After a busy Easter period which included meeting with community groups, holding MP surgeries, dealing with roads and small boats, this week sees MPs return to Parliament. Sometimes the decisions of Parliament are urgent and immediate. For example, the response to the Covid pandemic, action to support Ukraine at the outset of Russia’s invasion or putting urgent financial support in place when energy prices spiked last year.
But sometimes MPs are making decisions for the long term. Matters where the major impact will be felt in decades rather than weeks or years. Recent announcements over the last month, from the pensionable age through to climate change are examples of how Government is legislating for the long-term future of our country, our countryside and future generations.
In 2019 the Conservative Government was the first major economy in the world to agree an ambitious plan to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 while also creating new jobs, technologies and generating economic growth for decades to come. Securing clean, green and secure energy and continuing to tackle the effect of climate change are long-term issues that need a long-term plan. That plan to deliver energy security, well insulated homes and protect the environment was recently announced. A plan to ‘power up Britain’. I have been calling for better insulated homes in both the short and long term and it formed part of a housing campaign I led nationwide a decade ago. Warm homes support better health outcomes for younger and older people. I will be chairing a Parliamentary roundtable on retrofitting the UK’s housing stock. Delivering ambitious plans such as phasing out natural gas boilers by 2035 needs an effective and reliable low-cost alternative. The deployment of low carbon energy will require significant investment. That’s why recent announcements have been so important around the Government’s commitment to back new technologies, such as carbon capture, small nuclear modular reactor technologies and hydrogen.
With emerging and new science, it’s not certain whether the science will meet the spin. But if we don’t invest and try these new technologies, we can never know. Many years ago, I remember failures in the early generation of ‘green roofs’, where poor design ended up damaging the fabric of buildings. Roll forward to 2023, and we are rolling out an array of green technology from smart e-butts to water-capture gullies to deal with the persistent rain flooding in Deal. Green technology that can work. But we must make sure that there are robust and independent assessments of these changes and ideas.
Recent weeks have been big weeks on some big topics – the benefit of which will be in generations to follow. Our children and grandchildren will see the benefit of cleaner, cheaper, more resilient energy. That’s an exciting future, and I’m pleased that recently, we saw an important step forward in making that change.