My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 9A to 9D in my name, regarding the UK carbon account. A clause on carbon accounting was added to the Bill under consideration in your Lordships’ House before passing to the other place. This was reversed and the clause deleted by votes on Report in the other place. I had thought to re-table the amendment on the Bill’s return to your Lordship’s House. However, in view of the fact that this would have been opposed by the Government, consideration has been given to how best to present this long-term issue so that a serious assessment would be made of it.
There is no doubt that climate change is the single most important long-term threat to be faced across the world. Its importance, and the need to get positive responses from the world’s governments, was highlighted at the Paris conference. Yet there is a weakness in the way carbon budgets are assessed and, therefore, how measures to combat climate change will be implemented. If the UK is to continue to be at the forefront of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the UK needs carbon budgets that are clear and certain and which drive emissions reductions in all sectors of the economy. At present, they do not meet this standard, as they can be misleading about what emissions are covered. They impose targets in the traded sector of the EU emissions trading scheme, which mean very little, and in the non-traded sector, which are subject to arbitrary change.
In June this year, the Government must set the UK’s fifth carbon budget for emissions for the years 2028 to 2032. These proposed new clauses ask the Government to commit to a review to reassess the accounting rules and to critically examine the issue, especially as the Committee on Climate Change has commented that it will provide new advice on the appropriate level of the fifth carbon budget should the rules be changed to take account of the improvements which Labour has proposed.
Currently, the carbon accounting regulations allow the Government to ignore emissions from the electricity sector and heavy industry, which are covered by the EU ETS, while determining whether the carbon budgets have been met. This makes the Government responsible for only half the carbon budgets: those residual parts not under the scope of the EU ETS, such as transport and heat. The Committee on Climate Change has expressed its dissatisfaction with the current accounting rules. The UK’s carbon budgets fail to provide a framework that offers investor confidence in the UK power sector that the necessary measures to decarbonise will be put in place.
The amendment proposes that the Government now seriously undertake their own assessment and report back by the end of this year. It is drafted to bring forward views that need to be taken into account from as wide an audience as possible.
Finally, Amendment 12A is consequential and merely amends the Long Title to include this in the provisions of the Bill. I beg to move.