Thank you for contacting me about reducing carbon emissions.
I am glad that work is already underway to help us achieve net zero by 2050. For example, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will lead the world in offshore wind deployment following £160 million additional investment and more ambitious targets. This includes boosting a previous target to deliver up to 30GW of offshore wind to delivering 40GW by 2030. This forms part of the Prime Minister's ambitious Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution which lays the blueprint for achieving net zero.
You mention the Renewables Obligation (RO) as a subsidy for burning biofuels. The RO scheme and the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme support the generation of renewable electricity. The RO does not pay a direct subsidy, instead support is through tradeable renewable electricity certificates. In addition, the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme supports renewable heat technologies.
The CfD scheme is the Government’s primary method of encouraging investment in low-carbon electricity. The next bidding round is now open and, the previous rounds delivered record-low prices and enough clean energy to power over 7 million homes. Thanks to the investment of successive governments the price of offshore wind has been reduced by around 65 per cent. I am glad that these costs continue to fall as green technology advances, with solar and wind now cheaper than coal and gas in most of the world.
Biomass Strategy: The Government announced that a new Biomass Strategy will be published this yeatr. I understand that this will review what amount of sustainable biomass could be available to the UK, and how this resource could be best utilised across the economy to help achieve our net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.
I agree with you that our woods and forests are an invaluable national asset and I am proud of the action that has been taken in recent years to preserve and extend British woodland. I am pleased that ministers remain committed to increasing tree planting to 30,000 hectares per year across the UK by 2025. On top of this, I am encouraged that ministers have published the England Trees Action Plan, which sets the UK on the path to ensure that we have at least 12 per cent woodland cover by the middle of the century, supported by over 80 announcements knitting together to create a comprehensive plan of action.
I am pleased that the Government is expanding the Nature for Climate Fund to ensure total spending of more than £750 million by 2024-25 to help meet the commitment to plant at least 7,500 hectares of trees every year in England by 2025 and restore 35,000 hectares of peatland. My ministerial colleagues will make sure that the right trees are planted in the right places, that trees and woodlands are better protected, that more green jobs are created in the forestry sector and that people have greater access to trees and woodlands.
Forests (Global): A due diligence obligation set out in the Environment Act 2021 has made it illegal for UK businesses to use agricultural commodities if they have not been produced in line with local laws protecting forests. These businesses are required to carry out due diligence on their supply chains to show where key commodities - for example, cocoa, rubber, soy and palm oil - come from. Businesses that do not comply with the new requirements will be subject to fines.
In the biggest step forward in protecting the world’s forests in a generation, more than 100 leaders committed at COP26 to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The pledge is backed by almost £14 billion in public and private funding. Together, the countries signing the pledge, including Brazil, Russia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Canada, contain 85 per cent of the world’s forests, an area of over 13 million square miles.
I am glad that the UK is committing £1.5 billion over five years to support the forests pledge, including £350 million for tropical forests in Indonesia, and £200 million for the LEAF Coalition. The UK will also contribute £200 million, alongside 11 other donors, as part of a new £1.1 billion fund to protect the Congo Basin. The area is home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world which is threatened by industrial logging, mining and agriculture.
I remain committed to ensuring that we build back greener and more resilient as we recover from Covid-19.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP