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Our amendment ensures that this true purpose is reflected in the Bill. As I mentioned in Committee, the Bill, not our speeches and assurances in the Chamber, will show our intention. I trust that there is no disagreement in the House that this is to stop global warming, and thus on our side we feel that it is of the utmost importance to frame the decisions and actions that the Bill will lead to in their true and appropriate context.

The Minister told the House in Committee that,

That seems a curious statement. All the evidence that we have received suggests that carbon emissions are leading to global warming. There might not be a simple relationship, but there is certainly a very important one. If it is not the 2 degree target, then what is behind the 60 per cent emissions reductions target, apart from an outdated scientific report? We understand that this is not a precise science. We understand that we cannot control all of the globe’s emissions. We take the point that even if global emissions stopped today, there would be no guarantee that we will not exceed the 2 degree target. Yet we still think that we should be committed to doing our part in trying.

Even the Government seem to think so, as the Minister told us in relation to the EU’s 2 degree target, which he claimed in Committee had the full commitment of the Government. Why have the Government committed to a target in the EU that they will not commit to at home in the Bill? We hope that he will provide an explanation before trying to persuade us of the problems associated with a 2 degree target.

One of the challenges to our previous amendment was that the Bill was not the place for general objectives of this kind. I could continue, as I have done, by stressing the unique and historic nature of

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the Bill which requires new measures and new provisions. There is a clear precedent for stating such principles—the Sustainable Communities Act begins by stating:

Having a principal aim anchors policy around a central theme. This legislation creates a multitude of new powers and has a scope that will affect policymakers all over Whitehall. It must do that if it is going to succeed. Having the principal aim stated in the Bill will colour and shape the way that the Act works in practice. It is not intended to provide a test for individual decisions. Judges would not apply this as an applicable statutory test for individual cases. However, the amendment places a general duty that can be evaluated and has regard to way in which the functions under the Act are exercised. This would certainly be a consideration in any judicial review challenging a particular decision or action, for example, as to whether regard had been given to all relevant considerations and that the decision or action had been taken in a reasonable and rational way.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, given that it is the duty of the court that sits on the sort of application that the noble Lord has outlined to decide in any event, why does this have to be included in the Bill?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving me the opportunity to clarify the issue, if he is still unsure. The key is that the primary purpose of the Bill is not to seek carbon emissions reductions but to effect climate change. It is called the Climate Change Bill, not the carbon emissions Bill. It is our argument—a substantial one—that the new clause should be included in the principal aim of the Bill because that is what the Bill seeks to do.

I believe that a consideration would be made as to whether a particular action was reasonable or rational in terms of the nature of the Bill. Essentially the Government have put similar general aims on other legislation and have committed themselves to the specific aim of a 2 degree target in Europe. It is difficult to understand the Government’s reticence to be bold and place their noble intentions in the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Teverson: My Lords, I agree with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Holbeach. There is a duty on us legislators to make legislation clear and obvious to the public—the electors and citizens of this country. One of the best quality ways to do that is to state in plain language what the legislation is about. The amendment would do precisely that; it says what the Bill is about. Considering what the Government have said about the Bill, they are in many ways selling themselves short in how it has been presented not only to us but to the world community in terms of its objectives and what we are trying to achieve. It is not as if the Government are not absolutely clear about what the degree change should be. The Prime Minister,

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in his speech on 19 November when he comprehensively laid out for the first time his environmental credentials, described the 2 degree target as one that was an “overriding” mission. That was the word he used. If that is the case, what better place to put it than at the beginning of the Bill? For all those reasons, that objective should be at the front of the Bill.

Will the 2 degrees cause problems to the Committee on Climate Change, which has to take that into account and which will give it greater clarity in its own work? Is it too small or too large to ask for? When I was travelling here on the train, I went through the fourth IPCC assessment report for policymakers, which describes the sort of changes that can happen with just a 2 degrees centigrade change. Perhaps I could remind your Lordships’ House of some of them. The first is aridity—greater dryness and desertification—on the globe. The one that really struck me is the much greater risk that 30 per cent of species could become extinct; that there will be an increase in malnutrition and infectious diseases; and that cereal growth will be retarded at mid and low latitudes. The factor that really came over to me was one that the IPCC coolly describes as water stress. That sounds very innocent, but the IPCC says that hundreds of millions of people on this planet will suffer more from water stress. Is that as a result of a 4-degree, a 5-degree or a 10-degree increase? No, it is a result of this 2-degree increase.

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Another thing has changed almost since the start of Committee some time ago. I was quite sceptical about the scare stories of discontinuities as a result of climate change, whether in relation to ocean currents, whole ice sheets disappearing or major extinctions of species. Even since then, it is quite clear from reading the scientific press that there is a great deal more uncertainty about when those things, the effects of which we can never reverse, will happen. That is why 2 degrees is so important, and why it needs to be stated clearly in the Bill, for Britain and the global community, where we, and I hope the Government, stand.

Lord Monson: My Lords, I do not think I was here when this matter was discussed in Committee, but surely the phrase “pre-industrial levels” is unacceptably vague and imprecise in any Act of Parliament. What exactly does it mean? I assume that it means pre the industrial revolution, which took place over an extremely extended period of decades or even centuries in different countries at different times. Indeed, it has not been going for very long in India and China, so I ask the noble Lord to explain, if he can, precisely what “pre-industrial levels” is meant to mean.

Lord Blackwell: My Lords, I have not intervened before in our consideration of the Bill but I hope that the House will forgive me if I intervene briefly to explain why I cannot support my Front Bench on the amendment. It is misconceived for two reasons. First, as the noble Lord has just said, the notion that defining a temperature 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels is the right temperature is entirely without basis. The world’s temperature, as we know, has gone up

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and down through large ranges over history, and the notion that we can define a temperature as the optimum temperature is without basis.

Secondly, I certainly question the notion that the science is sufficiently defined for us to be able to define what level of carbon emissions would produce any particular effect on the Earth’s temperature, or indeed whether those would be the primary driver of any change in the Earth’s temperature. There is so much uncertainty about both the level and the quantity of change that would result from any particular set of emissions that to build into a Bill a set of objectives that try to define emissions to achieve some precise notion of temperature change again fails to take account of the unrealities and the uncertainties in the science backing this. With much regret, therefore, I do not think that the amendment is appropriate, although I understand the motives behind it. I suspect that a number of other noble Lords will find it difficult to support the Conservative Front Bench on this one.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord who has just spoken. It is important to avoid in the description of the Bill anything that is controversial. So far as I can see, the amendment is entirely irrelevant. There is no legal requirement to spell out in legal terms what the Bill is about. That is important so far as the speeches are concerned, particularly on Second Reading. My noble friend has told the House exactly how important the Bill is, but I add another caveat. We are setting a very dubious precedent if we describe this Bill in the form that this amendment permits. In particular, it inevitably invokes a controversy, which we have witnessed already. For that reason, the Bill goes in the right direction and I oppose this amendment for the reasons I have said and for the reasons which have been articulated.

Lord Jay of Ewelme: My Lords, I, too, oppose this amendment but for rather different reasons. First, I very much agree on the importance of this Bill. I am conscious of how much the Bill is supported internationally and of how much international interest there is in it, as I discovered at a meeting of the G8 plus five parliamentarians on climate change in Brazil last week.

I support, too, very much the inclusion of the principal aim in this Bill and in other Bills. I agree, too, on the need for ambitious targets, but it seems to me that targets should be supported by the science and be within the capacity of the British Government to achieve. Amendment No. 3, standing in the name of the noble Lords, Lord Teverson and Lord Redesdale, meets both those tests, and I will be happy to support that amendment. But this amendment seems to meet only the first test. It is wholly conceivable that a target of 60 per cent or 80 per cent might be met, but that it could still be above the 2 degrees because of the action, or inaction, of others, which would put the Government of the day in an almost impossible position.

I would have supported a principal aim, framed in more general terms, such as to take action to avoid dangerous or irreversible climate change, but I cannot support an amendment which includes the specific aim of the 2 degrees.

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Lord Woolmer of Leeds: I echo the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Jay. As framed, the amendment proposes that UK emissions aim to be set at a level to ensure that global emissions are not more than 2 degrees. In effect, if the United States, China and others decide to make little or no effort, what will be required by the United Kingdom will be truly astronomic. The amendment would put those countries which decide to make an effort in an almost impossible position and there would be little or no pressure on other countries to make that effort. As the noble Lord, Lord Jay, said, this is something with which I entirely agree, but it is an amendment that has to be opposed.

Lord Turnbull: My Lords, I, too, oppose this amendment. It seems to me technically flawed that the mention of 2 degrees appears at only one point in the Bill. Currently, the Bill has a target specified in greenhouse gases as parts per million, followed by a number of procedures to reconsider that over time on the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. But there seems to be no such mechanisms in relation to this 2 degrees. If, over time, scientific opinion changes upwards or downwards, we are left with 2 degrees in the Bill. If this is to be adopted, a whole series of consequential changes have to be made to allow for advice and reconsideration. For the reasons that noble Lords have put forward, it would be better for this not to be in the Bill.

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, it is true that this is not the first time that this issue has been raised, but it is the first time that it has been raised in this way. During our previous discussions, I set out the Government’s concerns, which still stand, about proposals to add a purpose clause. I shall give several reasons why, many of which have been given probably more succinctly in the past few minutes. First, to go to the heart of the way in which we do legislation in this country, we are not legislating for the rest of the planet or for the European Union; we are legislating for the United Kingdom. General purpose clauses are generally unnecessary in UK legislation. I do not say that they have not occurred—examples have been given and I could give some myself—but they are generally unnecessary and we think that the purpose of the Bill is already clear. The proposed new clauses do not work. Although we are debating Clause 1, it is in some ways linked to other opposition amendments. We are dealing with it on its own at the moment. The underlying concerns that have prompted the amendment will be met anyway.

General purpose clauses are unnecessary. First, while there are exceptions, very few pieces of UK legislation have special purpose clauses because we legislate by drafting clearly, and interpreting through Parliament as best we can, so that it is crystal clear. Obviously, it is interpreted by the courts later. The system works very well and has done so for a long time. In our system of statutory law, primary legislation is drafted so that Parliament goes through it line by line, as we are doing here, teasing out ambiguities and complexities, so that the powers, duties and prohibitions contained in the

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Bill can be clearly understood and applied in a practical way. The courts then interpret on that basis. There is a fundamental difference between legislation setting out a purpose for a particular body or set of bodies, and a purpose for a piece of legislation as a whole. That is why some of the past examples that may be given do not quite square with this one.

A purpose clause for a piece of legislation as a whole is only relevant when the legislation is ambiguous. Generally speaking, UK legislation is designed not to be ambiguous, and this Bill is no exception. The powers, duties and prohibitions in this Bill are clear. If some parts around the margins are not, they will be clear by the time it has gone through this House and another place. That is why there is no need at all for a special purpose clause. There is obviously a desire in parts of your Lordships’ House to make clear statements of principle. I have to remind the House that the Bill is about making law. It is not pulling a paragraph out of a manifesto onto the statute book, which is how this could be interpreted because of the reference to “pre-industrial” and the rigidity of 2 degrees. There is that issue: it is not normally the way we do it. It was much criticised in the still very influential report on the drafting of legislation, which I remember being introduced in the other place by Sir David Renton, later Lord Renton, in 1975. Nothing has changed since then, as he constantly reminded us.

Secondly, the Bill’s purposes are already clear. The Government consider that it is clear to anybody interested in it. We are not alone in this. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, said on the final day in Committee that,

Something must have changed his mind since then. If someone asks what the Climate Change Act is, they will look at the Short Title, which will be the Climate Change Act, and then at the Long Title, which clearly sets out that the Bill is to:

They will look at Clause 1(1), which sets out the duty to reduce the net UK carbon account by at least 60 per cent by 2050. If that does not make the purpose of the Bill perfectly clear, they can look at the debates in this House and the other place to understand the intention behind the words. That is another reason that a specific clause is unnecessary: the Bill’s purpose is already clear.

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Thirdly, the Government believe that this proposed purpose clause could do more harm than good by confusing the message in the Bill. The problems, as have been outlined by more than one noble Lord in this debate, stem from the reference to a two degree rise in global temperatures. The first difficulty is that having any measure based on the global temperature would mean that we are dependent on what happens elsewhere in the world, and it is a principle of our legislation that we cannot legislate on an extra-territorial basis. We cannot tell other countries what to do through

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domestic legislation. We can show them what we are doing, but we cannot make them do the same. Likewise, other countries cannot tell us what to do through their legislation. There is a real problem with setting out a purpose that is entirely dependent on what other people are doing. What does,

to global temperatures mean? It would depend entirely on the actions of others, which we cannot control. This means that the purpose would have a different meaning as time goes by depending on what the rest of the world is doing, so it could obscure what we believe is the Bill’s already clear purpose.

The Government consider that that in itself is a good reason for not making any reference to global temperatures, but there is a further problem with the reference to two degrees centigrade. The science on climate change tells us that there are major uncertainties in attempting to draw a direct line of causation between our actions in the UK and the rise in average temperatures across the world. That is why such bodies as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change use a range of probabilities to reflect the current level of scientific understanding. One has only to look at the panel’s reports and those of others to see that while this is a big issue—something is happening to the climate and the reasons are partly man made—there is an enormous amount of uncertainty.

The science tells us that we are talking about degrees of risk. Even if emissions around the world were to peak in the next decade and then decline to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, there is still a 60 to 70 per cent chance of exceeding the two degree goal. The UK represents only 2 per cent of global emissions, so even if we stopped all UK emissions tomorrow, the overall likelihood of reaching the two degree global goal would be barely affected. Instead, we need a comprehensive, ambitious, globally agreed framework to tackle climate change, and the UK is working hard to achieve it. We had a good outcome from the Bali talks last year and we are working towards an agreement on the post-2012 framework at Copenhagen next year. This is also a vital part of the UK’s contribution to avoiding dangerous climate change, but it is not mentioned in the proposed purpose of the Bill.

In moving the amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, said that judges would not test each decision against the two degree purpose. Actually, they would. Subsection (2) of the amendment states:

Courts would be duty bound to look at any decision to see whether that had been done. I do not know what legal advice the noble Lord has taken, but the judges would take that into account if anyone wanted to pursue a judicial review at some point.

As we discussed in Committee and as the Prime Minister announced in October, one of the Committee on Climate Change’s first tasks will be to review the level of the 2050 target, and the Secretary of State has the power to amend that target in the light of the committee’s review. Some Members of the House may be concerned that the reasons behind a change in the target will not be clear and that the

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purpose of any change might get lost in the paper trail. I have tabled an amendment which I believe will address that, and we will come on to it shortly. My amendment would place a duty on the Committee on Climate Change to publish its advice and the reasons for it. The Secretary of State would obviously either agree or disagree with it, and if he disagreed and set the 2050 target at a different level, he would need to explain his reasons.

Moreover, as I have said before but can say again today with more certainty, we are putting together a committee and asking it to do a job; we are not seeking to second-guess it. It was much more difficult to say that with any force when we did not know who would serve on the committee. Now we know who the chair is, and since last Friday we know who the first five members are. The quality of those who have been appointed is clear. I simply ask, therefore, that the House does not pre-judge the committee, bearing in mind that it is known that one of the first things the committee will be asked to consider is the 60 per cent target.

I do not criticise noble Lords for tabling the amendment but it is an incredibly clever way of trying to have your cake and eat it—in effect, to try to stick it into the 80 per cent. We have a good case for leaving it at 60 per cent and leaving it to the Committee on Climate Change, and that is what we should do. To accept the amendment would tie everyone’s hands; it would be as though the decision had already been made.

As well as many technical and legislative reasons for not doing so, there is a further reason. Now that we have appointed the Committee on Climate Change—obviously in shadow form until Royal Assent—it will be seen from the quality of its members that this matter is being taken extremely seriously. If your Lordships accept the Government’s amendment, the effect would be to put the purpose of any 2050 target even further beyond doubt and explain the reason behind it to anyone who needs to know. The Explanatory Notes to the order making the amendment will have to refer to the statement of reasons, so it will be easily identifiable and there would have to be debates in your Lordships’ House and in another place. In other words, the amendment that I will bring forward will make quite clear the role of the Committee on Climate Change and the role of the Secretary of State in agreeing or disagreeing to its advice. It will not be able to be carried out behind close doors and become a fait accompli—it will have to come back. So the issues will be fully aired and the debates and the statement will be more valuable than any purpose clause.

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