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Mr. Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth, East) (Con): If Kyoto is to be at the heart of our interest in climate change, will it not be very difficult to address the issues that climate change presents until we get the United States to come on board with Kyoto?
The United States is the world's major polluter. It has 4 per cent. of the world's population, but produces 25 per cent. of its carbon emissions. However, President Bush still denies the basic science that everyone else in the world accepts. His spokesman, Harlan Watson, said a couple of months ago:
We have reached the stage at which the only people who do not appear to believe that climate change is with us are President Bush and Lee R. Raymond, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil. They could fit into a telephone box and discuss the subject. That reminds me of the old adage about Liberal Members of Parliament back in the 1960s, who, it was said, would all be able to fit into a taxi. Fortunately, those days are now long gone, and I imagine that they went when Cyril Smith won a by-election in Rochdale. We have moved on, so let us hope that President Bush can move on with his best buddy the chief executive of ExxonMobil.
Mr. Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is hard for us to apply the moral pressure on the United States that we all seek to apply when our Government talk tough about climate change and carbon dioxide emissions, set an ambitious target of 20 per cent. and then cut it to 13 per cent? They are failing to deliver. Does he agree with the recent report that suggests that this country now has a worse environmental record than that of the United States, which everyone seems to want to criticise? We all need to change.
Norman Baker: I do not agree that we have a worse environmental record than the United States, but I accept that we need to ensure that our house is in order before we attempt to lecture others. There is a lot of work to be done on the domestic scene, to which I will come later. One of the joys of these debates is that Members are always keen to anticipate the comments that I shall make. I busily scribble them out as I go through my contribution.
We have to ask why President Bush takes the view that he does. Does he genuinely not believe that the science is provenin which case, he is in a very small minorityor is there some other reason? We need to look at other elements of the US Administration to answer that question, and I look no further than Phillip Cooney, who was a chief of staff for the White House council on environmental quality. Leaked memos that have appeared in the press show that he consistently watered down official scientific warnings and intervened to blur the conclusions of Government scientists before they were published so as to minimise, as far as possible, their views on the threat from climate change.
Phillip Cooney is not a scientist; he is a politician working for President Bush. He was formerly a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's largest trade group and a lobby group vocal in denying that climate change results from man-made emissions. He resigned over the weekend 1112 June, having taken a job with ExxonMobil that he will start shortly. I can do no better than quote Henry Waxman, a Democratic Congressman who sits on the committee on government reform, who said:
That is not a unique example of an individual in the US putting forward views based purportedly on science but actually on their interests or the interests of those they represent. The director of the International Policy Network, Julian Morris, described the Prime Minister's
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plans to use his G8 tenure to halt global warming as "offensive". Interestingly, ExxonMobil gave the IPN $50,000.
Interestingly, ExxonMobil gave that organisation $280,000. Tech Central Station has also been leading the charge against the science of climate change. It received $95,000 from ExxonMobil. Can Members detect a pattern emerging among those US spokesmen?
Where does that leave the Prime Minister at the G8 summit? What should he do? I feel genuinely sorry for him. He has tried to move things forward with President Bush and the United States through that international forum, but he has been completely rebuffed. All the favours that the Prime Minister has given over Iraq and everything else count as nothing with President Bush. They have been contemptuously swept aside in the one-way street that is our special relationship. It looks as though the Prime Minister will return empty handed from the G8 summit as regards the American Administration. That will of course be only the latest in a long line of rebuffs from best friend President Bush. Whether it is the International Criminal Court, debt relief or Iraqthe list is endlessPresident Bush says no, no, no.
It is important to realise, however, that when we talk about President Bush we are not talking of the American peoplethose in America who understand climate change and are arguing strongly for real action. Evidence of a sensible and understanding approach in the US is becoming common.In the Senate, there were the efforts of the Republican Senator McCain to set up an emissions trading scheme by 2010, in a reasonably close vote on 21 June, only a few days ago. There are the actions of US states such as California, where Arnold Schwarzenegger said that the debate on climate change "is over". He has announced a climate change plan with targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 2000 levels by 2010. As a Republican, he is taking action in the fifth or sixth biggest economy in the world, and he is moving Republican opinion in the US behind the need to take action on climate change.
Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh, North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): Just as President Bush is not the USA, nor too is the G8. Does the hon. Gentleman support some of the initiatives from France and Germany, especially the idea for an airline tax, which would contribute towards tackling climate change and provide extra assistance for Africa? Does his party support that?
There is no question about the need to deal with aviation emissions. All the projections show that they will rise hugely in the next 20 or 30 years. Obviously, an aviation fuel tax would require international agreement and, as the hon. Gentleman will realise, that may not be forthcoming. However, there is the EU emissions trading scheme and my partyand, indeed, the Government, support the inclusion of aviation in that scheme. It is important that that takes place as quickly as possible and at a level that really
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generates reductions in emissions from aircraft, rather than simply allowing business as usual. It is not a perfect solution and we need collectively to consider others, but there is a major problem that must be dealt with, so we should listen carefully to well-intentioned proposals from other countries that want reductions in climate change gases.
I was talking about California, but other US states and cities have taken action. A pan-US initiative has been founded by Seattle's mayor, Greg Nickels, and dozens of cities have signed up to taking action on climate change. Most, but not all, are Democrat and each has the tough target of cutting its emissions by 7 per cent. Each mayor wants to take a different path, which is fair enough because of local circumstances, but they are all taking the problem seriously and doing something. The EU emissions trading scheme is being mirrored, or shadowed, by nine north-east states, so when the US Administration in Washington come to their senses, they will be able to plug into the scheme. A lot of good things are happening in the US, so the attitude that President Bush takes on the world stage does his country no good whatsoever.
So, how should the Prime Minister approach the impasse that is President Bush? Let me make it clear that getting the US into an agreement would be infinitely preferable to having it outside an agreement. It is a major polluter and a major world player, so we want it signed up as part of a deal to tackle climate change. The Government are right to try to push the button and see whether we can get there, but unfortunately I do not think that we will be able to achieve it. Given the diplomatic objectives that I mentioned earlier, perhaps we can make progress with President Bush on technology. There is investment in the US in areas such as the hydrogen economy, renewables and carbon sequestration.
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