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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Joan Ruddock):
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) for his support. Let us be absolutely clear about just how ambitious the Bill is. When it
receives Royal Assentin a few months time, I hopethe UK will be the first country in the world to have a legally binding, long-term framework to cut CO2 emissions and adapt to climate change. The framework of binding targets and budgets, and the accompanying obligations on the Government, supported by maximum transparency and by parliamentary oversight, will drive the UKs transition to the low-carbon economy that we need both to play our part in that crucial global effort and to secure our own economic future.
I very much welcome the generally positive tone of todays debate. The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth), in his opening remarks, said that the Bill is probably the most important piece of environmental legislation in a generation. He is correct. He asked me about clause 1 and the purpose of the Bill. May I tell him that any attempt to hold the world to a 2° C temperature rise depends on every country playing its part? It cannot be a unilateral move, and we therefore have difficulty accepting his point. He asked about the Prime Minister being responsible for reporting, but we have a Cabinet Government, and the whole Government are bound by the Bill and the whole Government will have to report in due course.
The hon. Gentleman asked about overseas credits, as did the hon. Member for Northavon (Steve Webb). The majority of emissions savings will, indeed, come from our domestic effort, but the fact is that in the emissions trading scheme, 50 per cent. of our emissions can be dealt with by companies making their own decisions. They can, for example, make reductions in a plant in Germany rather than in one in the UK. If we want the trading scheme, we cannot have limits on the emissions and credits that we can obtain overseas. The hon. Member for East Surrey asked about Lord Turner. The most important thing that he will do as the chair of the new committee will be to set the advice to the Government on those first budgets. That he will do. He will leave in the new year, but not until that most important job is done.
My many hon. Friends have made very constructive speeches, but I have no time to go into all of them. The hon. Member for Northavon rather failed to rise to the occasion, although far be it from me to call his contribution a piddling little speech. He spoke about the 80 per cent. target. Of course, the Bill says at least 60 per cent, and we have made it very clear that in the reference to the Climate Change Committee, we have allowed for the fact that the provision may be tightened to 80 per cent. The hon. Gentleman has to wait only until the end of this year, when that decision will be taken.
The hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) made a good speech. I was grateful to him for agreeing that progress against the 2020 interim target is the most important issue. He offered to supply some names for Lord Turners replacement, and we would be delighted to hear any names from the hon. Gentleman.
My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Linda Gilroy), in a very supportive speech, spoke about the importance of the oceansone area about which we are extremely consciousand of going beyond the tales in the tabloid press, which fail to encourage people to take their responsibilities seriously.
My hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Rothwell (Colin Challen) spoke with his usual expertise and commitment. The Bill requires the committee to publish its advice and the reasons for it, so if the Government were to set a target at a different level, they would have to say why. The issue of transparency is covered.
Many hon. Members referred to aviation and shipping. Those matters are best addressed at the international level, working through the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Authority and the International Maritime Organisation. We are taking action in Europe. We have been leading in Europe on the question of including aviation and shipping emissions. However, complex issues are involved and, as was recognised in the other place, we need expert advice from the Committee on Climate Change before we take a decision on whether to include international aviation and shipping emissions in our targets under the Bill.
The right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (David Maclean) made an important contribution on forests and biodiversity and the need to assist developing economies. We can all bear that in mind in the debate about whether we accept a restriction on the credits that we obtain overseas.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West and Royton (Mr. Meacher), in a typically challenging speech, discussed mandatory reporting by companies. The Companies Act 2006 provides for reporting on environmental issues by listed companies, but it is too early to say how well they are reporting and what they are reporting on. When Lord Rooker accepted the amendment in the House of Lords, he said that the Government would have to consider the matter further, and that is what we will do. Kingsnorth has not yet been licensed, and we cannot anticipate what will happen in that respect.
The hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) spoke on the basis of his international experience and referred to the importance of setting an example. He mentioned the need to convince China. We totally agree, and we work very closely with China. That is why carbon capture and storage is so important.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Anne Snelgrove) made a very supportive speech. I am grateful for her remarks, particularly about the contribution of individuals, who are responsible for 40 per cent. of all the emissions that arise in this country. Our Act on CO2 campaign and advice line are the best means by which individuals can contribute. As she said, the contribution of communities is also extremely important. She asked about the Government needing to do more on the question of buildings. All Departments are making greater efforts in relation to energy efficiency and sustainable development in general. The carbon reduction commitment, which is part of the Bill, will cover large councils and Departments and help to drive down emissions.
The hon. Member for Cambridge (David Howarth) agreed that individuals should play their part by using their power in the marketplace and referred to reporting by companies, which I have already dealt with. We very much agree with his sentiments.
I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) and to the great contribution that he makes, particularly as president of GLOBE International. He raised several points that I think that I have covered already. He referred to recycling as being absolutely crucial in reducing emissions. That is very important. He is entirely right about bringing about behavioural change on waste as opposed to other means. He spoke about annual targets. Every year, the committee will report to Parliament on progress, and every year the Government must respond. We do not support annual targets because [ Interruption. ]
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Minister has the Floor. It is not wise for the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) to say what he is saying. It is clear that the hon. Lady is not giving way, so let her continue with her speech. The right hon. Gentleman has had his tuppence worth.
As I said, my right hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe referred to targets. The committee will report to Parliament on progress, and every year, the Government must respond. We do not, however, support annual targets because there is always some variability in emissions each yearweather being an obvious case in point. Having annual targets would be a great problem, but there will be reporting and transparency, and there will be the opportunity for everyone to comment.
In the contributions of the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) and the hon. Members for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) and for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maples), the true voice of conservatism was heard tonightcompletely out of step with the majority of scientists. In February last year, the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change evaluated all available lines of evidence and concluded that there was a 90 per cent. chance that human emissions have caused most of the warming since 1950. That is the clearest answer to the points that the right hon. Gentleman raised.
Joan Ruddock: On the question of finances and the impact assessment raised by the right hon. Gentleman, we will be happy to deal with the matter in Committee. It would be impossible for me, given the moments that I have left, to deal with the points that he
My hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley) provided the antidote to those sceptics who spoke, indicating that less carbon dependency by our companies can lead to greater profitability. My hon.
Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Dr. Turner) said that policies should have climate impact assessments. I agree with him entirely, and all of our policies and pieces of legislation are required to have a climate impact assessment as part of their regulatory impact assessments.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) has done more than anyone to advance the adaptation debate. I congratulate him on that. He has done a huge amount of work, but a huge amount of work on the matter is going on in the Government. I am the Minister with responsibility for adaptation, and we are involving bodies at every level, such as local authorities and regional development agencies. We have the Climate Change Committee, the UK climate impacts programme and a raft of measures through which we will get a proper assessment of risks, a programme of adaptation measures to address those risks and new powers to require reporting by public authorities.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney) for his supportive speech. He raised the issue of feed-in tariffs, which are under consideration. The right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack), in a powerful speech, showed a great deal of understanding of our global responsibilities and the importance of the UK being at the top table. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Barry Gardiner) made an important contribution on ecosystems and biodiversity, development and adaptation commitments and the important issue of population. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson) made a passionate speech bringing to bear his great experience on this issue, and I know that he will keep us on our toes throughout the Committee.
The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Hurd), in the final moments, asked whether we would water down the Bill. We have no intention of watering it down. The questions of the hon. Member for South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter) were answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Chaytor), to whom I pay tribute for his hugely consistent campaigning and the welcome that he gave to the Bill.
It is clear that the UK has a fine record of leadership internationally on the enormously challenging issue that we have been discussing. The Bill provides the essential framework for ensuring that our response at home is commensurate with the challenge. The House has deliberated on few more serious issues than climate change.
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