Previous SectionIndexHome Page

EU Emissions Trading Scheme

13. Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): If she will make a statement on the Government's management of the UK position in the European Union's emissions trading scheme. [19614]

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): The EU emissions trading scheme is a ground-breaking new scheme and a key element of the UK's strategy for tackling climate change. The EU ETS is a central plank of our policy of aiming to reach our domestic goal of a 20 per cent. reduction in CO 2 by 2010, and we are examining further options for phase 2.

Mr. Blunt: I am sorry, but not remotely surprised, that the Minister has completely failed to answer the question on the Order Paper. The question on the Order Paper concerns the Government's management of the UK's membership of the EU emissions trading scheme, and that management has been nothing short of an administrative disaster.

The Government submitted their national allocation plan late to the EU. A few months later they sought a revision, which the EU refused. We are now in the absurd position of returning to a plan of which the Secretary of State herself said

20 Oct 2005 : Column 981

We are now back with that formula, and taking the European Commission to court—

Mr. Speaker: Order. This should be a question, not a speech.

Mr. Blunt rose—

Mr. Speaker: Order. It would be best if the Minister tried to answer the question now.

Mr. Morley: I shall do my best, Mr. Speaker, but I have to say that I do not recognise those comments from the Secretary of State. Neither does the Secretary of State, who is sitting next to me.

What the hon. Gentleman says is factually incorrect. The UK was the first European country to submit its national allocation plan. It is true that it was submitted on the basis that it was a draft, but that was made very clear to the EU, which then refused to allow further changes in the modelling. That led to a disagreement.

I understand from my talks with industry groups that in most cases the plan has been implemented smoothly and effectively. Some odd individual emitters may have specific problems and, if that is the case, we shall obviously be prepared to examine the details.

Edward Miliband (Doncaster, North) (Lab): As the EU ETS proceeds, will the Minister consider ways in which it might provide incentives for clean coal technology and new clean coal plants such as the one planned for Hatfield in my constituency? Does he agree that clean coal technology can play a crucial role in meeting our climate change obligations?

Mr. Morley: I do agree, and my hon. Friend will know that the Chancellor announced in his Budget statement that he was prepared to support carbon abatement measures which would include clean coal technology. There are some exciting proposals in the UK for zero-emission power stations. My hon. Friend may also be interested to learn that, as part of the EU-China summit, under the UK presidency, we are working with the Chinese Government on a pilot project for clean coal technology. I hope that that will provide lessons that we can apply to UK facilities.

Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): Given the rapid and unacceptable increase in CO 2 emissions from the aviation sector, will the Minister confirm that the Government firmly intend to incorporate aviation in the ETS? What would he regard as an acceptable growth rate, in terms of sustainability?

Mr. Morley: Under the UK presidency, we have made it one of our priorities to present proposals to include aviation in the scheme. I am pleased to say that the Commission has now presented its proposals, which we shall discuss at the December Environment Council. As for the growth figures and the calculation of the cap, they will have to be considered then as well.

Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend accept that, while the ETS is extremely important, it is not a panacea and cannot deliver
20 Oct 2005 : Column 982
significant cuts in emissions by 2010 or even by 2020? It may be several decades before the scheme makes a serious contribution to alleviation of climate change. Will he also confirm that aviation will join the scheme by 2008, as was originally intended, or has that date slipped?

Mr. Morley: While it is true that carbon trading schemes will have a progressive effect, we are already seeing reductions in CO 2 emissions as a result of, for instance, the UK scheme. We were the first country in the world to introduce a national emissions trading scheme, and it has reduced emissions of CO 2 . Indeed, it has reduced emissions of the whole basket of the five greenhouse gases, so I am optimistic that we will make progress. We want aviation to form part of the EU carbon trading scheme by 2008, but I have to be honest with my hon. Friend and recognise that we cannot guarantee that progress will be made through the various EU procedures by that date.

Emissions Reduction Targets

14. Ms Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) (Lab): What discussions she has had with (a) the Department for Transport and (b) the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on cross-departmental co-operation to ensure that the Government meet their domestic and international emissions reduction targets. [19615]

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): The Department has regular discussions with both the Department for Transport and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, at ministerial and senior official level, to co-ordinate climate change policy.

Ms Clark: I am grateful for that response and for all the work that the Department has done to reduce carbon emissions and to ensure that we meet our international targets. The Minister will be aware that road transport is a major polluter, accounting for more than a quarter of all carbon emissions, and that the railways are one of the most environmentally beneficial forms of transport. Can he reassure me that the environmental case for rail is being put to the Department for Transport and the ODPM, and will he agree to meet a delegation of interested MPs who wish to put the environmental case for rail and to discuss the Department's thinking on the environmental aspects of transport policy?

Mr. Morley: My hon. Friend is right about the valuable role that rail and public transport in general can play in reducing emissions from the transport sector. DEFRA and the Department for Transport have a very powerful joint public service agreement on reducing emissions from the transport sector, and we work together very closely. My hon. Friend will be aware of the investment going into the west coast main line and the upgrading of rail and signalling. Many new trains are being introduced on all our lines, which makes such transport more comfortable. I am only too happy to meet a delegation of MPs to discuss the environmental issues affecting transport.
20 Oct 2005 : Column 983

Climate Change

16. Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): What recent discussions she has had with the Department of Trade and Industry concerning action to reduce climate change. [19617]

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): The Department of Trade and Industry shares a public service agreement target with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide. There are regular discussions between both Departments at ministerial and senior official level to co-ordinate climate change policy.

Ian Lucas: At the next such meeting, will my hon. Friend, who has an outstanding record in this field, impress upon the DTI the genuine concern that exists in the microgeneration industry about the future of the photovoltaic demonstration programme? There is a real opportunity for photovoltaics to play a major role in the future, but there is concern that the DTI is not getting its house in order in taking this project forward.

Mr. Morley: I understand the point that my hon. Friend makes. PV generation forms part of the action plan on microgeneration, on which the DTI is consulting. On my recent visits around the country, I have been impressed to note that some local authorities have incorporated PV into public housing and municipal buildings. I hope that we will see more such developments, which are supported by grant aid from the DTI and the regional development agencies.

Next Section IndexHome Page