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Renewable Energy

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 22 March 2007

10. What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on initiatives to promote renewable energy. (128958)

As was discussed earlier, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had regular discussions with the Chancellor on a range of issues, including the promotion of renewable energy.

The Chancellor’s flagship stop-start scheme to promote the domestic renewable energy industry, the low carbon buildings programme, received 10,000 online applications at 9 am on 1 March. Only 186 were approved. Does the Minister expect that the 50 per cent. increase in funding announced yesterday in the Budget will give rise to a 50 per cent. increase in successful applications—from under 2 per cent. to under 3 per cent?

We had some discussion about that earlier this morning. I am proud of the record of this Labour Government and I would be pleased on another occasion to compare it with the lamentable record of previous Administrations on climate change and renewables. The Government are reforming the renewables obligation, have targets for renewable energy, and have introduced the low carbon buildings programme—with £80 million of funds—not only for householders, but for voluntary organisations and public sector buildings. That is important. There has been a huge demand for householder grants. That is why yesterday it was announced that an additional £6 million for householder capital grants will be available from the Budget, bringing the total funds for householders up to £18 million. We are now having a quick look at that, so that we can announce a new programme. That is why there is a brief suspension of grants during the April period. It is sensible—I think that the industry expects this—to look at that before we announce the way forward.

Will the Minister confirm that according to the Treasury, the microgeneration measures announced in the Budget yesterday will produce carbon savings that, because they are so timid, are too small to measure, and that if one adds up all the energy measures announced in the Budget yesterday, they account for less than 2 per cent. of carbon emissions? That amount will be wiped out by the increase in carbon emissions now taking place.

There are a wide range of measures and a number of areas of the economy, including the houses in which we all live, that will contribute to getting on the right side of the climate change argument. The Government have set what I would contend is the most ambitious target ever for a democracy: to reduce carbon emissions by 60 per cent. from what they were in 1990, by the middle of this century—2050. A range of programmes and changes of behaviour will enable us to hit that target. Microgeneration and, more generally, renewables have an important role to play, but not the only role.