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Report (3rd Day)

Part of Infrastructure Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 10th November 2014.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, The Arctic Committee 9:45 pm, 10th November 2014

My Lords, I very much agree with the amendment. I have backed similar amendments to other Bills. Unfortunately, we did not manage to get any further on it. It is Liberal Democrat policy that we should get unabated coal out of the energy generation system by 2025—to me that seems an eternity. One of the key things that would do, as this amendment would do, would be to stop long-term investment of any size in unabated coal generation and facilities. That seems to me an absolutely fundamental prerequisite, not only of meeting our carbon budgets, but of ensuring we meet our international obligations, such as on air quality. It will be very difficult to continue to lead on climate change—as we do and as we want to continue to do into the future—if we have a continued electricity generation industry based on coal for the long term.

There are all sorts of other ways to do stop that reinvestment. We have rehearsed these arguments many times before. It is the Chancellor’s and the Treasury’s wish that we should have gas investment at a reasonable level in this country over the next few years. Of course, the more we take the risk of encouraging coal to reinvest into the future—we do not know how much of that will happen but some of it already has—the more we will crowd out investment in other technologies. I suspect that the Minister will not accept the amendment, unfortunately, but I know that a number of Ministers and people in DECC understand the importance of taking coal out of generation. I hope that the Government will one day come to a single view that this needs to be done.