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Standing Committee B
Tuesday 25 May 2004
[Mr. Jonathan Sayeed in the Chair]
Annual reports under section 1 of the Sustainable Energy Act 2003
Amendment proposed [Thursday 20 May]
clause 2, page 2, line 7, leave out 'and demonstration' and insert 'demonstration and deployment'. [Dr. Turner.]
Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.
The Chairman: I remind the Committee that with this we are discussing the following:
Clause 2 stand part.
Clause 3 stand part.
Amendment No. 39, in
Government new clause 7Reports under section 1 of Sustainable Energy Act 2003and amendment (a) thereto:
after ''clean coal technology;'' insert '(aa) coal mine methane;'.
New clause 8Environmental targets
'(1) The Secretary of State shall within six months of this Act receiving Royal Assent lay before each House of Parliament a report, prepared in consultation with the devolved administrations, on renewable energy and that report shall include
(a) a set target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, with individual targets for each area covered by devolved administrations as agreed between the Secretary of State and the relevant devolved administrations for the following ten year period,
(b) a set target for the percentage of electricity to be generated by renewable energy sources, with individual targets for each area covered by devolved administrations as agreed between the Secretary of State and the relevant devolved administrations for the following ten year period,
(c) the amount of electricity being generated by each method of renewable energy, and
(d) a strategy for meeting the targets set out in paragraphs (a) and (b).
(2) In each year thereafter the Secretary of State shall lay before each House of Parliament a report setting out
(a) progress made towards the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target,
(b) progress made towards the renewable energy target,
(c) the amount of electricity being generated by each method of renewable energy, and
(d) strategy for meeting the continuing targets for both greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy with proposals for any changes necessary for meeting the targets set in subsection (1)(a) and (b).
(3) At the end of the initial ten year period, and every ten years thereafter, the Secretary of State shall lay before each House of Parliament a report setting out the measures specified in
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subsection (1) for the following ten year period and in every year thereafter lay before each House of Parliament the report specified in subsection (2).'.
New clause 9Report on sustainable energy policy commitments
New clause 10Amendment of Sustainable Energy Act 2003
After section 2 of the Sustainable Energy Act 2003 there is inserted
New clause 12Duty relating to energy provision and use
''2A Energy efficiency of business and public sector buildings: Secretary of State
(1) The Secretary of State must within one week beginning with the coming into force of this section designate under this subsection at least one energy efficiency aim.
(2) For the purposes of this section an ''energy efficiency aim'' is an aim which
(a) is contained in a published document;
(b) relates to the energy efficiency of business and public sector buildings;
(c) specifies the amount of carbon dioxide to be saved from business and public sector buildings; and
(d) is compatible with European Union obligations and any other international obligations of the United Kingdom.
(3) The Secretary of State may, at any time after designation under subsection (1), designate under this subsection a further energy efficiency aim or aims.
(4) Where an energy efficiency aim is for the time being designated under this section, the Secretary of State must take reasonable steps to achieve the aim.
(5) In deciding which steps to take for the purposes of subsection (4), the Secretary of State must consider steps relating to the heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and insulation of business and public sector buildings.
(6) A designation under this section may be withdrawn, but not if its withdrawal would result in there being no energy efficiency aim designated under this section.
(7) If an energy efficiency aim designated under this section ceases to meet the condition in subsection (2)(d) it ceases to be designated under this section, but if this results in there being no energy efficiency aim so designated the Secretary of State must without delay designate a new energy efficiency aim.
(8) A designation of an aim under this section, or a withdrawal or cessation of such a designation, must be published in such a way as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.
(9) A designation may be contained in the same published document as the aim itself.
(10) In this section ''business and public sector buildings'' means buildings specified under any enactments or otherwise as business or public sector buildings.
(11) This section shall come into force on 1st January 2005.''.'.
'The Secretary of State shall have a duty to promote the efficient provision and use of energy [gas and electricity], and to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.'.
The Minister for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services (Mr. Stephen Timms): I welcome you back to chairing our deliberations, Mr. Sayeed, and I welcome back all members of the Committee following our weekend break. We had a good discussion on Thursday on this group of amendments. I thought that in responding I would start with my proposal to delete
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clause 3 and replace it with Government new clause 7 because much of the discussion focused on that last week.
There are two elements to this proposal. First, should there be a Government commitment to a figure for carbon savings from household energy? As it might be unclear from the record, I want to make it absolutely clear that the Government believe that there should be such a commitment. We have a mechanism for providing it in the Sustainable Energy Act 2003, which came on to the statute book as a result of the work of my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, North-East (Brian White). The Government proposal uses that mechanism so as to be consistent with the work that has been done in Parliament on this, rather than to cut across it, as clause 3 would, by putting a figure in the Bill, with all the drawbacks that that entails. There is complete agreement across the Committee about the rightness of there being a clear commitment.
Secondlythis is an issue on which much of the discussion on Thursday focusedwhat should that figure be? In the White Paper we suggested that it should be around 5 million tonnes of carbon savings. The figure that has been published is 4.2 million; if one takes the reasonable view that around five means more than four and less than six, the figure is consistent. The announcement made the other week sits alongside the increased commitment on energy efficiency for business. Total carbon savings from energy efficiency across both sectors will be appreciably more than the numbers set out in the White Paper. It is important that we deliver carbon savings.
I understand the concerns that were forcefully expressed in our debate on Thursday. I listened carefully to all the points that were made. I agree that we should be aiming high in this area. We should be aspirational. The figure of 4.2 million tonnes is the minimum that I would expect to be achieved. I am also concerned about the industry's sense that there has not been a good dialogue with the Government in this process. That also needs to be addressed. Together with my noble Friend Lord Whitty, who leads on this matter, I will arrange to meet representatives of the industry and those who are particularly concerned about the household energy efficiency aims. We will do that before Report.
Brian White (Milton Keynes, North-East) (Lab): The Sustainable Energy Act allows for a review of that figure. Will my hon. Friend the Minister undertake to consider using that review mechanism once Ministers have met industry representatives and if they convince Ministers of the need to increase the figure to provide security for investment?
Mr. Timms: There is a review mechanism and, as I understand it, the efficiency commitment is due to be reviewed in 2007. I will certainly consider my hon. Friend's point. I believe that the commitment that has been made will lead to a substantial stepping up of activity in this area, compared with what we have seen
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in the past, so it is a big step forward. The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South, recently launched the Newcastle warm zone, and there is a warm zone in my constituency. There is a great deal of activity on this issue. Because of the commitment that has been published, we will see much more in the future than we have in the past.
Paddy Tipping (Sherwood) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend the Minister confirm that the purpose of the meeting with outside bodies is to reinforce the 4.2 million tonnes target as the minimum, and that the aspiration is to increase it? If we can do better than the target, that will be in everyone's interest.
Mr. Timms: My hon. Friend is right. The other aim of the meeting will be to ensure that there is a good dialogue between Government and the industry as we go forward to ensure that the quite serious disappointment that has been expressed up to now does not recur.