Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 5th January 2010.

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change 4:44 pm, 5th January 2010

The hon. Gentleman asks serious questions that deserve serious answers. Let me go through them. On his question about process and why we got to the stage that we did, the mess of process partly represented big disagreements about substance, because there was concern among a number of developing countries about the notion of Denmark tabling its own text. Why did it take until 3 am on the Friday for the leaders' representatives from a group of 27 countries-representing 49 countries if the EU is included-to get together in a room? It was because the Danes were systematically prevented from tabling a text, because people kept saying, "We are not ready yet to go into a smaller room." The same thing happened at Bali and Kyoto. That was one reason why we did not bridge some of the divides-because by 3 am on the Friday there were less than 24 hours of the conference to go.

The hon. Gentleman's other points about procedure are important and correct. The notion that negotiators should be left to negotiate, even though they take instructions from Ministers, is insufficient. His notion that there should be some kind of permanent session is also an option that should be considered. It is very important that we do not leave it until June and the mid-year negotiations in Bonn to restart the whole process. The EU needs to use its commitment to going to 30 per cent. with comparable action from others. We need to build more of a consensus than we have in the EU at the moment to move to 30 per cent., but I think that the process of 31 January commitments is an initial stage in which the EU should seek to push others to higher levels of ambition, and should itself seek to be as ambitious as possible.

I disagree with the hon. Gentleman slightly about the Commonwealth, because it issued and pushed an important set of demands and requests regarding finance, some of which came through in the final agreement.

On the US and China, we want the deepest cuts from all countries, including the United States, but that is dependent on its legislation. It was willing to make an initial offer before making legislation, but the legislation that went through the House of Representatives was more ambitious than the offer that was made, so there is some hope there.

On the legal treaty and the attitude of certain developing countries, a process of persuasion is partly needed. They need to be persuaded that they have nothing to fear from the legal assurance that is, in my view, necessary. That argument has not yet been won, but there is a broad coalition of developing and developed countries that want the legal framework. That coalition is important and could help us in the months and year ahead.

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