Energy: Fourth Carbon Report — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:11 pm on 17th May 2011.

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Photo of Lord Marland Lord Marland The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change 5:11 pm, 17th May 2011

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her excellent résumé of matters and, as always, for posing some very incisive questions. Of course, much of this builds on work carried out by the former Labour Government, and I applaud that. I also add my thanks to the Committee on Climate Change for its excellent fourth report.

The noble Baroness asked four questions. The first one concerned the review in 2014. As this Government intend to be the greenest Government ever, it is incumbent on them to lead by example. We know that Europe does not always follow our leadership but we will try to lead by example in every possible way and encourage it to adopt a 30 per cent target. For the sake of the prosperity of this country, it would be totally wrong if we ended up not agreeing to a 30 per cent target and having some of Europe marching out of line. The review gives us a fallback position if Europe agrees to, for example, a 25 or 35 per cent target. However, the intent is there in our desire to strive for greater carbon reductions and to show leadership, as indeed the previous Government did. I see in his place the noble Lord, Lord Prescott-one of the leading advocates in that area. The noble Baroness need not fear-I do not despair. I feel that we are marching forward very co-operatively and that things are going well.

The noble Baroness asked about transport. We have an issue with the Committee on Climate Change over moving to electric hybrid targets. The committee's target is set at roughly 60 per cent by 2030. We think that it will be difficult to achieve that target. It has to be balanced fiscally, which of course is an issue for the Treasury. We are looking at that very closely in our review of the committee's reports, and we are quantifying its suggestions, as one would expect. We do not necessarily disagree with the committee but we have come up with different figures, which we will look at and bring into law when we have had discussions with the committee. I should add that there are very few differences between us and the Committee on Climate Change, but it would be rare if there were no differences.

Fuel poverty is a fundamental issue, as we have discussed before. If the noble Baroness will forgive me, I will not get into a debate on the Energy Bill and go over the marvellous things that we discussed for hours on end, although we can doubtless look at them again at another point. The first, second and third carbon budgets had no effect on fuel poverty, although the fourth budget should have an effect with all the new measures that we are bringing in. The noble Baroness shakes her head. I know that she has read the document. I cannot remember the exact page but there is a paragraph on fuel poverty which I am happy to point out to her.

Finally, as the noble Baroness quite rightly says, we have to take into consideration the effect on the energy-intensive industries. They are very substantial employers. They fulfil great needs and are a requirement for this country. I listened to the views of a group of energy-intensive industries when they came to visit us in the House, which quite rightly they enunciated extremely well. I agreed that we would look at the matter as appropriate and report back on our commitment to them in October.