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Mr. Graham Stuart : Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if the growth in aviation and its impact on climate change are to be rectified we need to bring aviation within the emissions trading system across Europe? Such market mechanisms are the best and most efficient way of tackling this critical problem.
Norman Baker: I think that I have already answered that, but I agree that market mechanisms are the best way of dealing with many, but not all, environmental problems. Regulation has its place and occasionally complete bans are required. Market mechanisms work, and the inclusion of aviation in the emissions trading scheme in Europe is one way forward. It may not be enough, however, to deal with the projected rise in emissions from that sector.
Mr. Chaytor: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a vital tool in changing transport policy is the use of fuel duty combined with congestion charging? Will he remind us what his manifesto said about that?
Norman Baker: As the hon. Gentleman is keen on our manifesto, I hope that he accepts that my party was the first to propose congestion charging. We are ahead of the game on road user charging, and we were the first party to suggest differential duty rates on vehicles. I am grateful for the opportunity to make those sensible points.
The Government's record shows that greenhouse gas and carbon emissions are on the way up. There is no chance at all that they will meet the 20 per cent.
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reduction target for carbon dioxide by 2010that possibility has gone out of the window. The Kyoto target may not even be met. The Government keep saying that it has been met, but we have not yet reached the date when it kicks in. We are going backwards and we may yet miss it. The Government are complacent and are not keen to do very much. Power station emissions have risen by 9 per cent., and energy use has gone up by 7 per cent. since 1997. According to the latest projections, car usage will increase by 25 per cent. by 2010 and aviation emission by 83 per cent. by 2020. Carbon emissions are out of control, but the Government are not doing enough about the problem.
Mark Lazarowicz : I, too, have had an opportunity to look at the Liberal Democrat manifestothere has clearly been a run in the Library on that best-selling work. The Liberal Democrats are in favour of national road user charging, but I am puzzled as such a scheme would presumably require a central Government register to show where every single driver had been and whom they had been to visit. That record would be much more intrusive than, for example, an identity cards scheme. Can Liberal Democrat support for the "spy in the sky" national road user charging scheme be considered consistent with the party's policy on ID cards?
Norman Baker: I note the hon. Gentleman's enthusiasm for ID cards and his Government's keenness for schemes of state control. I am an animal welfare spokesman, so I will not say that there is more than one way to skin a cat, but there are different ways of introducing road user charging, and I certainly would not want to go down the route that he suggested.
A revised climate change programme will shortly be introduced. It has been delayed, as the Minister surreptitiously announced on 16 June. The Government are in disarray and the legendary arguments between the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry continue. The Government are way off target, and they do not want to take a hard decision to get back on target. We need cross-party initiatives and agreement, so I welcome the creation today of the useful all-party group on climate change.
Before the election, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr. Kennedy) wrote to the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties inviting some measure of cross-party agreement on climate change, welcoming the fact that some progress had been made and suggesting a common platform on which to go forward. We finally received a reply from the Prime Minister about three months late, saying nothing. We are still waiting for a reply from the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard). It seems that the enthusiasm to deal with the matter on a non-partisan basis is limited to the Liberal Democrats. We look forward to a more sensible response from the Conservative and Labour parties than we have had so far to that sensible initiative from my right hon. Friend.
Climate change is here. According to reports last night, Italy believes that 20,000 people died in the heat waves in Italy in 2003. Emergency measures are being taken in France and Spain to deal with the summer heat.
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In some places in Spain the temperature is over 40°C and it is only June. If the situation is that bad in Europe, what is it like in Africa? There is an urgent need to take drastic action, and to sell the need to take action to the British people more than has been done so far. There is a need to take action for this country, for Africa and for the world. We are willing to be part of that campaign. We look forward to a constructive and positive response from the other two parties to that challenge.
"welcomes the UK's global leadership on climate change and in particular the Prime Minister's decision to make climate change one of the top two priorities for the G8 Presidency and a priority for the EU Presidency; recognises that UK initiatives in 2005 have already made important contributions to the international debate on future climate change policy, in particular the scientific conference on stabilisation in February 2005 and the Energy and Environment Ministerial Roundtable in March 2005; looks forward to the Gleneagles Summit and provides its full support to the Prime Minister's continuing efforts to secure a successful outcome; commends the UK's plans to continue to strive for further international action following Gleneagles through both the G8 and EU; further commends the Labour Party for being the only party to commit in its manifesto to a national goal to reduce emissions by 20 per cent. by 2010; celebrates the UK's achievement in already reducing emissions to 13.4 per cent. between the base year and 2003, beyond that required by the Kyoto Protocol; further welcomes the introduction of policies such as the climate change levy and renewables obligation that have been so important in achieving this; and looks forward to the publication of the climate change programme later this year which will set out further policies to deliver the goal of a 20 per cent. reduction in emissions by 2010."
I welcome the opportunity for this debate and I hope there will be further opportunities in the not-too-distant future to discuss sustainability and climate change. If it is possible for the Government to facilitate such discussion, I am sure that we will.
I begin by correcting the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), who gets very enthusiastic about his argument. On the UK Government's commitment to overseas aid and the £10 million to assist developing countries with mitigation of climate change and adaptation, we are committed to that money, but the details of the scheme and how the money will be spent have not yet been satisfactorily resolved. We are confident that they will be resolved and that the money will be released. It is allocated and the commitment stands.
As a country we contribute more than we are obliged to contribute to the global environment fund, which is important for tackling climate change globally. We are one of the biggest contributors. The United Nations environment programme is a voluntary fund. It is not an indicative scale, though many of us feel that it should be. We are the largest single contributor to that fund. Let us be clear about our commitment to dealing with climate change internationally.
That does not take into account the assistance that we give through science. The Hadley centre has developed a regional software programme for predicting climatic
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change called PRECIS, which can be applied to subcontinents. I have had the opportunity to talk to international scientists from India and Brazil, for example, who are using that software, supported by UK scientists, to try and understand the implications of climatic change on subcontinents such as India. That is an important contribution from the UK and our assistance to developing countries in that way is much appreciated internationally.
Mr. Graham Stuart : Does the Minister accept that although our money may go to some use abroad and may be welcomed there, our lead on the subject is poor at home? The root of the problem is that the Government have a record of telling others what they need to do, while at home you set a target of 20 per cent. by 2010 and you promptly drop it. So you are saying one thing abroad and another in the House. That is what the Government consistently do.
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