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Mr. Morley: There is more enthusiasm than factual accuracy in the comment from the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness. It is ludicrous to suggest that the UK is not recognised internationally as one of the countries giving the strongest lead on climatic change. Everywhere I goas a DEFRA Minister, I attend many conferences and meet many people from all over the worldthe importance of the lead that the UK has given is constantly raised and admiration is expressed for our Prime Minister's work and the steps that we have taken.
I shall outline those steps to the hon. Member for Beverley and HoldernessI am sure that he will enjoy thatduring the debate. Energy underpins our approach to climatic change. The energy White Paper, which sets out our energy policies for the longer term, is held up as a model internationally for what countries should do when defining a long-term energy strategy. I shall give a few examples of what we have done in the UK shortly.
If the hon. Gentleman wants to discuss a lead, perhaps he will tell me what other G8 country is on target to meet its Kyoto commitments, let alone to have reached it. He is welcome to intervene if he knows the answer. Apart from the UK and Sweden, what other European country is on track to achieve its Kyoto target?
They have. I was intrigued by the Conservative manifesto and wondered how abolishing
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the climate change levy and the funds for the Carbon Trust would help to fulfil our commitments on energy efficiency and our targets.
Mr. Nick Hurd (Ruislip-Northwood) (Con): Does the Minister recognise the role that the dash for gas, led by a Conservative Government, played in our ability to meet the Kyoto targets? Will he acknowledge that CO 2 emissions have risen under the Government since 1997?
Mr. Morley: Emissions have increased only marginally since 1997. I shall explain the reasons for that shortly. It is true that the dash for gas contributed to the fall in CO 2 emissions and I would not pretend otherwise. However, the measures that we have introduced over the years mean that the percentage contribution of the dash for gas has fallen from 40 per cent. to 30 per cent. It will fall further to around 25 per cent. as other measures kick in. One of the other contributions was the destruction of jobs and industry under the Conservative Government. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman does not like to be reminded of that.
The UK has demonstrated clear leadership in tackling climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and showing that that need not affect our economic competitiveness. Although there has been a small increase in CO 2 generally due to increased coal burnwe have had the strongest economic growth in the EU, yet CO 2 emissions have risen in every other mainstream EU country by a much greater rate than in the UK. I say that to put matters in perspective. It is not an excuse because we intend to tackle the problem. However, it is wrong to suggest that the UK is out of sync with other industrialised nations. Our record remains one of the best.
Mr. Oliver Letwin (West Dorset) (Con): Does the Minister agree that there has been uneven development in that pattern of growth? Does he know how many manufacturing jobs have been lost during the Government's tenure? Does he agree that, if manufacturing is declining, CO 2 emissions should decline with it?
There are a number of reasons for the increase in CO 2 emissionstransport and energy are the biggest contributors. I shall return to that point in a moment. The 2003 figures show that the UK has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 13.6 per cent. since 1990, while the UK economy has grown over the same period by more than 36 per cent. I do not think that any other country could demonstrate such a record of economic growth while keeping emissions down.
In 2000, the Government introduced the UK climate change programme, which focused on policies and measures to achieve our Kyoto target. The Kyoto target
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is important and we are one of the very few industrial countries that are well on track to meet it, but we want to do more. We therefore set ourselves our own domestic target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent., as the hon. Member for Lewes rightly stated. We also want to do more by reducing CO 2 emissions by 60 per cent. by about 2050.
I heard what the hon. Member for Lewes said about his party's manifesto. He will know that, before the election, the non-governmental organisations asked for four key commitments from all the parties. We made all those commitments and put them in our manifesto; we were the only party to do so. One of those commitments was that we would recognise the fact that, if we did not take further action, we would not reach our target in 2010. We conceded that. We also reaffirmed our commitment to reaching the target of a 20 per cent. reduction by 2010, and that commitment remains. I shall explain how we intend to achieve that.
We accept that if we take no action from now, we will not achieve a 20 per cent. reduction. However, that is not the position that we are going to take. We have put in place the climate change review, which will come out in November. It is looking at all methods and options that can be used to achieve our target. Without the measures introduced in the climate change programme in 2000, involving energy efficiency, domestic targets, changes in company car taxation, the climate change levy and the UK carbon trading schemethe first national scheme of its kind in the worldwe would probably now be producing about 15 per cent. more than the 1990 level of greenhouse gas emissions, rather than producing about 14 per cent. below that level, as we were in 2003. That is the kind of impact that our domestic measures have had. There are, however, still pressures that have resulted in a rise in CO 2 , and I shall address those issues in a moment.
We have to consider what we can do to achieve our domestic goals, and that work is under way. We have no illusions about the challenge that we face. We have deliberately set ourselves ambitious targets because we want to demonstrate that we are serious about what we are doing in our own country to reduce greenhouse gasses. I accept the point made by the hon. Member for Lewes that, if we are to give global leadershipas we are doingwe must demonstrate our commitment in our own country. We are absolutely committed to doing that. We cannot tackle climate change unilaterally. We must give a clear lead in our own country and face our own responsibilities, but we must also take action in conjunction with our international partners. That means being successful in our own domestic programmes.
The Prime Minister has made tackling climate change a central theme in the UK's G8 presidency this year, as the hon. Member for Lewes rightly pointed out. The Government's primary objective is to raise the profile of climate change as a matter that deserves the attention of the Heads of Government in the G8 and beyond, so as to
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promote international consensus on the need for further action to control emissions. It is fair to say that some people still need to be convinced of the need for further action, although I am glad to say that their number is declining. Nevertheless, we need to make that case.
We have set ourselves some more detailed, and no less ambitious, objectives. First, it is important that at the Gleneagles conference we come to a better understanding of the science involved, which means addressing some of the doubts that have been raised. We very much welcomed the statement from the national scientific bodies of all G8 countries, including the American Academy of Sciences, which was important.
Secondly, we want to ensure that the G8 agrees to a package of practical measures focused on technologies with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than traditional technologiessuch as clean fuels and the hydrogen economy, as has been pointed outon which a great deal of work is taking place within the G8 and which requires co-operation. There is also a need for technology transfer to emerging economies and developing countries.
Thirdly, we need to work in partnership with the major emerging economies to reach a new consensus on how to deal with the future challenge. That is why I am pleased that China, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and India have deliberately been involved in the G8 process, as we must bring those major economies on side. Incidentally, China emits more greenhouse gases than the whole European Union put together and is now the world's second biggest emitter. I was pleased at the positive response from the Chinese when we discussed those issues in the environment and energy round table meeting as part of our G8 process, which 20 Ministers from around the world attended, including Chinese and Indian Ministers, which was useful.
I should emphasise that the Gleneagles aspect is but one part of our G8 process. The science conference, which we hosted at the Hadley centre in February, was successful in attracting the world's leading scientists. Its outcome suggested that the risks identified with climate change are probably more serious than was previously thought, which makes the need for action even more important. The statement on 7 June from all the science academies backs that up. The science academies also called on G8 nations to
We also want to consider practical measures on technology, and specific proposals are being prepared in collaboration with our G8 partners on cleaning up fossil fuels and improving energy performance. The G8 has already agreed, under the Evian action plan on science and technology for sustainable development, to accelerate the research, development and diffusion of energy technologies, and we hope that the G8 can build on that by agreeing to turn what is currently political agreement into real action.
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