Net Zero and Climate Change (October 2023)

Thank you for contacting me about net zero definitions and geological net zero.

I appreciate your concerns but let me assure you that the Government is absolutely committed to reaching net zero by 2050, to ensure that the UK delivers on its legal commitment to reach net zero by 2050.

The UK has led the way in reaching net zero. In 2019 the UK was the first developed country to set a legal commitment to reach net zero by 2050, this was subsequently followed by the Ten Point Plan published in November 2020 to decarbonise and reach net zero. Building on this the Government published the Net Zero Strategy in October 2021.

Geological net zero is an important part of reaching net zero. The Government agrees that greenhouse gas removal technologies will be essential in balancing residual emissions from hard-to-decarbonise sectors, while providing, at the same time, new economic opportunities.

The Government announced in November 2021 that the Government would deploy a carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) cluster scheme, supported by £1 billion to provide the industry certainty required to deploy CCUS at pace and at scale. The CCUS projects are expected to go ahead this spring.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has published new research in February 2023 to assess the role of deep geological storage of carbon dioxide. It recognises that CCUS will play a critical role in delivering the UK’s Net Zero Strategy.

The Government will also provide up to £20 billion funding for early deployment of CCUS to help meet the government’s climate commitments. This unprecedented level of funding for the sector will unlock private investment and job creation across the UK, particularly on the East Coast and in the North West of England and North Wales. It will also kick-start the delivery of subsequent phases of this new sustainable industry in the UK, taking advantage of the country’s natural comparative advantage in CCUS. A shortlist of projects for the first phase of CCUS deployment will be announced later this month. Further projects will be able to enter a selection process for Track 1 expansion launching this year, and 2 additional clusters will be selected through a Track 2 process, with details announced shortly.

The Government maintains a steadfast commitment to achieving its net-zero target for 2050. However, it recognizes that oil and gas will play a role in the transition to net zero. Abruptly discontinuing their production would necessitate importing these resources, which could leave us vulnerable to global factors. Supporting gas and oil domestically in the short term will allow for the increased use of renewable energy sources such as wind, nuclear, hydrogen and solar. I am an avid supporter of renewable energy, which is evident through much of my work in Parliament.  

The Government's Transport Decarbonization Plan outlines its strategy to achieve carbon neutrality in public transportation by 2050. This involves an accelerated rollout of zero-emission buses and trains, as well as significant electrification of railway networks. As of 2010, over 1,200 miles of railway in England and Wales have been electrified, and funding has been allocated for the deployment of 4,000 zero-emission buses across the UK.

Of course, we cannot tackle climate change by reducing our carbon emissions alone.  We must also protect, restore and unleash the power of nature, allowing it to absorb and hold carbon. Nature-based climate solutions must also represent a key part of our drive to reach net zero in an affordable way, and I look forward to hearing more details about the Prime Minister's further environmental initiatives in due course.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me