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Last year's Copenhagen conference was attended by 110 world leaders, including leaders from the likes of China and America, which combined are responsible for almost half of all global carbon emissions. There is no question but that climate change will be central to the political thinking of every country on the planet.
The Copenhagen conference had, and has, huge potential to facilitate truly historic global deals that could greatly affect the health of the planet for generations to come. Meanwhile, delays in reaching such deals will come with increasing human, environmental and economic cost. That is why it is such a great shame that this last meeting achieved such limited success. Some progress was made but the accord is far from the set of arrangements necessary to make real headway. It is defined chiefly by what is absent from it and, as we all know, it is not legally binding. It is vague about where the funding for adaptation will come from and contains nothing to indicate the scale or timing of the carbon reductions required of the world, or, indeed, of any particular country.
In the days after the conference the Prime Minister said that the negotiations had been held to ransom by only a handful of countries. Newspaper articles described how China's most senior delegates snubbed the leaders of the developing countries by walking out. A poor leadership and an unconvincing level of ambition have been blamed for the failures of Copenhagen. This must not be repeated at talks in Mexico later this year. What plans are the Government putting in place to improve relations between countries and correct some of the issues that stunted development last year?
The failings of Copenhagen require us to face up to the fact that we need countries such as China and India on board. These and other parts of the developing world cannot simply be overlooked or assumed away. No meaningful global deal can be done without them. Does not the Minister see that it is crucial to find a solution to the question of how cutting current and
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Has the Minister considered how we can change our approach to the politics of climate change and make our country's policy clear to all, thus giving it the best chance of being successful-not least, of course, to businesses? As the head of corporate sustainable development at E.ON said:
I am sure that the noble Lords, Lord Browne of Madingley and Lord Kerr, and my noble friend Lord Ryder would support and sympathise with this view of business needs. As has been said several times today, we need new international bodies to ensure that there is a level playing field for all of us to be able to get out there and go for the best deals we can for our own countries.
Despite the gruelling and disappointing process that culminated at Copenhagen, the accord helps to define a pathway that closes the gap between the current state of affairs and a set of agreements that are robust enough to prevent dangerous anthropogenic global warming. It is essential, as we have heard many times here today, to have a clear strategy. That is what we seek. We cannot go on like this. If stronger agreements are not made, if a broadening of the conference is not achieved, and if a profound change of approach from the world's wealthiest countries to secure a genuine, strong and fair agreement is not reached, we will be condemning millions of the world's poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life as climate change accelerates.
The noble Lord, Lord Stern, said that it is all about risk. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London reminded us that making profound common cause, as faith communities worldwide are striving to do, is how we will find the wisdom we so badly need and how we will care for the common good of our people and the safety of our planet.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for allowing us to have an interesting and important debate. The Government have listened carefully to the constructive comments that have been made by noble Lords as we decide what further action we need to take in the next few weeks and in the lead-up to Mexico. I appreciated my noble friend's positive message and thoughtful comments.
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I believe that it was right to be ambitious and I would defend that position very much indeed. However, we did not achieve all our aims. As the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, said, the process of managing negotiations was unwieldy and it inhibited progress. Many countries present felt a sense of exclusion from the progress made in other forums in the run-up to the summit, and we could not bridge the gap between key developing countries on a legal treaty.
I want to assure the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that the Government are not complacent about the outcome of Copenhagen. As the noble Lord, Lord Browne, suggested, we should not allow our frustration to obscure the progress that was made. As the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, and the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, suggested, the appearance of so many world leaders was in itself significant. The accord was agreed by a group representing 49 developed and developing countries, which together account for more than 80 per cent of global emissions. That accord endorsed the limit of 2 degrees of warming as the benchmark for global progress. Unlike in other previous agreements, not only developed but many developing countries agreed to make specific commitments to tackle emissions to be lodged in the agreement by 31 January. For the first time, we can be assured that countries are acting as they say they will. All countries signed up to comprehensive measurement, reporting and verification of progress.
On finance, which I shall turn to in detail in a moment, there are significant short-term and long-term commitments made by the rich world to developing countries, including immediate finance worth $10 billion a year by 2012, with a total of up to $2.4 billion from the UK. As the noble Lord, Lord Stern, said, we need to work on that. We have made some progress and we need to work with it.
As regards aviation and shipping, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that I understand that at Copenhagen there was a lot of discussion which did not make it into the accord. The high-level panel that is to be established to look at sources of finance can look at ways of raising finance from that sector. He will know that the EU has taken significant action in that area.
I also take on board the comments of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London about the work of community and religious organisations. I hope that globally they will continue to work and influence, will spread the message and unlock the resources of altruism, as he said, and pressure. My noble friend Lord Puttnam talked not only about the pressure that we should encourage communities to put on their leaders, but also the local ingenuity of communities to rise to the momentous challenge that we face.
Some interesting comments have been made about what might be described as the international architecture for agreement on climate change. My noble friend
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I agree with the noble Lords, Lord Hannay and Lord Maclennan, about the role of the EU. It is important that it continues to show leadership in this area. Some noble Lords have expressed disappointment about the role of the EU in Copenhagen, but it is fair to say that it was at the formal meeting on the accord. Noble Lords commented about various side meetings that took place during that process and, clearly, we want the EU to be a major player. I believe that it was in the lead-up to Copenhagen and it is important that it continues to do that. Nowhere is that more apposite than in relation to the 30 per cent target. The EU always made it clear that it would move from 20 to 30 per cent reductions by 2020, provided that others make comparable commitments. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said that he wants Europe to be able to go to 30 per cent as part of our work to encourage maximum ambition from other countries. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that we certainly want to avoid a race for the bottom. That is why it is important for the EU continues to be ambitious.
As regards the UN, its process can be slow and unwieldy, but we have to work within that and other suggestions that have been made. It is the one forum that brings all 192 countries together and we should welcome Ban Ki-Moon's announcement for Copenhagen to establish a high-level panel to look at an international institute of architecture for climate change and development which will report in 2012.
We have debated climate science on a number of occasions. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Ryder, and my noble friend Lord Donoughue, who are not convinced of the science, that the overwhelming majority of leading climate scientists agree on the fundamentals that climate change is happening and has recently been caused by increased greenhouse gases from human activities. It is worth pointing out that 2000 to 2009 was the warmest decade on record. And, yes, the climate has varied naturally in the past: the medieval warm period and the little ice age have often been quoted as examples of previous temperature change. However, I do not think there is evidence that either of those periods of temperature change were seen globally-they were seen only in the northern hemisphere-whereas today's changes are so observed. As the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, said, the science was not an issue at Copenhagen, and the general direction of change is not in question. My noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis asked whether, in any case, we could really take the risk.
With regard to UEA, it is better for us to await the announcement of the independent review by Sir Muir Russell. It is worth saying that the work of the CRU at UEA has been confirmed by institutes in the US. I do not share the view of my noble friend Lord Lea of the Met Office and I respect its robustness and integrity.
The impact of climate change sceptics, as the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, said, has been considerable in relation to the public and politicisation. He talked of the risk of politicisation of left and right, which I believe we must be wary of. Remarks were made on the role of the IPCC and we will need to reflect on that, but I understand that the IPCC involves many eminent scientists from many countries. There is extensive peer review and I understand that the process is very robust.
The noble Lords, Lord Oxburgh, Lord Ryder and Lord Dixon-Smith, all discussed the role of the US, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Young. It is fair to say that the US has moved a long way on climate change. It played an important part in the negotiations in Copenhagen and showed its willingness to contribute to longer-term climate finance. Let us hope that that is built on in the future.
On the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ryder, that the US would not give money to China because of concerns about competitiveness, I understand his point. Anyone who has followed debates in the US Congress will understand that. It is worth saying that the US already contributes to a range of multilateral funds from which China benefits. I do not think that climate change is intrinsically any different, but the objective is to ensure that finance is allocated to the poorest and most vulnerable countries, particularly for adaptation. On the question of green protective zone and trade measures, we believe that border adjustment mechanisms, as they are colloquially described, are unhelpful, because they can have protectionist undertones. They also raise issues of complexity and bureaucracy and issues for business. We are wary of going down that path.
My noble friend Lord Hunt raised the issue of China. He felt that we were overoptimistic, but it is difficult to predict what will happen at the end of any multinational negotiation. Throughout 2009, we had regular and constructive conversations with most of the key players, including China, about their policies and the prospects for Copenhagen. We did not go to Copenhagen in any naive sense. This engagement suggested right up to the last moment that we could make progress on many of the key issues and that it might be possible to secure a timetable to a legal treaty. It is right, as I said earlier, that we remained ambitious and optimistic to the end. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is right that we should not ignore the fact that China has already come forward with a mitigation offer. The noble Lord and my noble friend Lord Hunt are right to say that we have to continue the dialogue with China, and we will do so.
My noble friend Lady Jay and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, made some powerful comments on the relationship between the developed and developing worlds and the relationship between poverty and global warming. My noble friend Lady Jay quoted extensively from the World Bank report. My noble friend Lord Judd also gave a number of explicit examples of the issues with which the poorest, most vulnerable developing countries are faced. The noble Lord, Lord Stern, talked about the significance of the relationship between poverty, developing countries and climate change, which
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Population growth is significant, too, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Patel. A range of factors contribute to climate change, including population growth, but the real challenge, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Birt, is that economic growth over coming decades will be dwarfed by the increase in carbon due to population. None the less, the Government fully support a rights-based approach to reproductive health, and I agree with him that it is important for the international community to engage in a progressive debate about population growth and climate change alongside other issues.
On the question of resources, I make it clear to the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and my noble friend Lady Jay that of the £1.5 billion to which I have already referred, £700 million is new money. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, referred to the Government's decision on where the climate finance is coming from, and he is right to say that some of it will come from existing official development assistance commitments, but we believe that a ceiling should be placed on that. As he said, we have agreed to limit such expenditure to up to 10 per cent of our official development assistance and no more. We are working towards this limit being agreed internationally. I shall reflect on what the noble Earl said about providing more clarity on this to developing countries, which was a very important point indeed.
My noble friend Lord Lea talked about the impact of climate change policies on life in this country and the cost and impact on individuals in terms of prices. Clearly, there is a debate to be had there. But we cannot ignore the impact and benefit of a low-carbon economy, because that is how this country can make huge advances in our economic prospects in the years ahead-to the energy sector, in particular.
Lord Lea of Crondall: I am grateful to my noble friend, but the point I was making is that we must be careful that the tax rises are not regressive and that ordinary people at work do not pay a disproportionate share relative to other people for these changes.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: That is a very helpful intervention, and I agree with my noble friend. However, I still think that we must focus on the benefits of a low-carbon economy. The noble Lords, Lord Oxburgh, Lord Rees and Lord James, talked about the potential of carbon capture and storage. I want to lay to rest the view that somehow the UK has suddenly lost its leadership role and that other countries are making much more progress.
I say at once that there is a lot of talk, but the UK remains a global leader in promoting the development of CCS. We are one of only five countries committed to supporting commercial-scale projects demonstrating the full chain of CCS. I understand that the UK is ranked second, after the US, in the Ernst & Young index of most attractive countries for accelerating the development of CCS. We also see great potential in the development of new nuclear. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Rees, about worldwide R&D and I will do
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On geo-engineering, we agree with the view of the Royal Society report published in October last year that none of the geo-engineering options offers an alternative to emission reductions, but some may be useful in future to augment continuing efforts to migrate climate change through emission reduction. We will keep that under review, and I hope that that reassures my noble friend Lord Whitty. The noble Lord, Lord Birt, spoke about the need to focus on electricity. He will be aware of the Government's policy, particularly in relation to transport, to do that. I agree with him about energy efficiency. We see smart meters as a great foundation for a smart grid, which I hope will allow for the kind of efficiencies to which he drew our attention.
Of course, we need to ensure the integrity of agreements by MRV and compliance, monitoring and verification. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, always has some very apposite points to make. I particularly noted his comments about whether the EU ought to put proposals on the table. I prefer not to give him a substantive response today, but I would like to consider that. That is interesting; I certainly accept that the EU can play an important role in the mitigation offer. We think that progress was made in the accord in that area, particularly in the reporting to which countries have agreed, but, at the end of the day, we must have integrity in monitoring and reporting.
The noble Lords, Lord Browne and Lord Teverson, raised the issue of forestry. We are committed to reaching agreement to reduce tropical deforestation by at least 50 per cent by 2020, and we think that the Copenhagen accord provides the basis for setting up a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. A commitment was also made in the Copenhagen accord to provide financial support to address deforestation. I hope that noble Lords will accept that some progress has been made in that area.
Let me finish on adaptation. As my noble friend Lord Whitty said, some climate change is inevitable. My noble friend Lord Smith gave some very good illustrations of what is happening at the moment and why, alongside mitigation, adaptation measures must be taken. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for her work on the adaptation sub-committee of the Committee on Climate Change. The adaptation plan, which is to be be published in spring 2010, will be very important. All government departments are contributing to it. I very much echo the noble Baroness's comments about the statutory responsibility being placed on public bodies, with an equivalent responsibility on local authorities, to prepare plans for adaptation. That will be significant in ensuring that, as infrastructure is developed, public authorities make decisions now based on climate change factors that are likely to impact on infrastructure in the years ahead. The role of the adaptation sub-committee, and the fact that the Government have to report to Parliament on those measures, will be a powerful way to ensure that adaptation is taken seriously, not as a substitute for mitigation,
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We did not achieve all that we wanted to achieve, and there is palpable disappointment. None the less, the accord provides some measure of achievement; it is very important that we work on it. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that I will not forecast here today how many more countries will have signed the accord by the end of the month; we must be ambitious. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, asked me about the Government's view of what we need to do. She is absolutely right: we must reflect on the things that did not go so right, on our negotiating strategy and how we can work in partnership with developing countries. These are matters that we need to take forward urgently. We will do so with vigour and enthusiasm, and with a degree of optimism. This has been a very helpful and useful debate, and I am most grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part.
Lord Stone of Blackheath: My Lords, I was urged to call this debate by warm, caring and sensitive friends and Members of this House who said that, even if this is not my area of expertise, what was needed now was a natural optimism and a tendency towards co-operation, collaboration and conflict resolution. It has been that kind of debate, and it will lift spirits. I am so grateful for all the knowledgeable, pertinent, informed and pragmatic contributions that we have heard today, and I thank my noble friend the Minister for his full, positive, substantive and embracing reply. His energy and drive is refreshing and effective.
My overall impression of this debate, this issue, this process, is similar to my deep feeling about another complex, large-scale, world-threatening condition in which I am somewhat involved-the conflict in the Middle East. In both these scenarios, people will suffer in their thousands and continue to die, experts know what should be done, the resources can be made available, but what is missing is the positive political will and co-operation and collaboration binding countries together.
Together with individuals and their community leaders, NGOs and their trustees, businesses and their management and Governments and their Ministers, bearing in mind that we are all interconnected and knowing that by acting together with dynamism and optimism, we can turn this to the betterment of all beings. I am heartened that there are many in this House who know that, speak it and live by it. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
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