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Climate Change (Public Awareness)

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 9th July 2009.

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Photo of Phil Wilson Phil Wilson Labour, Sedgefield 10:30 am, 9th July 2009

What steps he is taking to increase the level of awareness among the public of the consequences of climate change.

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Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change)

The Department takes steps to raise awareness of climate change through ministerial speeches, publications—such as the climate impact study and "The Road to Copenhagen"—the departmental website and the Act on C02 campaign.

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Photo of Phil Wilson Phil Wilson Labour, Sedgefield

My constituency covers the Tees valley plain, which, according to an independent report, can cater for between only 20 and 25 wind turbines, but 62 are planned and proposed. Does my hon. Friend agree that, while we all know the importance of making people aware of climate change, it is equally important to take people with us in solving the problem, rather than swamping them with wind farms? County Durham has already passed its renewable threshold for wind farms and is on course to meet its 2020 target soon.

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Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change)

I congratulate my hon. Friend's area on its progress. Clearly, we must have developments that are sensitive to the landscape—that is a matter for the planning process. However, it is our responsibility as a Government to help people understand the real need for change in our production and use of energy, to protect the environment and to secure energy supplies. We all need to understand that climate change is the greatest threat to our wildlife and our countryside.

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Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

Would the Minister accept that, for many, especially those on low incomes and the elderly, the consequences of climate change have merely been higher energy prices than normal? Energy prices are so critical to the elderly and those on low incomes, so could she and the Government be a little more sensitive in introducing policies so that the most vulnerable are not the worst affected?

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Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change)

The most vulnerable need our help. The help is there and we will continue to keep constantly under review the impact of our renewable energy programmes on bills. However, there is no way in which we can have lower energy prices and high fossil fuel use in the future. It is destroying the planet and we have to make a change. We will make the change and do it in a way that is fair.

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Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West

I have spent the past three and a half years campaigning on adaptation to climate change. I am delighted to say that the string of Government announcements in the past six months shows that the Government have finally got it. By approximately what date will the adaptation sub-committee of the Committee on Climate Change produce its first report?

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Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change)

My hon. Friend, who has done so much on adaptation, has caught me out. I will have to write to him to tell him exactly when the report is expected. He knows that we have recently appointed the chair of the sub-committee, who will join the independent Committee on Climate Change. I am sure that they will get on with their work as quickly as possible and I will write to him with the details when I receive them.

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