Tuesday 19 October 2021 / 3:10 PM Climate Change / Ed Miliband / Environment

Full text of Ed Miliband statement in the House on the Government’s Net Zero strategy

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

Can I thank the minister for his statement.

Let me start by saying that it is good that the tackling the climate crisis is a shared national objective across this House and we want the government to succeed at COP26 in just ten days’ time.

But there are two central questions about the strategy published today—does it finally close the yawning gap between government promises and delivery?

And will it make the public investment which is essential to ensure the green transition is fair and creates jobs?

I am afraid the answer to both questions, despite what the minister said, is No.

This plan falls short on delivery

And while there is modest short-term investment, there is nothing like the commitment we believe is required.

And we know why. When asked at the weekend about the Treasury’s approach to these issues a BEIS source said:

“They are not climate change deniers but they are emphasising the short-term risks, rather than long-term needs…”

The Chancellor’s fingerprints are all over these documents—and not in a good way.

We have waited months for the heat and buildings strategy.

It is a massive let down.

We are in the midst of an energy price crisis caused by a decade of inaction.

Emissions from buildings are higher today than in 2015.

The biggest single programme that could make a difference is a 10 year house by house, street by street plan for insulation to cut bills, emissions and ensure energy security.

There are 19 million homes below EPC band C that need upgrading.

The best estimates are that the proposals today will help just a tiny fraction of that number.

Indeed, there is not even a replacement for the ill-fated green homes Grant for homeowners.

Can the minister explain where the long-term retrofit plan we need is? Did BEIS argue for it and get turned back by the Treasury or did he not make the case?

On heat pumps, the government’s own target says we need 600,000 homes a year installing heat pumps by 2028.

But they are funding just 30,000a year, helping just 1 in 250 households on the gas grid.

Why does his plan on heat pumps fall so far short of what is required?

On transport, we agree with the transition to electric cars but need to make it fair for consumers.

We should at the very least have had long-term zero interest loans to cut the costs of purchasing electric cars.

What is the plan to make electric cars accessible to all and not just the richest

On nuclear, I was surprised given the advance publicity, that he made literally no mention of the word.

We have seen a decade of inaction on this issue. Why is there still no decision on new nuclear?

The failure to invest does not just affect whether this transition is fair for consumers but also workers in existing industries.

Take steel, it will cost £6 billion for the steel industry to get to net zero.  If we want a steel industry, we will need to share the costs with the private sector.

A £250 million clean steel fund will simply not secure our industry’s future.

Can he tell us what his estimates are of the needs of the steel industry and how he thinks they can be met?

The same is true with investing in new industries like hydrogen.

There is a global race in these areas and the UK is not powering ahead but is falling behind.

Germany is offering £9bn for a new hydrogen strategy….the UK £240m.

We see the same pattern across the board, including land use, industry and transport and because of this failure to invest, there remains a wide gap between promises and delivery.

And it was very noticeable from the ministers words that he did not say that this plan meets the target for 2035, the sixth carbon budget, surely a basic pre-requisite of this strategy to 2050.

Could he tell us whether the policies in this document actually meet the sixth carbon budget or whether it falls short less than halfway to net zero?

Isn’t the truth that despite hundreds of pages of plans, strategies and hot air, there is still a chasm between the rhetoric and the reality.

This plan will not deliver the fair, prosperous transition we need equal to the scale of the emergency we face.