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The Government recognise the need to give serious consideration to how emissions from international aviation and shipping are approached in the Climate Change Bill. That is why we agreed to the approach proposed by the other place: that either those emissions should be included in the Bill’s targets and budgets within five years of Royal Assent or an explanation should be laid before Parliament stating why that has not been done. I want to attach as much certainty and transparency as possible to this requirement, and amendment No. 36 would do exactly that. It would change the deadline for inclusion or explanation from within five years to 31 December 2012. That definite date is nearly a year sooner than what is currently provided for in the Bill. Furthermore, in response to the views of the shadow Committee on Climate Change, new clause 15 places a
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new duty on the committee to advise the Secretary of State on the consequences of including emissions from international aviation and emissions from international shipping in the targets and budgets. The committee would be required to provide that advice at the same time as it provides its advice on each carbon budget. That requirement would begin in 2011, when the committee advises on the level of the 2023 to 2027 budget, and would apply every time it advises on carbon budgets thereafter. The duty would remain in place to the extent that emissions from international aviation and shipping were not included within the Bill’s targets. If emissions from international aviation were included in the future, the committee would still be under a duty to provide advice on international shipping emissions, but if, at some point, all emissions were included, the advice duty would no longer apply.

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): Would the Minister care to comment on a problem that could easily arise if, on the one hand, the committee has a legal duty to give effect to the provisions that she has mentioned and, on the other, clause 6 gives the Secretary of State a power to amend in the light of European law? What would happen if European law said one thing and the committee, which had a duty to give advice to the Secretary of State, said another? Which would prevail?

Joan Ruddock: I know that the hon. Gentleman has some difficulty with European law, but I assure him that the committee would undoubtedly make proposals that would be consistent with European law.

Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal) (Con): Could the Minister help the House by telling us what the Government are doing to further these discussions, particularly in respect of shipping? Some indication has been given, particularly by the Danes, that we might not have been as advanced as some other countries in trying to find a suitable way to handle the difficult issue of shipping emissions. Can she assure the House that the Government will lead on this matter? The UK is historically a shipping country, so we would like to see that happen.

Joan Ruddock: I agree with the right hon. Gentleman about how important it is for the UK to be in the lead. I do not know what the Danish opinion of us is, but there is competition between our countries at times, not least in respect of offshore wind. I understand that we have been very active in the International Maritime Organisation, that we have made proposals and that we have made funds available to assist in this process. We want to do our best, and I take the right hon. Gentleman’s comments seriously.

I was explaining how the duty would cease to exist if all the emissions were included in an international agreement. The shadow committee has been considering this question in some depth. Lord Turner’s recent letter to the Secretary of State gave his view that

His reason was that it was

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He added that although

Mr. Mike Weir (Angus) (SNP): Did not Lord Turner also say that aviation and shipping should be included in the 80 per cent. target? If they are not to be included in the budget, how will that be reflected in the 80 per cent. target, and what will be the impact of that?

Joan Ruddock: The hon. Gentleman is correct in that Lord Turner made reference to the 80 per cent. target and to shipping and aviation emissions, but there has been considerable misunderstanding on this point. I will explain precisely what he has said and how we have responded positively to that.

Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North) (Lab): Does the Minister agree that Lord Turner’s assessment is for the short term and, as he goes on to say, we need to look at this important issue in the long term, as it needs a deliberate policy?

Joan Ruddock: It is apparent to all of us that we have to have short-term solutions and answers to the problems of climate change, and we also always have to plan for the long term. My hon. Friend is absolutely right about that.

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I am slightly confused about this issue. Last Monday, the Prime Minister said that we needed a constantly rising supply of oil, notwithstanding the use of renewables. Does the Minister have any idea of whether our oil consumption is expected to fall over time—whether or not aviation and shipping are included—and in which year would we first see a fall?

Joan Ruddock: I shall not speculate on the extraneous matters that the hon. Gentleman has raised.

The central point of what Lord Turner actually said was that policies are needed to constrain aviation and shipping emissions, but—despite these—it is unlikely that emissions in these sectors will be reduced by 80 per cent. in 2050. The consequence is that more effort is likely to be required from those sectors covered by the Bill. Government amendments Nos. 42, 43 and 50 are consequential to Government new clause 15, and ensure that appropriate references are made throughout the Bill to the proposed new clause.

Amendment No. 69 and new clause 14 would both require the Government to publish regular projections for emissions from international aviation and shipping. We already publish projections of future CO2 emissions for international flights from UK airports and intend to continue to do so. The last reports were published in 2003, 2004 and 2007. I am happy to commit the Government to publish at least one forecast of international aviation emissions for each budgetary period sufficient to inform decisions on setting carbon budgets. Publishing projections of aviation emissions any more frequently would not deliver any benefits, as the long term drivers of the forecasts do not change significantly on an annual basis.

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Steve Webb (Northavon) (LD): There is a danger that we will get caught up in technical minutiae and lose sight of the big picture. The Minister has just said that it is unlikely that we will be able to reduce aviation emissions by 80 per cent. by 2050, so because we will not get tough on aviation, the rest of the economy will have to take the hit on carbon. Surely it is time that policies such as the expansion of Stansted and Heathrow came to the top of the Government’s agenda, as we might then stand a better chance.

4 pm

Joan Ruddock: The hon. Gentleman cannot accuse the Government of just ignoring the issue. As he must know, we have been very active within the EU in ensuring that those emissions become part of the European trading scheme. That is the way we will deal with those emissions in the first instance. We hope, in the long term, that we shall do so through some global agreement. As the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, if within a trading agreement some sectors are allowed to grow and as a consequence some cannot grow so much, that is a principle of trading. The cap that is set, which repeatedly goes down, will ensure that overall emissions are reduced. We have to have that in sight; it is the long-term goal. The bigger picture is to get an 80 per cent. reduction by 2050.

Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op): Do we have to be so pessimistic about the contribution that aviation could make to the trading scheme? In the foreseeable future, other technologies may come along. For example, Loughborough university is looking at a variety of ways of replacing aviation fuels. Will the Minister try to ensure that there is some flexibility to allow those technologies to come forward to help to reduce the figure for aviation?

Joan Ruddock: I was, of course, paraphrasing what Lord Turner had said. It was not my personal view that emissions from aviation might continue to grow and could not be reduced by 80 per cent. by 2050. We can be optimistic, can we not? My hon. Friend makes a good point—there is new technology and we are very supportive of that. We know that new aircraft are producing lower emissions than existing ones. Much can be done in that field, although I am sure that much more will eventually have to be done, too.

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): May I draw the Minister back to her remarks about the reporting on different sectors? She has mentioned the publication that the Government intend to produce on aviation emissions, but she has not so far said what publication will be produced on shipping emissions. Surely there is sometimes a danger that aviation is focused on as the real problem, when in fact emissions from shipping are considerable and are predicted to as much as treble by 2050 if left unchecked.

Joan Ruddock: I understand the hon. Lady’s point, and I shall come on to that eventually. The reason why aviation gets so much attention is that most of us have direct experience of flying, while fewer of us have experience of shipping. I shall explain what we are doing about shipping, too.

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Mr. Tim Yeo (South Suffolk) (Con): The Climate Change Bill has been used as an example of British leadership in the field of climate change, and quite rightly so. Britain is a leading maritime nation, too. I believe that the shipping industry is also looking for a lead from the British Government, which at the moment it is not getting. Ships being ordered today have a 30-year life, so that takes us three quarters of the way to 2050. If there is no sign of urgency about the inclusion of maritime emissions in the British Government’s approach, that will be an unfortunate missed opportunity. The Chamber of Shipping gave evidence to the Select Committee on Environmental Audit this morning and made the point that its members are looking to the Government for some suggestions about how maritime emissions might be counted and included.

Joan Ruddock: Obviously, the hon. Gentleman has an advantage over me in that he was present in his Committee meeting this morning and I was not. However, we will investigate all options for reducing emissions from international and domestic shipping. That includes considering improved technology and better operator practices, which, as I am sure he is aware, can make a considerable difference. We also support the development of a global emissions trading scheme through the International Maritime Organisation. We have said clearly that should progress within the IMO prove too slow, we will consider other options, including those proposed at an EU level, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. That includes investigating the feasibility of including shipping emissions in the EU ETS. We are not at all inactive on those issues, but the fact is that they are extremely difficult to deal with.

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (UKIP): Let me take the Minister back to a technical minutia. Is she convinced that the methodologies for measuring emissions, particularly on the international scale, will be robust enough in the longer term?

Joan Ruddock: I am sure the hon. Gentleman may know a little more about the technical minutiae of this matter than I do, but the Government are very conscious of the problem. We are always in discussions and seeking to improve the methodologies, but the fact that there is no agreed methodology at the moment means that we would face difficulties if we followed some of the amendments and simply included the present levels of emissions.

Dr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East) (Lab): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, and the whole House will welcome the direction in which the Government are moving on this matter. I was interested to hear her say that the reason for the much greater focus on aviation than on shipping was that we tend to fly. That may be true, but it had never occurred to me. Does she agree that we in this country are still making far too many short flights—for example, from Edinburgh to Manchester? Clearly, the way forward must be to put much more investment into the railway, and to ensure—not necessarily through taxation, but by some other means—that there are not so many flights over short distances within the UK.

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Joan Ruddock: I have, dare I say it, some sympathy with what my right hon. Friend says. The Department for Transport is developing a climate change strategy of its own and, as I said earlier, we are clear that a growth in emissions in one sector of the economy will eventually have to result in more emission reductions elsewhere. If we get to the point where all journeys are included, that mechanism will have an effect. Furthermore, all domestic flights are already included in our emissions calculations.

David Howarth (Cambridge) (LD): The Minister said that there was no agreed methodology, and that has been the argument all along, right back to the Joint Committee that considered the draft Bill. However, does she agree that any methodology that we adopt, even unilaterally, is sure to be closer to the end result than doing nothing would be? If we adopt a reasonable methodology now, we will have a smaller adjustment to make in the future.

Joan Ruddock: If I were allowed to make some progress with my speech, I might be able to make the counter-argument. However, I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s point because, although we could adopt a methodology now, it might have various undesirable effects, not least in the international negotiations.

Mr. Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): I am grateful to the Minister for giving way; she has been extremely generous. Will she share with the House what she expects the cumulative impact of aviation and shipping emissions to be between now and 2050, as currently measured by the Government? She will know that, in any long-term policy to reduce emissions, the important thing is the cumulative budget between now and then. What amounts are we talking about, and what share would they take of the overall budget allowed for the UK?

Joan Ruddock: I think I would be very unwise to answer that question directly. I am sure I could find some projections, but the amounts involved are a long way ahead and will depend on global agreements, if we get them, and on emissions trading. We cannot honestly predict the extent to which aviation might or might not grow, as that will depend on the decisions that will be taken—here, in the whole of Europe and, I hope, globally. I might be able to produce a figure for the hon. Gentleman, but I am not sure that it would advance any of the arguments that are being made.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): When the Government came to office, they inherited a fairly easy win on the Kyoto targets with the dash for gas from power generation. They strengthened their target, but why did they fail to hit that strengthened target?

Joan Ruddock: At the time, we made a prediction about what would happen to our economy, which in fact has since grown massively—

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): Not now.

Joan Ruddock: Of course, we are currently in some difficulties, but we have been able to grow our economy massively over the period to which the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) alludes. At the same time, we have reduced our emissions to such an extent
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that not only will we meet our Kyoto commitments but we will do so more than twice over. That shows that this Government have done rather well in this particular field.

Justine Greening (Putney) (Con) rose—

Joan Ruddock: I will give way, and then I will make some progress.

Justine Greening: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. Will she clarify how the Government will track emissions? As she knows, an important decision on Heathrow is coming up. According to the Government, the emissions associated with that policy will include emissions only from outgoing flights, not from incoming flights. Common sense should tell us that extra incoming flights would not be able to land if the airport were not expanded. Will she accept that what is important in Government policy is the decisionable part of emissions? How will she approach issues such as Heathrow? In such cases, if emissions are not calculated correctly, we will take the wrong decision.

Joan Ruddock: As the hon. Lady will know, a decision has not yet been taken on Heathrow. When I continue with my speech, I will make it very clear how we are approaching the issue of emissions. I will also make it clear that if emissions are contained within the EU trading process, for example, the cap will determine what the emissions are and how the matter will be dealt with. If she will let me continue, our position will become much clearer.

To answer an earlier question, there are currently no UK Government forecasts of emissions from UK international shipping. The nature of the shipping industry makes recording shipping emissions particularly difficult, and there are a number of data constraints. The Government continue to seek improvements to the evidence base on international shipping emissions, principally through our role at the IMO. I therefore cannot accept amendment No. 69 or new clause 14, but I hope that the House will accept my firm commitment that we will continue to publish our projections on aviation emissions regularly.

Amendments Nos. 68 and 72 would require the Government and the Committee on Climate Change to take into account projected greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and shipping when making any decisions relating to carbon budgets; that answers an earlier question. Amendment No. 68 makes specific reference to the projections that would be required by amendment No. 69. As I have explained, we do not agree that it is right to legislate for the publication of those projections.

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