Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, has today challenged the Government on its failure to provide business with the long-term confidence it needs to invest in the low carbon and renewable energy sector.
Speaking during Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions in the Commons this morning, Catherine said:
‘The growth of new and renewable technologies presents a huge opportunity for the North East economy.
‘But, given the continued uncertainty around the Clean Growth Plan and our membership of and access to the Single Market, what is the Government doing to encourage business investment in this area?’
The Government’s ‘Clean Growth Plan’ was first promised in late 2016, and its publication is now a year overdue. The plan is due to set out how the Government will ensure carbon emissions are reduced to meet targets set out in the fifth carbon budget, as required by the 2008 Climate Change Act.
Under the 2008 legislation, the Government must set five-yearly carbon budgets, twelve years in advance from 2008 to 2050, with the aim of meeting the Climate Change Act’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.
The Government has set the fifth carbon budget – covering the period 2028 to 2032 – at a rate which would equate to a 57% reduction in emissions compared to 1990 levels. However, Ministers are still to publish an updated emissions reduction plan – now known as the Clean Growth Plan – setting out how they will deliver the fifth carbon budget target, and are still to formally consult with business or civil society on what it should include.
‘The North East is home to the UK’s fastest growing energy sector, and we are ideally placed to benefit from the economic opportunities offered by the development of low carbon and renewable technologies, including the creating of good, skilled jobs. But continued delays in the Government’s Clean Growth Plan fail to provide business with the long-term confidence it needs to invest in this sector, and particularly at a time of great uncertainty for our economy.
‘I’m also really concerned about the damaging message these delays send about the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change. We need a Government that is prepared to lead the way on this vital issue, not continually kick it into the long grass.’