Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 22nd April 2004.

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Photo of Mr Simon Thomas Mr Simon Thomas Chief Whip, Spokesperson (Agriculture; Culture; Environment; Heritage; International Development; Sustainable Energy; Transport) 11:30 am, 22nd April 2004

What proportion of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in 2003 was due to (a) an increase in energy consumption and (b) an increase in aviation fuel consumption.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The increase can largely be accounted for by higher energy consumption, with the increase in power station emissions being partly offset by lower emissions from residential energy use, transportation and industrial energy use. The share of domestic aviation cannot yet be separately identified within transportation.

Photo of Mr Simon Thomas Mr Simon Thomas Chief Whip, Spokesperson (Agriculture; Culture; Environment; Heritage; International Development; Sustainable Energy; Transport)

Earlier, the Minister said that the Government had a good story to tell on the matter. By accident or design, that is partly true. However, are not the Government about to lose their pole position in Europe? The worrying decline in the reduction of CO 2 emissions needs to be reversed. Will he assure hon. Members that the submission that he is preparing under the EU emissions trading directive will not retreat from the aims and objectives that were set out in the initial consultation, especially the 5.8 per cent. reduction that is expected from the industrial sector?

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we will stick to the targets and objectives in the energy White Paper. When setting a cap, we must take account of current circumstances and modelling. We have already set it at 16.4 per cent. in the national allocation plan. We are discussing that with industry, but our intention is to reach 20 per cent. by 2010. We have made better progress on our Kyoto commitments, as I have outlined to hon. Members. I am confident that, once we get the European emissions trading scheme up and running, British industry will do better than the trajectory that we are setting for it and that we will reach the 20 per cent. target. However, we have said that we will make necessary adjustments in 2007 or 2008 to achieve it.

Photo of Bob Blizzard Bob Blizzard Labour, Waveney

Does my hon. Friend agree that CO 2 capture and storage in depleted undersea oilfields, which is permissible under the OSPAR convention, would make an important contribution to carbon reduction? Since that has been recognised in a recently published Department of Trade and Industry report, will he support further work on the proposal so that it can become part of the Government's carbon abatement technology programme?

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

It is important that we consider all the options in relation to reducing greenhouse gases and CO 2 . That will include increasing the amount of renewables—to which the Government are committed, following the energy White Paper—and clean fuel technology. We also need to look at carbon sequestration. I do not see that as a long-term solution, but it might be useful in the medium term. We would have to assess its environmental impact in some detail and we will. Nevertheless, it is an option, and we should give serious consideration to it.