THE need to protect our environment for future generations was one of the reasons I got into politics.
Before I was elected as MP for Central Devon in 2010 I spent two years going into local schools with my ‘One Tonne Green Challenge’ – an initiative to engage and educate our young people on the need to recycle and reduce our carbon footprint.
I took this mission to Westminster, helping to steer a major energy bill through the House of Commons in 2013 which has successfully reduced UK carbon emissions in the decade since then.
I was involved with Climate Assembly UK during 2020 and led a major parliamentary inquiry into the decarbonisation of the UK economy and green finance, releasing a report in 2021 that urged the Government to take action in a number of key areas.
This included the need for greater transparency when it comes to financial products so investors know whether their investment decisions are compatible with our net zero mission.
Later that year I attended COP26 in Glasgow to continue to press the case.
One of my last acts as a government minister under Theresa May was to support the UK in becoming the first major economy in the world to legislate for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Last week the government set out in greater detail how it intends to achieve this goal through an Energy Security Plan, ‘Powering Up Britain’. Measures include:
► Investment in nuclear and hydrogen,
► A world-leading commitment to carbon capture and storage,
► A fifth round of funding for renewable energy projects,
► A new ECO+ scheme that aims to better insulate the 300,000 least efficient homes in the country,
► Extending The Boiler Upgrade Scheme until 2028 (offering a grant of up to £5,000 to anyone buying a heat pump),
► The launch of a £381 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure fund to help install tens of thousands of new EV charging points across the country,
► Mobilising private sector investment into the UK renewable energy sector,
► Addressing carbon leakage (when a business moves production and associated emissions from one country to another due to differences in climate regulation or carbon pricing).
More detail on these plans can be found at www.melstridemp.com/poweringupbritain.
Last week was also the beginning of the new financial year and millions of workers aged 23 and over will benefit from a 9.7% increase in the National Living Wage from £9.50 to £10.42 per hour.
A full-time worker on 37.5 hours a week will see their annual salary rise by almost £1,800 from £18,525 to £20,319. 21-22 year olds will see their pay increase by 10.9% to £10.18 per hour while pay for younger workers and apprentices will also rise by 9.7%.
These increases follow recommendations made to the Government by the Low Pay Commission in the autumn.
► More from Mel at www.melstridemp.com or follow him on twitter @MelJStride