Antony discusses COP26 and how by working together we can commit to real progress in tackling climate change. You can read the full transcript below.
It is a pleasure to speak in this debate, particularly given how close we are to COP26. If we are to make a success of COP26 and of cutting our emissions, it must be a national endeavour. The UK Government cannot do it alone, and no devolved Administration can do it alone. It will require all of us—local authorities, regional Mayors, devolved authorities, the UK Government and the private sector—to come together in this shared national endeavour.
Everyone has a vital role to play, because everyone has different economic levers to pull, everyone has vehicle fleets that need to become wholly electric and everyone has building stock, office stock and housing stock that need to change. Across every single layer, we all have an opportunity to be ambitious, to show the world what we can do and to show the world that team UK, as host of COP26, is working in the same direction.
I was pleased to see the Prime Minister recognise that it is a shared endeavour when he pulled together the COP26 devolved Administrations ministerial group, which brings together the COP26 President and not only the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but the climate change Ministers from all the devolved authorities, the Mayors and the regional advisory councils that my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams) mentioned. Doing all of that, and pulling together the different levels of government and the private sector, shows the world what needs to happen. There are countries that look to us for that leadership.
My hon. Friend just made the important point that COP26 is about countries coming together to work with the UK on tackling climate change. My constituents constantly have flooding. Our all-party group on the United Nations global goals for sustainable development has a new report coming out and it says that the SDGs are the framework for all countries to work together to tackle issues such as climate change and flooding in my constituency.
I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention and wholeheartedly agree with her. In Burnley and Padiham, we have suffered flooding as well, and this is not just a UK problem; it is a problem across the whole world. It is only by working together that we can solve some of those big issues.
I agree with what the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O'Hara) said about setting stretching targets. That is absolutely what we need to do. He is right to say that we may not always hit those targets, but we stretch them because it spurs on investment and encourages people to think innovatively. However, may I give a word of caution? We also need to make sure that stretching targets are realistic. There is a balance to be struck between stretching a target and creating a realistic one.
We should also use COP26 to show people where we have come from and what some of those stretching targets have achieved; we can look at the huge reduction in coal power, which my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire mentioned, and at the investment we are making in renewables. We need to see the rest of the world follow us in some of that investment. We have wind power in Humberside, hydrogen in the north-east, nuclear in the north-west and tidal up in Scotland. All of those things will make a difference and if we can use COP26 to encourage the rest of the world to follow our lead, and ideally to buy British as they are doing it, we will make this a success.
The devolved authorities, local authorities and regional mayors all have an important part to play. There are incredibly positive opportunities for all levels of government to use. I wish to say one more thing on cost, because the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) rightly mentioned the enormous cost that will come from this transition. We spoke about that at a meeting with Net Zero North West just a few weeks ago, and it is why it is so important that all of team UK works together. This cannot be done just by a local authority or a devolved Administration. It requires the broad shoulders of the Treasury and of the private sector as well. I hope that at COP26, in a few weeks’ time, we see all of team UK, all the different representatives, come together to show the world what we can do.