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Mary Creagh (Wakefield) (Lab):
Does the Minister agree that the issue is not just the Governments buildings, but their car service? As I cycle in and out of the Palace of Westminster, I have ample opportunity to observe the ministerial cars. I am delighted that everyone on the Government Front Bench this
morning is leading by example with their hybrid cars, but there are still some Cabinet-level Jaguars around the place. As a Coventry-born woman, I am reluctant to encourage people to get rid of their Jaguars, but there is a point at which politicians have to lead by example. Will the Minister encourage his Cabinet colleagues to take up hybrid cars?
Ian Pearson: I think that my hon. Friend will probably find that the whole DEFRA team walked here this morning, rather than getting in our cars. That is the right thing to do, because we always say that we should avoid CO2 emissions first, then try to reduce them. Hybrid vehicles are certainly a way of reducing CO2 emissions. I do not think that the data are particularly reliable, but there has been a significant 10 per cent. fall in emissions from the Governments road transport activities since 2002-03. As I said, the data are not as robust as we would like, and we need to do more to check them. We need to do more, too, on the procurement of new low-carbon vehicles. That is exactly what we are doing, as well as converting some Jaguars and other vehicles so that they can use biofuel.
Chris Huhne (Eastleigh) (LD): It is obviously crucial that DEFRA and the Government should set an example, and it is rather worrying that the figures from the Sustainable Development Commission suggest that DEFRAs own emissions have increased three times as rapidly as the overall national average. However, the quantification of the Governments impact is crucial, too. As I challenged the Secretary of State in the Budget debate, can the Minister give an estimate of the impact on carbon emissions of the country as a whole of the new measures announced in the Budget?
Ian Pearson: First, on the DEFRA office estate, if the hon. Gentleman was listening a few moments ago, he would have heard me say that DEFRA has undergone a period of transition, moving into new buildings, refurbishing some buildings, and vacating others that are still part of the Government office estate. That means that our carbon dioxide impact has not made as much progress as we would have liked. In fact, as he rightly said, it has gone in the wrong direction. However, if we look at Nobel house, out of which the ministerial team operates, in 2001-02, 573 kg of carbon per member of staff was emitted, but that has gone down to 446 kg of carbon per member of staff. That shows the sort of improvement that can be made through refurbished offices and more efficient use of office space. Regarding the question that the hon. Gentleman posed about the Budget and the way in which it addresses carbon targets, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, as he knows, has promised to write to him on the matter, and I am sure that that letter will provide all the clarification that he needs.
took important steps forward on curbing domestic emissions and contributing to international emissions reduction.[ Official Report, 26 March 2007; Vol. 458, c. 1180.]
I await his letter, as we still have no estimate from him of the impact of the Budget. How on earth can he make those claims if he has no idea what the impact of the Budget is? Clearly, given his failure to respond so
far he still has no idea of the impact of the Budget. Well, I will tell himit is 0.15 per cent. of carbon emissions or 330,000 tonnes, which is negligible .
Ian Pearson: I do not think that we need to hear perorations or lectures from the Liberal Democrats on such issues, as they voted against air passenger duty increases, which will have the benefit of reducing carbon dioxide by 300,000 to 500,000 tonnes. We have a climate change programme that is on course to achieve our 2020 targets. The draft Climate Change Bill, as the hon. Gentleman well knows, will make us the first country in the world to legislate to put in place a legal framework for reducing carbon emissions. We will set up a committee on climate change, which will advise us on trajectories. I do not believe that any other major industrialised country has done more than we have done to tackle climate change, but we need to do more, and we are committed to do so. A range of policy initiatives in the energy White Paper and other measures in due course will show how we will continue to make progress on some stretching targets.
Gregory Barker (Bexhill and Battle) (Con): The Ministers reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Hurd) was extremely worrying. We know that Labour Ministers are failing miserably to deliver their manifesto pledge of 10 GW of combined heat and power generating capacity by 2010, and a year of Brains at the helm has not made a jot of difference. Will the Minister tell us specifically how the Government are getting on with meeting their own target for CHP installation in their buildings? They were supposed to have 15 per cent. by 2010; will they achieve that figure? This matter is entirely under the DEFRA teams personal control. Can we have a personal assurance that the target will be met?
Ian Pearson: We are committed to our CHP target. The hon. Gentleman should look at the detail of our action, for example, on the phase 2 national allocation plans for the EU emissions trading scheme, where we have provided greater incentives to the emergence of CHP. In the Government office estate, DEFRA has been examining the potential not only for CHP but for the further development of renewable technologies. We think that there are significant opportunities for biomass, in which a number of hon. Members are especially interested, and we have just started construction of a new building in Alnwick that will use a range of renewable technologies. Approximately two thirds of the DEFRA estates energy needs are met by renewable energy sources. The target for the Government office estate as a whole is 10 per cent., but we have achieved 63 per cent., which shows the progress that DEFRA is making. We are leading by example in renewable energy.
The Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): As the hon. Gentleman will know because we discussed it in a recent meeting, we are examining the possibility of reforming the quota allocation system affecting the under-10 m fishing fleet as part of our current fish quota management change programme.
Mr. Amess: I am advised that while our inshore fishing fleet remained tied up, unable to go out and fish because of the 50 kg per month quota allocation, Belgian beam trawlers moved into our fishing area within the 6-mile limit and hoovered up thousands of tonnes of sole. Will the Minister tell the House what he is doing to speed up the revision of the fishing limits, so that Thames estuary fishermen get a proper limit of 12 miles and we stop the intrusion of foreign vessels?
Mr. Bradshaw: I would be surprised if foreign vessels had come within the 6-mile limit [ Interruption. ] Actually, the hon. Gentleman did say that foreign vessels had come within the 6-mile limit. If he would like to provide details, I shall certainly look into the matter, because that would be against the rules. However, as I am sure he knows, if other countries have a tradition of fishing in the area between the 6 and 12-mile limits, they have traditional rights, just as we have traditional rights off the coasts of other countries. We cannot escape the fact that we have been seriously over-fishing some stocks in recent years and they are extremely depleted, so we will have to take tough action.
Mr. Bob Blizzard (Waveney) (Lab): My hon. Friend knows that the by-catch regulations for skate and dogfish, which were rushed through the Fisheries Council last December, are completely unworkable for the under-10 m fleet. I welcome what he said about trying to get those regulations changed, but will he tell the House the likely time scale and what prospects there are of securing change? While he is thinking about reforming the quota for the under-10 m fleet, will he give special consideration to long-lining, which is an environmentally sustainable form of fishing that needs to be encouraged? Long-lining involves just one hook and one fish, not great big nets full of dead fish which are then discarded, so can we treat it in a better way to encourage it? Long-lining is good for the environment, good for fishing and good for jobs.
Mr. Bradshaw: I concur with my hon. Friend that the long-lining off Lowestoft falls into the category of a sustainable fishery, but long-lining is not necessarily sustainable. It can cause environmental problemsfor example, it can pose a threat to albatrosses in the southern Atlantic. However, I shall look into the points that he makes.
We recently managed to swap some sole quota with the Germans to mitigate the impact felt by some of the under-10 m fleet in the Thames estuary and around our south-eastern coasts. We shall consider carefully what more we can do through the change programme that I outlined earlier.
Mr. Colin Breed (South-East Cornwall) (LD):
The Minister will know that hand-liners employ a very good way of sustainable fishing and are big users of
under-10 m boats, yet they are still caught within quotas. Is there any movement at all on taking them out of any quota system?
Mr. Bradshaw: It depends on what stocks the hon. Gentleman is talking about. The simple answer is no. It would not be possible to create rules whereby fishermen using certain methods were allowed to catch whatever they liked whereas others were not. Quotas are an important means of controlling the level of fishing on stocks that may be depleted. However, the hon. Gentleman is right to imply that some of the hand-line catching that goes on off the Devon and Cornwall coast is very sustainable. I would encourage consumers always to ask about the provenance of their fish where possible, not least because of the pair-trawling problem with dolphins, and to go for line-caught, rather than net-caught, bass.
estimates that it is now clear were seriously inaccurate.
However, when I asked the Minister whether his Department had miscalculated the under-10 m quota, he simply answeredon 1 February at column 352No. Would he now like to apologise for his Departments miscalculation and put the record straight, because it is possible that he may have inadvertently misled the House?
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Miliband): DEFRA is currently researching ways of calculating the embedded carbon in imported goods and assessing the international biodiversity impacts of goods imported to the UK. We have also given great prominence to the ideas of the WWF about so-called one-planet living, which makes the point that if all citizens of the world lived as we do, we would need three planets to support us rather than the one that we have. That suggests the scale of the eco-debt that my hon. Friend mentions.
David Taylor: The world as a whole is consuming beyond the capacity of its ecosystems to regenerate, while in the UK our 2007 consumption patterns mean that we are living beyond our natural resources and start to eat into natures capital from mid-April each year. Does the Minister agree that this arises mainly from declining UK food self-sufficiency, decreasing energy independence and ecologically wasteful trade? Should not our nation aim to live more sustainably within our environmental means?
My hon. Friend makes an important point. He is a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry
that is relevant to his question; its Chairman is here as well. His point about energy independence is particularly important. We have been relatively independent over the past 20 or 30 years, but in an environmentally damaging way. The big challenge as our oil and gas supplies decline is to ensure that we replace them with low-carbon or zero-carbon sources of energy. That is what we are determined to do, because in that way we will tackle the flow of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere.
Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): Countries such as China and India argue that rich countries like us have a large eco-debt in the form of carbon concentrations already produced, and that therefore they should not exercise the same degree of restraint until their living standards have reached the same level. Does the Minister accept that argument?
David Miliband: I wholly accept the argument that countries such as India and China have not only a right but a duty to help themselves to develop, but they also have a duty and an opportunity to avoid the mistakes that we made. The old choice was economic development versus environmental protection; the new choice is about whether development is high-carbon or low-carbon. Our duty is twofold. We must put our own house in order and grow our economy while cutting our greenhouse gas emissions, as of course we have been doing under this Government, but we must also ensure that we help countries such as India and China and some of the poorest African countries to develop in a low-carbon way. That requires massive flows of finance, primarily not through aid programmes, which may be relevant as regards issues such as deforestation, but through the markets for carbon reduction that have been created in Europe and elsewhere. That is why the European emissions trading scheme is so important and why measures such as the clean development mechanism are so vital.
It may help the House if I note that, this evening, I am meeting the Indonesian Forestry Minister. That is obviously important because of deforestation, which represents nearly 20 per cent. of the worlds greenhouse gases, but I hope that it is also significant because Indonesia will be the host country for the next United Nations framework convention on climate change in December. The Minister for Forestry, who is visiting this country, will play a critical role, along with other colleagues in the Indonesian Government, including the Prime Minister. It is strongly in our interest to work closely with Indonesia.
My hon. Friend knows that domestic aviation is included in the targets that were adopted under the Kyoto protocol. Clause 16 makes special provision to include aviation and shipping in our climate change targets as soon as two issues are resolved. The first is the international discussion on calculating the right level of aviation emissions because
there are specific issues about emissions at high altitudes. The second is to which country aviation emissions should be apportioned. If one is flying from country A to country B, to which country does one apportion the emissions? As soon as we have resolved those matters, we can include aviation and shipping in the Climate Change Bill. We now have agreement throughout Europe to include aviation in the European Union emissions trading scheme by 2010 or 2011, which suggests that, although the time scale is longer than we would like, it is not beyond reach.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey) (Con): Given the plan to increase by 10 times the biofuels that we use in this country, what steps are the Government taking to make certain that they are ethically sourced and, as far as possible, from the United Kingdom, so that we do not go on contributing to the destruction of the rainforest in the name of the environment?
David Miliband: I agree, though I could not help noting the element of surprise in the hon. Gentlemans voice when he complimented the shadow Secretary of State on an unusually good question. That he was surprised is the only conclusion that we can draw from his remark. I do not know whether I can provide an unusually good answer to match. I am sure that I cannot.
The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) makes an important point. I presume that by ethically sourced he means sustainably sourced. If one is simply growing biofuels by tearing down rainforests, one does nothing for the environment. Obviously, we are pursuing the matter at European level. The Environment Council has done important work, including with Commissioner Dimas, to ensure that European targets involve sustainably sourced biofuels.
The hon. Gentleman made a critical point about British sourcing. There is a shared agenda about the reform of the common agricultural policy, especially set-aside. Ending set-aside provides potential for us to grow biofuels in this country in a way that does not compromise food or other environmental matters. We have made that point regularly recently. My recent discussions suggest that the UK agenda for CAP reform has growing support. The health check that Commissioner Fischer Boel will conduct next year offers a genuine opportunity not only to do something about milk quotas and other matters, but to take forward the set-aside agenda, which could have big environmental benefits.
The Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare (Mr. Ben Bradshaw):
The Government will continue to take measures aimed at bearing down on TB. Our decisions will be based on the science and
on what is practical and cost-effective, and will ensure a fair balance of the costs of the disease between farmers and the taxpayer.
Mr. Jack: In thanking the Minister for that answer, may I remind him that 58 weeks tomorrow will mark the start of the consultation exercise that the Government carried out on ways of controlling bovine TB using culling? He will also be aware that herd restrictions are now at their highest level for a decade, and that the cost to his Department of dealing with the disease is now about £90 million a year. The Independent Scientific Group will report at the end of April, but the Secretary of State has confirmed in a letter to me that, following the ISGs findings,
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