Our work on climate will pay off on the long run
- Credit: Supplied by Duncan Baker
As I write this month’s article, it is the day after the 26 mile London Marathon and as many of you will know, I managed to complete my challenge to run it and raise £26,000 for 26 local good causes.
Thank you so much for all your support throughout North Norfolk. By the time all the money is counted, I expect the total may be around the £35,000 mark which I am delighted with and so pleased it will benefit so many of our charities.
Whilst my legs will recover, our planet won’t unless we continue to take urgent action to address climate change. And while we’re on the subject of 26, it is worth noting that at the end of this month the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties or COP26 in Glasgow.
Although we hear lots about COP26, it’s worth exploring what it is and how far we are progressing with our efforts to tackle climate change and decarbonise in line with our net zero obligations by 2050.
The COP26 climate talks at the end of the month will bring together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated ambitious action to further tackle climate change.
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Our presidency sends a signal that the UK is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change.
Core aims in Glasgow will be to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.
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- 6 New cancer care centre officially opens on north coast
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- 10 The Original Factory Shop to open new site in north Norfolk
In North Norfolk, the environment continues to be at the forefront of my constituent’s minds.
It continues to be one of the most important matters in my weekly correspondence, and no matter where I go, whether it be into schools, holding surgery appointments or during conversations on the doorstep, people discuss passionately their thoughts on the subject.
I knew this would be the case, and frankly I recognised it would be the most important item on the political agenda for the next 30 years when I got elected.
As such, many know that it is the area of expertise that I predominantly specialise on in Parliament, sitting on the Environmental Audit Select Committee (EAC) and being a vice-chair of the Net Zero APPG.
Week in, week out you will see me raising questions linked to the environment and debating our approach to it.
Indeed, I am proud that the Energy Secretary of State, Kwasi Kwarteng has me written in Hansard by saying, ‘There has been nobody in this House who has been so consistent and focused on the issue than my Hon. Friend’, when referring to my work to protect the environment and move the damaging impacts of cable corridors away from carving up our villages and fields and put the infrastructure in the sea with an offshore transmission grid.
In recent months I have also launched my first EAC inquiry into sustainability in the built environment. It is all very well concentrating on reducing operational carbon in our homes, but I am concerned that we are failing to address any of the significant consequences of embodied carbon.
Embodied carbon emissions in construction are not regulated, even though they can constitute the bulk of emissions from new buildings.
However on a positive note, what does tend to go unnoticed is quite what our government has done. Our country has a proud record on climate action, being the first major economy to legislate to achieve net zero through signing the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
In fact, the UK Government has done more than most other countries around the world - yet it is rarely acknowledged by our media.
We have decarbonised our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades. In addition, ambitious targets such as a 68pc reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and a 78pc reduction in emissions by 2035, also compared to 1990 levels have been enshrined in law.
In addition, the Prime Minister's Ten Point Plan will mobilise £12 billion of Government investment and support up to 250,000 green jobs, thereby creating a green industrial revolution.
The elimination of power stations that burn coal has helped us cut our carbon emissions faster than any other rich country since 1990.
They are down by 44pc, according to data collected by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy during a period when the economy grew by two-thirds.
Germany’s emissions, in contrast, were down just 29pc; coal is still burned to generate some 24pc of its electricity.
We have made cuts to our emissions 1.8 times larger than the EU average since 1990. In America, emissions over the same period are up slightly.
And this to me is the real problem. Without global efforts, our achievements will be immaterial on the world stage.
Countries such as China, the US, Russia and Australia all need to make significant and drastic changes to reduce emissions.
China became the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide in 2006 and is now responsible for more than a quarter of the world's overall greenhouse gas emissions.
President Xi Jinping has said he will aim for China's emissions to reach their highest point before 2030 and for the country to be carbon neutral by 2060. But how the country will do this remains to be clear, rather like his attendance at COP26.