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SNP calls on Government to reverse 'damaging policies' on the environment

By Elizabeth Arnold, Press Association Political Staff

The SNP's deputy Westminster leader has called on the Government to reverse "damaging policies" on energy and the environment, warning: "Climate change is the biggest crisis facing the world today."

Standing in for Ian Blackford at Prime Minister's Questions, Kirsty Blackman claimed the Government had "failed to do enough".

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington insisted the Government had a "good record on which to base that future action".

But he acknowledged: "Clearly more needs to be done and probably all of us of an age to be here would recognise that our generations have not done sufficient to meet this challenge."

Ms Blackman said: "Climate change is the biggest crisis facing the world today. Even the Environment Secretary's admitted that his Government has failed to do enough.

"Yesterday he promised that the UK Government would take action. This Government has spent millions on nuclear power, they've cut support for renewable energy projects and they've continued to pursue fracking, so does taking action include reversing these damaging policies?"

Mr Lidington replied: "I think that (she) underestimates how much work has been done by the UK.

"Since 2010 we have reduced C02 emissions faster than any other G20 nation.

"Between 2010 and 2018 we reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about a quarter overall. Our renewable energy capacity has quadrupled since 2010 and the proportion of our electricity coming from low carbon resources has increased from 19% to more than half in 2018, a record year for renewables.

"There's a lot more to do but I think it's a good record on which to base that future action."

Commons Speaker John Bercow mistakenly called out the name of Mr Blackford as Ms Blackman began her question.

Tory MP Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) called for tougher targets for reducing emissions.

She said: "Passions are running high, including my own, about the devastating effects of climate change and, whilst this Government has made great strides in decarbonising faster than any country in the G20, we must do more, faster, and sooner for a sustainable future."

Ms Pow mistakenly called for the UK to achieve net zero emissions ahead of 2020, before correcting herself and calling for the target to be met by 2050.

She said: "So would you ask the Prime Minister to join me in supporting a cross-party call for net zero emissions ahead of 2020, that is greater than our current calls and targets, sorry, ahead of 2050. That is more stringent than our current targets."

Ms Pow also called for the target to be enshrined in law.

Mr Lidington said the Government would look at the advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change to "understand what would be needed to get to that early zero emissions target and the practical steps that would involve".