European Council and North Africa — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:12 pm on 7 February 2011.

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Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy) 8:12, 7 February 2011

I am grateful to my noble friend for a series of near-impossible questions. These estimates are inevitably estimates. They are based on what one hopes is an unfolding sequence of policy, which leads first-and one must recognise this-to the incentives for fossil-fuel energies to be replaced by more efficient use of those same energies so that eventually higher bills become lower bills, and, secondly, to the replacement of fossil fuels in a number of areas by non-fossil alternatives and renewables. At this moment, my noble friend says, "Ah, but that means all renewables are far more expensive than fossils fuels". At this moment, pound for pound and kilowatt hour for kilowatt hour, he may be right, but how is this going to evolve in future? The world is concerned about the high-carbon situation now and its effect on climate. The world is aiming for a low-carbon, greener world, and this Government are determined to move along that path to greener, cleaner energy and greater energy efficiency. That will lead in due course not to higher bills but to lower bills. I emphasise "in due course" because in the mean time, as he probably knows from receiving his monthly or quarterly energy bills, all our energy bills are looking a bit more expensive. We have to look through the present situation to a longer term where we can see new products and new patterns developing to support a low-carbon, secure, affordable energy pattern that would benefit not merely Europe and our own country but also the developing world, which, of course, has an enormous thirst for abundant but cheap and affordable energy.