My Lords, I commend the Government on their climate change ambitions and the leadership they have shown by increasing our commitment to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 and achieving net zero by 2050.
As we prepare to host COP 26, which is now less than six months away, we must make sure that we have the proper legislation to deliver on our climate change goals. This means that we must work to support specific Bills in both Houses, such as the Environment Bill and the Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill, as well as making sure that our environmental commitments are properly considered in other legislation.
In New Zealand, all policy proposals going to Cabinet must have a climate impact policy assessment. Can my noble friend the Minister comment on the Government’s willingness to consider a similar process in the United Kingdom? Such checks would help us not only to meet targets but to avoid unintended negative impacts that could undermine our ambitions. They would also show the rest of the world that we were serious about being an environmental leader and encourage other countries to take similar steps.
In 2020, 78% of respondents to a Local Government Association climate change survey said that a lack of skills was a barrier to them tackling climate change. Does my noble friend the Minister have any comments on this, and can the Government tell us how they plan to address this knowledge and skills gap? We must make sure that policymakers, civil servants and those working in local government are properly trained so that legislation can be adequately in line with climate change ambitions and be properly implemented. Furthermore, we must drive forward legislation that develops proper skills for green jobs. Does my noble friend agree?
Lord Callanan noted:
In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, on legislation being key to delivering our climate change goals, I remind them that, as I said, we were the first major economy in the world to set a legally binding target and in April, we laid draft legislation for the UK’s sixth carbon budget.
The noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, also raised the point that in order to deliver on net zero, we must ensure that local authorities and the devolved Administrations are adequately involved and trained in delivery of net zero. We are working closely with our partners in the DAs and many local authorities to achieve those climate goals. Local authorities are key delivery partners in projects ranging from electric vehicle charging infrastructure to heat networks and energy efficiency schemes.