Duty to report on international obligations

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 15th November 2018.

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Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:15 pm, 15th November 2018

The Government take our international obligations very seriously. The list of international conventions and forums to which we are a signatory is long. I will not fob the hon. Gentleman off by saying that the obligations will be included in the environment Bill. I can go one better: we already produce many reports under all of those conventions.

I have often said, in the context of calls for statutory requirements for consultations, that DEFRA loves consultations, so there is no need for a statutory requirement. I can also confirm that in my time as a Minister, I have discovered that DEFRA loves annual reports as well. Indeed, I often say to officials, “Am I the only one who reads this report?”. Given that the hon. Gentleman said that we should be publishing reports, he clearly does not read some of those that already get published, so I will cover some of them now.

There are already reporting requirements under decision 24/CP.19 and decision 2/CP.17 of the UN framework convention on climate change; under article 26 of the convention on biological diversity; under article 33 of the Cartagena protocol on biosafety; and under article 8, paragraphs 6 to 8, of the convention on international trade in endangered species. Under the Paris agreement and the Climate Change Act 2008, an annual statement of emissions is provided to Parliament. Every five years we provide a similar statement to Parliament stating the final performance under a given carbon budget.

Under the convention on international trade in endangered species, there is an annual CITES trade report, summarising the number and type of permits granted, countries traded with, and quantities and types of species involved. There is an annual illegal trade report summarising seizures made, and source and destination countries. There is a biennial implementation report summarising legislative regulatory and administrative measures taken to implement CITES.

Under the convention on biological diversity there have been five progress reports: in 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009 and, most recently, in 2014. The sixth national report is being prepared, ready for submission this December.