As Chair of the Treasury Select Committee I have been pursuing an inquiry into the decarbonisation of our economy and so I was very pleased that last week the PM set out a 10 Point Green Plan. Historically, economic recoveries across the world have been anything but clean or green. When times are hard countries have often prioritised growth over environmental concerns. But not the UK, and through our Chairmanship of the United Nations Climate Change Conference next year we will encourage others to follow our example that we can both grow our economies and protect the environment.
The government’s plan will mobilise £12billion of government investment and potentially attract three times as much from the private sector. It aims to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs and help the UK meet its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It focuses on:
- Offshore Wind: We will quadruple the energy created by offshore wind so it can power every home in the UK.
- Hydrogen: Up to £500m will be invested in hydrogen as a fuel source. The natural gas we use for cooking and heating produces carbon dioxide when burned, but hydrogen doesn’t.
- Nuclear Power: This is another source of energy that doesn’t produce carbon dioxide so the UK will invest in a large nuclear plant in Suffolk as well as advanced small nuclear reactors.
- Electric Vehicles: Sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be phased out by 2030, with £2.8billion invested to support a transition to electric vehicles. In October Government funding (through Highways England) led to us securing charging points in Chudleigh and Buckfastleigh and we will need more.
- Cleaner Public Transport: There will be significant investment in zero-emission public transport and in cycling and walking (I am lobbying for funding to extend extend the Wray Valley Trail from Moretonhampstead to Chagford).
- Greener ships and plans: One of our toughest challenges will be to decarbonise the maritime and aerospace industries so the Government will support research projects in these fields.
- Homes and public buildings: Homes, schools and hospitals will become greener, warmer and more energy efficient through a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
- Carbon Capture: We will never be able to eliminate carbon emissions completely so to reach net zero we will need to take more of the carbon we do emit out of the atmosphere.
- Nature: We will protect and restore the natural environment, including planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year (another way of taking carbon out of the atmosphere).
- Innovation and Finance: Developing cutting-edge technologies and making the City of London the global centre of green finance (promoting responsible and sustainable investment) something that I am taking evidence on through my committee in Westminster.
This is a bold plan and it needs to be to tackle our greatest global challenge.