I very much share the view that climate change and declining biodiversity are connected threats for wildlife and people around the world.
That is why I am proud that the Government I am a part of has taken decisive action to tackle these threats. Since 2010 we’ve decarbonised our economy faster than any other G20 nation, establishing the UK as a world-leader in tackling climate change. Emissions have been cut by a quarter since 2010, bringing CO2 emissions down to their lowest levels since 1888, when Queen Victoria was on the throne.
We are phasing out coal power at the same time as we are investing actively in clean energy sources. The UK’s renewable energy capacity has quadrupled since 2010 and nearly 50% of UK electricity came from low carbon sources in 2018, making it a record year for renewables. And it may come as a surprise to some, but the UK has the largest installed offshore wind capacity in the world.
Air pollution has been cut significantly since 2010 and emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides are at their lowest level since records began. But we know this still poses a health risk and there’s more to do. That is why the Government is taking action and we have a £3.5 billion plan in place to cut harmful emissions from roads, including nearly £1.5 billion to increase the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles. Locally, the Government has recently given Reading Borough Council £1.5 million to upgrade 96 buses to a lower emission standard.
When it comes to improving our natural environment, we have planted more 15 million trees since 2010. And several months ago I was pleased to plant some trees, together with pupils, in the grounds of several local Reading schools as a part of Her Majesty the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Programme.
To protect our oceans and wildlife we have introduced a world-leading ban on microbeads and, as part of our 25 Year Environment Plan, we have made a pledge to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. We have made a good start by taking over 13 billion plastic bags out of circulation in the last 2 years with our 5p carrier bag charge.
Tackling climate change is a top priority for the British Government, and that is why we will be leading on climate resilience for the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019.