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.

Alert me about debates like this

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

The hon. Gentleman started off well, but slipped into the same mode as the Conservative spokesman. We certainly look forward to being in power in 2020 to be able to answer some of his questions.

We all face a problem in respect of fuel poverty, and it is best to be candid about it: there are upward pressures on prices from both the high and low-carbon futures. If we carry on with the high-carbon future—I know the hon. Gentleman does not want us to do that—demand from China and India will force prices up, so that is no solution. We are looking at social tariffs—compulsory social tariffs is one of the issues—and the answer is to act on fuel poverty at the same time as driving towards a low-carbon future. Therefore, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we need to take additional measures on fuel poverty.

I have said that we shall consult on the emissions performance standard. I told Greg Clark that we need to be cautious about plucking figures out of the air about the EPS. I have set out the way in which we should demonstrate the technology, and I think we need an EPS that is appropriate for the technology. We should debate the precise figure, but I am not going to state a number today because I do not think that is a sensible way to make policy.

The technology for retrofitting needs to be proven. For us to demand that CCS must be fitted on a whole plant, it needs to work. I believe that it will work— obviously, we all hope that it will work—but I also said in my statement that, importantly, we must discuss the eventuality that it does not work and whether, in that case, there should be restrictions on the operation of the plant. However, we are performing a very fine balancing act between getting coal plants built—because, after all, energy companies and others could say they are just going to build gas—and driving towards low carbon. That is why I have set out a framework today, and I say, in the spirit of genuinely wanting co-operation, let us consult on the detail and get that right. The framework needs to last for some time, and I will want to engage in genuine dialogue with the hon. Gentleman about it.