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That is why the 10:10 campaign is so important, and why it is so disappointing to hear the Government, yet again, using all the excuses in the book to say that they will not do something positive about it instead of saying, "This is something that we want to embrace-it's consistent with our principles and what we say we're going to do about public buildings, so yes, we will make it happen."
I agree with the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), who made a superb speech in support of the contention that if the Government cannot achieve the 10:10 objectives, they cannot achieve the other objectives that lie in the future.
It is deplorable that the Government, by virtue of deleting the reference in our motion, are not allowing Parliament itself to sign up to 10:10, given that there is hardly a Member in this House who does not believe that the Commission could do the necessary work if it put its mind to it, and that we should instruct it to do so. I hope that Labour Back Benchers will be prepared to take a risk tonight and come into the Lobby with us to insist that that should be the case.
What we have done in this House is considerable, and the Government should take credit for the good things that they have achieved, such as the Climate Change Act. They arrived at it by dint of pressure from all parts of the House, but it is of value. They rejected feed-in tariffs for a long time but eventually accepted them-although I agree that the design of them is deplorable. They are groping towards an energy policy, but there is no coherence to it.
I look at all those things and think that we have an opportunity to arrive at consensus. We are lucky compared with America, where there are divergent views. We generally have a consensus in this country, not just between the political parties but with big business. We have a huge opportunity, and we can do so much more if we shut off the poverty of aspiration that still bedevils us and grasp the fact that doing the right thing is not only right environmentally but right economically. The hon. Member for Nottingham, South made that point. So many of the measures that we can take make economic sense, particularly in a recession when we are trying to save money. We can save the environment while saving money and creating jobs, and that should be the aspiration of this House.
Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton) (Lab/Co-op): Like my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Barry Gardiner), I regret the tone of the debate. As has been amply shown, there is plenty of leadership at national level. I wish to talk about how that translates through to regional and local leadership.
In Exeter we have the green jewel in the south-west's crown, the Met Office, which the Conservatives' defence spokesman recently seemed to think it would be a good idea to sell off at this critical time. Our regional leadership has come from the former and current regional Ministers, my right hon. Friends the Members for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw) and for South Dorset (Jim Knight), working alongside the South West of England Regional Development Agency. The Conservatives would abolish the RDAs, but that leadership has ensured that there are key priorities in our region on resource efficiency, renewable energy, waste management, climate change adaptation and low-carbon technologies.
That has led to the region being the first to be given low-carbon economic area status as part of the Government's low-carbon industrial strategy. That designation involves £30 million for the wave hub energy demonstrator off Cornwall and £15 million for the
peninsula institute for marine renewable energy, which is a joint project of Exeter and Plymouth universities. Those projects will make major contributions to the national targets on which we have to deliver, and they are an important illustration of how we need to continue to invest at a strategic level. That investment will take time to deliver.
Locally, people in Plymouth are doing their bit. Not surprisingly in a constituency with 450 marine scientists and 1,500 environmental students, the university is top-performing in environment and sustainability, as rated by People and Planet in its green energy league table. There are businesses such as the Caribbean Car Wash, which has set a benchmark for high-quality eco-friendly car washing by reducing to half a litre the amount of water necessary to clean and valet a car.
I regret that our Tory council has not signed up to the 10:10 agreement and that its leader set a bad example by objecting to a school's planning application for two small wind turbines and then employing a consultant when the school appealed. I regret the daft proposals to sell the green jewel in our city's crown, a successful bus company that is one of the few in the country to have added passengers in recent years.
The 10:10 campaign is excellent, but no one should use it to talk down what we are achieving and our position of international leadership. Practicality is everything, and as my hon. Friend the Minister said in her opening remarks, some Departments have already taken the low-hanging fruit. Carbon budgets, mocked from the Tory Benches, will build on that success.
There are those who are still sceptical, although perhaps none of them are present in the House today. It took only one small mistake to detract from Al Gore's brilliant film "An Inconvenient Truth". The Government have to act responsibly, especially on matters in which they have already gathered in some of the low-hanging fruit.
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): Copenhagen is our last best chance to avoid catastrophe. For 30 years we have known about man-made climate change and I am deeply proud that the Liberal party, all those years ago, was the first British political party to address it. Since then, the science has become clearer and more worrying. There is now a clear global consensus among scientists that climate change is man-made but still preventable by human action-just.
The economics have also become clearer. The sooner and more urgently we act, the less risk of an economic collapse that will make the current recession look like a vicarage tea party. The Stern report spelled that out very clearly. It concluded that an atmospheric concentration of about 550 parts per million CO2 was perhaps adequate as a stabilisation target. It is now pretty clear that that was much too high.
We now know that about 2° C of global warming is all but inevitable, and that there is a significant risk of 4°, 5° or 6° C unless we have a concerted international deal. That would mean catastrophic disruption of food production, irreversible collapse of ice sheets and rain forests, huge areas of the planet rendered uninhabitable and mass displacement of people. With my background in Oxfam, I know what unimaginable human misery that would mean.
As environmental shocks mount, more and more nations realise that a global deal is in their interests. China and India now clearly understand that. They have many of the poorest people in the world, who will be the hardest hit by global warming. They have taken a lead on many issues, including renewable energy and reforestation, in their own countries.
We all agree that Britain also needs to take a lead; Parliament needs to take a lead. I pay tribute to the House of Commons Commission and the Parliamentary Estates management, which are making efforts. Only this week, they met myself and some of my constituents to attempt to find a solution to the large numbers of high-energy candle lights that proliferate on the estate, which take enormous numbers of people to replace all the time.
Hugh Bayley: I shall ask a question that I asked of Conservative Members. Earlier this week, the Commission decided that it would not sign up to the 10:10 commitment. The hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey), who speaks for the Commission in the House, is a Liberal Democrat. Did he support the Commission's view?
Martin Horwood: I was giving credit to the Commission for the work that it has done, but I am afraid that on the 10:10 campaign the Chamber must trump the Commission. This is where we decide on Parliament's ambitions.
I also give credit where it is due to the Government. It is fair to say that they have shown leadership in helping to put climate change on the international agenda and introduced the world's first climate change Act, although they were dragged somewhat reluctantly to the target of 80 per cent. However, it was supported by the Government in the end, which is good. They have also shown a commitment to renewable energy and carbon capture and storage, although they showed similar reluctance on feed-in tariffs and left something of a giant loophole in the CCS policy.
However, the Government must also accept that there are some worrying signs of complacency and lack of urgency. As the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) pointed out, it does not really compute that the Government can give the go-ahead to the third runway at Heathrow based on flawed calculations of the future cost of climate change while trying to maintain an international position as strong as that of President Obama. The right hon. Gentleman was spot on when he spoke of how much greener most of the stimulus packages around the world are than our own.
There is a constant recitation that we have been on target for Kyoto when, as the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) pointed out, that target was met long ago by the dash for gas. Actually, if the target is met, it will be partly because of the recession- [ Interruption. ] I am sorry, but it is true.
The Government are at risk of being seen to ask everybody else to act, but not to act themselves. They have an energy bill of some £4 billion and massive buying power. The public sector has the chance to shape entire markets, and how British industry and the private sector respond to the challenge of climate change. It is very worrying that the Minister who opened the debate, I hope in a lapse, described the 10:10 campaign as a
gesture- [ Interruption. ] Those were her very words. It is also worrying that she cast doubt on the Government's ability to sign up to 10:10 despite the fact that her Department has done so. Look at the list of organisations that have had that ambition and signed up to 10:10. It includes the Environment Agency; Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Bristol universities; 52 local councils responsible for 8.8 million people, including most recently, I am proud to say, Bristol city council; more than 150 schools; 40 NHS trusts; B&Q; Aviva; Microsoft; Atkins Global; and the Royal Mail-the latter does not get everything right, but it has signed up to the 10:10 campaign. It is a fantastic campaign that has finally captured the real sense of urgency that is needed to put us on almost a war footing-that psychology that we must act soon to avert catastrophe.
We have had one or two regrettably partisan and bad-tempered speeches. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Nigel Griffiths) claimed that the Liberal Democrats opposed wind power at local level. I can tell him about York, Leeds, Ipswich, Lewes, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Islington, West Berkshire, Devon, Vale of White Horse and Cornwall-I do not have time to finish the list. However, we have mostly heard real passion and wide support on both sides of the House. Many of the contributions have shown why the 10:10 campaign has captured the public imagination.
I am proud to have followed my hon. Friend the Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes), who has shown leadership on environmental issues for a few decades-I will not embarrass him by saying how many-and helped to make the Liberal Democrats such a green party.
To the Conservative Front Bench, I say that I forgive their nuclear peccadilloes and some of the people with whom they keep company in Europe on climate change, and the occasional Back-Bench outburst on wind power, and pay tribute to the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle on his articulate defence of the 10:10 campaign. He rightly pointed out that there is no conflict between carbon budgets of the kind supported in the Climate Change Act 2008 and the 10:10 campaign commitment. In fact, I would go further and say that committing to 10:10 will make those carbon budgets easier and cheaper to achieve for the British economy.
I also give credit to the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson) and all those Labour Back Benchers who have signed up to the 10:10 campaign. I hope that they are prepared, just this once, to defy the party Whips and do the right thing for this country, for the planet and the environment.
I make a final appeal to the Minister. She has a proud record as a political campaigner. Many members of my party have followed her on marches in the past and listened to her defiance of the establishment. Her Secretary of State has asked for a popular mobilisation to help to push through action on climate change. Well, we have got that. It is called the 10:10 campaign and tonight is the night when we can take a decision as a Parliament to support it. The Minister has signed her Department up to it and she says that Departments are working hard to improve their admittedly miserable record to date. It is therefore a mystery why she will not allow her colleagues to commit the whole Government-or at least this Parliament-to the 10:10 campaign. This is our chance to send the clearest possible signal to campaigners
across the country and Copenhagen negotiators across the world that we are committed to urgent action. The truth is that the Minister probably does support this campaign and it is the establishment in the Treasury, No. 10 or Lord Mandelson's Department who have got to her. This is the moment when she should join hon. Members on both sides of the House, rediscover her radical roots, be brave, ambitious and bold, and believe that together we can do more than we think we can-and support this motion.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Mr. David Kidney): We have had 17 excellent speeches. Although the tone of the debate has been sparky, as a couple of hon. Members have commented, that edge has illuminated the issues before us. I noted that when the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) opened the debate, he said that he would applaud the Government for the things that we have done well, and he did so in his speech. However, we did not fail to notice that no credit is given in the motion for anything good that the Government have done, and I regret that.
I have signed up to the 10:10 campaign. In fact, that benefited me in this debate, because I first heard that it would take place today in a text message from the campaign. The campaign is valuable for the reasons that many hon. Members mentioned in the debate: it is a bottom-up campaign that draws people in, persuades people to take action and is voluntary. I wish that I had only a fraction of its skill in communications. Only a couple of weeks ago, I launched the carbon reduction commitment energy efficiency saving scheme. That massive cap-and-trade scheme, which starts next year and covers every Department, most of local government and most of the local bodies referred to tonight, did not get a patch of the coverage that the 10:10 campaign has received already. It is remarkable that decision makers in the House during this debate gave no recognition of the fact that, starting next year, the CRC will begin to reduce emissions across the entire public sector.
Some people say that to start now we have to sign up to 10:10 across the entire sector. Have people such short memories? This year, the House passed the carbon budgets, which we have already started to implement and which will put us on a trajectory to get us to the 34 per cent. reduction in our emissions that we need to reach by 2020.
The Government's record to date is fine. I accept what the Committee on Climate Change said about the need for a faster rate of improvement in the years up to 2020, and that is what our plans intend to achieve, but please do not ask us to dislocate the plans made to 2020 that start now and involve the efficient allocation of resources. Please do not ask us to sign up to something different now, instead of the things that we are doing already.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, while the Liberal Democrat motion makes no mention of costings, the Government amendment confirms a commitment to spending up to £20 million to help
Departments reduce their emissions? Is that not a very good reason to vote for the amendment?
Mr. Kidney: I confirm what my hon. Friend says. This country already has a good track record on energy efficiency, and I agree, that energy efficiency is an important part of the entire package that will reduce our need to consume energy.
Just today, we started on the next stage of our energy efficiency policy for domestic properties with the first of the community energy saving programme schemes-going house by house, street by street. That is the kind of approach for which many hon. Members have argued.
In our transition plan, which has been welcomed around the country and around the world, we say that we need to move to a low-carbon transformation involving the trinity of renewables, nuclear power and clean fossil fuels. It is a shame that we cannot persuade the Conservative party to support wind power in this country to its full capacity. According to a Greenpeace report, councils controlled by Conservatives are turning down and holding up onshore planning applications around the country. Also, according to the Financial Times today, the shadow Business Secretary said that the Tory policy is that no permission be given for onshore wind, even though it, along with offshore wind, on which we are No. 1 in the world, powered 2 million homes last year.
Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of speaking time left, but I want to confirm one important aspect of the transformation to 2020: our passionate intention that it be a just transition from which all our citizens benefit, and that no one be left behind. I want Members' suggestions for how we can ensure that the kind of things that we will introduce, such as green mortgages, the pay-as-you-save scheme, the feed-in tariffs next year, the renewable heat incentive the year after and the smart meters roll-out, benefit every citizen, including the worst off in this country-
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