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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the loss of carbon from soils since 1980; what she estimates the loss from this source will be in 2005; and if she will make a statement. [17200]

Mr. Morley: Based on soil carbon measurements carried out in England and Wales between 1978 and 2002, we estimate that on average 4.4 million tonnes of carbon has been lost from the top 15 cm of soil each year. The rate of loss in 2005 is likely to be at about the same level. The actual amounts will vary between soil types and land management practices, and recent evidence suggests that carbon is increasing in some soils. The cause of this loss, and whether carbon has been lost to the atmosphere or dissolved in water and incorporated in other sediments, or transported to lower depths, is not yet fully understood and Defra has therefore commissioned further research.

We have introduced a number of soil protection measures that will help to conserve soil carbon. The reformed Common Agriculture Policy requires all farmers in receipt of the single payment to take measures to protect their soil from erosion, organic matter decline and structural damage. Further incentives for good soil/
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land management are available under the Environmental Stewardship scheme. We are also planning further soil monitoring to estimate soil carbon levels.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much carbon was produced per person in (a) the UK and (b) each EU country in (i) 2003 and (ii) 2004. [17350]

Mr. Morley: The information requested is shown in the following table. Data for EU countries for 2004 are not yet available.
Carbon dioxide emissions per person for EU countries

Tonnes of carbon per person
(a) United Kingdom20032004(1)
Including LUCF(2)2.632.65
Excluding LUCF2.56
(b) EU (excluding LUCF)20032004
Czech Republic3.4
Average for EU252.4

(1)Provisional estimate will be subject to revision when final estimates are published in 2006.
(2)Including the effects of land use change and forestry (LUCF) resulting in either a small uptake or loss of carbon dioxide from soil and atmosphere.
(3)Values derived by the European Environment Agency from a gap-filling exercise.
1.EU Emission data taken from Annual European Community greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2003 and inventory report 2005 (EEA, 2005).
2.Provisional 2004 UK data taken from e-Digest of Environmental Statistics
3.Population data taken from Eurostat Yearbook 2005.

Carbon Emissions

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of carbon emissions from (a) domestic and (b) international shipping (i) by volume and (ii) as a percentage of total carbon emissions in the last year for which figures are available; and what strategy is in place to reduce such emissions. [17199]

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Mr. Morley: The table shows carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions from UK domestic and UK international shipping in million tonnes of carbon (MtC) for 2003. The table also shows UK domestic shipping emissions as a percentage of the total 2003 UK CO 2 emission of 156.1 MtC.

CO 2 emissions (MtC)Percentage of total UK CO 2 emissions

Under the internationally agreed methodology, greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping are excluded from the national greenhouse gas inventory. They are reported separately as a memo item and, if included, would represent less than one per cent. of the UK total CO 2 emissions.

The international figure is derived from marine fuel (or bunker fuel) sales, and sales represents emissions from fuel burned by seagoing ships of all flags that are engaged in international transport.

The domestic figure is also derived from bunker sales and represents emissions from fuel used for navigation of all vessels not engaged in international transport.

The UK's approach to the regulation of shipping is to apply international standards to ships flying its flag and to ships entering its ports or operating in UK waters. Work on reducing maritime emissions goes through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). At the last Maritime Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting in July 2005, the United Kingdom contributed significantly to difficult negotiations on the adoption of Interim Guidelines for Voluntary Ship CO 2 Emission Indexing for Use in Trials (as well as Guidelines for On-board Exhaust Gas SOx Cleaning Systems).

Ships under the United Kingdom flag are being encouraged to participate in these trials, which will help identify a ship's greenhouse gas index where the information obtained may be used in the context of reducing CO 2 emissions.

Civil Servants (Vegetarianism)

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on employing vegetarian officials at a senior level in (a) the Upland Land Management Farm Advisory Group and (b) other meat producing policy areas of her Department. [17934]

Jim Knight: Dietary preference is not a selection criterion for any posts in Defra. It would not be sensible employment practice to use it as a criterion.

Community Programmes

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many community heating schemes the Community Energy Programme has funded in Oxfordshire. [17587]

Mr. Morley: The Community Energy programme has not funded any community heating schemes in Oxfordshire.
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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many letters to her Department from hon. Members in session (a) 2004–05 and (b) 2005–06 remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (i) one month old, (ii)two months old, (iii) three months old, (iv) four months old and (v) over six months old. [13862]

Jim Knight: We have no hon. Members letters outstanding that were received by the Department in 2004 or earlier.

As at 10 October 2005, there are currently 396 unanswered hon. Members letters in the Department broken down as follows:

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The Report for 2004 was published on 6 April 2005, Official Report, columns 137–40WS.

Emissions Trading

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the amount of greenhouse gases saved by the Government's emissions trading scheme in each year to date, broken down by region. [17586]

Mr. Morley: The UK Emissions Trading Scheme was launched in April 2002 and runs for five years. 31 Direct Participants (DPs) entered the Scheme by bidding annual, cumulative emissions reductions targets set against a 1998–2000 baseline. At the start of the Scheme the participants committed to deliver 3.96 million tonnes CO 2 equivalent (tCO 2 e) in emissions reductions by the end of the Scheme (2006). To date, DPs have exceeded targets, and the Scheme has delivered additional emissions reductions of 5.9million tonnes CO 2 e. In addition, six leading companies restated their commitment to the Scheme in November 2004 by offering an additional 8.9 million tCO 2 e emissions reductions.

Unfortunately, a regional breakdown of results is not available, as information is compiled on a participant basis, and many participants have a number of sites throughout the UK. In terms of the Scheme's annual progress, a reduction of 4.6 million tCO 2 e took place in 2002. Over the first two years (2002 and 2003) the Scheme delivered emissions reductions of almost 5.2 million tCO 2 e. Over the first three years (2002, 2003 and 2004), the Scheme delivered emissions reductions totalling 5.9 million tCO 2 e.

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the inclusion of intra-EU aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. [17588]

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Mr. Morley: A priority for our Presidency of the European Council of Ministers is to press for the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

The European Commission adopted a Communication at the end of September on reducing the climate change impacts of aviation. This favours the inclusion of the aviation sector in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and sets out their intention to establish an Aviation Working Group to take forward the technical work. The Communication also sets out some design recommendations. We welcome this Communication as a key step forward for the EU in tackling these important issues. We will discuss the Communication in the Council of Ministers and aim to agree a way forward during our Presidency.

In our role as Presidency of the EU, the UK held an Aviation and Emissions Trading conference on the 26–27 September that provided an important opportunity for EU environment and transport officials to meet and discuss aviation and climate change. While our priority is emissions trading, we recognise that emissions trading may not be a total solution and continue to explore and discuss options for the use of other economic instruments.

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