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The question is: how do we move on from here? I wonder whether the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister, in this statement today and their remarks before Christmas, have reflected deeply enough on the implications of the outcome of Copenhagen. The Prime Minister has volunteered to lead a global campaign to make the Copenhagen accord legally binding, but what precisely is it that he would make legally binding? The accord is essentially an agreement to disagree, defined chiefly by what is absent from it. It contains nothing to indicate the scale or the timing of the carbon reductions required of the world, or indeed of any particular country. Is it still the Prime Minister's intention to lead such a global campaign for ratification?
In the days after the conference, the Prime Minister said that the negotiations had been held to ransom by only a handful of countries, and that that must never be allowed to happen again. The Secretary of State clarified that this included China, but has he not missed a big point here? Does he not see that Copenhagen requires us to face up to what I think is an uncomfortable reality, so to blame China, India and other countries for wrecking a deal is futile because no meaningful global deal can be done without them? Do we not need to understand why these nations considered a real deal to be against the interests of their own people? This view is reflected in their insistence on including in the final text the declaration that
"social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and over-riding priorities of developing countries".
This revealed preference on the part of India, China and other parts of the developing world cannot simply be overlooked or assumed away. The People's Daily reported that the Chinese Government would treat talks in 2010 on a binding global deal as a struggle over "the right to develop". Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with me that the central issue is now how cutting current and future emissions can be shown to be compatible with development? Does he agree that for developed and developing countries alike, becoming less dependent on fossil fuels, using energy more productively and damaging the environment less is a pathway that can enhance the prospects for economic development, for prosperity through trade and for the reduction of poverty? If he does, will he accept that we now urgently need a new politics of climate change-one that can convince both around the negotiating table, as it failed to do in Copenhagen, and in the court of public opinion that the action we must take to guarantee the stability of the climate in the long term is also in the interests of both rich and poor in the short term?
Does the Secretary of State agree that three shifts from how Copenhagen was conducted are required-first, the case for action should always be based on practical rather than ideological grounds; secondly, action must not be presented in sacrificial terms, but as a set of economic and wider opportunities; and, thirdly, leaders and Ministers must see it as their mission to persuade and to unify rather than to denounce and divide?
I slightly regret the tone of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. I welcomed the cross-party support for the Government's work at Copenhagen, from the hon. Gentleman himself and from those on the Liberal Democrat Benches-and, indeed, from the
Leader of the Opposition and from the leader of the Liberal Democrat party. All of us who went to Copenhagen sought to get the best agreement we could and I believe that we can build on the accord that was reached. Petty and partisan remarks about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and others, however, really do not become the hon. Gentleman.
Let me deal now with the hon. Gentleman's specific points. On the question of the accord and whether there should be a global campaign for it, I believe it is necessary to seek to encourage more countries to sign up to it. It is not just me that thinks that, as the President of the Maldives, Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia and a coalition of developing and developed countries signed up to the accord. It is not an agreement to disagree. I said clearly in my remarks that it is a matter of regret that the emissions reductions were not lodged at the time of the agreement, but they will be lodged by 31 January, and I hope that those will be targets. I mentioned all the countries that have targets and we can build on that, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not understand that these will be lodged as part of the agreement by the end of January. As I say, it is something on which we can build. That is my first point to the hon. Gentleman.
On the second point, of course developing countries emphasise the overriding importance of development. Indeed, the words that the hon. Gentleman cited were taken either from the Kyoto treaty or the Rio convention, which both emphasised the overriding priority of development for developing countries. I disagree with the hon. Gentleman's characterisation of how we talked about Copenhagen. When he or I talked about Copenhagen, we did not talk about it simply in sacrificial terms; we talked about it as being good for our economies. We did not talk about it simply in ideological terms either; we talked about what countries could gain from it and we talked about how it could unite rich and poor nations alike.
I am all for slogans about the need for a new politics of climate change and all that, although I will have to talk to the hon. Gentleman at some point about what that means. I think it best to build on the progress made at Copenhagen-although it was disappointing-and, more important, the progress made over the last year, and to use the opportunities that we shall have in the coming year to secure the agreement that we did not secure at Copenhagen.
Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East) (Lab): I attended the Copenhagen conference in my capacity as the Council of Europe's rapporteur on climate change. May I offer my congratulations to my right hon. Friend and the Prime Minister-as did many people at Copenhagen-on the leading role that they played in bringing about the Copenhagen accord? The Opposition clearly do not understand that, as at Kyoto, an agreement was reached in principle and the details will come later during years of negotiations. That is called the process of the United Nations. We did not secure a legal UN agreement because-as the House knows, and as I have constantly said-it was never possible to secure a legally binding agreement at Copenhagen. The matter will be decided in the negotiations.
May I ask my right hon. Friend, who will be involved in those negotiations, to take into account, as one of the criteria relating to burden-sharing, the principle of common
but differentiated responsibilities? May I also ask him to recognise pollution as measured per tonne? In America it is 20 tonnes per person; in Europe it is 10; in China it is 5; and in India it is 2. If we take those issues into consideration, we shall be able to combine social justice, the eradication of poverty, and growth and prosperity, along with a greater chance of agreement.
Edward Miliband: I congratulate my right hon. Friend the former Deputy Prime Minister on the role that he played at Copenhagen through the Council of Europe, and, of course, on the role that he played at Kyoto. He speaks with great wisdom on these questions. Just as it would be wrong for Government not to admit the disappointment that was part of Copenhagen, it would be ridiculous for anyone in the House to deny that any achievement has been made in the last year. That, I am afraid, was the problem with what was said by the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark).
I agree with what my right hon. Friend said about burden-sharing and common but differentiated responsibilities. Many of us believed that we had already incorporated that principle, and indeed it is incorporated in the Copenhagen accord. I remind the House of the commitments that must be registered. In the case of developed countries, the commitment is to cuts in emissions; in the case of developing countries, including China and India-as is clear from the annexes to the agreement-it relates to actions that they are taking. However, my right hon. Friend is correct to say that common but differentiated responsibilities must be at the heart of both this accord and any future agreement.
Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD): I thank the Secretary of State for his statement, and commend his efforts and those of the Prime Minister before and during the Copenhagen conference. However, is not the honest truth that many of the efforts made at Copenhagen were too little too late, and that the Copenhagen agreement will probably go down in history as one of the only occasions on which so many world leaders came together in one place to discuss one of the most important issues and came away with so little to show for it?
Do the Government not accept that there is no excuse for not having sorted out the procedural issues beforehand, and that there clearly was not enough political leadership during the months preceding the fortnight in Copenhagen? To ensure that there will be no more disappointing conferences and no more setbacks like that of last month, will the Secretary of State commit himself to ensuring that political leaders here and in the European Union will be engaged in all the steps of the process-all the interim meetings-rather than just leaving it to a glamorous, or in this case rather unglamorous, summit? If the United Nations Security Council can sit in permanent session, why cannot a United Nations climate council do so as well? If this is indeed the biggest crisis, there really ought to be a mechanism for dealing with it.
As a supporter of the EU, I am sad to have to ask why it appeared to be so ineffectual on this occasion. Why did it not play the card that it had promised, and say that it would raise its target to 30 per cent. at Copenhagen? That might have triggered a much better response elsewhere. Given that it did not do that, is
there not now an opportunity for the United Kingdom to propose-and for Baroness Ashton, in her new role, to propose-that the EU set a 30 per cent. target for the new decade this month? That proposal could either be contained in the accord annexe submissions that must be in by the end of January, or be submitted at the first EU summit this year.
Why did the Commonwealth not play a more significant role? I am a huge supporter of the Commonwealth, whose fantastic diversity-ranging from the Maldives and Tuvalu to Canada, Australia and other countries-surely presents a great opportunity for countries to share their experience and be a real force for influence in the world. I hope that the Secretary of State will undertake to ensure that it plays a much bigger role in future.
Lastly, rather than what has been suggested in some of the post-Copenhagen comments in the British press-that measures on climate change response and emissions targets will make us uncompetitive in a competitive world-will the Government make it clear, as I know that the Secretary of State is committed to doing, that unless we get an agreement that binds everybody, we will miss the chance to have a sustainable future for all countries, not just ours? We will also miss the chance to have the sustainable jobs and sustainable, safe and secure energy on which the security of the world depends.
Edward Miliband: The hon. Gentleman asks serious questions that deserve serious answers. Let me go through them. On his question about process and why we got to the stage that we did, the mess of process partly represented big disagreements about substance, because there was concern among a number of developing countries about the notion of Denmark tabling its own text. Why did it take until 3 am on the Friday for the leaders' representatives from a group of 27 countries-representing 49 countries if the EU is included-to get together in a room? It was because the Danes were systematically prevented from tabling a text, because people kept saying, "We are not ready yet to go into a smaller room." The same thing happened at Bali and Kyoto. That was one reason why we did not bridge some of the divides-because by 3 am on the Friday there were less than 24 hours of the conference to go.
The hon. Gentleman's other points about procedure are important and correct. The notion that negotiators should be left to negotiate, even though they take instructions from Ministers, is insufficient. His notion that there should be some kind of permanent session is also an option that should be considered. It is very important that we do not leave it until June and the mid-year negotiations in Bonn to restart the whole process. The EU needs to use its commitment to going to 30 per cent. with comparable action from others. We need to build more of a consensus than we have in the EU at the moment to move to 30 per cent., but I think that the process of 31 January commitments is an initial stage in which the EU should seek to push others to higher levels of ambition, and should itself seek to be as ambitious as possible.
I disagree with the hon. Gentleman slightly about the Commonwealth, because it issued and pushed an important set of demands and requests regarding finance, some of which came through in the final agreement.
On the US and China, we want the deepest cuts from all countries, including the United States, but that is dependent on its legislation. It was willing to make an initial offer before making legislation, but the legislation that went through the House of Representatives was more ambitious than the offer that was made, so there is some hope there.
On the legal treaty and the attitude of certain developing countries, a process of persuasion is partly needed. They need to be persuaded that they have nothing to fear from the legal assurance that is, in my view, necessary. That argument has not yet been won, but there is a broad coalition of developing and developed countries that want the legal framework. That coalition is important and could help us in the months and year ahead.
Colin Challen (Morley and Rothwell) (Lab): I, too, was in Copenhagen, and it seemed to me that one issue behind the problems that emerged from the conference was the concern about where the relevant finance should come from and go to. The Government have rightly said that not more than 10 per cent. of our official development assistance budgets would be spent on climate change finance, but may I press my right hon. Friend to go further? Will he make a commitment that that 10 per cent. will not make up the whole of our climate change finance? Perhaps it should not, at any point, make up more than 10 per cent. of our total climate change finance. The people of Bangladesh want to know that we are not simply robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Edward Miliband: My hon. Friend speaks with great authority on these issues. He is completely right to say that we have made an important commitment to ensuring that the finance that we give will be no more than 10 per cent. of official development assistance, especially after 2013, and that there will also be additional sources of funds. He is also right to imply that we need to find revenue sources to meet our commitments. We know that promises have been made in the past: although the British Government have a good record of keeping promises, it is also necessary to find the revenue sources that can provide the flow of finance, and this is where the high-level panel that I said was being set up by Ban Ki-moon is important. In particular, we need to ensure that the $100 billion goal is not just set out but is actually met. We want the panel to report back by the time of the Mexico meeting, but we hope that it will do so earlier, for example by the middle of this year.
Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal) (Con): The Secretary of State was right to say that the meeting was disappointing, and that is fundamentally because we do not have the confident arrangements in the world that would enable business, countries and companies to make decisions to promote mechanisms to reduce emissions. Britain's leadership in the industrial revolution means that we are responsible for a good deal of the climate change that is happening at the moment, so does the right hon. Gentleman accept that this is the moment for us to firm up on the commitments that we have made to green technology and a green future? Europe is also very responsible for today's problems, so should not Britain take the lead in ensuring that Europe firms up on its 30 per cent. pledge? More than that, should we not seek to create, as far as possible, the most encouraging atmosphere for business to do what it has to do? The leadership of business is crucial in this matter.
Lastly, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that winning people's hearts and minds means that we have to be very clear about the advantages of doing what is being proposed, and that we should not talk in puritanical terms about sackcloth and ashes? Only by showing people that this is a remarkable opportunity for this country, Europe and the world will they come and support us.
Edward Miliband: Let me take this opportunity to say that I know that the right hon. Gentleman has announced that he is leaving this House. We will miss his expertise and passion on these issues of climate change, and we wish him well in what he does next.
The right hon. Gentleman asked several specific questions, and I agree that the argument that we need to make is that there is much to gain from the transition to low carbon. We have made that argument already but we can do so more often, because the benefits include the jobs for people in this country and the new industries that will be created. That is true of what we in this country are doing with carbon capture and storage, and it is true in the renewables sector and across the board.
I also agree that Europe must demonstrate its leadership role by pushing others to do more. Part of the task that we face in the accord's pledging process is to ratchet up the commitments that people make. That is something that we will be working on intensively, including in Europe this month.
Barry Gardiner (Brent, North) (Lab): I commend my right hon. Friend for the very critical role that he played in the wee small hours, when the world's media had largely gone to bed, in ensuring that we came away from Copenhagen with something rather than nothing. Does he agree that one of the key areas in which progress can be made over the next 12 months is at national Government level? Should we not aim to align national Government policy and legislation with the GLOBE legislators forum principles set out in Copenhagen in November, before the main conference?
Edward Miliband: I agree with my hon. Friend, and thank him for his remarks about the role that I played in this difficult process. I think that GLOBE has played a very important role over the past 12 months, and that it will do so again in the future. Moreover, he draws attention to the fact that many of the targets that countries will enter into the accord will be domestically binding. Those targets will have gone through national Parliaments, and the new Indian Environment Minister has said that he wants to take legislation on India's so-called six national missions through his House. That is a big step forward, and it is important to emphasise the crucial role of legislators in this process.
Edward Miliband: I can hardly believe that question, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The weather fluctuates, as anyone knows, and the notion that a cold spell in Britain disproves the science of climate change is something that I believe not even the right hon. Gentleman believes.
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