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Carbon Footprint (Copenhagen Summit)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 10th December 2009.

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Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough 10:30 am, 10th December 2009

What estimate he has made of the average carbon footprint generated by his Department's representatives in attending the Copenhagen climate change summit.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I and three officials from DEFRA will attend the Copenhagen climate change summit, where we will push for an ambitious agreement on forests and the protection of our oceans. The CO2 footprint of these flights will be 1.54 tonnes. We will offset that by buying certified emission reduction credits, as we do for all flights.

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Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

Trees are very good "carbon-eating machines". Does the Secretary of State agree with me that 202,500 trees will have to be planted just to cover the CO2 emissions of the Copenhagen jamboree?

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I do not regard the Copenhagen summit as a jamboree. I am sorry that some Opposition Members seem to think that there is not a problem with climate change. I suspect that that is an embarrassment to those on their Front Bench. Frankly, I cannot think of a more important meeting, because the consequence of failing to get an agreement would be very serious for our planet, for our climate and for biodiversity.

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Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Given the importance of getting a deal on carbon emissions at Copenhagen, DEFRA should be leading from the front. Eighteen months ago, the Government announced a new body, the centre of expertise in sustainable procurement-a quango within a quango-to assist, among other things, in cutting emissions from the Government's own estate. We now know that the Government estate will miss its 2010-11 carbon targets by some margin. Is the Secretary of State, who leads on sustainability issues in the Government, embarrassed by that fact, and if so, what is he going to do about it?

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In 2007-08, across the Government office estate, we achieved a 6.3 per cent. reduction in CO2 emissions. In the DEFRA office estate, we have already achieved the 2010-11 target of a 12.5 per cent. reduction against the 1999-2000 figures.

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