Last month, we held the first ever Green GB week, marking the 10th anniversary of the Climate Change Act. The objective was to celebrate and showcase the opportunities arising from clean growth, and to raise awareness of how businesses and the public can contribute to tackling climate change.
The government is placing renewed focus on protecting our environment, and ensuring climate change risks are addressed. The past thirty years have shown a growing economy does not have to be linked to growing emissions. Since 1990, we have cut our emissions by over 40% while growing the economy by more than two thirds, with the UK independently assessed as world-leaders in decoupling emissions from growth since 2000.
The Midlands is playing its part in clean growth, as the leading region for the design and manufacture of low carbon vehicles, with more than £1.5 billion (over 60%) of UK automotive Research & Development carried out in the region. In the first quarter of this year, we saw an 11% increase in the number of new ultra-low emission vehicle registrations compared to a year ago. So the Midlands is at the forefront of an emerging industry, providing clean growth and jobs for the future. I am keen to see the electric charging network develop both in Shropshire and across the UK, to help drivers make the switch to electric vehicles.
We have also seen a 30% increase in renewable energy generation since 2014, which has doubled since 2009, helping reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We are cutting emissions quicker than any other country in the G7. In South Shropshire too we have schemes making use of renewable energy sources, including anaerobic digestion, biomass, solar, and hydroelectric generation in local rivers, which are encouragingly becoming more self-sufficient and less reliant on subsidy, making them sustainable over the longer term.
As a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee, I was particularly pleased to see the role of Green Finance highlighted during Green GB and NI week. Earlier this year we published a report into Green Finance, calling on investors and pension providers to recognise climate change as a specific investment risk for the future, which should help encourage further investment in renewables. I have continued to pressure Ministers to make sure they reflect on our policy suggestions in future legislation.
So while encouraging progress is being made, we can always go further. This is why the government has committed over £2.5 billion of investment in low carbon innovation from 2015 to 2021.
But climate change does not respect borders. As we have been reminded recently by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, while the UK may be a world leader, there is more we and our international allies and partners can do to step up to the challenge of climate change. The UK provided one of the first government responses by requesting expert advice whether we could achieve zero emissions by 2050.
The Environmental Audit Committee is now holding an annual review to monitor the government’s progress against the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
By maintaining the current focus on clean growth, I am convinced we can make a difference and protect our planet for future generations.