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Our low-carbon economy paper brings together all those elements in a coherent and ambitious strategy. It is a route to a transformation of the UK. It is not a wish
list of targets and frameworks with no delivery; it is a plan for action which will be at the heart of the next Conservative manifesto.
"all public sector bodies...to make it their policy to achieve a 10 per cent. reduction in greenhouse gas emissions"
by next year. Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House how many Tory councils have already signed up to the climate change indicator in the comprehensive performance assessment, and how many Tory councils have mechanisms in place even to measure their emissions, let alone to cut them by 10 per cent. in one year?
Gregory Barker: I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a figure off the top of my head, but I can tell him that Conservative councils are by far the most efficient in the country and will certainly be looking to save money. People have to understand that that is what the energy efficiency debate is about. It is not about the environment or about saving money, but about both-it is two sides of the same coin.
I have absolutely no doubt that the more Conservative councils come to understand the benefits of ambitious energy efficiency, the more they will be adopting such a strategy. There are certainly a lot more councils still to sign up. The 10:10 campaign was not launched in one go-it has been a viral campaign, and it is steadily growing. It started primarily with Liberal councils, but it is spreading, and I hope that more Conservative councils will take part. Where there are doubts about their ability to meet the targets, I will join in trying to persuade, educate and encourage them about how much of a money-saving strategy this could be. That includes my own local councils. Across the board, there are people who need to understand how beneficial this could be, as well as being the right thing to do.
Simon Hughes: Many people will be encouraged by what the hon. Gentleman has said. As his party is supporting the motion, will he encourage his colleagues around the country to support this initiative, wherever it comes from, particularly in places such as the Isle of Wight, which sadly, under Tory control, has acted as a barrier to wind turbines, indirectly resulting in Vestas closing down its plant and not producing them any more?
Gregory Barker: I think that Vestas closing down plant in the UK has less to do with the micro-politics of the Isle of Wight and a lot more to do with a total absence of leadership at national level after 10 years of a Labour Government.
If we are to show global leadership, it will be through our actions and their results, not through international grandstanding. That message was reinforced this morning when I met the high-level delegation from China who are en route to this weekend's GLOBE International meeting at Copenhagen. They made it absolutely plain that they, pragmatically, set far more store by short-term actions than long-term targets. The two are not mutually exclusive, but one can certainly see their point. We must deliver emissions reductions at home to have any sort of global authority.
In the run-up to Copenhagen, it is becoming clear just how much the Government's failure significantly to reduce emissions over the past 11 years is costing our
credibility. As the Minister admitted, the DECC has the lowest possible rating for a Government Department, but unfortunately one would think from her comments that that was an aberration-that along the rest of Whitehall there were great beacons of energy efficiency and this was just one little period building. In fact, according to the Sustainable Development Commission, of the central Government and non-governmental public body estate, approximately 85 per cent. of buildings that even displayed an energy certificate were rated D or below and 59 per cent. were rated E or below. That is absolutely shocking. There can be no special excuses. Are we to expect the DECC to go round and occupy every single Ministry over the next 10 years as the only way to achieve delivery?
The whole Government estate has an energy bill of approximately £4 billion a year, so a huge amount of taxpayers' money is unnecessarily wasted on electricity and energy bills. Yet we have had to wait until the fag end of a third-term Labour Government before they have begun to get even vaguely serious about energy efficiency. That is why Governments such as China's are not taking this Government as seriously as they should. The failure is compounded by missed opportunities. Energy security, green jobs, the huge economic opportunity of leading in new technologies, and a higher quality of life: all those are on offer, but to galvanise the private sector into taking advantage of such opportunities we require clear Government leadership.
Hugh Bayley: I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the fact that the House of Commons Commission, which is responsible for the carbon emissions from this building, considered this very matter at a meeting earlier this week. The minutes say:
"The Commission agreed that it could not sign up to the 10:10 campaign, but would explain that it planned to set meaningful and deliverable targets for 2010/11."
Gregory Barker: I am not going to get dragged into that, but it is unfortunate if the House has turned down an opportunity to join the campaign. I keep coming back to the fact that people want to see action, not yet more targets and budgets. They simply will not understand why things that can be done now are not being done, or why Ministers or their apologists are seeking some sort of safe refuge in future action at some unspecified date, or in further budgets and targets.
Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con):
Does my hon. Friend agree that if firm, practical action along the lines of 10:10 were taken in this country, the
effect would be to send out a message ahead of Copenhagen that this is not going to be yet another occasion that is all about warm words and signing up to something vague and meaningless, but that it will be an occasion when the world means business and something really has to change?
Gregory Barker: Absolutely. We need action, not words, and when better than in such serious economic times as these to put efficiency and money saving hand in hand, right at the top of the agenda? Only an old-fashioned, backward-looking mentality is preventing that.
Colin Challen: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I apologise to the House for intervening, but I have something on my chest. Last week the Climate Change Committee's first annual report to Parliament, containing many recommendations, was published. He does not have to wait until next year to respond to it. Will he say now whether a future Conservative Government will accept all its recommendations?
Gregory Barker: I certainly cannot do that, and I have to plead guilty: I have not read all the report. Even if I felt that I could accept all the recommendations, I fear that that would be way above my pay grade.
We must consider whether we have been left behind on wind and solar energy and why we lag miserably on energy efficiency. We need to act now to ensure that we grasp the clear opportunities provided by offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, wave and tidal power and a host of other technologies. How much more British innovation will go abroad? How many times will we see such situations as the Pelamis wave energy convertor going to Portugal before the Government wake up to the damage that a lack of strong political leadership is doing to us, and the extent to which it is setting back this agenda?
Having fixed our frameworks for emissions reductions in the Climate Change Act, we should focus entirely on delivering and executing our comprehensive and ambitious vision for a low-carbon Britain, all the way from local to international level. Of all the things that we need to do, energy efficiency is the lowest-hanging fruit; it is at the far end of the McKinsey curve. Industry and consumers are waking up to that fact, and we just need the Government to get on with the programme.
As I mentioned earlier, many councils are still perplexed by the mixed messages and lack of leadership from central Government. That is why the 10:10 campaign has a job to do. If everybody were signed up and doing the necessary things, there would be no need for that sort of motivational campaign. The fact that there is still resistance is the reason why we need such a campaign.
To give more local authorities, particularly smaller ones such as my own in Rother, the confidence that they will need to deliver on their targets, which are easy to
sign up to but much harder to deliver, we need an ambitious roll-out of energy efficiency incentives, regulatory change and leadership from the centre to empower action in the community. Local authorities still encounter too many barriers to driving ahead as fast as they can. Better information on the latest technology and energy-saving best practice is needed, in an area that is changing all the time. There must be greater freedom to employ innovative financing schemes, particularly using energy service companies and new shared saving schemes that do not place the up-front costs of new technologies and retrofits on the taxpayer or on the overstretched budgets of local authorities.
Certainly, those concerns have been expressed to me locally, and I shall be addressing them at my local energy efficiency summit- [ Interruption. ] I hear someone on the Government Benches asking how much those things will cost. They just do not get it. They have clearly never heard of shared savings models or ESCOs-energy service companies-and they clearly do not understand the appetite in the private sector to be part of this revolution, or the changes that are happening out there in the world. The world out there is changing and the Government do not seem to have woken up to the potential or the opportunity.
Rob Marris: I think the House will know what I am going to say. The world is changing out there: already from climate change we have floods, pestilence, and population movement. Are the hon. Gentleman and his party going to say anything about adaptation?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I say to the hon. Gentleman: please show restraint. We have 18 hon. Members who still want to speak, and we have not reached the main debate yet. Three interventions really is excessive.
Gregory Barker: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall try to bring my remarks to a close. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) makes a good and strong point. He is the champion of adaptation in the House, but I fear that, given the time constraints, this is not the debate in which to do that subject justice.
The 10:10 campaign is just that-a campaign. It is a way to motivate and inform not only local communities and individuals, but the Government. We need the Government to show that they are actually part of the same community as we all live in. It is no good the individual members of the Cabinet signing up around the Cabinet table to take action in their personal lives; we need them sitting at the Cabinet table taking action in their public lives. The ridiculous tokenism of saying, "Well, I'm doing something at home to change my gas boiler," when they sit in charge of departmental budgets of, in some cases, billions of pounds, or a woefully inadequate estate, such as that of the Department of Energy and Climate Change or all the other Departments put together, is just not good enough.
We need Ministers to face up to their responsibilities and to realise that they do not have a monopoly on all the solutions or good ideas. They do not even have the confidence to embrace the new, interesting and exciting innovation out there. They really should join the rest of the world and support 10:10.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I realise that I am fighting a losing battle on this occasion. There are a great many hon. Members, with great credentials on this subject, who want to speak. We will start with the pre-announced limit of eight minutes on Back-Bench speeches, but after 6 o'clock it will be reduced to four minutes.
Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East) (Lab): I have listened to many of these debates and had the privilege of being involved in the Kyoto negotiations in 1997, when Britain played the leading part in concluding the Kyoto agreement. It is quite wrong for the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) to be talking as if we have no direction and no delivery. I think he knows as much about this Government's delivery as he does about the recommendations of Committees of the House.
The motion before us may concentrate on 10:10, but I will be fair to the Liberal party and say that it makes no basic criticism of the leadership internationally. That is not the case made by the Conservatives, who clearly say that we did not live up to our obligations, that we did not deliver and that we did not show leadership.
May I instruct the hon. Gentleman a little bit on what the Government did to earn respect abroad? He is quite wrong to suggest that China is critical. I have met people globally, including the chief negotiator dealing with climate negotiations in Beijing last week. As my hon. Friend the Minister said, the Chinese admire the leadership that has been shown by this country. The facts are clear, and people in government have to show that.
We were the first country to achieve our Kyoto targets. We were one of only four countries that did so out of the 15 that negotiated at Kyoto, and we did so ahead of the Kyoto timetable. That is showing leadership.
Gregory Barker: Before the right hon. Gentleman gets too carried away, can we just remember that the only reason why the Government will meet their Kyoto targets is the dash for gas in the 1990s? Without that, they would be nowhere near meeting them.
Mr. Prescott: Again, the hon. Gentleman shows his ignorance. Let me tell him this: presumably, there was some leadership to achieve the targets and bring things together. Only four countries in Europe actually achieved the Kyoto target, so we must have been all right on delivery. We were the first to want to talk about carbon trading, which Europe then took over from us. We were the first ones to bring in most of the changes well before anyone else was involved. To that extent, we can easily show leadership since Kyoto.
Globally, we have made advances under the leadership of this Government. When it comes to the argument for a statutory framework for carbon targets, tell me of any other country that has done that. If we look at other countries' proposals, we see that are the most advanced. I have the advantage of being the rapporteur for the Council of Europe environment committee, together with my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale)-so I will go to Copenhagen-and I have had to look at what all the other countries have done. Without doubt, we have led on the major changes and delivered them.
The hon. Gentleman said that we should work with the private sector. Has he not heard of the climate change levy? How does he think that that came about? It was a major contribution to reducing carbon emissions, and it was done by the private sector voluntarily working with the Government to achieve the target. He just does not know what has happened since 1997, and that is why his judgments are so wrong today.
As the Prime Minister recognises, adaptation, mitigation and the other policies will require money. It is our Prime Minister who has put a figure on the amount needed, for the first time, and we will have to do a lot more to achieve it. No other country has done that and we have shown leadership, in the hope that we will achieve delivery internationally. We need global action and we have done well in leading that. We also need national policies, and we have shown leadership with the low-carbon road plan and the other issues that my hon. Friend the Minister has worked on. She has an excellent record and I congratulate her.
We also need action at a local level. I have campaigned in schools on the environment and specifically on 10:10, and I fully support it, but we have to balance that campaign against the Government's proposals and what they will deliver over time. It is not long until 2020, and if we do not make the decisions by 2015 we will not achieve the reductions that we need, so we have set targets nationally.
The hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) is very vocal in my area in opposition to wind farms, incinerators and anything that will help to deal with climate change. He should talk to the planning people. Offshore we are on target, but onshore is more difficult. Some 75 per cent. of all planning applications for wind farms are turned down, mainly by Tory authorities, including in the east Yorkshire area that he represents. He campaigns on the basis that people want to keep their view, but that will not do anything to reduce carbon emissions or increase alternative energy provision.
Mr. Graham Stuart: By forcing policy on people-as the former Deputy Prime Minister liked to do in all his policy areas-instead of working with them, we end up with fewer wind farms. The right hon. Gentleman is always trying to overturn the local will of the people. That is what has caused the problem and that is why people reject his form of politics.
Mr. Prescott: I do wish the hon. Gentleman would go and talk to his Tory council and see what is actually happening. I have 44 examples of wind farm applications all over the country that have been turned down. They were recommended by the planning officers, but they were rejected by Tory councillors. On appeal, 70 per cent. of those applications, which were rejected by the elected authorities, are imposed, because they are an essential part of our drive to reduce carbon emissions and increase alternative energy supply. Let us have a bit more sense and some more facts- [ Interruption. ]
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Order. The hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) must not ask a question and then keep chuntering from a sedentary position while the answer is being given.
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