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promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems.
Such problems are not just those relating to combating climate change, but those that will flow from climate change, such as the availability of water, crop yields and diseases that will spread to parts of the world in which they have not been found before. There must be adaptation now, because whatever we agree on mitigation, we will have to adapt to the changes that are irrevocably in the system.
The EU has set ambitious targets on renewables for member states. By demonstrating its leadership, it has said that if there is a global deal, the EU will increase its commitment further and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent. by 2020.
Mr. Clappison: I agree with many of the general points that the Secretary of State is making. On the point raised by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris), I have had a quick look at article 174 in the previous treaty, which seems to include an almost identical provision to that to which the Secretary of State referred in article 191, except for the words to do with climate change. Is that the case?
Europe is providing leadership, and its 27 voices are giving the same message to citizens, businesses and our global partners. Europe, this country and the world need to concentrate on five things if we are to deal with the problem. First, now that we have the deal at Bali, we need to agree on a goal.
Hilary Benn: Well, Europe has made a start because it has a goala temperature target. There is a question of what temperature increase the world thinks that we can live with and what we must avoid. Europes target is no more than 2°C, which will require at least a 50 per cent. reduction in global emissions from 1990 levels across the world. We must get agreement, because once there is agreement on a goal, we can look at all the commitments from around the world that are on the table. We can then add them up and decide whether they will be sufficient. We know that they are not sufficient to deal with the task at the moment.
Secondly, we need bigger and more ambitious commitments from developed countries. That is why Europes commitment is important and why we need all
the rich developed nations, including the largest economy in the world, to make binding commitments. Thirdly, we need a strong global carbon market, because putting a price on what is bad for the climate will encourage people to invest in what is better for the climate. We have to open up those markets to all countries, and the fact that the EU ETS is the largest of all the markets puts Europe in a strong position to ensure that that happens. As other trading schemes emerge in other parts of the globe, one of our tasks is to enable them all to fit together, so that we do not end up withif I can put it this waya VHS trading scheme in one place and a Betamax trading scheme in another, or different currencies; we need to be able to connect the schemes together.
Fourthly, we need a deal that is fair. This is fundamentally a matter of global social justice. We now learn that we have a finite resource that the world can cope with: CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. The world can only take so much, so the question is how we divide that up fairly and equitably, both to save the planet and to lift every citizen out of poverty in the same century. That is why we need measurable contributions from developed countries, but we also have to show that those countries are willing to provide financial support, help with technology, assistance to avoid deforestation and support for adaptation to developing countries. Fifthly and finally, we need an agreement that covers all countries and all emissions and does enough to solve the problem.
That, in summary, is the task that the negotiations between now and Copenhagen have to achieve. The truth is that Europe alone cannot ensure that we get that deal in Copenhagen; it depends on many other countries, too. But with the Lisbon treaty acknowledging Europes rolethat is what it does, and so it shouldwe now have a firm basis on which to proceed. What the Lisbon treaty has to say on climate change recognises reality and embraces practical politics, and I think that the House should support it.
notes that the Treaty of Lisbon makes no substantive changes to EU competence on climate change; agrees with the Foreign Secretary that climate change agreements already reached by the EU have done more to show the relevance of the European Union than any amount of institutional tinkering; believes that the Treaty of Lisbon is effectively irrelevant to the vital issue of climate change; and concludes that the Governments priority on climate change in the European context should not be institutional change but the strengthening of measures to drive down greenhouse gas emissions..
Conservatives always welcome the opportunity to speak in this House on the vital importance of tackling climate change. As the debates on the Lisbon treaty are demonstrating, we also welcome opportunities to speak on the role and influence of the European Union in the political and daily life of this country. Indeed, some hon. Members on both sides of the House seem to show an insatiable appetite for debating matters European. We are happy to debate climate change and our relationship with the European Union.
The other place has happily been debating the Climate Change Bill in recent weeks, and I am pleased to note how the Opposition have succeeded in persuading the Government to toughen up some key provisions of that Bill. We look forward to its arrival in this House in the near future. If we end up with a robust Climate Change Billone that really changes the mindset in Whitehall and in Westminsterit will be a great example of what a national Parliament can achieve.
There will be plenty of opportunities to debate climate change in the weeks ahead, and that is a good thing, given that climate change is the greatest threat we face. It would be surprising indeed if we were not debating it. I sense that, despite the fact that the science is still disputed by some, there is a real hunger for clarity and leadership on climate change, which affects all of us, whatever our job, wherever we live, whatever our income and whatever our faith. It demands a new politics.
Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): Does my hon. Friend share my anger and concern that in the past few days, despite sensible opposition by Her Majestys Government, the European Union has decreed that from 2011 all motor cars will have to have daytime running lights? Is he aware that, in answer to a parliamentary question that I tabled, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick), revealed that that will result in an increase in fuel consumption of about 5 per cent.? Is not that a good example of what is rotten in the European Unionthe blanket, one-size-must-fit-all approach, which in this instance will lead to an unnecessary imposition on the British motorist and will increase emissions?
Mr. Ainsworth: My right hon. Friend will no doubt have an opportunity to catch your eye later, Mr. Speaker, but he makes a good point. I shall later make some positive remarks about the role that the EU can play in combating environmental challenges and climate change, but producing a directive requiring all cars to keep their headlights on at all times is precisely the sort of thing that gets under peoples skin and annoys them about the EU. I know that Ministers have resisted that measure. The EU maintains that it will increase fuel use and carbon emissions by only 0.3 per cent., but the Governments position is that it will increase them by 5 per cent. That is wholly unacceptable and counter-productive, and an example of what could go wrong if we do not persuade Europe to engage in the new politics that I just mentioned.
Steve Webb (Northavon) (LD): I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman on the need for a new politics and consensus on climate change. Can he explain why this week Conservative peers voted against having a target of an 80 per cent. cut in CO2 emissions?
My understanding is that Conservative peers abstained on that vote. However, I am pleased by the co-operation that has been taking place between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives in the other place. The first key task set out by the Secretary of State
was to keep the increase in global average temperatures to less than 2° C. I shall be interested to hear the Minister who sums up this debate explain why Government peers voted against Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers on making that task a primary purpose of the Climate Change Bill.
Colin Challen: In an intervention, the hon. Gentleman said that the Conservative amendment was all about adding substance and not flitting about with a few airy-fairy words. In terms of substance, therefore, will he tell us how the Conservatives would raise the price of carbon in the emissions trading scheme to a level that might deter people from flying?
Mr. Martin Caton (Gower) (Lab): Just before the previous interventions, the hon. Gentleman said that climate change affects us all, but does he agree that it does not affect us all equally? It will have the greatest impact on the poorest people in the poorest parts of the world. In that sense, climate change is not only an environmental issue, but a social justice issue.
We need a new politics in the face of an unprecedented challenge. Our approach must not be tactical or short term, geared toward electoral advantage; it must be long term. We do not need insular and self-interested policies; we must be global and generous. As the hon. Gentleman said, climate change is not just an environmental or economic challenge. It is about our economy and the worlds, our society and some of the most vulnerable societies in the world. Ultimately, it is very possibly about our ability to survive at all.
Climate change needs to be debated but, above all, it needs action. So far, the Government have been long on words but desperately short on effective action: the rhetoric and the reality are far removed. This countrys climate change emissions have increased since 1997, and now key environmental projects are threatened by the latest consequences of DEFRAs financial difficulties. Given the absence of dispute between the main political parties on the seriousness of the threat of climate change, it is astonishing that so little progress has been made towards dealing with the problem.
What I have been struggling to understand is why we have been invited to discuss climate change here and now, in the debate on the Lisbon treaty. The Lisbon treaty matters, too. It might not literally be a matter of life and death, which is what irreversible climate change might ultimately become, but it does go to the heart of how we are governed, our democratic values and our right to determine our own future in years to come. It is uncomfortable to say this, but I really think that the fact that the Government have devoted so much time to the issue of climate change in debates on the Lisbon treaty betrays a serious misjudgement of the importance of both issues. It may betray something worse: a cynical willingness to use the issue of climate change as a decoy,
a means of avoiding more thorough debate about the constitutional implications of the Lisbon treaty.
We have already heard how many words in the Lisbon treaty are devoted to the issue of climate change: six. [ Interruption. ] When I say six, I mean literally that there are no more than six words in the whole treaty devoted to the issue of climate change, and I shall quote them:
and in particular combating climate change.
Mr. Ainsworth: What has happened is that the Government have dedicated three and a half hours today to discussing those six words. That is 35 minutes a word, or just over five minutes a letter. I suppose that I should be grateful that in this long series of debates, I am probably unique among Conservative spokesmen in not having to complain about any new powers arising from the treaty of Lisbon, but I must ask whether this is the most productive use of the Houses time.
Do the Government think that focusing on a thematic issue such as climate change, which they identify correctly as something that the public care about, enables them to avoid a more technical debate on the parts of the treaty that actually make important changes to our political relationship within Europe? Why have they arranged this particular debate on this subject?
Paddy Tipping (Sherwood) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman said earlier that actions speak louder than words. Are not the important vehicles for environmental changemeasures providing for clean water, how we look after our landscape, how we dispose of our waste, climate changebeing driven by Europe? We ought to be supporting them rather than carping about todays debate.
Is my hon. Friend not being rather kind to the Government? The truth is that it would be perfectly proper to have a whole days debate on climate change under the Lisbon treatyit really is a very important additionif we had had a proper debate on defence or a whole range of other matters in the Lisbon treaty. What worries me is that it is not the Secretary of States fault. The fault lies in the
Governments unwillingness to arrange for proper line-by-line debate on the treaty. Those of us who are deeply opposed to referendums should be most concerned that we ought to have had that debate.
Mr. Ainsworth: My right hon. Friend makes a compelling and important point. I understand that none of the amendments dealing with defence was debated at all, which is a disgrace. I suggest to him that there may be another and rather more scurrilous plan at work: I suspect that somebody in some Government office thought it might be a cunning wheeze to table the motion that we are debating in order to paint the Conservatives considered opposition to the Lisbon treaty as being incompatible with support for collective EU action on climate change. If so, that is not only cynical but ignorant.
Hugh Bayley: The question is whether the Conservative party speaks with one voice. The right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) said how important it was for the EU to have a competence in climate change. Amendment No. 121 to the European Union (Amendment) Bill, tabled by some very senior Conservativesincluding a former party leader, the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith), and a former Cabinet Minister, the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood)says that the EU should have no say at all on climate change. Does that not show that the hon. Gentlemans party is deeply divided and unable to provide leadership on Europe?
The hon. Gentleman ought to know that the EU already has a competence in climate change; that is exactly my point. The provisions of the Lisbon treaty are about the distribution of power between the EU and its member states, and how the EU is organised. The treaty has been deliberately designed, some would say, to be as hard as possible to understand, which is presumably why the Government hope that they can renege on their pledge to hold a referendum, although I remind the Secretary of State that people notice when politicians fail to keep their election promises.
if the European Union is to show itself to be useful, it need not reform its institutions or become obsessed with institutional reform; rather, it needs to get on with tackling the big issues that people recognise cannot be addressed at national level.
Mr. Chaytor: If the hon. Gentleman is opposed to the provisions in the treaty relating to the reform of institutions, and if he argues that reform is irrelevant to the issue of climate change, surely he should be able to stand at the Dispatch Box and explain how a six-month rotating presidency shared among 27 member states can possibly advance climate change policy more effectively than the provisions in the treaty.
Mr. Ainsworth: It does not need a treaty to take effective action on climate change. I refer the hon. Gentleman, whom I respect greatly and whose knowledge of environmental matters is impressive, to the further remarks of his own Foreign Secretary in December:
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