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Jo Swinson: I thank the Minister for giving way to me at last; it just shows that it pays to persevere. I praise the work that she has personally done on tackling climate change, but does she not recognise that it is strange to praise the 10:10 campaign while refusing in the amendment to sign up Departments and, indeed, this House, to it?
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This House is not covered by the Government numbers that she just mentioned and it should have the opportunity to sign up to the 10:10 campaign. Today's Liberal Democrat motion is a way of doing that.

Joan Ruddock: Regrettably, the hon. Lady has not been listening to what I have said. I have been making it very clear what is already under way and why signing up to the 10:10 campaign does not make sense-[Hon. Members: "This House."] This House can choose to do what this House wants to do, but the Government are clearly not committing the public sector as a whole-this is what the motion seeks-to the 10:10 campaign.

The Government are giving direct assistance through providing £54.5 million in this financial year for a public sector loans scheme, which is administered by Salix Finance. That provides interest-free loans for energy efficiency technologies that provide payback in less than five years, with ongoing savings then staying in the public sector. The Carbon Trust provides detailed support for the public sector, running a carbon management programme that enables many public sector bodies to identify savings of 25 per cent. over a five-year period. I am pleased to announce today that we are allocating £20 million to cut CO2 emissions from both the Government estate and its transport. Some of the money will go on energy efficiency, on smart meters and on low-carbon cars, and some will go on mapping the possibilities of renewable energy on public land-that will be led by the Forestry Commission.

All that effort, and much more, is the result of years of planning and experience. Consequently, I must say to the hon. Lady that it would make no sense to require the whole public sector to commit to a one-off emissions reduction when it is already demonstrating commitment in the short, medium and long-term. For some in the public sector a 10 per cent. reduction might be possible in a single year, and I congratulate those councils that have signed up to the campaign. I am pleased to say that the Department of Energy and Climate Change is ahead of 10:10. It has signed up to, and is on course to meet, a 10 per cent. cut in energy use in our building within this financial year.

For individuals, I understand that the 10:10 campaign is aspirational, designed to give people a target to aim for voluntarily. As such, it is warmly welcomed by Government and it is consistent with our approach to the Act on CO2 campaign. Like 10:10, we seek to encourage and help people to change their behaviour. With 42 per cent. of emissions down to our personal lifestyles, we can do much to match efforts in Government, business and industry. Since we launched our carbon calculator two years ago, more than 1.6 million people have visited the site. I welcome the involvement of 10:10 and we are keen to help them with our own resources. To demonstrate our support, not only DECC Ministers but the whole Cabinet have signed up to make a personal contribution.

Let me return to the bigger picture.

Simon Hughes: Does the Minister not accept that it sounds to everybody else who is being encouraged to sign up to the campaign as if the Government are inconsistent and not fully committed? If one or two Departments are signed up and so are bodies such as the NHS, but the Government cannot take collective
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responsibility, how can the Government-and Ministers-turn to the captains of industry, the leaders of the trade unions and local authorities and say with authority, "We want you to do it but we just cannot do it ourselves"?

Joan Ruddock: I remind the hon. Gentleman that his party signed up to the carbon budgets-

Simon Hughes: It is not either/or.

Joan Ruddock: It is. The carbon budgets are the result of years of effort. If a Department-or the whole public sector-were to try to put in place a 10 per cent. cut within a single year, I can assure him that projects would be absolutely useless. They would not come to fruition and that there would be chaos in planning. What would be the cost? If the Conservative party intends to support the Lib Dem motion, I hope that its spokesman will tell us what the cost would be of putting the whole public sector through that process in a single year instead of over the period of the carbon budgets to which he also signed up.

Several hon. Members rose -

Joan Ruddock: I need to reach some further points and to explain- [ Interruption. ] I have not rubbished 10:10. It is a very worthwhile campaign, but 10:10 has not approached us with this proposition for the whole public sector.

All sectors of the economy will have to contribute to the decarbonisation process required by the carbon budgets. We will need to change the way we do everything to cut down the amount of energy and other resources that we use. For example, by 2020 about 40 per cent. of our electricity will come from low-carbon sources-renewables, nuclear and clean coal-whereas 7 million homes will have had the opportunity to undertake whole house changes and more than 1.5 million households will be supported in the production of their own clean energy. The average new car will emit 40 per cent. less carbon than now.

We need to transform our electricity system so that our electricity comes from clean sources. We have done an enormous amount to make that possible in recent times. We plan to achieve an almost sevenfold increase in the use of renewable energy in just 11 years. To achieve that, we are expanding and extending the renewables obligation and introducing a new feed-in tariff to support micro and small-scale renewable energy projects. The inclusion of nuclear power in our generation mix can also contribute and we are therefore taking steps to ensure that unnecessary barriers to its deployment are removed. It will be for energy companies to fund, develop and build nuclear power stations, and that will include meeting the full costs of decommissioning and accepting their full share of waste management and disposal. Clean coal is another plank of our future low-carbon energy plans and, again, we are putting significant financial support into carbon capture and storage.

At the household level, we have already helped millions of families to save money, energy and carbon through our flagship scheme, the carbon emissions reductions target. Since 2002, the energy suppliers have spent billions of pounds on helping more than 5 million British householders deal with their energy efficiency needs. We expect that figure to exceed 9 million in 2011. That is proper, responsible planning and achievement.

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We have also introduced a new community energy saving programme, and around £350 million will be spent on energy efficiency measures in some of the most deprived communities in the UK. Next year, we begin the roll-out of smart meters to every household in the country.

Beyond 2012, we know that there will be a need to go further. That is why we will have to introduce measures such as side wall insulation, microgeneration and new heating technologies. Such measures come at a high price, which is why we are piloting a new finance approach through the Pay As You Save pilots, which will help people take out loans that they can pay back from their energy bill savings.

I want to touch on transport for a second, as it is currently the second-largest contributor of carbon emissions in the UK. Our transition plan makes it clear that ultra-low emissions vehicles, including electric vehicles, will contribute to greater efficiency in carbon savings in the future. The Government have pledged £230 million for consumer incentive packages from 2011 to promote the early adoption of ultra-low carbon vehicles, and an additional £30 million for the installation of electric vehicle infrastructure.

Combined, these measures add up to the most ambitious transformation of the economy ever put forward by a British Government, and I defy either Opposition party to quarrel with that. Through a mixture of incentives, regulation and public spending, we are confident that we can move this country to a low-carbon path.

As we embrace a greener future, however, we also accept our historic responsibilities for our part in causing climate change. That is why we will continue to do our utmost to achieve agreement at Copenhagen. This is the most important negotiation that the world has ever known. Nothing should deflect us from that task, and no political posturing should be deployed to diminish public support for our ambition.

5.2 pm

Gregory Barker (Bexhill and Battle) (Con): I begin by congratulating the Liberals on calling this Opposition day debate. It is not a catch-all debate on climate change, and because we are relatively short of time, I shall try to keep my remarks brief. The agenda is huge and we will not have time to cover all of it, so I shall focus on the 10:10 campaign.

It is rapidly becoming clear that it is nearly impossible to overstate the challenges posed by meeting and finding solutions to the problems of dangerous man-made climate change. Any opportunity for this Chamber to discuss that, and its profound effects, should be warmly welcomed.

Over the summer recess, we learned that Arctic summer ice will have disappeared completely, not by 2050 as we had previously thought, but possibly as soon as within 20 years. We can all agree that there is now widespread agreement about the nature and scale of the threat posed by climate change. Before I move on, I shall give the House one more fact: it is estimated that if the Himalayan glaciers were to melt, three-quarters of a billion people would be without sufficient water. We cannot pretend that that would not have serious consequences for all of us in terms of global conflict, mass movements of people and our national security.

Rob Marris: What about adaptation?

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Gregory Barker: There often seems to be a healthy consensus in UK politics on climate change, even if we do not talk enough about adaptation. Over the past few years we in the UK are fortunate enough to have enjoyed a good consensus, by and large, about the challenges and threats posed. We worked constructively with the Government across party on the Climate Change Act 2008. It is to the Government's credit that that is on the statute book, and we look forward to strengthening and improving any new legislation on climate that is included in this autumn's Queen's Speech.

However, a broad consensus over the direction of travel and the nature of the challenge should not be mistaken for a sense of job done in respect of Britain's political and economic response. A commitment to a framework of reductions is only a small first step. As the Government have demonstrated by their failure to meet their manifesto pledges to reduce emissions targets, frameworks and targets on their own are not enough unless there is a plan for delivery behind them. What we have learned from the Minister today is that for Labour, energy efficiency is a fourth-term issue.

Bill Wiggin (Leominster) (Con): On Government targets, it was the Minister who said that every new job should be a green job. That was in March this year. That same month, the Prime Minister promised 400,000 new green jobs, but at the Labour party conference that figure fell to 250,000. Is there any reason why the Government should have axed 150,000 jobs?

Gregory Barker: No real reason, except that those figures were plucked out of green air. Leadership means taking responsibility to deliver clear outcomes. On an issue of such severity, waiting and waiting is no longer an option.

Barry Gardiner (Brent, North) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman spoke of the necessity for frameworks, which he has supported. I welcome that, but does he agree that having established the framework, having got the Climate Change Committee to make its recommendations, and having drawn up for Government a programme to enact those recommendations, it does not make sense to do something else and ask the Government to sign up to 10:10, which will conflict with the programmatic framework that the hon. Gentleman welcomed?

Gregory Barker: The most important thing about the 10:10 campaign is that it instils a sense of urgency into the agenda which is singularly lacking in the Government. They seem to take comfort from frameworks, regulation, long-term targets and the never-never land of 2020-when they will be long gone-believing that that justifies their inaction now. We must focus on what can be done.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: Was not one of the most telling remarks made by the Minister in her contribution, when criticising the motion, that signing up to the 10:10 deal would cost a huge amount of money? She implied criticism of our Front-Bench team for not having costed that. This is not about cost. Does my hon. Friend agree that we are talking about saving energy, saving CO2 and saving money, not spending it?

Gregory Barker: Indeed. Labour just doesn't get it. The Government still have an old-fashioned backward-looking 20th century approach. They think that the environment costs, and must be paid for, whereas people in the 21st century understand that progressive and
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globally competitive economies must be energy-efficient. That is not an optional add-on. Whether energy efficiency is financed in the public sector, in the private sector or by consumers, more and more energy-efficient models are self-financing. The Minister should be aware that despite the credit crunch, there is a great deal of innovative financing out there now which is coming to the fore and which demonstrates that it does not need a big up-front spend from the taxpayer. We need to show political leadership that puts that on the agenda. To retreat into carbon budgets as though they were some universal panacea is claptrap. What we need is real progress now.

Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) (LD): The hon. Gentleman is making a powerful point. Is not Labour looking for excuses not to support the motion? If the Government had so much in place there would be no difficulty in delivering a 10 per cent. reduction next year, because the mechanisms would already be there. Why will the Government not allow the House to decide that it wants to sign up to that? If anybody wants to vote for that-

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The right hon. Gentleman should not attempt to put too much in an intervention, especially if he is hoping to catch my eye later.

Gregory Barker: I thoroughly agree with the right hon. Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce). The trouble with this Government is that they are stuck in a rut. Their default mechanism is, "Don't support an Opposition motion." It just goes against the tribal instinct. However, I am sure that the Minister's common sense argues in the other direction, and that she did her bit to try to support the motion, but unfortunately was not successful.

Joan Ruddock: I would not have argued in any way for the motion. The situation is very clear to us: we have a programme that was laid out in detail in the transition plan this summer and covers the next decade. It includes the spending that we need to achieve and the policies that we have to put in place. We are talking about spending billions of pounds to achieve those policies, so it would be nonsense to try to turn that around for a gesture-for a single year-when we have a programme that runs to 2020.

Gregory Barker: The Minister has to understand that nobody-certainly nobody in this House who sits on the Opposition Benches-has the slightest confidence in any Government plan. They have been shown to fail in the past; they will fail in the future.

Several hon. Members rose -

Gregory Barker: I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart).

Mr. Graham Stuart: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Of course, not only will the 2010 target on emissions be missed, but the child poverty target will be missed, too. Again and again, Government Members sit on their Benches in righteous indignation because they have "laid out a plan". It is not the plan we want, it is delivery-and it is delivery that we have never received.

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Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) seems to be whipping up interventions, but I say to the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart), who just intervened, that there is a saying, "Never do anything twice," and three times is getting a little excessive in this debate.

Gregory Barker: I shall endeavour to make some progress, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Several hon. Members rose -

Gregory Barker: I shall take an intervention from the hon. Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North (Ms Buck).

Ms Karen Buck (Regent's Park and Kensington, North) (Lab): The 10:10 campaign has enormous strength, and is not its beauty due to the fact that it is a genuinely bottom-up campaign about changing the behaviour of individuals and organisations, and getting mass buy-in? Will the hon. Gentleman therefore say why he has not instructed all Conservative councils to sign up to it, or ensured that all Conservative-led local authorities and partner delivery organisations actively support it?

Gregory Barker: For a start, we do not instruct our councils to do anything. We certainly encourage them, and we will try to show some leadership. We certainly do not anticipate-

Hugh Bayley (City of York) (Lab): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Gregory Barker: Would the hon. Gentleman mind if I finished my response to the previous intervention first?

We certainly do not anticipate a new layer of bureaucracy. The 10:10 campaign is a public campaign that will not give rise to new regulation or bureaucracy. However, we exhort the whole public sector to participate in it.

Several hon. Members rose -

Gregory Barker: I shall try to make some progress now, but I shall try to take Members' interventions a little later.

How would I sum up the situation? There is a huge gap between ambition, practical vision and delivery on the ground, and there is a woeful mismatch between the debate in the UK about the political response to climate change so far and what has happened in the past. The bottom line is that the Conservatives have had enough of well-meaning but unambitious small-scale tinkering with the energy markets; we have had enough of complicated overlapping initiatives and regulation that would leave would-be entrepreneurs and investors in our green economy scratching their heads; we have had enough of sham green taxation that raised money for the Treasury without any clear green outcome-and we have had enough of a Government who could not make up their mind on coal or carbon capture and storage, had to be forced into feed-in tariffs and have no real strategy on heat and energy efficiency.

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