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Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the levels of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from producing electricity from used cooking oil as compared to (a) fossil fuels and (b) other biofuels. 
I am not aware of any research that is focused specifically on deriving the levels of carbon emissions from producing electricity from used cooking oil specifically. However as part of our ongoing review of our National Calculation Methodologies, building performance assessment tools the standard assessment procedure for dwellings and the simplified buildings energy method for non-dwellings, Government are working with OFTEC (Oil Firing Technical Association) to establish the carbon emission factors for the bio-liquids that are being developed as a low carbon alternative for kerosene. While it is expected that these liquids, which are likely to include some used cooking oil as well as other liquids produced from biomass, will mainly be used in plant to produce space heating and hot water they could equally be used to generate electricity. Nonetheless, through this work we will be able to estimate the carbon impact of using such bio-liquids compared with other fuels.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how much has been spent on (a) departmental Christmas parties and (b) staff entertainment since the formation of his Department. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department of Energy and Climate Change has made no expenditure on Christmas parties. The only expenditure on staff entertainment (that is, for a celebration, or where there is no clear and justifiable reason for expenditure) since the Department's formation on 3 October 2008 has been £1,733 on a cross-government event on 3 December 2008 as a celebration to mark the passing of the Climate Change and Energy Acts.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment his Department has made of its capacity to adapt to climate change; and what plans he has to publish a climate change adaptation strategy. 
Joan Ruddock: In July 2008, the cross-Government adapting to climate change programme published adapting to climate change in Englanda framework for action which set out the Governments strategy for adaptation and the work-plan for the cross-Government programme for the next three years. This programme increases Governments capacity to adapt by ensuring a coordinated approach across all Departments and the public sector, and overall responsibility for it rests with DEFRA. Information about the programme and its work can be found at:
This includes taking forward work flowing from the Climate Change Actincluding a national climate change risk assessment and cost benefit analysis which will inform future priorities for the statutory adaptation programme that will then begin in 2012.
The Governments longer term strategy on adapting to a changing climate will be set out in this statutory national adaptation programme, which will be reviewed and updated on a five year rolling basis in response to updated risk assessments, and report to Parliament.
In addition, DECC has established governance structures to ensure that there is proper read-across from DEFRAs adaptation strategy both into the policy areas for which DECC has responsibility, and into its corporate decision-making process.
Joan Ruddock: My Department funds the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC), through its Integrated Climate Programme with joint funding from the MOD and DEFRA, to monitor, understand and predict climate change; this research includes incorporating sea ice into global climate models to ensure best possible predictions on melting of Arctic sea ice. We also liaise with other research groups in the U.K. and internationally on this topic.
The Northwest Passage temporarily became fully open and navigable in summer 2007, for first time in recorded history, due to the record low extent (September average area: 4.28 million sq km) of Arctic sea ice melt. The same situation occurred in summer 2008, when the sea ice area (4.67 million sq km) was at its second lowest on record. Satellite monitoring data since 1979, available from the US National Snow and ice Data Centre (NSIDC) shows there has been a long-term decline in the extent of summer Arctic sea ice and that this decline has accelerated over the last decade; the long-term downward trend of around 10 per cent. per decade can be linked to human emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols. It is not yet clear if the much larger summer ice melt in the last two years is an acceleration of this long term trend or a short term variation around it. Recent analysis by the MOHC suggests that changes as large as the observed record low in 2007 can indeed result from natural year-to-year variability around the longer term downward trend; this provides confidence in the ability of the MOHCs climate model to simulate changes in the area of Arctic sea ice and its continuing decline. However, it is evident that climate models show a wide range of future predicted rates of sea ice decline. Whilst the IPCCs Fourth Assessment Report suggested the Arctic would be largely free of summer ice by 2100, many more recent models predict this will happen much soonerby the middle of this century or even earlier; several experts suggest there may possibly be no summer sea ice by the mid 2010s.
Satellite and other records also show a long-term decline in the average thickness and age of Arctic sea ice over recent decades. For example, scientists from University College London recently reported that the thickness of the ice was significantly lower (by an average of 10 per cent.) during the winter of 2007-08 than during the previous five winters, indicating that the total volume of sea ice has decreased significantly. Though based only on satellite data (which are not ideal for measuring sea ice thickness), this result confirms previous evidence of decreasing sea ice thickness over the past three decades from US and UK submarine sonar measurements.
The retreat of Arctic sea ice has geo-political implications, with the Northwest Passage becoming increasingly ice free and fully open to shipping. There are other important implications; by reducing the reflectivity (albedo) of the
Earths surface, it increases the amount of solar radiation that the surface absorbs, thereby accelerating warming. Temperatures have already risen almost twice as quickly in the Arctic as in the rest of the world over the past 100 years. Sea ice retreat also has significant impacts on Arctic ecosystems, as many organisms (including certain species of fish) depend on its presence for survival. DECC is continuing to seek updated assessments of Arctic sea ice conditions and impacts from UK and international experts.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent meetings Ministers and officials from his Department have had with their Czech counterparts to discuss the energy and climate change priorities of the Czech Presidency of the European Union. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met Martin Bursik, the Czech Environment Minister, on 7 November 2008 to discuss the 2020 Energy and Climate Package. He also plans to meet the Czech ambassador in London later this month to discuss the energy and climate change priorities of the Czech presidency.
On 18 December 2008 DECC officials visited Prague for meetings with officials from the Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to discuss preparations and priorities for the Czech presidency. DECC officials also attended the first informal workshop on climate change of the Czech presidency in Prague on 18-20 January, which outlined the priorities of the Czech presidency.
The UK strongly supports the Czech presidency's focus on taking forward the Commission's Second Strategic Energy Review, in particular on energy security and on preparing the EU for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will make it his policy to allocate funds to the development of clean coal technology in order to reduce levels of coal imports; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 11 February 2009]: The Government's policy on clean coal technologies was set out in the Strategy for Developing Carbon Abatement Technologies for Fossil Fuel Use in 2005 and more recently in the Energy White Paper, 2007. Clean coal technologies include: higher efficiency conversion processes; fuel switching to lower carbon alternative such as biomass co-firing; and C02 capture and storage (CCS). Some of these approaches will result in increased efficiency of the operation of the generation plant, but some such as CCS will require additional energy to operate.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) supports demonstration of carbon abatement technologies through the Environmental Transformation Fund (ETF). To date DECC has committed £2.2 million to an oxy-fuel combustion CCS project.
In addition the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) support R & D on clean coal technologies via the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the research councils. The TSB has identified carbon abatement technologies as a priority area in its energy generation and supply strategy and currently supports around 11 projects with a total value of around £ 13.4 million.
The research councils also support a wide range of underpinning research and training in carbon abatement technologies through their research councils energy programme and through their individual programmes. In the last five years some 25 projects covering CCS totalling over £23 million have been funded.
Sourcing of coal is a matter for generators and other coal users, but the Government believe that making the best use of UK energy resources, including coal reserves, contributes to our security of supply goals, and that this reflects a value in maintaining access to economically viable reserves of coal.
Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effects of increases in energy prices on levels of fuel poverty among pensioners who use coal as their main source of domestic heating. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 9 February 2009]: The Department does not carry out separate analysis to quantify the effect of rising energy prices on coal users. The total number of fuel poor households in England that rely on coal and other solid fuels as their primary source for central heating fell from 106,000 to 101,000 households between 2005 and 2006, however, the actual proportion of households reliant on solid fuels that were fuel poor rose slightly, from 45 per cent. in 2005 to around 46 per cent. in 2006.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: As for all Departments, the Department for Energy and Climate Change will be required by HM Treasury under the terms of its Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 settlement to deliver 5 per cent. per annum real savings in 2009-10 and 2010-11 compared to the baseline budget set for 2008-09. The administration budget for 2008-09 will be set in the upcoming spring supplementary estimate.
Mr. Mike O'Brien:
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was formed on 3 October 2008, bringing together policy responsibility for energy (formerly with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)) and climate change (formerly with the Department for Environment Food
and Rural Affairs (Defra)). The Department does not at present have its own IT systems, but instead makes use of BERRs and Defras existing IT systems. Given that, I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 27 January 2009, Official Report, column 322W and by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on 27 January 2009, Official Report, column 423W.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what IT projects (a) his Department and (b) its agencies are undertaking; what his most recent estimate of the total cost of each project is; and what the projected completion date of each is. 
North Sea Licensing establishing an offshore register equivalent to the onshore Land Registry. Cost is £250-300,000 and will be finished in summer 2009.
Electricity Portal for electricity consents. Cost approximately £350,000 and will be live by summer 2009.
Environmental emissions monitoring database, as joint project with oil industry, to capture data and report for Kyoto. The cost is expected to be £250,000 and will be complete by spring 2010.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will make it his policy that temporary and permanent employees of his Department employed at the same grade receive the same hourly rate of pay. 
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