Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Road Transport)

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 13 November 2008.

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Photo of David Chaytor David Chaytor Labour, Bury North 10:30, 13 November 2008

What his most recent estimate is of the proportion of UK greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the road transport sector.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Energy and Climate Change)

In 2006—the latest year for which finalised data are available—road transport accounted for approximately 126 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is roughly 19 per cent. of total UK greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo of David Chaytor David Chaytor Labour, Bury North

Does my hon. Friend agree that the use of graduated vehicle excise duty is an important measure in reducing emissions from road transport? Does she also agree that exempting the current vehicle fleet from graduated VED—for which the forces of conservatism on both sides of the House have lobbied—would be counter-productive to the Government's climate change strategy? Will she speak to her colleagues in the Treasury about that before the pre-Budget statement in two weeks time?

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Energy and Climate Change)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. As he knows perfectly well, all decisions on taxation are a matter for the Chancellor, and it will not be long before we hear more on that subject—and others—from him. The principle of linking CO2 emissions to vehicle taxation is correct, and we began that process in 2001. It is supported by my Department, and we also agree that expanding the range of bands to create greater sensitivity between CO2 emissions and particular vehicles is the right approach. We—

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

Order. As a trade unionist, I do not expect the hon. Gentleman to do another man's job. He is trying to do my job, but in any case, the Minister has done well and we should move on.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Opposition Whip (Commons)

I hope that the Minister gets over her cold soon. While she does so, perhaps she could consider alternative forms of transport. Not every item transported on Britain's roads needs to be delivered quickly. British Waterways is spending a fortune restoring our canals, and the narrow boat system is far more efficient in terms of greenhouse emissions at moving heavy goods from one part of the country to another. I ask her Department to speak to the Department for Transport and to investigate that alternative way to move goods across the nation.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Energy and Climate Change)

I apologise if I am speaking slowly; I have a very bad infection. I simply wanted to conclude that it is appropriate that people should understand linkages so that they can purchase the appropriate vehicles.

Let me turn to the hon. Gentleman's point about moving goods by water. That subject is always under consideration. I can tell him that the Department for Transport is working on a low-carbon transport strategy. I am quite sure that we will be able to consider the points that he has made, because he is right that there are issues about emissions that can be well dealt with by alternative modes of transport.