5 January 2024
Client Earth: Campaign

Regarding energy, the Government remains firmly committed to its net zero target. However, oil and gas will be required in the transition to net zero; simply turning off the taps would mean we would have to import oil and gas, leaving us susceptible to global circumstances. I am reassured that supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term will be coupled with the accelerated deployment of wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen energy.

When it comes to food, I am assured that the UK is largely self-sufficient in many products. Overall, we produce 61 per cent of all the food we need and 74 per cent of that which we are able to grow in the UK. This has been broadly stable for the past 20 years, and the Government’s Food Strategy commits to keeping it at broadly that level in future, with the potential to increase it in areas such as seafood and horticulture.

Further, significant investments are being made across the food system. This includes more than £120 million in the seafood fund; £270 million across the farming innovation programme; and £11 million to support new research to drive improvements in understanding the relationship between food and health. My ministerial colleagues have assured me that the Food Strategy will set the UK on a path to boosted food production, ensuring that everyone has access to healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food.

I also note your calls for wildlife and habitats to receive robust protection. The Environment Act 2021 is a robust piece of legislation through which Ministers have set targets to tackle some of the biggest pressures facing our environment. They will ensure progress on clean air, clean and plentiful water, less waste and more sustainable use of our resources, a step change in tree planting, a better marine environment, and a more diverse, resilient and healthy natural environment. In addition, the Act includes a new, historic legally binding target to halt the decline in species by 2030, as a core part of the Government’s commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. I welcome that the final targets were published and then approved by Parliament earlier this year.

Finally, the transport decarbonisation plan sets out how the UK plans to decarbonise public transport by 2050. The Government is accelerating the rollout of zero-emission buses and trains in order to deliver this; twelve hundred miles of railway have been electrified in England and Wales since 2010, and 4000 zero-emission buses have been funded across the UK.