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Carbon Emissions

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

We have a range of policies and practical measures to help individuals adopt lower carbon lifestyles. We will soon be launching a web-based CO2 calculator, which will allow people and households to find out their CO2 footprint.

I very much welcome the Minister’s response. It is important that we as individuals are encouraged to monitor our carbon footprint and to reduce it by doing things such as recycling, but it is also important that we know the impact and the effectiveness of different recycling methods. Will the Minister support the campaign for real recycling in its calls for an audit of the different recycling schemes in use across the country?

We are constantly trying to improve the quality of recycling in the United Kingdom. The current recycling effort is roughly equivalent to taking 3.5 million cars off the road. We have made significant progress over the past 10 years, but we need to do more. The waste strategy, when it is published shortly, will take significant further steps forward.

Does the Minister agree that the key to individuals’ action on these issues is individuals’ understanding of them, and that the concepts of carbon footprints and carbon emissions are quite difficult for many people to comprehend? Does he agree that the fact that the terms carbon dioxide, carbon, and greenhouse gas emissions are used interchangeably by his Department and others does not add to people’s understanding of the issues? Does he agree that there is a need for consistency in the use of terminology and in the use of measurement?

My hon. Friend has a point when he says that the Government talk sometimes about carbon, sometimes about CO2 and sometimes about greenhouse gases. It would be helpful if we could have more consistency and talk about carbon dioxide. Interestingly, the research work that we have done tends to suggest that people understand the concept of CO2 and a carbon footprint. That is why we have launched the “Act on CO2” campaign. The work that we did before we launched it confirmed that that has a resonance with people, but my hon. Friend is right to say that we need to take steps to make it easier for people to measure their CO2 footprint. That is what the new web-based calculator that we are launching soon will do.