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Carbon Emissions

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

11. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on international mechanisms to enforce the reduction of carbon emissions. (107315)

I am in regular contact with the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs on how best to deliver the UK’s climate objectives. I have made the joint pursuit of climate and energy security a strategic international priority for the UK. It is vital to our security and therefore a major focus of our diplomacy to achieve a rapid transition to a low-carbon global economy.

The Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs is committed to UK and EU cuts in carbon emissions, but only the United Nations has the authority to take a global view of this issue, so will the Foreign Secretary press the UN to make climate change a central purpose—naming and shaming recalcitrant countries, if necessary—rather than the peripheral concern that it is now?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is being unfair to the UN in saying that it is a peripheral concern. Indeed, at the recent United Nations framework convention on climate change conference in Nairobi, the Secretary-General made a very strong statement about the importance of this issue. I certainly share the hon. Gentleman’s view that the matter should have even more prominence in UN discussions, which is something that we are urging on the new Secretary-General.

The Secretary of State knows that we share her strong commitment to international co-operation to achieve carbon emission reductions. Does she share our view—and the view expressed by the Minister for Europe on 26 October—that it can be achieved without any additional EU powers?

We are rather a long way from the international agreement that we all seek in the longer term. In the shorter term, we certainly believe that one of the main instruments that can be used to make progress is the EU emissions trading scheme and extensions to it. As the hon. Gentleman knows, this country is, I believe, the only one to have had its national allocation plan proposals for the new scheme accepted. That does not, at present, require any new powers.