Climate Change Bill [Lords]

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Gregory Barker: I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to this amendment, and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on tabling it. I should first like to remind the Committee of events that took place in Committee Room 11, down the corridor, on 23 October last year, when a Delegated Legislation Committee met to vote on the renewable transport fuel obligation. Despite the fact that the Government’s own briefings admitted that
“There is currently no internationally agreed definition of a ‘sustainable biofuel’, nor a working standard that could be imposed”,
the Government Members on the Committee proceeded to vote in favour of making the RTFO law. The only MPs on that Committee to vote against the RTFO on the grounds that it had no sustainability criteria attached to it were from the Conservative party—the Liberal Democrats abstained—so the RTFO became law.
I am therefore delighted—genuinely pleased—that the Liberal Democrats have looked more closely at the issue and that they have clearly decided that things must change. Although I am happy to support the amendment, it is a shame that we could not have halted the RTFO in its tracks earlier.
The Chairman: Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are discussing the general functions of the administrator in relation to the schedule. We are not having a wide-ranging debate on biofuels. Members’ comments must relate to this schedule and the duties of the administrator.
Gregory Barker: I stand admonished, Mr. Atkinson.
We believe that such a notion is unacceptable. The current reporting requirement and the Government’s hopes to have mandatory sustainability standards in place by 2011 are not sufficient safeguards to protect the environment. By 2011, we will already have sold more than 5 billion litres of biofuels in the UK. Therefore, on what I rightly assert to be a moral principle alone, I repeat now what my party colleagues said in Committee Room 11 more than eight months ago: we cannot allow the Government, who up till now have shown little or no regard for the impact of biofuels imports on the environment, to set targets for biofuels with no statutory requirement for sustainability. That is why I am happy to support the amendment, which would place a sustainability requirement for the RTFO on a statutory footing.
It being One o’clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Adjourned till this day at Four o’clock.
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