Last week there was a Parliamentary debate on the outcome of COP26 which had taken place in Glasgow. A substantial number of people were involved in that event and worked incredibly hard to get the best outcome from the vital event. One of my friends from Sussex took part and I am very grateful that Ruth Valerio who works for Tearfund was able to attend the event. Another person who played an important role as part of COP26 was Caroline Lucas who is an MP in our community. There will probably have been other people from Sussex who took part in an effort to improve the outcome and it would be great if those people can also be endorsed. I am certainly aware that some people walked from the South East up to Glasgow in the weeks before COP26 started. While the end of COP26 did not go as far as it could have, it could have easily fallen further away from the objective to try to reduce the prospect of Climate Change and it is vital that the hard work will get built on. At the beginning of the discussion last Monday, Boris Johnson referred to how many people have participated.
the United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, which took place in the magnificent city of Glasgow over the past two weeks. It was the biggest political gathering of any kind ever held in the United Kingdom. 194 countries were represented. We had around 120 heads of state and heads of government, 38,000 accredited delegates, and countless tens of thousands more in the streets, parks and venues outside.
As it happens there was only one Sussex MP who took part in the discussion last Monday and indeed it was Caroline Lucas. Sadly she was ignored by the Prime Minister which is disturbing given his initial comment. She began by acknowledging the hard work carried out by Alok Sharma and then pointed out how Johnson has undermined climate leadership and how the vulnerable countries feel betrayed. This is a clear response to the fact that even though several years ago the richest nations including our own had promised to release funding to the vulnerable nations, that sadly that did not come out from COP26. We clearly need all of our local MPs to add their concerns to the call from Caroline to the Government. It is of course clear that a number of nations must respond but the strongest that our Government gets challenged, the better the prospect for other nations to respond appropriately. This is the rest of the question from Caroline.
He says that we are not asking others to do anything that we are not doing ourselves. Will he demonstrate that that is the case by requesting an urgent and transparent audit by the Office for Budget Responsibility, independent of the Treasury, of all our own domestic fossil fuel subsidies, with a view to phasing them out as soon as possible—yes or no?
The response from him was “She cannot say that it was a successful COP and somehow attack the UK Government; I simply fail to see the logic.” Sadly there was no answer to the call for the audit and the phasing out issues which is clearly very important for our nation. Although there were no other elements in the debate from Sussex there was one other question that I spotted which has a very clear reference to our community as much as the rest of the UK. It came from Ben Spencer who is the MP for Runnymede and Weybridge who asked.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is science, technology, research and development that will get us through this mess, but that that is going to need a huge workforce skilled in STEM? Could he update the House on the work the Government are doing not only to improve and enhance careers and training in STEM, but to break down barriers for women and people from marginalised backgrounds to taking on those careers?
As it happens there was a recent call from an organisation that I am a member of called the Institute of Engineering and Technology that has asked Johnson to ensure that more work is carried out by the Government to strengthen STEM training for the UK. Sadly last Monday the response from Johnson did not fully acknowledge the challenge that our nation is facing which the IET has raised. Here in Sussex we have a local IET group and we also have a local group of STEM Ambassadors. Indeed I am one of them and the University of Brighton has coordinated it here for many years. Perhaps our local MPs could engage with their IET members to better understand how important STEM education is!