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Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): I understand that earth observation and environmental monitoring were important subjects at the G8 summit and that the UK emphasised their importance. A decision on the global monitoring for environment and security satellite is due in December, and DEFRA is the lead Department when it comes to that important decision at the ministerial meeting on the European Space Agency. Rumour has it that the UK will put in a paltry £2 million, although we really need to put in £11 million if we are to hold our own in the international community. If the rumour is correct, will the Minister immediately go back to the Department and think about investing the £11 million that British industry and the sector really need?
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Mr. Morley: We certainly need to invest in monitoring technologies. We were involved recently in support for the satellite that was designed to monitor the decline of ice sheets in the Arctic. Unfortunately, that satellite came to a premature end, but I will look into the hon. Lady's serious point and write to her.

Adam Afriyie (Windsor) (Con): As a member of the Science and Technology Committee, I welcome much of what the Minister has said, especially about carbon sequestration and international co-operation. I am a bit puzzled, however. Our motion states:

I cannot see the Minister's problem with it. Perhaps he will explain.

Mr. Morley: I will, if I am given the chance.

Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North) (Lab): We have been talking about consensus in the House and in the UK, and about the Government's work in terms of leadership to secure international consensus. In the light of all the good work that the Government have done and the leadership shown by the Department and the Prime Minister, will my hon. Friend give us an idea of the international agreement that he hopes will emerge when the Kyoto agreement needs to be replaced? When we speak of international consensus, the question of the successor to Kyoto must be the most pressing issue.

Mr. Morley: We certainly want an effective second phase following Kyoto. I think that it should include targets, but I also think that we should take a sensitive approach to its application, especially in regard to countries that are not obliged to adopt targets. We should consider how we can persuade those countries to become involved in the reduction of emissions.

Patrick Hall: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Morley: I will, but after that I shall make some progress because I know that others wish to speak.

Patrick Hall: Does my hon. Friend agree that no country will take these issues seriously unless the whole world is convinced that it is possible to combine economic growth with tackling climate change? Although we must not be complacent, it should be borne in mind that during the period in which we reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 12.5 per cent., the UK economy grew by well over 30 per cent. That suggests that it is possible to combine two processes, so we are well placed to urge others to take such issues seriously and drive the political will.

Mr. Morley: It is true that ours has been one of the strongest rates of economic growth in Europe, and I think that we can demonstrate that we have reduced emissions during that period of economic growth. I do not accept the argument that reductions in emissions and economic growth cannot be achieved at the same time. Of course there are implications to be addressed, and some have asked why we should act when our emissions are so much smaller than those of other countries, but action on climate change promotes
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energy efficiency, new technology, productivity and a whole new sector of energy industries. We should not be afraid to say as much, and as a country we are not.

John Barrett: Do not figures released last week by the World Health Organisation provide one of the strongest reasons for action? According to those figures, 150,000 fatalities and 5 million diseases a year are directly linked to the increasing temperature on the planet.

Mr. Morley: I entirely agree. Global warming has a number of severe implications, and the spread of disease is one of them. Others are desertification, water problems, difficulties with crops, rising sea levels and storm intensity. The more scientific papers I read and the more I learn about such issues, the more concerned I am about climate change and the more convinced I am of the need to take action.

As I have said, I welcome consensus on what is an important global issue. Understandably, we have our political disagreements, but there is an enormous amount of consensus and co-operation between all parties in Committees, including Select Committees. We should not be ashamed of that, or worry about it—it is right and proper. However, let me say this to the right hon. Member for West Dorset—and I intend to answer his questions. He talks of year-on-year reductions, but where are his policies? How will he achieve those reductions? What taxes will he raise? What measures will he introduce? I welcome his thoughts and his suggestions, but this is the second debate that we have had on this subject, and so far we have heard nothing about what he and his party intend to do. Consensus requires a measure of agreement on the politics involved.

We have some disagreements with the right hon. Gentleman on climate change. He knows what they are, but I shall remind him of them nevertheless. We strongly disagree with the Conservative party's opposition to wind energy because wind is an important aspect of renewables. Other renewables are coming on-stream and we are encouraging that, but about 70 per cent. of renewable energy will come from wind. The right hon. Gentleman's party is opposing the development of wind farms wherever they are proposed, and it must be said that the Liberal Democrats are not much better in that regard. If that continues, we shall never make any progress.

Mr. Letwin: The Minister must know that we are not opposed to wind energy. As a matter of fact and as I said earlier, we are not opposed to any particular form of energy. Each form of energy poses constraints and problems, and it has to be looked at case by case. Of course we are in favour of allowing local communities a degree of discretion to decide where these things are suitable and where they are not, but that is not the same as being opposed to wind energy. The Minister's own Government support a system of planning precisely because they accept that there are such constraints. I do not believe that there is much between us on wind energy and certainly not enough to justify not having a consensus on the overall framework.

Mr. Morley: The problem is that there may not be much between myself and the right hon. Gentleman, but
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in a debate on wind energy that was initiated by the official Opposition, some Conservative Front-Bench Members frankly painted a picture of wind energy as generally akin to supping with the devil or having the anti-Christ on our fields. I am not quite clear whether that is the right hon. Gentleman's or his party's position, but it certainly needs to be clarified. The right hon. Gentleman also supports the scrapping of the climate change levy, but it has made an enormous contribution to reducing energy consumption in this country and we do not see how scrapping that levy makes a contribution to fighting climate change. Finally, although I do not levy the charge against the right hon. Gentleman, who I have not heard commenting on the matter, every time that there is a dispute about fuel prices and we have demonstrators on the streets, official Conservative spokespeople jump on the bandwagon and demand that the Government cave in immediately to the demonstrators by cutting fuel duty and fuel taxes. Again, that is not an area of consensus between us.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth : The point about the fuel protest illustrates precisely why we need cross-party collaboration on these issues—in order to prevent that sort of opportunism, which any Opposition party will be tempted to engage in when life gets tough. There will have to be tough decisions. However, the Minister has illustrated exactly why he should support my right hon. Friend's motion this evening.

Mr. Morley: I have no doubt about the sincerity of the hon. Gentleman's views on these issues, but the problem is that I have no idea where the official Opposition stand on the issue of fuel duty—and I would like to know.

Speculating about the Prime Minister's comments provides another problem. The right hon. Member for West Dorset claims to be seeking a consensus, but he did not properly read what the Prime Minister has written, spelling out where he stands on all these issues. The Prime Minister's views were more than clarified in the recent article in The Independent, which I highly recommend to all Members who want to know where the Prime Minister stands on targets and binding commitments. It is all spelled out in great detail. The right hon. Gentleman read that article, but was still keen to quote not what the Prime Minister said, but what people who claimed to be saying what the Prime Minister said—because it suited their particular agenda. We have to do better than that. Rather than ignoring fact and repeating fantasies, people who want clarification are free to ask for it. That is the spirit of consensus. If people ask for clarification, the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friends and I will be only too happy to provide it.

I accept the need for a stable framework that is not affected by political changes. Our progress on carbon reduction is now independently audited by the National Audit Office, as well as the United Nations forum on climate change. We already have independent bodies that monitor what we are doing in respect of emissions and progress. Nothing is to be gained from what the right hon. Gentleman proposes, even though I am not particularly against it, because we already have it. Let me make it clear that we are always happy to give credit
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to people who make real contributions and real progress. It is important to realise that we as a Government cannot achieve progress in climate change alone. We need support from local authorities and civil society, and we need backing from our scientists and international support. Yes, we also need political support in respect of achieving a consensus.

As to what the right hon. Member for West Dorset said tonight, no one has said that Kyoto is dead. The Prime Minister played a key role in getting Kyoto in place and is committed to it. We have to face reality in respect of the views of India and China, which has influenced some of the Prime Minister's comments, but what he said about India and China has sometimes erroneously been applied to the UK. There are real difficulties in turning around the current trend of emissions, but I believe that it can be done. It is false to claim that it is an argument about technology versus targets; we need both. This country has demonstrated real progress in tackling climate change and we have provided a real international lead.

In conclusion, I invite the right hon. Gentleman to read the amendment that we tabled today. If he does, he will see that it embraces proposals to give the Opposition the opportunity to judge that the Government have real policies on climate change and that they are committed to them. I am afraid that the Opposition have often been opportunist in the past and it is important that they are not seen merely to be backing empty gestures. Our amendment leaves the door open. If the right hon. Gentleman is serious about a consensus, I invite him to withdraw his motion and support our amendment.

8.26 pm

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