Thank you for contacting me about the environment and climate change.
As you will know, concern for the environment has risen up the agenda and it is encouraging to see an increasing number of people show greater awareness of the impact which their lifestyles can have on the planet.
However, the UK’s record is far from as gloomy as may would have us believe and very significant progress has been made in the last nine years, although much work admittedly remains to be done.
To give a few examples, the Government has committed to the phasing out of unabated coal power generation by 2025 and £246 million has been allocated to the 'Faraday Challenge' to support the design, development and manufacture of electric vehicles. Greater support has been given to renewable technologies, with £92 billion invested by businesses in clean energy since 2010 and renewables now generating 37.1 per cent of the UK's electricity, up from 6.1 per cent in 2010. In addition, greenhouse gases have been reduced by a quarter since 2010; total greenhouse gases were 600.2 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010, but this had fallen by 25 per cent to 448.5 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent by 2018. The new ‘25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’ will also work to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, with action at each stage of the product lifecycle: production, consumption and end of life. Since the introduction of the plastic bag charge in 2015, 15.6 billion fewer bags have been handed out to shoppers by the seven main retailers. As a result of these efforts, the last time emissions in the UK were this low was in 1888 when Queen Victoria was on the throne.
Yet climate change is an international challenge and these efforts need to be replicated worldwide if we want to be serious about protecting our environment for future generations. Unfortunately, however, we cannot tell other countries what to do, but I remain optimistic about what can be achieved.