My Lords, I support both amendments in this grouping. Amendments 14 and 21 are important because they are about aligning our climate and environmental targets with our trade agreements. I spoke on these issues in Committee and reinforce the point that these amendments would enable us to be an effective environmental leader. I commend the Government for their increasing attention and leadership on environmental issues, which will not just protect our health but drive our economic growth. This has been shown in the recent spending review and 10-point plan.
These are positive amendments, which will help us to have a proper green industrial revolution. In the late 18th century, the Industrial Revolution began in the United Kingdom and by the 1830s, it had spread to Europe and the United States. I hope that the green industrial revolution can do the same and that the UK can become a true leader in green growth. In Committee, my noble friend the Minister said that this Government have done a huge amount to protect and improve the environment. I completely agree that they have done so. However, this should not mean that we sit on our laurels. Amendments 14 and 21 will help drive our green agenda forward.
Amendment 14 would mean that future trade agreements cannot be signed or approved if they are inconsistent with our climate change obligations. This includes being compliant with the Climate Change Act 2008, and our international obligation to tackle climate change under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This amendment will help us reach these emissions targets by making sure that we have considered the impact of trade agreements on the climate. For example, subsection (4) states that a Minister would have to make a statement on any agreement “confirming that the agreement will not give rise to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.”
By doing so, we are sending a message that not only do we take emissions seriously but that we are helping to reduce our environmental impact. I welcome subsection (4)(b), which means that if a trade agreement leads to increased net emissions, detailed mitigation measures must be laid before Parliament. So, if we are at risk of emitting too much, we have the chance to put it right, not just for the benefit of our targets but for our own health and well-being. Given that the UK was one of the first major economies to set a net-zero goal, Amendment 14 means that we can properly commit to achieving this target and be a true leader in the run-up to our COP 26 presidency.
At the virtual Climate Ambition Summit 2020 last weekend, the United Nations Secretary-General asked nations to make their promise of a net-zero world a reality. During the summit, the Prime Minister announced the UK’s ambitious targets to cut emissions by at least 68% by 2030, and this is the first time we have put forward our national climate plan separately from the European Union. Furthermore, in its sixth carbon budget report, released last week, the Committee on Climate Change said we need early action and key policy building blocks to reach net zero by 2050. This Trade Bill gives us a chance to do that and to shape our own trade policy. Amendment 14 allows us to be explicit about where we stand on slowing down the rate of climate change and should be supported.
The risk to the environment from poor trade policies is significant, but trade can play an important role in reducing our environmental impact. This is also something the Government said in their 25-year environment plan: environmental sustainability should be at the very heart of global production and trade. Amendment 21 means that future international trade agreements can be ratified and implemented only if their provisions are consistent with the achievement of our environmental and climate change commitments. Again, this is a positive amendment that will help us do what we set out to do and not hinder us. I am glad that subsection (5) outlines a range of commitments and agreements that are relevant to this amendment, including those to protect biodiversity and natural capital and to improve environmental quality, which has a direct impact on our quality of life. This is not limited to this list, so any new or updated commitments will also be relevant.
Amendment 21 requires that reports be made to Parliament. The first is “a report that explains whether, or to what extent, the provisions of that international trade agreement … are consistent with” achieving our environmental or climate change commitments and maintaining the protections outlined in subsection (3)(b). A trade agreement is eligible for signature or ratification only once a report has been laid before Parliament. This is very important in protecting our health and environment by making sure that sustainability is not an afterthought. The amendment also requires that a report be made to Parliament within 12 months of ratifying an agreement or making regulations assessing its impact on our commitments. This shows we are committed to being green leaders and are taking our impact on the environment seriously. Furthermore, these reports will incentivise deals and stimulate greater collaboration; for instance, on developing green technologies.
We have great potential in advancing offshore wind, driving the growth of the hydrogen sector and accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles. Amendment 21 would enable us to grow the market for low-carbon goods and provide a level playing field for British businesses, because our industries will not be undermined by foreign industries that do not meet our standards. Now we are leaving the European Union, we should of course control our own green agenda, but we need to ensure that our trade agreements support us in doing so. As a businessman, I can see that supporting Amendments 14 and 21 is a sensible business decision and the Aldersgate Group, which represents many major businesses, has also shown its support. The Committee on Climate Change has shown that by 2030, the market for low-carbon goods will be worth more than £1 trillion a year. More and more frequently, consumers in the UK are considering the environmental impact of their purchases. Is it not time to make this a key part of our trade agreements? Together, Amendments 14 and 21 can strengthen our economic competitiveness and truly make us a global leader in the environmental field.
I know that the Government have said they are committed to protecting the environment and mitigating climate change, but I say again that these amendments will allow them to do so. I think that these are fair amendments and I hope that the Minister will consider supporting them.