Carbon Emissions (2020)

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 7th July 2011.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 10:30 am, 7th July 2011

What representations he has received on his objectives for the reduction of carbon emissions by 2020; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

The Government have committed to reduce UK emissions by 34% by 2020. The Committee on Climate Change confirmed on 30 June that we are on track to meeting this target. Internationally, the Government remain committed to moving to a 30% EU target. I have had numerous discussions with my EU colleagues and a wide variety of stakeholders in recent months on the importance of the EU low-carbon transition, including a move to 30%.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Given the agreement, and the ambition of the targets, what reassurance can the Secretary of State give the House today that businesses will be able to meet those targets without incurring ever higher energy bills or having to pass on the costs to their consumers, who might not be able to afford them?

Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

We are working hard with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on a package to help energy-intensive industries to ensure that, for example, when we build much of the important energy infrastructure that we are going to be building over the next 10 years, the demand for steel and aluminium stays in the United Kingdom. That is a crucial part of what we are doing. My hon. Friend should not forget that we are also seeking an enormous increase in demand for British manufacturing as a result of the need to replace our energy infrastructure, and that investment levels will be running at double the normal level. That will give an enormous shot in the arm to manufacturing.

Photo of Fiona O'Donnell Fiona O'Donnell Labour, East Lothian

The Government are facing both ways on this issue. Can the Secretary of State tell me whether the Tory MEPs who last week voted against an increase to 30% in the EU commitment to reducing emissions by 2020 are part of the “greenest Government ever”?

Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

Perhaps it is now the policy of Labour Members to incorporate Members of the European Parliament into this Chamber, but until that happens—

Photo of Christopher Huhne Christopher Huhne Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh

I got in here separately on the basis of an election. Let me point out to Chris Bryant that when I left the European Parliament to come here, I remember keeping a league table on the three main parties in this Chamber whose MEPs agreed with the policy at Westminster, and I am not at all sure that my Conservative colleagues would be the most embarrassed by it. On a number of occasions, then and now, Labour MEPs do not necessarily take the same line as Labour Members in Westminster.