Skip to main content

Carbon Dioxide Reduction

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

15. What guidance his Department is planning to give the public on the offsetting of carbon dioxide emissions. (144198)

In January, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs launched a consultation on establishing a code of best practice for carbon offsetting. The consultation closed on 13 April. We are considering the responses and we aim to have the code in place by the end of the year.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. According to a recent UN report, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 per cent. of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalents. That is more than cars, planes and other forms of transport combined. Given that the global production of meat is predicted to double by 2050 and milk production to grow almost as quickly, does he agree that urgent steps must be taken either to reduce the environmental impact per unit of production or to halt its growth? What advice would he give consumers who might be concerned about the environmental impact that the consumption of such products is having?

The livestock and dairy industries are an important part of the United Kingdom economy and will, I am sure, continue to remain so for a long time. I think it right that, like other sectors of the economy, the meat and livestock industry does what it can to address the issue of climate change and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It is taking action to do that, but more action is needed. My hon. Friend makes a number of valid points, but eating meat is a personal choice and the Government have no intention of moving the direction that she suggests.

Does the Minister agree that although carbon offsetting is not an unworthwhile activity, the Government could do a lot more to cut household emissions of carbon dioxide?

As a Government, we believe strongly that carbon offsetting is an option, but it is not the only answer to tackling climate change. The best thing to do is to avoid CO2 emissions in the first place, and the next best thing is to try to reduce CO2 emissions, but there are some emissions that it is impossible in our daily lives to avoid or to reduce. That is where offsetting is a viable option. When people are thinking of taking their summer holiday this year, I would encourage them to consider offsetting their CO2 emissions. It is a good thing to do.