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Sat, 28 March 2020

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Climate Assembly UK can take real action to end the UK’s contribution to climate change

Climate Assembly UK can take real action to end the UK’s contribution to climate change
3 min read

The Climate Assembly UK will allow people to discuss how we can benefit in terms of job creation and growth from creating a low-carbon economy

Last weekend saw Birmingham host the second event for the UK’s citizens’ assembly on climate change, known as Climate Assembly UK.

This was set up by six committees of the House of Commons, including the Treasury Committee, of which I am the Chair-elect. The Assembly is made up of 110 members of the public who are representative of the population, with the aim of making a series of recommendations for how the UK can best achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Public concern around climate change is as high as it has ever been and the Assembly is a chance for people from all parts of society, often with vastly different views, to decide how we as a country can meet our climate change commitments.

It’s an opportunity for people to explore how the UK can end its contribution to climate change and create a cleaner, healthier environment. It also allows people to discuss how the UK can benefit from the many opportunities around creating a low-carbon economy.

The most recent meeting of the assembly focussed on where energy comes from. Detailed evidence was heard on specific areas for reducing emissions, including how we travel, in the home, what we buy, land use, food and farming.

Whilst it didn’t look at these issues specifically, the previous Treasury Committee had been running an inquiry into the decarbonisation of the UK economy and green finance. The inquiry was borne out of the recognition that both our Treasury and our financial sector have crucial roles to play in financing the UK’s climate change commitments.

The UK is responsible for approximately one per cent of global CO2 emissions, yet the City of London hosts and finances companies which account for a staggering 15 per cent of potential global CO2 emissions.

There is clearly a role for green finance in achieving net-zero. Firms are already stepping up to the task, and are offering green finance products, such as green mortgages and ‘socially responsible’ investment portfolios. Some research suggests that investors in green products often see a better return than their non-sustainable counterparts.

Before it was curtailed due to the General Election, the Treasury Committee had been scrutinising the role of HM Treasury, regulators and financial services firms in supporting the Government’s climate change commitments.

It had also been examining the economic potential of decarbonisation of the UK economy in terms of job creation and growth. Evidence provided to the Committee on this revealed that there are opportunities for the UK to benefit greatly from the transition. For example, the Committee was told that the UK’s low carbon sector could increase from two per cent of Total Output in 2015 to 13 per cent in 2050.

Committees are yet to be formally appointed – this is unlikely to take place until after the February recess – so there is no specific inquiry into climate change to announce today.

But when the Climate Assembly’s recommendations are finalised and presented to the six committees later this year, I have no doubt that the Treasury Committee will consider them seriously, sincerely and fairly.

I’m extremely grateful to those who have given up their time to take part in such an innovative process. The Country must now work together if it is to achieve net zero by 2050. Climate Assembly UK provides a great opportunity for the public to advise Parliament on real actions that the UK can take to end its contribution to climate change.


Mel Stride is the Member of Parliament for Central Devon and Chair-elect of the Treasury Committee.


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