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16 Jun 2009 : Column 67WH—continued

Joan Ruddock: Indeed we do, and we have a major programme of public engagement that addresses all forms of behaviour change. There is also the European directive on energy-using products. We have a whole team of people located within DEFRA who work on sustainable consumption and production. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Behaviour change depends
16 Jun 2009 : Column 68WH
not just on asking people and educating people about how they might change but offering them choice about products and giving them appropriate advice.

This autumn, DEFRA will be consulting on its green claims code, which outlines current UK and EU legislative requirements, and provides guidance on how to make self-declared environmental claims. The consultation will seek comments on whether new sector specific guidance is required.

There is also the prospect of future legislation on VOCs. The European Commission is considering whether to amend existing legislation on the emissions of VOCs from certain products, which could have wider implications for some aerosol products. Under the paint products directive, the marketing of many paints and varnishes is prohibited if more than the specified amounts of solvents are included in the product. I understand that the European Commission has employed consultants to advise on whether that approach might be extended to other products, including aerosol hairsprays, deodorants and antiperspirants, which use organic solvents as propellants.

DEFRA officials attended a recent workshop in Brussels to discuss the matter. The Commission plans to complete its assessment and, if appropriate, adopt a proposal for amendment of the directive in two years’ time. That is another reason why we would be interested to hear details of this and any other environmentally “green” aerosol product that may inform the development of the UK position should such a directive be brought forward.

Another factor to bear in mind is that the current EU national emission ceilings directive sets annual emission levels for VOCs for the UK to achieve from 2010 onwards. A proposal to revise the NECD is expected towards the end of this year. A revised NECD is likely to set more stringent emission ceilings for VOCs. The ceilings are intended to tackle transboundary air pollution problems, including the formation of ground-level ozone, and also acidification and eutrophication. The European Commission proposal has been delayed until this year to allow co-ordination with action to set greenhouse gas targets—a move proactively supported by the UK. The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory is currently within the 2010 emission ceilings set out in the existing NECD.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this debate on aerosol technology and its potential connection with climate change. Climate change is a priority for this Government and we are interested in any forms of new technology that can enable us to meet the stringent domestic targets that we have set in law for ourselves and also to enable us to make a contribution to a global deal, which will depend on the transfer of new technology around the world.

Question put and agreed to.

2 pm

Sitting adjourned.


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