Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]
Clause 13 [Duty to prepare proposals and policies for meeting carbon budgets]:
[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]
Clause 24 [Base years for targeted greenhouse gases other than CO2]:
Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 4:
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 5 and 10. These are minor technical changes to the Bill. Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are intended to provide
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Amendment No. 5 also makes clear that if we are to treat emissions of a greenhouse gas for a particular year as if they were emissions of that gas for 1990, then that applies to the Climate Change Act as a whole, not just for that clause.
Amendment No. 10 includes reference in paragraph 25 of Schedule 1 to the Committee on Climate Change’s review of the 2050 target required under Clause 33. This amendment is simply to make sure that the list of the committee’s functions in Clause 33 is comprehensive, so that if any information is needed on any of the committee’s activities, it can be obtained. A similar amendment has already been made to the second subsections of Clauses 40 and 41, regarding powers to give guidance and directions respectively. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 5:
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Clause 25 [UK domestic effort]:
Lord Taylor of Holbeach moved Amendment No. 6:
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment has been tabled in the interests of further clarification on an issue that, although it has been debated in depth, demands further scrutiny. The issue is of such importance that addressing it again at Third Reading is as important as debating it for the first time. I will be brief, but I want to explain what the amendment does and our intentions in tabling it.
It offers further clarity to a provision that is already in the clause—we understand that—which is that the duty to secure a 70 per cent reduction in domestic emissions exists only in so far as the budget is concerned. There is nothing to stop a Government buying more and more credits after that to secure further reductions. This amendment was motivated by the evidence that the noble Lord, Lord Turner, gave to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee last week. We appreciate that it does not entirely address the noble Lord’s concern.
However, we bring this issue before the House again today because of some of the concerns that he did express—namely, that there is a chance that the current 70/30 split might result in the Government having to set less ambitious targets. That would be a sad repercussion for a well intentioned amendment. We want to make sure that this does not result in fewer emissions reductions and we hope that there
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Let us make no mistake: your Lordships have spoken. This House resoundingly affirmed its commitment to a 70 per cent domestic reduction; but, as we noted in our speech to that amendment, we would be willing to consider other ways of going about this, should it not be workable. The important point was to get a firm commitment, beyond a few general ministerial comments, that domestic reduction was of primary importance. It might be that economic circumstances and the sheer time it takes to fit new technologies into existing frameworks conspire to mean that in one budget a 69 per cent domestic reduction may be better than a reduction of 70 per cent if the total reduction can be higher by virtue of the ratio being different. I simply do not know. What I do know is that the most important part of our fight against climate change must occur within these shores, and your Lordships have voted to recognise that fact.
The Government seemed to think that there were problems with the structure of the amendment and that somehow it was unworkable. It was with disappointment, then, that I saw that they had not tried to address this issue themselves. Can the Minister give any details about conversations that he has had with the Treasury regarding overseas caps? Will he give the House an assurance that he is working to find a way to cap overseas credits that reflects the will and opinion of this House, or is he simply content to let this stand in the Bill in its current form? Essentially, we hope that with this amendment the Government will be able to give us assurances about their plans regarding overseas caps now that the Bill has been amended. I beg to move.
Lord Teverson: My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor—I know the work that he has done on this—I still do not really understand why the amendment is necessary. Clause 25(1) refers to a figure of at least 70 per cent. Throughout our discussions on this subject, we have stated that this relates purely to the targets and does not affect any trading systems; nor does it affect the Government’s ability to purchase external credits under the clean development mechanism, the Kyoto mechanisms or the ETS, although the latter is primarily a commercial scheme. If they wish to do so, that is completely within their powers. The clause simply uses the words “at least” with an accounting target in the UK carbon account. It does not need to reflect any other actions by government or commercial companies. Therefore, from these Benches we would find it strange if the amendment were needed. The fact that Clause 25 is clear and simple is what commends it most. Having said that, I agree with the clarification, although I do not think it is necessary to put it in the Bill.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I fear that I shall disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, on the specific questions that he asked. We had good debates on this issue in Committee and on Report, but your
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Amendment No. 6 has come late in the day and there has been no time to consider it across government. Unlike in the other place, starred amendments in this place are debated the day after they are tabled. In the other place, this amendment would not even have been selected because it was tabled only on Friday for a debate on Monday. Therefore, I have been party to no discussions about the amendment. The discussions about how the Government will deal with the Bill in the other place have only just started and my colleagues there said to me, “We want to wait until you’ve finished with it because we don’t know what else will happen”. As noble Lords saw from the earlier debate, we came close to making another major change to the Bill. Therefore, positions have not been set and lines in the sand have not been drawn. Basically, as will be seen, we have confined the Government’s amendments at Third Reading to ones that conform to the rules of your Lordships’ House—that is, they are just tidying-up amendments. We would not have brought back a large, substantive amendment on this issue even if we had a fixed position on it, because that would have been outside the rules.
Our initial analysis of the amendment is that it adds very little, if anything, to the framework of the Bill. Nothing in the Bill, including in Clause 25, prevents overachievement of the budget set out in Clause 5. That is what I said earlier and it is what the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said.
The key question for any Government in setting a budget under Clause 5 will be the costs and the benefits of any of the given budget levels. Any restriction on the use of overseas credits would be a relevant factor in that calculation, but this relates to the setting of budgets rather than meeting them or even going beyond them, if it is desired. This does not change our view that the issue should be considered in the other place and, therefore, I am in no position to bring a considered view on this to the House this afternoon.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, obviously I am disappointed that the Minister is not able to respond as he would wish. If the amendment had been laid before, it may have been possible for the Government to consider it. None the less, I hope that the Minister will accept that in tabling this amendment we were seeking to be helpful and to clarify the position of what we think is an extremely important clause.
Clause 25 places on the Secretary of State a particular responsibility to ensure that domestic reductions are at 70 per cent. We accept that that may well be a burdensome responsibility, but it is one that we believe is part and parcel of making a success of this Bill. Although I am disappointed that we are not able to put this amendment into the Bill for clarification of the text, I am grateful at least for the chance to discuss it. I hope that the Minister will be
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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 38 [General ancillary powers]:
Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 7:
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to government Amendment No. 8. This relates to the Committee on Climate Change and its powers and functions, which we discussed earlier. It will provide the Government with independent expert advice and keep track of our progress towards meeting our targets. We consider that the Bill as it stands provides a strong institutional structure for the committee. On Report, we made a number of enhancements to further strengthen the transparency and accountability of the Bill’s framework to ensure greater clarity about the expected progress over the whole of the budget period. We also discussed amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, and these government amendments respond to the points made during that debate.
I realised that during the course of that debate, I had the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, with me through most of my speech. It was only in the last few minutes that I lost him and, privately afterwards, I informed him that in the last few minutes I had stuck to the brief. The noble Lord made some valuable points and I hope, in what I am about to say, that it will be appreciated that we have listened and had discussions about this.
In introducing his amendment on Report, the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, said that,
The Government agree with that sentiment, and these amendments are intended to make it crystal clear that the Committee on Climate Change may do anything that appears to it necessary or appropriate in relation to any of its functions. That includes gathering information and carrying out research and analysis, and commissioning others to carry out such activities. Importantly, this also includes publishing the results of all such activities, if the committee so desires, so that information can be made public and openly debated. For instance, in providing its advice on budgets and targets, the committee will need to carry out an in-depth analysis of the potential for reducing emissions across the economy and rationally present the costs, benefits and other impacts of doing so. It is also now required to advise on the sectors in which there are particular opportunities to reduce emissions and to publish the reasons for its advice.
We expect that the committee will publish its workings in some detail, so that its advice is seen as being as credible as possible. For comparison—although this is not a target—the first report by the
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The committee’s analysis will also inform its annual report to Parliament which will be an essential part of holding the Government and the country to account for progress. Clause 35 requires that the committee’s annual report must refer to progress made so far towards meeting the targets and budgets; refer to progress that remains to be made; say whether, in the committee’s view, the targets and budgets are likely to be met. So if the Committee on Climate Change considers that further progress is required to meet the United Kingdom's carbon budgets, there is nothing in the Bill which would prevent it from using its annual report to point out exactly where in the economy it believes there is the greatest potential to reduce emissions, and so enable the United Kingdom to get back on track.
As I have consistently argued, it is the job of the Government to draw policy conclusions from the committee’s analysis, whether that is analysis in support of the committee’s advice on budgets or contained in the committee’s annual report to Parliament. So, for instance, we could imagine a scenario where the committee's analysis demonstrates that there is a cost-effective potential to reduce emissions, say, from domestic heating, or from increasing the energy efficiency of existing homes. But it would be for the Government to decide how to tap into that potential—whether to regulate, to tax, to incentivise, or to encourage, and when to do so. That will ensure that the Government retain political accountability for their decisions.
I hope that is clear. When these amendments are placed in the Bill, it will be seen that a committee of the calibre of the Committee on Climate Change will have a much freer hand—not carte blanche—than might have been thought before this debate started. I beg to move.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I rise briefly so that the annunciator does not have to be changed, as it has had me moving the amendment for the past couple of minutes. I support the amendments in this group. On Report, I called the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, which had a similar intention, the Frankenstein amendment and this seems to be Frankenstein night, missing perhaps that extra final charge from the electrical condenser, but, none of the less, bringing new life to the committee. We welcome these amendments. Empowering the committee to conduct and commission its own research is an important concession from the Government. It is a credit to noble Lords in the previous debate and a credit to the Government that they have taken note of that debate.
The Committee on Climate Change needs to be armed with the potential to find out the information necessary to combat climate change without a direct
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Lord Teverson: My Lords, as one who put his name to the original amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, I very much welcome the strong terms in which the Minister spoke to the amendments and described the ability of the climate change committee to take forward its own agenda in this area. Finally, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, on having pursued this strongly. He has achieved a good result.
Lord Dearing: My Lords, Machiavelli, Frankenstein and the opposition Front Benches have done a great job. I am grateful to the Minister for what he has said, particularly on Clause 35. This pilgrim is now released from Doubting Castle.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 8:
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Baroness Northover moved Amendment No. 9:
(1) The Secretary of State may issue, or cause to be issued by an authorised body, guidance regarding the information concerning a company’s greenhouse gas emissions which should be publicly disclosed by such a company as part of its annual reporting.
(2) The guidance may relate to the appropriate content and form of such disclosures or any matter necessary to promote the provision of transparent and comparable data regarding the greenhouse gas emissions of companies.
(3) The guidance issued under this section may distinguish between different categories of company according to criteria to be determined by the Secretary of State, such as turnover or market share or number of employees or any other criteria he or she deems relevant, and may contain different standards for each category of company in respect of the content and form of the disclosures or other matters referred to in subsection (2) above.
(4) Any company which is required to produce a business review under the Companies Act 2006 (c. 46) must report on greenhouse gas emissions having regard to any guidance given under this section, and the Secretary of State may provide that compliance with any such guidance will be presumed to constitute compliance with section 417 of that Act (contents of directors’ report: business review) in respect of reporting on such emissions.