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The noble Baroness said: My two amendments are concerned to discover the Governments intention for
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The Minister has already promised in principle to look at international emissions, for which we are very grateful, but there is still some work to be done on the information that is to be offered to the public in each budgetary period. What has been achieved in the UK and what has been achieved externally to the UK, but which counts towards its emissions, must be made absolutely plain. I beg to move.
Earl Cathcart: We understand that the amendment would change the wording of what is to be required in the final statement for budgetary periods. Where the Bill states that the report must state the final amount of,
Will there be a way of determining in the report precisely where foreign credits are coming from? Surely that could be a matter for private companies to decide. If one of the arguments for trading internationally is to help subsidise green energy in underdeveloped countries, is there any way of knowing whether that is happening? Will the Minister explain his idea of precisely what the report would outline and in what detail?
Baroness Young of Old Scone: I support the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, in principle. I spoke earlier about the importance of keeping the international credits to a reasonable limit to ensure that we really do drive the decarbonisation of the UK economy. Anything that can provide that degree of transparency should be commended.
Lord Rooker: Again, I come before you in answering this debate on Clause 14 to refer to another clause that we have not yet reached. Clause 14 clearly separates out information on activity within the UK and activity overseas. Clause 14(2) requires the Secretary of State to report on UK emissions, UK removals, and net UK emissions for each greenhouse gas included within the budget. The terms used in Clause 14 are all defined in Clause 24, which makes it clear that they are referring only to activities which take place within the UKs borders. The proposal to add domestic to Clause 14 would not add anything to these existing provisions, and is therefore redundant.
The Bill also allows the Government to count activity overseas to reduce emissions or enhance removals towards the UKs budgets. However, this is the case only if these activities are backed up by carbon units. The country which financed the activities is not relevant; it is where the carbon units end up which matters. Clause 14(3) already requires the Secretary of State to report on the use of carbon units during the budget period and to describe the number and types used. There is therefore already a clear separation in Clause 14 between domestic activity and overseas activity, which is the nub of the argument. We fully accept thatthere is no distinction between us on this matter. However, the amendments do not add to this clear separation and, in fact, their effect is to confuse the defined terms and concepts used in the Bill. If one rewrites the clause with the amendments as they would change it, it becomes incredibly confusing and tortuous. The amendments are simply not required. There is a clear separation between the activities in the UK and overseas, and the definitions to cover ourselves are in Clause 24.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank the Minister for his reply. I accept that Clause 24 gives definitions, but the Minister spoke of UK activity, which could be taken to mean financial as well as emissions-reducing activity. I fully accept that the wording that my amendment produces might be confusing, but we have a job to do to make absolutely clear what is what. The other confusion that arises when you start to look at Clause 24 is between carbon reductions and other greenhouse gas reductions. I am sure that when we get to that clause the Minister will explain that more fully, but I am very concerned that the public should be able clearly to see that distinction. We are back to the old thing that we talked about beforethat it would be so much easier to describe things with a graph.
I accept what the Minister says and would be interested in coming back to the matter, possibly at Report through different amendments to Clause 24, addressing the issue of overseas emissions being absolutely not included in any description of what the UK has achieved in reductions.
Lord Rooker: In advance of reaching Clause 24, I am quite happy to give a commitment that we will look again at the clarity of the definitions in Clause 24 to obviate the need for the noble Baroness to come back on that. I cannot promise that that will happen at Committee stage, but I may have something more useful to say when we get there. To that extent we will certainly consider the issues that she raised, but not in Clause 14.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I am grateful to the Minister for that response, which I very much welcome, because, with all the expertise that he has at his fingertips, he will undoubtedly come up with something much better than I could. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Earl said: The complexities in the Bill concerning national authorities extend to the reporting procedures as well. The amendment would make it a duty to include in the final budgetary statements the net carbon account for each of the national authorities for the period and to give details of the number and type of those carbon units.
As was mentioned previously, this Bill which affects the entire United Kingdom in terms of its framework and targets will require implementation on some levels by the devolved authorities, because many of the issues that must be regulated to have any impact on climate change are devolved powers. Thus, to give us a more complete picture of our progress, we on these Benches feel that it is important to include a breakdown of the net carbon accounts for each of the national authorities. The way in which the budget is measured will still be based on a UK aggregate. However, we feel that it would be advantageous to include the devolved authorities in the carbon-reporting procedure. It would increase transparency and provide insight into the make-up of the net UK-wide carbon account. I beg to move
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: Before I decide whether or not I am at all minded to support this amendment, what different types of carbon unit can there be? Subparagraph (b) talks of details of the,
Lord Rooker: I do not want to make a cheap point, because I am very conscious of the fact that in the past quarter of an hour I may have used the term different carbon units. I am not certain whether I did, but the fact is that we are discussing Amendment No. 85, it does not have my name on it and I do not have to answer any questions about it.
I remind noble Lords that all of the provisions in the Bill have been agreed with the devolved Administrations. That is my starting point. The statements under Clause 14 will provide all the information necessary to determine whether the Secretary of State has met the budget for that periodthat is, whether the net UK carbon account does not exceed the budget.
The Clause 14 report will provide information only on the amount of carbon units which have been credited to or debited from the net UK carbon account. Under the Bill, the duty to meet budgets rests with the Secretary of State alone and it is the Secretary of State alone who has a net carbon account. The devolved Administrations do not have net carbon accounts under the Bill, so it is not clear what information the Secretary of State would be expected to provide as a result of this amendment. The provisions of the Bill have been agreed with the devolved Administrations. As many aspects of climate change policy are devolved, it would be perfectly possible for the devolved Administrations to bring forward their own legislation to tackle climate change, within the scope of their competence. That needs to be said, too. The Administrations have agreed the terms of the Bill, but within the rules and protocols relating to devolution, they are perfectly able to bring forward legislation if they wish. However, the net carbon account holder is the Secretary of State alone.
Lord Teverson: I suggest that the different carbon units are probably the two Kyoto mechanism ones, the joint implementation unitsthe clean development mechanism units and also the EUTS. They are sometimes seen as having a different level of validity in terms of their effectiveness and how well they have been audited. I suspect that is probably what the noble Earl refers to.
The Duke of Montrose:I am interested in the Ministers reply on the relationship with the devolved Administrations. It sounds to me not as if the Minister is going to be not at the mercy of the devolved Administrations, but as if the devolved Administrations are going to set their own targets for saving carbon emissions and buying carbon credits. The Minister will be left to make up the difference, or set the targets, in whatever way seems wisest to himbut it will be after the devolved Administrations have come to him and told him what they plan to do.
On devolution, I suspect that there will be other debates on this. I have nothing further to say in this debate. The reality is that this Bill has been agreed with the devolved Administrations, but many of the policy areas are devolved matters.
Earl Cathcart: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for coming to my rescue and saving me a letter, and I thank the Minister for clarifying his position. It seemed to us that it would be very useful to have an indication of how the devolved Administrations are coming to terms with, and helping to achieve, the UK targetwhich ones are pulling their weight and which ones are not. The essence was to give us a breakdown of which of
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The noble Lord said: We have moved so fast, I am almost dizzy. We are now at Clause 17, and this, too, covers the devolved authorities and the way in which the Bill is going to work in this area. I will speak also to Amendment No. 96.
I turn first to Amendment No. 95. The reasons for altering carbon budgets will vary from the blindingly obvious to the more abstruse. The advice will appear at any time of the year and could reach national authorities at the start of a holiday period, such as Christmas or during the summer. Moreover, any changes need not be based equally in each part of the United Kingdom. Some national authorities may have greater difficulty in assessing their validity and local effects. The climate change committee will contain experts carefully chosen to represent the various branches of relevant knowledge, experience and expertise. The national authorities will be entitled and may feel obliged to consult similar specialists outside the committee. In such circumstances, there may be occasions when a one-month response time limit is unreasonable.
Clause 17 is entitled, Consultation on alteration of carbon budgets. The title and the wording of the clause suggest that the Secretary of State will know some considerable time in advance that a change is likely and presumably the reasons why. It seems probable that he and his staff will also know the scope of any advice before it is published to the other national authorities. In other words, he and his staff will have rather more time than those others to adjust, to plan and to revise arrangements for measuring, monitoring and reporting. The existence of a three-month statutory deadline does not mean that national authorities must take three months. They may never need to; there may be no occasion on which such a response is required. The purpose of the amendment is to build in an allowance for a situation whereby, through either complexity or timing, one month is inadequate.
On Amendment No. 96, if the affirmative procedure is to be effective, the House must have access to a reasonable summary of the full information provided
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Lord Davies of Oldham: If the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, considers that we are moving at a dizzying pace, it shows how well he has adjusted to the parliamentary process and the timescale to which we work. I believe that we are making the progress that we could all have anticipated and I am grateful for the thoughtful way in which both opposition parties are putting their views at this stage.
Clause 17 requires the Secretary of State to obtain the views of the Committee on Climate Change and to consider the views of the devolved Administrations before amending the budget. It sets out a slightly different approach to how the views of the devolved Administrations should be taken into account, depending on whether the budgetary period has already begun. I should have thought that it was eminently reasonable to be able to give a more extended time before the budgetary period is under way. We must remember that the consultations will have taken place before the budgetary period has begun. In setting up the budgetary period, the Secretary of State has to involve the devolved Administrations in consultation. However, once the period is under way, amendments will by definition need to be effected more quickly, because they will relate to a more limited timeframe.
That is all that Clause 17 does. It provides for a reasonable period for the more considered opinion, which is the basis on which the Secretary of State goes forward. However, if adjustments are necessary during a budgetary period and the case has been established for such changes, it is right that the devolved Administrations should respond within those constraints.
The noble Lords case would be stronger if the devolved Administrations had put this position to us with the force that he has, but they have been consulted about this clause and are entirely happy with it; they see the logic that underlies it. As my noble friend said, we have carried out very extensive consultations with the devolved Administrations, and Northern Ireland and Scotland have already passed motions of assent to the proposals before us. The noble Lord is as ever extremely well motivated with regard to his amendment, but the devolved Administrations do not think it necessary. If we look at the logic of the way in which the consultation process is to be undertaken, there is not a great deal to object to there. The amendment would greatly limit the flexibility provided in the Bill in Clause 17 and we obviously want to sustain that flexibility.
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