Speech

Facing up to climate change

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

David Mundell, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, talks to the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry about tackling climate change.

Thank you for inviting me to participate in this event.

We have a chance tonight to discuss the steps that individuals can take in the shift to a low carbon Scotland. I also want to hear your thoughts on government’s role in the process.

The government believes that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face. Urgent action at home and abroad is required to meet the challenge head on. We will use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions, decarbonise the economy and support the creation of new green jobs and technologies. That’s why, we will implement a full programme of measures to build a low carbon, eco-friendly economy.

We have a positive willingness to engage with the Scottish government to address these significant challenges. A good relationship between Westminster and Holyrood serves Scotland well.

Both administrations have signed up to very challenging carbon reduction and renewable energy targets. The targets set by Scottish Ministers will be crucial in meeting UK and EU aspirations.

The coalition’s programme features radical measures to support our climate change objectives.

These include encouraging the EU to demonstrate leadership in tackling global climate change and supporting an increase in the EU emission reduction target to 30% by 2020.

We also want to increase the renewable energy target, subject to the advice of the Climate Change Committee. Meanwhile, in our commitment to a diverse energy mix, we will continue public sector investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for four coal-fired power stations.

We will also establish a full system of feed-in tariffs in electricity - as well as maintaining banded Renewables Obligation Certificates.

Sometimes when we think of renewables we think only of wind. It is an important source of electricity for meeting our 2020 targets. But we want to encourage marine energy and biomass and achieve a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion.

Positive localism can help too. We will encourage more community-owned renewable energy schemes where local people benefit from the power produced. We want communities that host renewable energy projects to keep the additional business rates they generate.

We want to be the greenest government ever. Through our ‘Green Deal’, we will encourage home energy efficiency improvements paid for by savings from energy bills. Energy efficiency in businesses and public sector buildings will improve too. Central government must reduce its carbon emissions by 10% within 12 months.

Energy Efficiency is vital - there are many low cost or no cost measures which can reduce carbon and save us all money. The cheapest and cleanest unit of energy is the one we don’t use.

As an early measure we will review the Fossil Fuel Levy with a view to unlocking these funds and will meet the industry to discuss transmission charging. We intend to reform energy markets to deliver security of supply and investment in low carbon energy, and ensure fair competition, including a review of Ofgem.

Conclusion

It is unacceptable that we have some of the world’s best renewable resources but have underperformed in harnessing them.

There are huge opportunities in clean energy. We have the expertise and potential to lead the way.

Government and industry organisations believe that we have the resources to be a net energy exporter by 2050. Creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs and pumping billions into the economy in the process. Meeting our priority to safeguard the UK’s energy security in a volatile world.

The potential is enormous - Scotland must make it a reality.

I look forward to hearing your views on realising this vision.