Climate Change

It’s vital that we do all we can to tackle the issue of global climate change and ensure that our children and grandchildren are not left to deal with the challenges of a much warmer planet, rising sea levels, and food and water security concerns.

I congratulate all those young people who are doing so much to show their support for protecting our planet and dealing with the threat of climate change, and I pay tribute to them for the passion and dedication they are showing. However, I also believe that the greatest gift that any society can give to its children is a good education, and I would urge them not to take valuable time out from school, but instead to use weekends and school breaks to continue their campaign.  Their voices are definitely being heard.

I think the UK can be proud of our commitment to tackling climate change. We have played a leading role as the world has worked towards a global deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our flagship Energy Act is focused on decarbonising the UK's energy sector at the lowest possible cost to the consumer, and it puts Britain on track to meet the 2050 target to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by 80 per cent compared to 1990 levels.

The UK is a world leader in clean growth and we have invested more than £52 billion in renewable energy in the UK since 2010, quadrupling our capacity. In 2017, a record 29.3 per cent of electricity generated in the UK came from renewable sources; while full figures for 2018 are not yet available, almost a third of electricity generated in Q3 2018 came from renewable sources, the highest figure on record. The UK now has enough solar to power almost 2.7 million homes. We also have the biggest installed offshore wind capacity in the world, and we continue to be the most attractive market for offshore wind investment of any country.

Just 5 years ago, dirty coal power accounted for 40 per cent of our electricity – this figure is now 7 per cent, and we have made an historic commitment to seek to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025.

In line with our international obligations under the Paris Agreement, the Government's 2017 Clean Growth Strategy confirmed the UK was committed to working with other countries to achieve global net zero emissions in the second half of this century. The Climate Change Act 2008 set up a framework for the UK to achieve its long-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure steps are taken towards adapting to the impact of climate change.

The Act also established a system of five-yearly carbon budgets to create the stepping stones to lead to the 2050 commitment, ensuring regular progress is made. It established the Committee on Climate Change, an independent body to advise the Government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting this 2050 target.

The first three budgets were to reduce carbon emissions by:

  • 25 per cent (2008-12)

  • 31 per cent (2013-17)

  • 37 per cent by 2020 (2018-22)

The first carbon budget (2008-2012) was outperformed by one per cent and official statistics indicated that the second budget (2013-2017) was outperformed by around 14 per cent. The Government's energy and emissions projections in 2017 predicted that the third carbon budget would be outperformed by 5.6 per cent.

The fourth carbon budget (2023-2027) sets emissions reductions for the UK of 50 per cent by 2025. In June 2016, the Government published our fifth carbon budget, which outlined that the UK will reduce emissions by 57 per cent by 2032. This will be a milestone towards achieving the 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

I hope that this provides some reassurance on the work the Government is doing to tackle climate change and demonstrates that we are committed to acting. There is still more to do, and I am always happy to engage with constituents on this issue and hear their views and priorities. If you want to see more about my work as a Minister in this area, please see this section of my website.