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Climate Change and Energy (No. 2) Bill 2019
#1
Mr Speaker, I beg leave to present the Climate Change and Energy (No. 2) Bill 2019.

Mr Speaker, I am not one to repeat myself, so I shall keep a great deal of my remarks similar to the first time this bill was introduced.

Mr Speaker,

There is no denying the truth that climate change is one of the greatest challenges that we face - both in our nation and around the world. Everyone in this house, I am certain, is familiar with the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which clearly states that the world must make meaningful progress towards combatting climate change by 2030 and must achieve complete carbon-neutrality in the time thereafter. This Government is committed to achieving these goals.

For this reason, I am proud to present the Government's first bill of this term: the Climate Change and Energy Bill. This bill is straightforward, it establishes new guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, obligating the United Kingdom to achieve a 60% reduction in emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2040. Moreover, it extends the remit of the Committee on Climate Change and establishes bold, new decarbonisation targets for our power sector. Mr Speaker, this bill firmly establishes the commitment of the United Kingdom to combatting climate change.

Mr Speaker, I will note that many members of this House feel that the United Kingdom must achieve net zero emissions by 2030. To this end, the Committee on Climate Change will pursue investigation, rapidly I should hope, into whether a 2030 target is deemed necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change on the United Kingdom as a statutory obligation.

However, this bill does more than establish targets and launch investigations. Mr Speaker, we are working to challenge companies that produce electricity, establishing a mechanism that promotes investment in renewable energy sources, as well as several other technologies, with our renewable energy portfolio standard. This will fuel our green energy transition and help the United Kingdom build a net-zero power sector by 2030. That is a goal that is essential to meeting our emissions reduction targets and vital to improving air quality across the United Kingdom. On the balance, Mr Speaker, we anticipate that the fees incurred by the power industry as it relates to generating renewable electricity will be sufficient to encourage development of renewable energy sources without impacting prices for the consumer, given the profit margins of major power companies.

Mr Speaker, I am honoured to commend this bill to the House.

Mr Speaker, I beg leave to move that this bill be read a first time.
Caroline Blakesley MP DCB
Prime Minister (June 2019-)
MP for Manchester Central (2015-) | Labour
Traits: Fundraising Extraordionare, Campaign Guru, Media Darling, Constituency Pariah
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#2
Order!

Second reading!
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#3
Mr Speaker, 

I rise today to speak in support of this legislation. 

Coalitions often involve a considerable degree of debating and wrangling and difficult attempts to navigate between two at-odds manifestos. We are all aware of these difficulties. We are all familiar with them. But on this issue, the two parties in the coalition were aligned. We both appreciate the need for expansive and ambitious targets to reach net-zero with the investment and regulatory framework in place to enable that, we both recognise that the power sector can be brought to net-zero at a faster rate than the economy as a whole, and we both recognise that prudent economic policy and smart environmental stewardship are, far from being at odds, in fact deeply intertwined. We recognise that climate policy must be ambitious but anchored in facts, cognizant of potential complications, vigilant not just of challenges but opportunities for faster action. 

We in the Liberal Democrats helped work to make this bill the best possible product that it could be - including by ensuring the best possible uses of withdrawals from the renewable energy portfolio standard accounts and ensuring the work of the Committee on Climate Change considers the global picture that results from UK climate policy. But this was not a case where the parties of government had to compromise and barter - we all recognised the importance of this goal, the correctness of this approach, and we worked, collaboratively, drawing on the best ideas from both parties, to make it as good as could be. And we are pleased to see this bill - such an integral part of the plan for rapid climate action, for decarbonising capitalism, that my good friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Energy and Climate Change has been working on - revived, and given the urgency and primacy that it warrants. 

It is, of course, regrettable that enactment of this bill was delayed - and potentially jeopardised - by, it seems to me, the errant antics of a single MP. A Green Party MP, I can't help but note with a degree of sadness. We are still, too, none the wiser about what the official opposition thinks about this bill. Perhaps they have tweeted about it - perhaps they haven't. Either way, I invite them to submit their thoughts on the record. 

I want to talk more about some of the policy details of this legislation. I don't want to merely repeat the Prime Minister's remarks, and I want to discuss some of the policy details that have not yet made their way into Hansard. I think it is important to repeat the significance, the unashamed yet necessary ambition, of the 2040 target, and the importance of decarbonising our power sector and reaching 80% renewable energy by 2030. We have, through policies such as the moratorium on net runway construction, the bold expansion of green investment and home insulation initiatives, and the reversal of cuts to feed-in tariffs to help support home solar power generation, made sure that this attitude is a key part of this government's programme. 

Firstly, I want to discuss the expanded remit of the Committee on Climate Change. It is important that the Committee serves as a mechanism to promote climate awareness and cognizance of the overwhelming need to preserve our planet at every level of government and in every part of government policy. This bill enables that. It is important that the Committee serves to think outside the box, to challenge entrenched thinking, to call on government to do better than it currently thinks is possible. This bill enables that. 

And it is important that the Committee looks not just at a narrowly demarcated, easily siloed UK-wide emissions picture, but at a global emissions picture, ensuring we are not merely exporting our emissions abroad, ensuring we are helping create a world where all countries can do their bit and practice sustainable economic growth, that supply chains and export markets are as green as possible. This bill enables that. Information and transparency, expert thinking and accountability, these are all essential, if not necessarily glamorous, tools in the fight to reach net-zero, and to reach net-zero in the most creative way possible, turning it from a challenge into an opportunity. By expanding the Committee's remit, this bill allows for those things. 

Secondly, I want to talk about the minimum renewable energy portfolio standard. This will guide individual energy companies to make sure, in line with the net-zero emissions and 80% renewable targets that we are setting for the power sector by 2030, that they are working to expand their renewable energy portfolios, as swiftly as possible, and that individual companies have the incentives and the framework needed to find a path to decarbonisation that works best for them. A surcharge will be applied to non-renewable energy production that is in excess of this standard, because we can all appreciate how effective a policy mechanism internalising the social costs of this pollution, of these emissions, can be. 

And it is what the proceeds from this surcharge will fund, Mr Speaker, that I think is most exciting. Companies will know that these funds will be a 'use it or lose it' source of investment, and that these funds can serve as a great catalyst for private sector investment to complement the increased public sector investment and more favourable green tax regimes that this government is implementing. They can withdraw from the renewable energy portfolio standard accounts for purposes such as retraining and reskilling employees, helping them transition into more sustainable green jobs; or retrofitting sites and facilities used for fossil fuel production and distribution into centres of green enterprise and renewable energy; or developing great new technological advancements in energy storage or carbon capture, opening up the realms of practical energy sources at our disposal; or the extra investments in research and renewable energy production that we so sorely need. 

Mr Speaker, it is my hope that this bill is passed, but not only that, that it adds to the international conversation, that the approach we are taking here inspires other countries to follow our entrepreneurial, innovative, internationalist approach to climate change.
Grant Smith
Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West (2005-present)

Media Unknown, Constituency Appeal, Campaign Organiser, Fundraiser Extraordinaire 
Previously: Sir Lachlan Domnhall Coinneach Duncan MacMahon; Graham Adiputera; I think I played some dull Labour bloke at one point
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#4
Mr Speaker,



I believe the government has much more explaining to do to satisfy the House and the country that this Bill is just highly ambitious rather than overly audacious.



A number of studies into the high penetration of renewable energy sources into liberalised markets indicate that they become highly susceptible to price volatility due to the particular nature of renewable energies. How will the government manage this price volatility to ensure that consumers and heavy industry, are protected?



Mr Speaker, I do not believe the structure proposed by the government has been fully considered in the haste that this bill has been introduced to the House. The UK energy market in its current form is a legacy from the privatisations of the Thatcher/Major era which of course, was dominated by fossil fuels. With a growing amount of low-cost renewable power generation available, the likelihood of significant energy price drops during periods of low demand and high supply will not allow energy companies to even cover their costs without a facility to capture the full renewable cost structure, particularly the initial investment. In the long term, there is a danger that investors will not reinvest or recapitalise electricity markets without sufficient guarantees on returns. These additional costs will either eventually be borne by taxpayers or consumers, with consumers in Germany for instance, paying an 18% surcharge on their bills to finance renewables. The Prime Minister has stated that she believes the energy companies will foot the bill and that the consumer will probably be protected, but the evidence does not bear that assertion to be correct.



Mr Speaker, the renewable energy portfolio standard surcharge seeks to incentivise energy providers to increase the share of electricity generation from renewable sources, but by what means does the government have to mandate energy companies not to simply decommission their gas and coal power stations early to avoid the £20 per MWh surcharge and so imperil the energy security of the nation?



Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister stated that she does not anticipate energy price rises for customers as a result of the portfolio standard, but studies across a number of US states with similar schemes have indicated that based over a 12 year average following the introduction of such a scheme, comparable energy prices were some 17% higher. Is she absolutely certain that such a price rise will not happen in the UK?
Harry De Santis MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence Tom Tugendhat (NPC)
Conservative Member for Totnes
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#5
Mr. Speaker,
I would suggest that several alterations be made to the Act. First and foremost, I would suggest that allowing an energy producer to allocate funds put into the renewable energy portfolio standard accounts be sufficient to retain the ability to use those funds. Given the room for NIMBY lawsuits against wind farms and fights over planning permission, I do not think it is fair to effectively penalize an energy company because they can't "get the money out the door" in a timely manner despite their best efforts.

The second change I would propose, and I can already hear the howls of protest from across the House, is that nuclear power ought to be considered an acceptable alternative under this Act. Standard renewables might well be our main objective, but given the repeated protests as to how much of an emergency we are facing I would think that pushing through decarbonization via nuclear power would be an acceptable trade-off in the medium term. My colleagues will doubtless say they wish to electrify everything in sight, but I'm not convinced that we can replace all of our power generation with renewables at the moment. I *am*, however, convinced that we can do so with nuclear without breaking a sweat.

Frankly, if the Government would embrace new nuclear capacity I believe that we could decarbonize the electric sector by 2030. We would still have industrial uses for coal, for example in steel plants, and for non-energy uses of petroleum products as lubricants but we could phase out our remaining fossil fuel-based power generation in that time. Dealing with cars on the road is a sticker point, and we're probably going to need some more time there regardless, but fixing electricity goes a long way towards fixing this crisis.
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#6
Mr Speaker,

I think the Hon Member for Totnes for his comments. He is no doubt aware of the importance of climate change and I am happy to see a member of the Opposition present for this debate. He raises a number of concerns, many of which the Government is familiar with. Indeed, the Berkeley report, which I assume the Hon Member may be referring to in some of his statements, is something that the Government has considered.

I wish the address one minor issue: renewable energy penetration has not been the primary driver between rising energy prices in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the Environment, Energy, and Climate Change Secretary, when he was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change under the previous coalition, took steps to implement electricity market reform that would reduce costs related to deploying renewable energy sources faced by the utilities. Utilities have observed massive profits even as renewables increased their proportion of the energy mix over the past several years - these profits must be the basis from which we start to make changes to the power market.

Mr Speaker, I should like to discuss the issues of volatility raised by the Hon Member. First, as part of our overall energy strategy, we are interested in increasing the share of more "stable" forms of renewable energy, such as geothermal and tidal power. Tidal power is of particular interest to the government, Mr Speaker, as the United Kingdom is projected to have up to 50% of Europe's tidal energy generation potential. These forms of energy are inherently less variable than wind and solar power, which are the primary two power sources examined in studies of price volatility in renewable energy markets.

Moreover, this legislation makes it a matter of policy to increase energy storage capacity across the power network. Increasing energy storage is critical to reducing price volatility. With increased storage, firms will be able to use times of surplus energy production to store energy for use at times of high demand or decreased production. This focus on energy storage, as well as the adoption of technologies that allow greater control of energy generation during off-peak times - even in the event of optimal conditions for production - should assuage some of the concerns raised by the member.

Regarding his concerns about cost structures, I would note that this legislation acknowledges a role for conventional energy sources. Indeed, we opt for carbon neutrality and not complete decarbonisation of the power sector because we recognise the importance of conventional sources of energy, at the moment and for the foreseeable future, in providing critical surge capacity when there is increased demand on the power system. As this proposal is implemented, the Government is keen to look at new market structures that can be implemented to facilitate a transition to renewable power sources should the need arise. Some designs for these proposals are published and will be reviewed thoroughly by Ofgem.

Finally, regarding the notion that companies will just take conventional fuel generation capacity offline, I would draw the Hon Member to my previous statement that the government understands the importance of this capacity to meeting demand during peak demand times. Moreover, under the Energy Act 2013, we would note that providers are required to be able to demonstrate their ability to meet this capacity. Indeed, this is one of the tenants of the Capacity Market that is being implemented.
Caroline Blakesley MP DCB
Prime Minister (June 2019-)
MP for Manchester Central (2015-) | Labour
Traits: Fundraising Extraordionare, Campaign Guru, Media Darling, Constituency Pariah
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#7
Mr.Speaker,

We support the intent of this bill but we can not support the way it has been presented. The government has been extremely inconsistent in the way they are dealing with nuclear energy which must be part of the equation whether be it a transitional measure or be it a permanent part of it. Mr.Speaker, the government has promised to replace Wylfa Newydd just a couple of months ago, a promise that was conveniently dropped a couple of months later, not because of new information presented or because of a change in strategy. It has been dropped because of a change in leadership in Plaid Cymru, Mr.Speaker, this does not give me any confidence in the government's ability to make decisions based on evidence and good policymaking, this shows me that the government is more interested in political games and go wherever the wind blows. Mr.Speaker, can we trust this government on making of such an important policy that needs to have it's basis very solidly and needs to be kept for years, maybe even decades in order to be effective when they show us their willingness to drop commitments left, right, and centre based on which way the wind blows? I do not think so Mr.Speaker. That is why Mr.Speaker, the Brexit Party will be voting against this measure and invite the government to actually conduct climate change policy on a cross party basis where we can have certainty.
Brigitte Allard MP
Member for Stoke on Trent North
Leader of the Brexit Party

Media Darling/Fundraising Extraordinaire/Maverick/Constituency Darling(awarded by admins)
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#8
Mr Speaker,

I rise to thank my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister for introducing this Act to the House and to the Right Honourable Member to Leeds West for his hard graft on this important legislation.

For important it is, Mr Speaker, for this country to take seriously the environmental, social and economic impacts that the climate emergency threatens us with. Mr Speaker, it is absolutely essential that tackling climate change and working to reduce our carbon footprint is a priority of any modern, credible Government and I am pleased that the Coalition are taking these first steps.

Mr Speaker, this legislation speaks to our approach. This Government is unapologetic in laying out ambitious, worthwhile targets for Britain's energy sector with robust systems to reach them. In establishing an investment and regulatory framework to guide us. Mr Speaker, it is right that this bill introduces clear guidelines for the step-by-step targets this country needs over the next twenty years.

60% reduction in emissions by 2030, 80% renewable energy use by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2040. That is a very clear, very achievable road-map for how this country can take climate change seriously.

I welcome the collective-responsibility approach that the Government are taking, Mr Speaker. It is a welcome extension of the remit of the Committee on Climate Change that they must consider a broader picture that takes into account the global environmental context. Working with our international partners is a cornerstone of good environmental policy-making and ensuring that aspects of government, including the committee, are aware of and take into account the global picture on climate change will make it easier to do that effectively.

Mr Speaker, the renewable energy portfolio standard establishes an efficient mechanism to promote investment in renewable energy sources and other technologies which will, in turn, support innovation in the sector.

As an Engineer myself, Mr Speaker, I have seen first hand how vital targeted investment is in the sector in promoting innovation and new technologies, especially when it comes to carbon storage and capture.

Mr Speaker, this bill is ambitious, it is robust but more importantly, it is needed. I look forward to being able to walk through the Aye lobby today and set Britain on a course to be a greener, fairer, carbon-neutral country.
James 'Jim' Kennedy MP
Home Secretary
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
MP for Wansbeck (2010-) | Labour and Cooperative
Traits: Media Darling, Backbench Favourite, Finite Resources
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#9
Mr Speaker,

I thank the Rt Hon Member for (OOC: Andrews) for his constructive comments on this matter. I quite agree with him that nuclear power is a critical part of bridging the gap, as it were, between conventional and renewable forms of energy. To that extent I offer an amendment to the bill (below) to make clear our support for nuclear power and ensure that there is no penalty for utilising nuclear power as a bridging power source. This amendment will ensure that, of the non-nuclear energy mix, we achieve a significant amount (80%) from renewable sources.

I should note that, in calculating the required amount of energy to be produced from renewable sources of energy, this legislation does exclude nuclear from that calculation, ensuring that there is no incentive to replace nuclear fuel sources and allowing for the stability provided by nuclear fuel sources to continue.

Amendment 1

In clause 5, section (1), adding a subsection (a) to read:

(a) The Secretary of State may, by Statutory Instrument, establish regulations specifying that energy produced by nuclear sources will be discounted from total energy production for the purpose of calculating the statutory renewable energy target.
Caroline Blakesley MP DCB
Prime Minister (June 2019-)
MP for Manchester Central (2015-) | Labour
Traits: Fundraising Extraordionare, Campaign Guru, Media Darling, Constituency Pariah
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#10
Mr Speaker,

I thank the Government for their reasonableness in accepting the proposals offered by my Right Honourable Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup and for the speed with which the Prime Minister has been able to turn that proposal into a legislative amendment. It is unfortunate that such an oversight was made but it speaks to the character of the Prime Minister that she was able to admit her error and work with the opposition constructively to build a better bill. 

Of course this amendment does now create a problem for the Government who are pro-nuclear power but have historically called a halt to the potential development of further nuclear power options in Wales, at the time presumably at the behest of Plaid Cymru who were against the proposals. Will the Government commit to re-examining this decision in light of their admirable about-face on the subject of nuclear power so that we may turbo charge our own about-turn away from fossil fuels?
The Hon Dylan Macmillan MP
North East Bedfordshire 2015 - Present

Chancellor of the Exchequer: 2020 - Present

Chair of the Justice Select Committee: 2019 - 2020
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