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I declare my interest as a professor of climate modelling and someone who helps to direct some environmental non-governmental organisations. The climate science background for this legislation is well covered by the POST leaflet in the House of Lords Library, which does not seem to be selling very well so I recommend noble Lords to have a look. It makes a point referred to earlier by a noble Lord on the Conservative Benches who was sceptical about the whole business. He was quite right to point out that there has not been a rise in the global average temperature since about 1999. This followed a very rapid rise in the 1990s and since then there have been large oscillations in the world, particularly associated with oceanic effects and the El Niño oscillation. The information that I have from the Met Office and other scientists is that this oscillation is expected to end and a rapid climb to occur probably in the next few years. It shows the vital importance of ocean research and monitoring, which are just as important as atmospheric research. The UK Government are contributing strongly to the floats in the Pacific Ocean which indicate these profound changes.
If the greenhouse gases emitted are controlled along the lines suggested in the Bill, according to current UN recommendations there will still be an average temperature rise of about 2 degrees Celsius over this century. A more realistic estimate might be 3 or 4 degrees but the large variations in temperature and rainfall over days, months and years will most affect people and natural processes. We are already seeing phenomena that probably have no parallel since the last ice age. Research supported by the Natural Environment Research Council has shown how the largest temperature rise in the world of 3 degrees in the last 50 years took place on the Antarctic peninsula. It was associated with westerly winds and complex fluid dynamics with which I am involved. This caused an area the size of Wales to break away and this area of icethe Larsen ice shelfhad been the same for the last 20,000 years.
Record temperatures over several days in 2003 led to more than 30,000 deaths in European cities. Some researchers, particularly in France, conclude that such high temperatures may well last longer in future, which will have devastating effects. Colleagues from the Indian Parliament in the GLOBE organisation describe the unique disaster of no rainfall occurring
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Reports by the IPCC showed that the recommended scenario means that global greenhouse gas emissions must stop over the next 30 years and then be reduced to significantly below current levels. This must be done by 2050, and preferably sooner. If that action is delayed, there will be really damaging effects on human health and food supplies and there will be natural disasters associated with damaging the infrastructure. However, through policies of mitigation and adaptation, this gloomy future for the climate is not completely inevitable, nor are all the damaging impacts on communities inevitable.
Following the reports of Socolow at Princeton and Stern here in the UK, the Royal Commission report and todays CBI report, there are a multiplicity of mitigation measures that could be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those should be within the means of an economy such as the UK and eventually will be within the means of economies such as India and China. That will take many decades to achieve. Those measures involve either reducing the use of energy through greater efficiency and conservation and a move to more sustainable lifestyles and consumer demand, or replacing fossil fuels through the use of renewable and nuclear energy sources.
The Japanese Parliament decided that lifestyle was important, and noble Lords will know that it adopted a new clothing style associated with trying to reduce energy. Members now wear a loose-fitting uniform in the summer, and some Japanese parliamentarianthey do not make many jokessaid, It is rather cool, dont you think?. This evening, I had to take off my jersey as I came into the House of Lords. I had been in an economical university department earlier where I had my jersey on; then I came into this hothouse. Clearly, we have something to do to lead the rest of the UK on these matters.
The Bill states that the UK needs to reduce its emissions by 60 per cent or more by 2050 by stages that are legally enforceable through rolling five-year targets. The challenging target for the UK is to take into account the fact that countries with lower standards of living and energy use will be increasing their emissions for the next 30 to 50 years before they start to make these changes. An important feature for the future, and one which gives us great optimism, is the use of solar energy, as mentioned earlier. The UK has perhaps some of the worlds greatest scientists dealing with the possibilities of plastics and nanotechnology, which may be able to cover roofs the world over. I have the vision of a man in Africa going on his bike to the local store and coming back with a light plastic sheet to put on his roof. At the moment,
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Another reason for being hopeful is more down to earth. Even with technology that was 10 years old, the borough of Woking, not so far from here, showed that it is possible in its building and transport facilities to reduce carbon emissions by 70 per cent and its use of energy by 45 per cent. If Woking can do it in the 1990s, surely we might be able to do it by the 2050s. That point was made in two of our reports.
The organisational plan for implementing the Governments policy is quite complicated. As the GLA pointed out in its briefingit is nice for the GLA to make some organisational comments, because it gets a lot of flak from this Housewith new organisations, there is a great danger of them treading on the toes of existing ones. The method of the Government here is a mixture of market forces based on carbon trading and administrative and fiscal measures. The latter are not particularly well set out in sufficient detail in the Bill for us to understand how they will be used and whether the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, which I very much welcome, will be sought as actively as on carbon budgeting.
In particular, will the committee be able to investigate the plans and practices of public organisations, which I am pleased to see will now have obligations? Will the committee be able to quiz government departments? Will it be able to quiz the Treasury about the Budget before it makes the Budget? From my experience and that of many others of running government agencieswhich in the UK employ more than 2 million peoplethe Government have often been reluctant to use those powers to help policy objectives. This new initiative will be a bit of a challenge for the whole governmental system, and I look forward to seeing how it works out. Christian Aid and other organisations are arguing that the Bill should include regulating the significant emissions of UK-based companies.
The question of the role of local authorities was the dog that did not bark in the night. I gather that the committee under my noble friend Lord Puttnam wrestled with this but came up with a damp squib. It did not recommend that the Government should empower local government. Local government has shown that it can do it; it has shown that it can have leaders around the country. They will be the people who will be looked at to see whether this is happening. Whitehall is very remote for most people
Lord Puttnam: My Lords, we discussed that issue at great length, and we were advisedI think rightlythat to go down the route that my noble friend is suggesting would require a different Bill. We decided not to pursue the issue. I think that is correct. A local government Bill on adaptation will be required at some time in the fairly near future.
Lord Hunt of Chesterton: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that. I just comment that, in the appendix, Wales seems to have got away with it. Adaptation measures are now firmly part of the Bill, and I very much welcome the fact that they are in the Title. That has been welcomed around the House today.
One of the most important features is that, perhaps through the Committee on Climate Change, there should be a clear plan for integrating adaptation measures with those needed for mitigation. The holistic approach that the Government now use must be part of their strategy. The Prime Minister advocates the Severn barrage. That is a classic example of where you are dealing with flooding, which requires adaptation measures. You can also have windmills along it, and you are generating a vast amount of electricity. That must be the way forward.
Finally, I reinforce what the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, said. African and many other developing countries feel strongly that they should be part of this process, and we need to take their interests into account. I hope that the Committee on Climate Change will be able to take that aspect into UK policy as it gives advice.
The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, it is a great privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, who has such a depth of expertise in this area of climate and what the world has in store for us. One of the daunting tasks in considering the issues in the Bill is that it has already engaged and challenged so many minds and engendered so many reports. My noble friend Lord Waldegrave pointed out the problem that the policy faces. That was something that Winston Churchill underlined, when he said that the ultimate political skill is,
My interests in this matter are probably centred mainly around the fact that I am a farmer, and that is a sector to which some of the provisions of the Bill may be extended. It may be of interest to your Lordships that I have a son who is much involved in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in China and less developed economies and with the trading of carbon credits.
As the Minister mentioned, last weeks report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes very sobering reading. The arguments that most struck me were the contention that current increases in temperature were occurring at a time of limited sunspot activitywhich has usually been taken to cause increased temperatureand that the rises in temperature have been identified not only in the atmosphere but in the oceans.
But by combining the elements that it classifies as adaptation with those of mitigation, it contends that a moderately successful annual target to 2050 would cause between a 1 per cent gain and a 5.5 per cent decrease of global GDP. In that, it is forecasting that things will be 1 per cent more costly than was forecast in the Stern report. It is interesting that those two elements run so closely together. In the Governments
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Looking further into the scientific technologies that will be required, it strikes me that the present remit seen for the Committee on Climate Change is to advise the Government on net UK emissions and the use of carbon offsets based mainly on business and industrial processes. The further element that is only hinted at is that the committee might be required to estimate the carbon absorption rate of various activities, many of which will not be connected to those businesses but which will be an integral part of the UK net emissions.
Clause 61 allows for emissions of greenhouse gases occurring in or above coastal waters and the UK sector of the continental shelf. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, mentioned the importance of oceans and he was among those with me who attended a seminar at the Foundation for Science and Technology last week, when I was informed by a professor of oceanography that half the carbon dioxide emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution has been absorbed by the oceans. This has increased the acidity of the ocean and, along with raised temperature, will result in the oceans being less able to absorb CO2. We are really only scratching the surface of knowing what the results of all the interactions within the oceans could amount to.
There are obvious problems of knowing how this power can be factored into any calculation. Noble Lords this afternoon are offering many additional duties to the committee, but the fact that this may have some bearing on what our carbon policy should be suggests that the committee should have some remit in promoting and researching carbon sequestration on land and in the oceans. The Government in their response paper lay great emphasis on a policy that the committee must be adequately resourced from the start. Can the Minister say if present proposals include resources of this nature or whether they expect research into oceans and other carbon reduction spheres to be separately financed?
My noble friend Lord Taylor criticised the amount of discretion that the Bill puts in the hands of the Government. At paragraph 5.1 of their response to the Joint Committee the Government proudly state that this is a framework Bill. In your Lordships House it could equally merit the description of a skeleton Bill, and for aficionados of this type of legislation, it rates as a collectors item. On a quick skim through, I have found seven areas of legislation that can be amended by order and five clauses that are to be implemented by regulationlet alone Schedule 2, in which 96 matters can be provided for by regulation.
I have some doubts about the contention of my noble friend Lord Crickhowell that the Bill gives Parliament sufficient powers. The structure of the Bill
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Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, I was not in any way accepting that the statutory instruments part of the Bill was the effective bit; I was welcoming the fact that the Government have strengthened the Bill in the provisions regarding reporting and explaining to Parliament exactly what is going on. My point was that it is then up to Parliament to make use of the fact that these reports have to be given to it to make them effective. I expressed some doubt about whether that has always been the practice of Parliament, but hoped that things would change.
The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his intervention. It is always useful to go into these things in slightly more detail. Some powers in the Bill should be delegated to the committee, as my noble friend Lord Taylor suggested, and maybe some powers should remain with the Secretary of State, but as we approach Committee stage, careful thought will need to be given about which of these should appear in the Bill or whether our legislative conventions will have to be re-examined.
Perhaps the outstanding example of delegation lies in the Secretary of State's power at Clause 6(2)(a)(ii) to amend target percentages when there have been significant developments in European or international law or policy. This amounts almost to allowing the Secretary of State to have royal prerogative on entering into international treaties. Other than this statement, there is nothing in the Bill to say how we expect this national scheme to relate to all the international obligations to which we have already signed up. Does the Minister agree that it is at the point of considering our part in any new treaties that this topic should be considered on the Floor of the House?
There seems to be a gap in the wording of the Bill whereby we are anxious, as laid down in Clause 66, that our metric tonne of carbon conforms to the protocols of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The provisions for trading schemesas far as I can understand themwill apply perfectly well to any carbon credits generated and traded within the United Kingdom. But Clause 37(3) seems to limit that to this activity. In the absence of anything in the Bill, my noble friend Lord Taylor made a point of asking the Minister what the Governments view was on how we should impose a limit on the purchase of overseas carbon credits; but I see nothing in the Bill which states that our domestic targets will be able to accept international carbon credits as part of an individual or our national budget. The corollary, of course is: will any carbon credits generated here be acceptable in other international schemes?
The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, pointed out that this country has a track record of picking and choosing in terms of the Kyoto agreement and which gases we will consider, and when. So far, we have blocked the implementation of any of the so-called joint implementation projects under Kyotoa situation hinted at by my noble friend Lady Byford when she mentioned that we are not taking up the gas reductions through the land use, land change and forestry scheme. We have not implemented anything to do with sequestration in that area.
For those who wish to entertain a more sceptical frame of mind, I sometimes wonder whether we should not be prepared to regard all this activity as another example of the enthusiasm that was generated by the proposition of putting a man on the moon. What, one might ask, was the purpose of all that? But while we were at it we drove forward miniaturisation, computers, IT, unbreakable china and non-stick saucepans. Where would Her Majestys Government be without all of those?
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to this debate today. This Bill and the Governments clear determination to act on carbon emissions and climate change are welcome and timely. Before I continue, I wish to declare an interest as a non-executive board member of WRAP, the Waste and Resources Action Programme, which receives government funding to encourage businesses and consumers to reduce waste and increase recycling.
The Prime Minister was quite right when he spoke last week about the scale of the challenge ahead. The mission to build a global, low-carbon economy is historic and world-changing. It is also undeniably necessary, with all leading scientific bodies projecting temperature increases of up to 4 degrees centigrade and rising sea levels by the end of the century. We can already see the damaging effects of the weather changes around us, and, as the Environment Agency has made clear, whatever action we take, the effects of increased warming are already locked in to our ecosystems for the next 30 or 40 years. More seriously, as the Stern report made clearand has been reinforced in this debatethe impact of climate change is not evenly distributed. The poorest countries will suffer earliest and most. So business as usual is not an option, and the Governments ambitions for a comprehensive reform of our energy, industry and consumer policies, combined with a new global consensus, must be supported.
I very much welcome the Governments recognition of the scale of the challenge, and I hope that they can be persuaded to go further and commit to the target of an 80 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. I believe that the scientific case now exists to make that a necessity. However, targets are nothing if they are not deliverable, so our focus now has to be on winning the hearts and minds of industry and the public in persuading them to embrace change, as well as putting effective caps, incentives and investment in place to deliver change on a grand scale.
In the Queens Speech debate on this issue, my noble friend Lord Giddens entertained us with a theory of behavioural change which he called hyperbolic discounting. He summarised it as meaning that people prefer small rewards in the present to large rewards in the future. Therefore, as he put it, people find it hard to change present practices, even if the threat from the future is substantial. If he is right, we face a significant challenge in delivering voluntary behavioural change, but I do not share his pessimism and it is that to which I now turn my attention.
My involvement in the Waste and Resources Action Programme has demonstrated the considerable appetite for change that already exists. An international review carried out by WRAP showed that, across a wide range of wastes, recycling offers more environmental benefits and lower environmental impact than either incineration or landfill. Already there is evidence of a large-scale embrace of waste minimisation and recycling initiatives across the manufacturing, retail and domestic sectors.
It is an exciting time to be operating in that sector as manufacturers look to design out waste and find new uses for recycled materials. Research and innovation are increasing at an enormous rate. In the retail sector, the Courtauld agreement has seen major retailers and brands commit to reducing packaging. Indeed, there is growing public opposition to excessive packaging and a growing realisation that single-use plastic bags are an unnecessary and avoidable contributor to landfill and CO2 emissions.
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