Westminster Diary

12th March 2020

I frequently receive emails and letters from constituents concerned about the impact of climate change, which is a totemic issue facing the world. When I was appointed Business Secretary four weeks ago, I was also given ministerial responsibility for organising COP26 which is the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in the UK in November.

At COP26, we want to leave a legacy which stands the test of time and makes life better for future generations by building on the strong foundations of past conferences, especially Paris, to create a zero-carbon economy which will benefit our children and grandchildren.

COP26 will be the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted and the top international priority for the Government.   Collectively the international community will need to ramp up momentum towards a zero-carbon economy which offers huge opportunities for those who act now. As an example, the UK has grown its economy by 75% since 1990 whilst reducing carbon emissions by 43%.  The transition to a zero-carbon economy must be fair and inclusive, leaving no-one behind.

To achieve this, all countries need to commit to significant further cuts to carbon emissions by 2030 and to reach net zero carbon emission as soon as possible.

We are focussed on five areas where we need a dramatic acceleration of progress to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  First, adaptation and resilience, helping communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.  Second, nature, safeguarding ecosystems, protecting natural habitats and keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.  Third, energy transition, seizing the massive opportunities of cheaper renewables and storage.  Fourth, accelerating the move to zero emission vehicles.  Finally, the one that makes all the rest possible, finance, to drive forward a net zero economy.

Positively, in addition to governments’ own national carbon reduction targets, we are seeing companies moving beyond Corporate Social Responsibility and funding green projects, to integrating climate and environmental factors into decision-making across sectors and asset classes.

Each one of us will help write the future when it comes to tackling climate change, including governments, businesses, civil society and individuals.  Our choices will make or break the zero-carbon economy. I am confident we can make the right choices as we work towards a successful COP26.

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