respectable sectoral energy institute, which is why it was quoted. I find the total financial liability falling on consumers and taxpayers very complex to account for, but it is likely to be huge and perhaps larger. Equally, it could perhaps be smaller. We do not know, as the climate committee admits.
As an infrastructure project, this revolutionary programme involves greater public expenditure than any done by this country since we committed to fighting the Second World War. It inevitably involves massive disruption to our existing economy. There will certainly be benefits—I accept that—but it will create a new and potentially more expensive energy base, and worsen our export competitiveness by raising costs. It would probably close, or export, our existing high-energy consuming industries—steel, engineering, cement et cetera—and if it does, it will hit jobs and living standards. The idea of a cleaner environment is commendable, and I have always supported it, but these are huge costs.
We have to ask, as the Chancellor did in his letter to the Prime Minister, which areas of public expenditure may have to suffer the costs to pay for it. Will health, social care, schools or defence be cut to shoulder that burden? My Labour colleagues, in particular, may wish to consider that. Will it be, as is the case with the £15 billion in current climate costs, that the working people of this country carry the main burden, relative to their incomes, through paying significantly higher energy costs and green taxes to subside renewables? I note that the committee seems to appreciate that problem and I will be interested in the Government’s response to it.
The climate change revolution is predominantly a professional-class religion where the main cost is paid by working people who often do not share the faith. The noble Lord, Lord Deben, claimed that most people are on his side. There is no evidence for that. Polls have long shown that working people do not massively support this project, and they have not yet heard of these proposed new burdens. Whatever noble Lords’ feelings about decarbonisation—I sense that most people probably like the general idea because they rightly, like me, dislike pollution and want a better environment—they must surely agree that it is irresponsible of the Government to push through this massive and not fully-considered project in a statutory instrument without serious assessment of the practicality of its proposed details or costs, and where those costs will fall. Surely with such a massive project we can wait until the Treasury—or perhaps, as I would like to see, an independent inquiry chaired by the Treasury followed by full parliamentary scrutiny—reports to us. This project must be properly handled by the Government, positively, with concern for our future environment but also with responsible concern for its technological and financial practicality, and the livelihoods of our working people.
My final, and even more worrying, point is about the cavalier way in which this costly adventure has been launched. It is being proposed on a single-nation basis—not that that is its ideal, but it is there. The UK is apparently to be prepared to do this with no guarantees of the global environmental benefits, thus offering virtue-signalling moral leadership to the whole world. That is dangerous. Our share of global emissions is just over 1%. If we alone decarbonise tomorrow, that is the amount by which global carbon emissions will diminish, yet in the next few years China and India alone—the great carbon emitters—will increase their carbon emissions by more than double that share. Our contribution will be swamped and carbon emissions will still rise, but at what economic cost to the working people of this country?
Pursuing zero carbon in Britain alone while the big emitters continue to pollute the atmosphere on a massive scale is a futile gesture of moral imperialism. No doubt the virtue signallers have good intentions—I have never questioned that—but, as an earlier politician wisely said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We should mobilise the present environmental energy to encourage the great economies of the world to look seriously at the scientific facts on climate change, not at the alarmist propaganda, and then, in a measured way in conjunction with the observational evidence, move towards a time when carbon emissions are more limited. However, that world discipline and its benefits must be guaranteed and not based on delusional hopes. There should be no false paper promises based on ill-supported forecasts, like the Paris agreement.
Until then, our Government must take their national duties responsibly, scrutinising any climate venture with care, checking the observational facts of the science and allowing into the process sensible sceptics asking questions—as was traditionally done under Enlightenment science—and not behaving, as the BBC now sadly does, like a Stalinist censor, excluding any informed sceptic who questions wilder climate fantasies. I say to the BBC that working people will not have much extra revenue to buy their licences if all these proposals go through. Above all, the Government must scrutinise properly. We may eventually wish to enter this revolution but must first agree on whether it will pragmatically achieve its shared purpose, what it will cost and who will pay for it.