This week is the first ever Green GB week, marking the 10th anniversary of the Climate Change Act. The aim is to highlight the opportunities arising from clean growth, and raise awareness how we can all contribute to tackling climate change.
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, leading the way in 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 vehicles registered compared to a year ago.
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 are making use of renewable energy sources, in particular through anaerobic digestion, wood chip, solar, and hydroelectric generation in local rivers.
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 reminded recently by the IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, while the UK may be a world leader, there is more 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, of which I am a member, is holding annual reviews to monitor the government’s progress against our Sustainable Development Goals.
By maintaining the current focus on clean growth, I am convinced we are at the forefront of protecting our planet for future generations.