Energy: Fourth Carbon Report — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 17th May 2011.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, EU Sub-Committee C - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Policy 5:15 pm, 17th May 2011

My Lords, this is certainly the announcement that we wanted to hear. I congratulate the Government on agreeing this target, which is important in terms of our leadership, as the Minister has so rightly said, but also in terms of keeping faith with the Committee on Climate Change, which is such a central part of the architecture. Having said that-and as a parliamentarian-it should not be taken for granted that the Government would accept every recommendation within the Committee on Climate Change's report. This is the headline; this is the one that is important. However, all recommendations of such reports should be applied to the democratic process and decided on by Parliament rather than by the committee itself. However, I very much welcome the broad thrust of the Government's agreement.

One of the ways to possibly change how things work that has been discussed and is in the Statement is carbon trading. Although the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, seemed somewhat equivocal about it, I remind her that the way that this accounting should work was written in specifically by the last Government and was strongly resisted by certain parts of this House. However, I accept that under certain circumstances it can be the right way to go, and maybe it provides the flexibility.

I also welcome the fact that the Government are still angling after a 30 per cent reduction by 2020, although even I admit that this should not be just blind adherence to that target. I would be interested to hear from the Minister how those negotiations with Europe are proceeding, certainly within the international context that the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, mentioned.

I want to return to the point about energy-intensive industries. We clearly value those industries in this country and do not want to see them be offshored because all that will do is mean that carbon emissions worldwide stay the same while ours perhaps decrease, hence some of the problems over carbon production accounting. Will the Government ensure that the trade-offs for those extra costs still leave the incentives for those industries to reduce their energy and their carbon emissions while helping them in other areas of their profit and loss account?