Coal and Carbon Capture and Storage

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:33 pm on 23rd April 2009.

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change 12:33 pm, 23rd April 2009

I have respect for the hon. Gentleman, but I hope that when he reflects on his performance today he will reconsider his position and think hard about what policy he wants to pursue. I have to say that he gave a pretty disappointing response that did not show much understanding of the difficulties that we face.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the funding mechanism. He was right to point out that part of the challenge is finding the funding, but the problem with his proposal of using funds from the auctioning of the European carbon allowances is that that has already been accounted for in the Chancellor's Budget plans. The money is not available. The hon. Gentleman's proposal constitutes an uncosted commitment to providing billions of pounds without the faintest clue about where the money will come from. He does not have the money, because it is included in the general accounts published in the Budget. It is difficult to find the necessary finance, and I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor for deciding that we will fund these measures. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will reflect on the means of financing them; he has no such means at his disposal.

The hon. Gentleman asked how much unabated coal there would be. Let me say to him candidly that while he can pursue his demand for 100 per cent. CCS from day one—I dealt with that in my statement—I believe that it is a foolish approach. It is unaffordable, and it does not make sense in the context of a demonstration technology. It is true that 20 or 25 per cent. of the plant would be abated through CCS, and obviously we will consult on that, but I have thought hard about the matter, and I believe that we have struck the right balance between what is affordable and what is a proper way of demonstrating the technology.

We will of course consult on the level at which the emissions performance standard could be set, but I must caution the hon. Gentleman against plucking figures out of the air. I have given careful consideration to the proposal for 500 kg per MWh, and I do not think that it would necessarily be appropriate for the conditions that I have described. However, I shall be happy to engage in consultation.

We shall have more to say about clusters in the consultation document, but I believe that it will be possible to have a number of them around the country, and we will view the bids impartially. Many regions are already submitting proper bids.

I genuinely hope that we can build consensus in the House. I believe that the combination of the Chancellor's announcements yesterday, the funded demonstration of CCS and my statement today represent a real step forward in security of supply and the environment. I hope that, on reflection, the hon. Gentleman will be able to give our proposals a warmer welcome.