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5 Jan 2010 : Column 51

Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab): Was the delegate from Sudan right when comparing the failure at Copenhagen to a holocaust? Will not many millions be killed in this century as a result of higher temperatures and increased natural disasters including flooding and, indeed, in wars? Although the United States, China and, in my opinion, the developing world were at fault in not getting an agreement, why did the EU not put its best position on the table? What is that best position? Why is the money commitment to get the developing world on board so soft and unreliable? What are the Government going to do to strengthen that arrangement?

Edward Miliband: The remarks of the Sudanese delegate were reprehensible, as I said at the time. As I said in an earlier answer, there was not yet consensus in Europe that the commitments made by others were sufficient for Europe to move to 30 per cent. We think that Europe does need to move to 30 per cent. in the context of proper commitments from others. The process of people putting their targets on the table by 31 January is part of the process of Europe moving up.

My hon. Friend is right to refer to the commitments on finance. I would not quite describe them as soft because they are clear commitments from leaders in the accord, but we need to have extra confidence in them by establishing the vital revenue sources. That is why the high-level panel set up by the Secretary-General is so important.

Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): May I ask the Secretary of State a question as a vice-chairman of the all-party group on China? It was disappointing that China sought to strip out any language that would have led to Copenhagen being a treaty and to strip out any figures at all. How do the Secretary of State and colleagues in the Foreign Office see us now engaging China constructively in such a way that next time we come to this issue China engages in it rather more constructively and ambitiously?

Edward Miliband: The hon. Gentleman speaks with authority on these issues. China has moved some distance in the past two years on climate change. The very notion of a target-it set out a target of 40 to 45 per cent. reductions in carbon intensity-is important. We look forward to seeing what it lodges as part of the agreement on 31 January. We face a continuing effort, and we are determined to continue with it, to persuade China that a legal undertaking should give it confidence about others meeting their commitments, and that it will not face the constraints on growth and development that it fears. That is part of the persuasion that we need.

The new coalition that was evident at Copenhagen between the developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change-I mentioned Ethiopia and the Maldives, but there were others including other small island states and African countries-is important. That coalition wants a legal agreement. We need to find ways in which that voice can be heard and to persuade others who are more reluctant that it is the right way to go.

Jeff Ennis (Barnsley, East and Mexborough) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will be aware that we are trying to establish what will probably be the largest carbon capture and storage project in Hatfield colliery in Doncaster in
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his constituency by 2015. How important is the achievement of that goal to the future economy of Yorkshire and to meeting our obligations under the climate change agenda?

Edward Miliband: I thank my hon. Friend for that question. It is very important that we make progress on carbon capture and storage, including in Yorkshire, where there are exciting plans to move forward on that process. It is also worth saying that internationally many countries are moving towards carbon capture and storage. Again, that is a change we have seen over the past couple of years; countries understand the importance CCS will play and the importance of making coal a clean fuel of the future.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) (PC): I am very pleased that the Secretary-General of the UN recognised that there are procedural problems and I sympathise-even empathise-with the right hon. Gentleman in his task of a few weeks ago. Clearly a standing council would be one idea worthy of note, but in the meantime is the Secretary of State aware of the fact that some officials from developed countries are talking about pressing ahead with a smaller group of 20 -a coalition of the willing for the climate? If that is so, should the UK not be taking part as well?

Edward Miliband: The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting question. My immediate response is no, in the following sense: we should stick with the UN framework, because the truth is that although it has its frustrations-not least the need to operate by consensus, and indeed, in some sense, unanimity-unless we get all countries bound in, we will have less chance of tackling the problem in the way we need to do. Our instinct, which I think is right, is to stick with the UN process and find ways of improving it, but not to go off in smaller groups, as that will not give people the assurance they need and it will not give us the environmental integrity we need.

Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone) (Lab): Like my right hon. Friend, I believe that the challenge that faces mankind is climate change, and I commend him for his work in Copenhagen. There is an enormous distance in moving from an accord to a legally binding agreement. How does my right hon. Friend see the development of steps towards that legally binding agreement? Although the UN is involved in a very positive way, there is still a need to keep that momentum. What steps does he see being taken to keep up the momentum towards a legally binding agreement?

Edward Miliband: My hon. Friend asks the most difficult question of all about how we proceed. It is important to restart the negotiations, because as I said earlier, if we leave it until June we shall find the same problem of being timed out as we found at the end of the conference. Two tracks are still operating under the UN framework-the Kyoto track negotiated among the Kyoto parties and the other track on long-term co-operative action. Those two tracks could still form the basis of a legal treaty, incorporating many points from the accord. The task for us is to restart the negotiations and find a way-it really comes down to persuasion-of reassuring the relatively small number of countries worried about a legal treaty that they can actually gain from one and that they have nothing to fear from it.

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Mr. Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): No one set out for Copenhagen looking for an accord between 40-odd countries, so it is more than disappointment-Copenhagen is a failure, and the Secretary of State should not understate that. Does he agree that the opprobrium visited on China in the negotiations may be unfair and that the United States remains, if anything, the primary barrier to a global deal? What steps does he think can be taken to engage the United States more effectively if we are to see a global agreement?

Edward Miliband: The hon. Gentleman and I have talked about Copenhagen in the past. In a way I think he undersells the efforts, not necessarily of the Government but of himself and legislators all round the world. To say that an agreement that for the first time captures targets not just from developed countries but from developing countries is no step forward and represents no gain is wrong and undersells the efforts of legislators and people who have campaigned for a positive outcome.

On the hon. Gentleman's question about the United States, all countries face difficulties in getting to the kind of ambition we need. There are two separate questions. One is about the level of ambition in any agreement-we want the maximum ambition, including from the US. The second is about the form of the agreement. My understanding of the United States position is that it is content to see movement to a legal treaty. There are others we need to persuade that a legal treaty is in their interests.

Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op): Does my right hon. Friend share my concern that without Copenhagen there is a danger of a lack of focus for campaigners and others, to target their attention and pressurise their Governments to come to a legal agreement? What specific measures does he propose to put forward to the high-level panel? Although fantastic figures of $100 billion are mentioned, those of us who campaign on international development issues know, following Gleneagles, that very little of the money flows to where it is required. What lessons learned from past agreements can we deploy to ensure that $100 billion flows by 2020?

Edward Miliband: Those are two important questions. I am glad that my hon. Friend asked the first one; I should have mentioned it. It is very important that the campaign carries on-that is the lesson of Make Poverty History. We made the progress that we did, not just because Governments wanted it to happen but because people made it happen. That is why it is so important that we send an honest message about what happened at Copenhagen, but not a defeatist message that it was all in vain. I do not believe that it was all in vain.

On my hon. Friend's second question, there is a range of options for the high-level panel to look at. People have put forward proposals on bunker fuels and on funding for some of the multilateral development banks. There is a range of options for the panel to consider, many of which were raised in the months leading up to Copenhagen.

Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Despite the Secretary of State's best efforts, the failure of Copenhagen surely increases the risk that an international legally binding agreement to prevent climate change may never
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happen. Given that risk, at what point do the Government reprioritise efforts to adapt to climate change, rather than trying to prevent it?

Edward Miliband: It would be defeatist to say, "Let's give up on this." I am not saying that the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that we give up now, but the lesson of the past year is not that the problem is insoluble. The world has come a long distance. In a way, part of the optics of Copenhagen and some of the things that we failed to get mean that it was a disappointment, but to interpret the past year as suggesting that we are not going to tackle the problem is defeatist. The past 12 months have proved that progress can be made and that further progress can be made in the years ahead.

Mr. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich, West) (Lab/Co-op): Although I recognise that it may have been overly ambitious ever to expect a legally binding agreement from Copenhagen, the fact remains that manufacturing industry needs certainty, as my right hon. Friend said in his statement, and international uniformity if we are not to lose manufacturing to non-compliant areas. Will he undertake to have a close dialogue with manufacturing industry in the UK in order to do our best to ensure that our manufacturers do not lose out as a result of the failure to get a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen?

Edward Miliband: My hon. Friend is right. There is the protection that we need to give to higher carbon manufacturers, which is partly to do with the provisions under the new emissions trading scheme for free allowances, for example. With reference to the comments of the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) and others in the House, there is also the assurance that we need to give to the low carbon manufacturers of the future that a clear signal has been sent by the world on low carbon, and we want to strengthen that signal. Both of those are important, and I absolutely undertake to do what my hon. Friend asks.

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Ind): I congratulate the Government on their efforts so far and, in particular, on their commitment to carbon capture and storage for power stations. However, will they redouble their efforts? The time scale for introducing large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration plants is not ambitious enough, and we need to do more on that.

Edward Miliband: The hon. Gentleman is right that we need to be as ambitious as we can be. That is why we are bringing forward a carbon capture and storage levy as part of our Energy Bill. We hope that all parts of the House will support it and pass it as soon as possible so that we can start to fund carbon capture and storage projects.

Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab): As part of a cross-party delegation I recently visited some of those islands in the Pacific and saw at first hand the difficulties faced by many of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. Following the Copenhagen discussions, can my right hon. Friend offer any hope or support to those poor communities to stop them sinking even further into the sea?

Edward Miliband: My hon. Friend speaks very eloquently about his experiences, and I knew that he had taken that trip. He is absolutely right to say that one of the most
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important voices at the Copenhagen summit and, indeed, in the months before was that of the small island states. They are the most vulnerable, and all of us will remember the Maldives cabinet meeting that took place underwater to signal the dangers that they face. The finance part of the accord is important, providing immediate resources-I hope-for adaptation and mitigation, and the longer-term finance is important, too. However, the world must also take action on emissions, because in the end that as well as adaptation is what will save those small islands. That is why we need to redouble our efforts on cutting emissions.

Mr. Andrew Pelling (Croydon, Central) (Ind): The Secretary of State has credited the House with a forensic analysis of the difficulties that led to the disappointment at Copenhagen, but is there perhaps someone to blame? Was it a lack of political will on the part of politicians; was it China; was it the strength of the American Congress; or was it, as he suggests, just a problem of process?

Edward Miliband: No, I do not think that I should give the impression that it was a problem of process. At a meeting early on in the negotiations, I said that every country faced compelling constraints that inhibited action on climate change. If there is a reason why we did not reach the agreement that we wanted, it is that every country faced those compelling constraints and we could not overcome them sufficiently. It was not an accident and there was no question, simply, of a badly organised meeting. There are difficult issues, but I come back to this point: the past year has shown that such compelling constraints can be overcome, and we need to spend the months and years ahead overcoming the other constraints that countries faced at Copenhagen.

5 Jan 2010 : Column 56

Queen's Diamond Jubilee

5.32 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Ian Lucas): With permission, I shall repeat a brief but important statement that my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills made about the Government's plans to mark Her Majesty the Queen's diamond jubilee in 2012. It will be a landmark year for Her Majesty, Britain and the Commonwealth. Queen Victoria is the only British monarch previously to have celebrated a diamond jubilee. However modestly our present Queen might approach the celebration, I know that people throughout the country will want the chance to recognise this remarkable achievement by paying tribute to Her Majesty and by celebrating with great pride and affection Her Majesty's 60 years on the throne.

It will also be an opportunity for us as a country to reflect on the incredible changes that have taken place both here and throughout the world over the past six decades. We want there to be a nationwide celebration, and working with colleagues in Buckingham palace and the devolved Administrations we are planning a series of fitting events to enable communities all over the country to mark the diamond jubilee.

Although we are still in the early stages of organisation, I can confirm to the House that the celebrations will take place around the first week of June 2012. In honour of Her Majesty, we will create a special diamond jubilee weekend, moving the late May bank holiday to Monday 4 June and adding an extra bank holiday on Tuesday 5 June. In Scotland, national holidays are a devolved matter. We will work closely with the Scottish Government to help to ensure that people across the United Kingdom can celebrate the jubilee together.

In keeping with previous jubilees, we plan to issue a diamond jubilee medal. Over the next few months, we will be considering that in more detail, including who should be eligible to receive it. In addition, we will be holding national competitions, to be launched later this year, for city status, a lord mayoralty and a lord provostship. Further details of those and other Government plans for the diamond jubilee are available from the Printed Paper Office-and the Vote Office-and online via the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website.

Finally, I can confirm that Her Majesty has agreed, as a mark of royal favour, to confer royal borough status on the London borough of Greenwich. This rare honour is to be bestowed in recognition of the historically close links forged between Greenwich and our royal family from the middle ages to the present day, and of the borough's global significance as the home of the prime meridian, Greenwich mean time and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Further announcements will follow as our plans for the diamond jubilee are confirmed, but I know that voluntary and local organisations will benefit from early notice of these dates.

This will be a truly historic occasion-a testament to the hard work and dedication of Her Majesty the Queen to this country and to her people. We are committed to ensuring that celebrations take place of which we can all be proud.

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Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement, which was delivered earlier by the Business Secretary in another place.

This afternoon the House has heard two serious and sobering statements on terrorism and climate change, so we warmly welcome the good news in today's announcement that Her Majesty's diamond jubilee will be recognised by an extra bank holiday. Conservative Members give our full support to this proposal, as indeed we did to my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell), who put forward the idea in a ten-minute Bill that had all-party support and was given its First Reading last November.

I join the Minister in paying tribute to the very remarkable achievements of Her Majesty during her extraordinary reign: extraordinary not just because of its length-she will be the second longest reigning monarch in British history-but because of the integrity and commitment she has brought to that role and the popular esteem in which she is held across the UK and beyond. No country could wish for a better Head of State.

The House will remember the mood that was expressed powerfully during the celebrations for the golden jubilee in 2002. Despite being told that it was to be a low-key affair, more than 1 million people flooded to the Mall to celebrate-a clear indication of the strength of the relationship between the monarch and her people. I also remember, as will many colleagues, the celebrations in 1977 for the silver jubilee and the way in which the nation united and rejoiced at that time.

The Minister made passing reference to the Commonwealth. Can he inform the House about exactly what arrangements have been made to ensure that the Commonwealth nations are properly represented during the celebrations? This is particularly relevant given the special importance that Her Majesty has placed on the Commonwealth and the great success that she has had in helping to build strong relations with Commonwealth Heads of State during her reign.

May we ask for more detail on some of the Government's other plans? In particular, can the Minister confirm that his Department is considering a new youth volunteer scheme, as has been suggested in some press reports? Can he confirm that any organised celebrations will include an important role for young people?

Will the Minister clarify whether arrangements have been made for acknowledging the Olympics during this event? The Government initially indicated that they wanted to link those two events in a single celebration. Can he now confirm, as we hope, that that idea has been permanently shelved?

May I add my congratulations to the London borough of Greenwich on its new auspicious status? It holds a special place in our nation's history, and it is right for it to be honoured in this way. We also welcome the creation of a new medal of service.

Finally, can we ensure that the House of Commons is part of the celebrations? I am sure that all Members across the House will wish to mark this important occasion, and I think that all colleagues would agree that it is right that the House should show its respect for Her Majesty and, indeed, for Prince Philip, and the tireless public service that they have offered this country for 60 years.

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