Energy and Climate Change and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Debate on the Address
3:38 pm

Photo of Edward Miliband

Edward Miliband (Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change; Doncaster North, Labour)

We absolutely support the idea; indeed, Ofgem is bringing in regulations to ensure that people get an annual statement about where they can get a better tariff from the company concerned. I hope that that will reassure the hon. Gentleman.

I briefly want to mention the positive case. There are real gains for our economy if we make the low-carbon transition and if, at Copenhagen, the world signals that it will make the low-carbon transition. There would be jobs in new industries, including the wind industry. The money allocated in the Budget by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor is already being used to help wind companies such as Clipper in north-east England, which is developing the largest offshore wind blade in the world; it is larger than a jumbo jet. There is money for wave and tidal power, and money for venture capital investment in green industry.

The point is both to avoid environmental calamity down the road and to talk about the positive benefits for our economy, energy security and quality of life. However, the scale of the challenge is enormous. Nowhere will that be more clear than at Copenhagen, and my hon. Friend Mr. Hoyle referred to the issues. The UK is determined to play its part in getting an ambitious agreement at Copenhagen. That is why we have committed to 34 per cent. reductions in our carbon emissions by 2020, to more as part of an ambitious agreement at Copenhagen, and to 80 per cent. cuts by 2050.

It is worth asking, "What do 80 per cent. cuts by 2050 mean?" because that is very much the context of this debate. They mean huge ambition-near zero-carbon homes, substantial cuts in transport, and near zero-carbon energy. That shows the scale of the challenge. At the same time, because of electric cars and the electrification of rail and heating, it will in all likelihood-in a sense, this is the biggest challenge-mean more use of electricity, which must be low carbon. That is what makes the decarbonisation of our energy supply the most important and urgent task that we face, and that is what the Energy Bill in the Gracious Speech addresses.

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