I inform the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister. Before I call the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes), I say to those who will speak from the Front Benches, as well as to those hoping to catch my eye from the Back Benches, that there is a very long list of applicants and relatively little time for their work to be completed. I ask, therefore, for restraint in the length of speeches and perhaps on the number of interventions. The Chair will use its powers to vary the time limit if that will help to ensure maximum participation in the debate.
I beg to move,
That this House believes that it is vital that the UK demonstrates political leadership at all levels in response to the climate crisis, and that this is particularly important ahead of the United Nations Climate Change summit in Copenhagen if there is to be an international agreement which will avert the worst effects of catastrophic climate change; further believes that immediate practical responses to the crisis should include a massive expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency and a commitment for all homes in Britain to be warm homes within 10 years; acknowledges that action taken now to tackle the climate crisis will cost less than action taken in the future; notes the declared support of Labour and Conservative frontbenchers to the objective of the 10:10 campaign which calls for 10 per cent. greenhouse gas emission reductions by the end of 2010; agrees that the House will sign up to the 10:10 campaign; calls on Her Majesty’s Government and all public sector bodies now to make it their policy to achieve a 10 per cent. reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2010; and further calls on the Government to bring a delivery plan before this House by the end of 2009 on how these objectives will be achieved.
We live in an age of crises, and in recent months the economic crisis has most dominated the commentary around the world, the concerns of the public and debates here. However, the global ecological and environmental crisis poses the greater challenge. In some ways happily, although very belatedly, it is now rising to the top of the domestic and international agendas. To put it in context, a UN report this year stated that 300,000 deaths a year are attributable to climate change, that 325 million people are seriously affected at a cost to the global economy of $125 billion a year, and that 4 billion people are vulnerable to climate impacts.
Not yet. I am trying to respect the Deputy Speaker’s exhortation.
Action on climate change clearly cannot wait any longer, which is why, all over the world, individuals, communities and Governments who have understood the message are taking action. Last week, I was in west Africa. People in Nigeria realise that the wasting of oil and flaring of gas cannot continue; people in Ghana are changing the way they grow their cocoa crops, so that they do not chop down trees as part of the farming process; and people in Sierra Leone understand that deforestation around Freetown cannot continue. More and more people are getting the message. Many people will have seen the film the other day of the extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet of the Government of Maldives to emphasise the threat to that low-lying country, and millions of citizens of more populous countries such as Bangladesh will be at risk if we do not change direction.
Governments all over the world are now working hard—I commend them on that—to get a tough, fair and effective new international deal in a few weeks in Copenhagen, because, in spite of the warnings, for too long there has not been enough action. To put it bluntly, there has been too little action so far, and it has come too late. Many people are saying that the next five years—the lifetime of the next Parliament—is the period in which we will either avert the climate crisis or not.
Today’s debate, chosen by my colleagues and me, aims to put the climate crisis centre stage in Parliament and to turn our minds not just to the targets of 2020 or 2050, but to what can be done now.
I will give way to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) first, if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me.
Our motion sets out three major areas of political change that we believe are needed in Britain as a whole, as well as some specific things for us to do now. The three major areas are a massive expansion of renewable energy, a wholehearted commitment to energy efficiency and a commitment for all homes in Britain to be warm homes within the next 10 years.
May I gently suggest to the hon. Gentleman and the House as a whole that a debate on the UK’s political response to climate change on the Liberal Democrat motion—the Government amendment is hardly better—is monstrous, because the motion says nothing about adapting to climate change? As he has said, people are already dying from climate change. We need to take adaptation just as seriously as the mitigation of emissions.
I accept that. At our conference last month, we made it clear that the international agreement of the developed world to put money into the kitty to deal with adaptation and mitigation—the Prime Minister understands the agenda item— is just as important. The reason our motion is more focused is that there is a campaign in this country and around the world for action now and next year. We are trying to get the Government and Parliament to make decisions about this country. We are also continuing to exhort our Government to make the right decisions at Copenhagen.
However, the motion adds to the three general propositions that I have set out for the next decade and calls on the Government and Parliament to sign up to the 10:10 campaign—if we pass the motion this evening, that is what we will do—and commit this country and this Parliament to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent. by the end of 2010. At the end of this debate, I shall ask colleagues from all parties to support the motion and reject the amendment. If we make the right decision today, we can bring great credibility to Parliament, we can do the right thing for the people whom we represent and, just as we did a few months ago when we decided to give proper recognition to the commitment and service of the Gurkhas, we can show that Parliament, not just the Government, can determine what the nation does.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. In welcoming this opportunity to reaffirm our support for the 10:10 campaign, may I ask the hon. Gentleman why, in focusing his motion, he left out the groundbreaking Climate Change Act 2008, the importance of carbon budgeting and the contribution of local authorities? Surely all are vital to success in combating climate change.
If the right hon. Gentleman had seen the preparation for my speech, he would know that I will applaud the Government for the 2008 Act, as well as the work done in both Houses and by all parties to ensure that the 2008 Act was stronger than originally proposed. He would also know that I am clear that it is a good thing that Departments now have carbon budgets and that the role of local authorities is important.
All those things are important, but the 10:10 campaign is not about those things. The 10:10 campaign is about asking individuals, organisations, companies, councils, the Government and Parliament to make a specific commitment to reduce our emissions by 10 per cent. between now and the end of next year—that is, 10 per cent. by the end of 2010. The campaign builds on the work that we have done, but it is because people believe that the long-term planning is not sufficient that we must now do those things that the right hon. Gentleman and I, as well as many others, no doubt already do in our personal lives and our communities.
I will take one more intervention in a second and then I will press on.
We have worded the motion in the way that we have because we are talking not about a “tomorrow” problem, but about a “today” problem. Parliament has the authority to make decisions today that can change things from today in the days and months immediately ahead.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Like many in the House, I have personally signed up to the 10:10 campaign, but it is not clear from what he has said so far whether he is calling on Departments or the UK as a whole to cut emissions by 10 per cent. by the end of 2010. Indeed, can he give an indication of the pathway for achieving a 10 per cent. reduction in the country as a whole by 2010?
I can deal with both those questions, and the answer is yes. I am calling on the Government as a whole to sign up, which would involve all Departments and agencies of Government. The Department for Energy and Climate Change—the Minister’s Department—has already signed up, and public sector organisations, such as the national health service, have also done so. The pathway is set out in the motion, which calls on the Government to come back with a programme for how this can be delivered by the end of this year. The Government would be committed to doing that, if the motion were passed. In that way, everyone would know how the Government believe that they can implement the plan. Bodies such as the Environment Agency and Natural England have made it clear that they can achieve more than a 10 per cent. reduction by the end of next year. This is not impossibilist politics; it is politics for now that would commit not only this Government but whoever is in government after the election to deliver in the months ahead.
Is my hon. Friend saying that the strength of the motion and the narrative that he is putting forward is that they seek to involve not only corporations but individuals, and that, as the Centre for Alternative Technology has pointed out, we can achieve this only by working together to create attitudinal and practical change in the way that we, as individuals, live? If we can do that, we can achieve this target. If we do not, we have no hope whatever of doing so.
That is absolutely correct. I had the privilege of being at the launch of the 10:10 campaign outside the old power station in my constituency that is now Tate Modern. This is a campaign in which ordinary people are saying that they want to do things in their communities. They are also now saying that they want Parliament and the Government to lead and to do the same. I would hazard a guess that, in the constituencies of all my friends—and, indeed, of every colleague in the House—there will be many individuals and organisations that will want us to be bold today, not timid, and to sign up to a campaign that many individuals have signed up to in recent weeks.
We want to be bold in Stoke-on-Trent. We want to sign up to the 10:10 campaign, and it is vital that we work together right the way across Parliament and down to the people at grass-roots level. That is taken as read. May I point out to the hon. Gentleman, however, that it would have been helpful if his motion had mentioned the report that was delivered only last week to Parliament from the Committee on Climate Change, entitled “Meeting carbon budgets—the need for a step change”? It is vital that everything that is done on the 10:10 campaign should be done within the framework of the CCC.
Of course I accept what the hon. Lady says. She has a very good track record. I was present at the announcement of the report to Parliament, and I think that Ministers have already given an undertaking that it will be debated—it is bound to be debated. May I just point out to colleagues, however, that this motion is not meant to encompass every single thing that anyone could ever do, or everything that we should have done? It is designed to focus our attention on the demand that is being made of us to sign up now to a campaign that is gathering support daily around the country. If Parliament and the Government do not sign up to it, it will send a terrible message to other people. We will seem to be saying, “You do the job, but we’re not willing to follow.”
The hon. Gentleman has rightly said that we need to be bold, not timid. Is not this therefore the time for the Liberal Democrats to show leadership and to accept the need for new nuclear power if we are to meet our green needs and our energy needs?
I could be distracted down that road, and I am very happy to have that debate. There is perfectly reasonable debate involving the argument that nuclear power should play a part in our energy mix, but I believe that it is flawed in a huge number of respects. For example, it is too expensive, it will be late and it is too risky. There are all sorts of reasons why it is not a good option, but the really important thing is that we can meet our energy needs without nuclear power. It is not necessary. The Government and the Conservatives, who are allied in their love of the nuclear industry, are wrong about that. My colleagues and I have held to that view over the years.
This country has a particular responsibility in this regard, for three reasons. We have an historic responsibility because we were the country of the industrial revolution and we have contributed hugely to the amount of emissions on the planet. We also have a responsibility because we are a member of the European Union, which has many industrialised countries, and because we are a member of the Commonwealth, which stretches around the world. We must therefore achieve a really strong deal at Copenhagen; a weak deal will not be worth having. I applaud the Prime Minister and his colleagues for the fact that they are working hard to get a good deal at Copenhagen. We boast that we are a world leader, but we have to show that our deeds match our words.
Here, sadly, we have not delivered the goods. We have had a Government target in every manifesto since 1997: one was a 20 per cent. reduction in emissions by 2010, for example, but we are barely halfway there. Emissions reductions through the recession do not count; we simply have not delivered. Another Government target was to have 10 per cent. of our electricity through renewables by 2010. We have the best potential source of renewables anywhere. I attended the British Wind Energy Association conference in Liverpool this morning, and I know that the number of people expressing an interest in renewable energy has gone up nearly 50 per cent. since last year alone. Yet where are we? Not at the top of the league table for renewables in Europe, like Sweden, but at the bottom with countries such as Luxembourg. The Minister told me earlier this year that only 1 per cent. of our homes are energy-efficient—we are the cold man of Europe. The Government now support the expansion of Heathrow—blind to the evidence of the need to reduce aviation emissions and still willing to have dirty coal produced in the future. Commitments to the environment have been broken again and again; sadly, we have not delivered.
In condemning the third runway and expansion at Heathrow, my hon. Friend anticipated my point, but does he agree that it is imperative that we hear from the Conservatives some condemnation of the “Boris island” estuary airport, which would be a climate change and environmental disaster on an even worse scale?
I say to my hon. Friend, who has led our work on this issue, that it always seemed to me entirely inconsistent for Conservative Members to say on the one hand that they are against expanding Heathrow while saying on the other hand that they are quite happy to have lots more activities in airports elsewhere in the south-east of England. [Interruption.] That is not our policy—absolutely not. If Ministers, civil servants, fellow MPs, local government officers, councillors and all the people in public office used trains rather than planes in this country when they could do—and they set an example, which it is perfectly possible to do in mainland Britain—we would not need the sort of expansion that the Government are now supporting.
We have been committed environmentalists since our Liberal Democrat party was formed in 1988, and many of us were committed even before that. Indeed, I remember flagging up the urgency of climate change in a debate with Mrs. Virginia Bottomley, who was the Minister with responsibility for the matter, in 1988. We argue that the policies must always follow the science. We argue that to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions—this is what the intergovernmental panel on climate change has said—global emissions must peak and decline no later than 2015. We are clear—this was also the point made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris)—that if we are going to have a sane world, the developed countries will have to give to the developing countries something in the order of £160 billion a year for adaptation and transition. We must continue to reduce our emissions rigorously over the next 10 years and then beyond. We will probably also have to phase out all fossil fuel by 2050.
All that has a fantastic cost-benefit, which is an issue that many people do not understand. Emission cuts are cost saving. The argument that money spent now will be money saved later is becoming increasingly influential. The environmental argument is thus also an economic argument, and in straitened times it seems to me to be a very persuasive argument indeed.
Does my hon. Friend share my frustration that the Government have not sufficiently linked those very arguments about people struggling to pay fuel bills in the recession with the need to tackle climate change? It is particularly disappointing that the Government are moving the goalposts on their targets for fuel poverty and saying that the targets will be in place only as long as it is practicable, which makes a nonsense of them altogether.
My hon. Friend is right, which is why we have said that one of the most useful things that we can do is have a plan to make every home a warm home. There is a win all round—warmer homes, fewer people dying, lower fuel bills and the climate saved. It is absolutely a winner, and it must be made central to policy.
No. I really want to move to a conclusion now, as a huge number of colleagues want to contribute to the debate, which is as it should be. The Government spend £1.6 billion every year on energy. Lord Stern, probably the foremost climate economist in the world, has warned that if we do not take action, between 5 and 20 per cent. of global GDP will be lost due to the effects of climate change. To prevent that, we need to spend about 2 per cent. of global GDP. For every £2 spent now, we could save £5 to £20 in the future. The conclusions are obvious: we should take collective action together. What individuals and companies have done, Government and Parliament should now do too.
Many councils, of all parties and those with no overall control, have signed up to the campaign. Among Liberal Democrat-run councils, colleagues in Camden and Cambridge, Eastleigh and Islington, Richmond and Newcastle, and my borough of Southwark, have signed up. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mark Hunter) adds Stockport, and there may be others, including councils run by other parties. Sadly, at City hall in London the other day, the Tories walked out when the motion was put, not allowing the motion to be voted on.
Many organisations have signed up. The Prime Minister has said:
“I fully support the…campaign and its challenge for everyone to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent. in 2010.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has said:
“The Government welcomes the…campaign”.
Nearly 30 per cent. of Labour Members, nearly 20 per cent. of Conservative Members, and half of Liberal Democrat Members have signed up personally.
If we pass the motion, we can achieve things now. I shall end with a short shopping list: we can ensure that travel arrangements are energy-efficient; we can improve energy awareness and introduce energy efficiency measures throughout the Government estate, so that everyone understands the implications of what they do; and we can reduce heating. As advised by the Sustainable Development Commission among others, if we use renewables to power Government stock, we can save 1.8 billion tonnes of CO2 each year. In this place, we can turn off annunciators, televisions, lights and computers when they are not needed, and people can use the stairs rather than the lifts. We could have tap water rather than bottled war; we could do a phenomenal amount.
In the past year, we have all probably made a little contribution. My orange taxi has stayed in its drive entirely, unmoved—I have cycled or used public transport. If individuals are willing to do that, I hope that Government will now do it, too. At the end of this debate, I hope that colleagues will send this message: low carbon is job creating, action now is cheaper than action later, and we can grasp the low-hanging fruit.
For the Liberal Democrats, “It’s not possible,” is not an answer. I remind Ministers of what the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said to his party conference:
“It is the idealists and optimists that make change happen.”
We are idealists and optimists, but we are also political realists. There is no bigger crisis than climate change, and I hope the House and the Government will sign up to action this year—not next year, some time or never.
I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from “House” to the end of the Question and add:
“welcomes the 10:10 campaign as a motivator of public action to cut carbon dioxide emissions through individual and collective behaviour change; recognises the value of such campaigns to build public support for action by governments to agree an ambitious, effective and fair deal at Copenhagen; further recognises the significant effort made by individuals and organisations to cut their emissions through the 10:10 campaign; supports the Climate Change Act introduced by this Government, the first such legislation in the world, and the system of carbon budgets that enables Britain to set itself on a low carbon pathway; notes that carbon budgets ensure active policies by Whitehall departments and the public sector that deliver long-term sustained emissions reductions not just in 2010 but through to 2022 and beyond; further supports the efforts of local councils to move towards local carbon budgets by signing up to the 10:10 campaign; further welcomes the allocation of up to £20 million for central Government departments to enable them to reduce further and faster carbon dioxide emissions from their operations, estate and transport; and further welcomes the cross-cutting Public Value Programme review of the low carbon potential of the public sector, which will focus on how the sector can achieve transformational financial savings through value-for-money carbon reductions.”
In the past few months, I have met Environment Ministers, Finance Ministers and negotiators from about 40 different countries. Everywhere I go, people acknowledge and praise the UK’s global leadership on climate change. So let no one be in any doubt: this Government are making a huge and concerted effort to bring about success in Copenhagen. I am grateful to the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for acknowledging that.
Our embassies around the world are engaged in outreach on the issue. Our experts are helping in many countries. Our officials are at every negotiating table. The Prime Minister and Cabinet colleagues are actively contributing to the process, and the Prime Minister has indicated that if it is necessary to secure agreement, he will go in person to achieve it. We have actively pursued ambition within the EU, arguing for a 30 per cent. conditional offer when others thought the recession an excuse for lowering targets. We have held fast to the science, arguing that any deal must put the world on track to keep global average temperature rises within 2° C. We have intervened with proposals to unblock the inevitable logjams that occur in a process that takes two years.
Britain has indeed taken a leading role in international negotiations, and I know that our embassies are involved in that, but may I put it to the Minister that our performance at home is woeful in comparison with our efforts on the international stage? How is it possible for us to show any form of global leadership given our own record on energy efficiency and our failure to implement carbon capture and storage? There are so many low-hanging fruit in which I know the Minister has been personally interested in past years. Why have the Government failed to deliver at home while talking so loudly abroad?
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is referring to Tory councils. I will come to the Government’s record, which I assure him stands up very well when we are abroad.
Let me explain what we are aiming for at Copenhagen. We want a deal that is ambitious, effective and fair. We need action by all countries, and if we are to help developing countries move from the high-carbon path to low-carbon and climate-resilient growth, we shall need action in a number of areas including finance, technology, deforestation, adaptation and institutional reform. On 26 June this year, the Prime Minister set out the United Kingdom’s position on global climate finance: the aim is to raise around $100 billion each year by 2020. The Prime Minister was the first world leader to do so, and it has paid dividends.
The Minister has failed to answer the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart). While dealing with the issue of energy efficiency, will she tell us what is the energy efficiency rating of her Department’s headquarters?
I am happy to answer the hon. Gentleman’s specific question. I shall deal with the general issues that he raised later in my speech. The rating of our Department—we inherited the listed building—is the lowest possible, but we are taking considerable measures to change that. I assure the hon. Gentleman that our expectation is that the next time we are given an energy efficiency rating, it will not be G.
Let me tell the House about the finance initiative, which is an essential part of the Copenhagen discussions. As I have said, it has paid dividends. Climate finance is now being properly discussed in the new negotiations forums such as the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate—for instance, in London earlier this week—and the G8 and the G20, and they are using the broad framework that the Prime Minister set out in his speech.
We are continuing to push for ambition within the European Union so that we can take a strong position at Copenhagen. We have taken a leading role in the way in which we identify sources of finance needed to support a deal and the institutional architecture needed to deliver it, thinking creatively about how we can best facilitate the rapid deployment and development of low-carbon technology, and leading work to agree on a new international framework to tackle deforestation. We are also continuing to push our objectives with other Governments, with the Secretary of State visiting China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa and the United States in pursuit of a deal.
Does the Minister accept that not all sustainable technologies are equal? Does she agree that when we come to subsidise and support various forms of technology, we need to be discriminating if we are to maximise our impact? In particular, will she look again at onshore wind, which is causing a lot of grief to many of our constituents? Offshore wind, which has far more of a proven track record, is more likely to make a real contribution to our commitments.
I have no problem with what the Government are doing. It is focused and it is delivering, and the 10:10 campaign is excellent. However, will my hon. Friend acknowledge that one of the major contributors to carbon dioxide emission is the growth of animal feed? Will she also acknowledge that using the renewable transport fuel obligation methodology generates a carbon saving of 70 per cent. in comparison with use of fossil fuel? That rises to more than 100 per cent.—
Order. I did say to the House that a lot of interventions would do terrible damage to the number of people who could be called in the debate. Interventions must be very short. I honestly think that the Minister has got the point that her hon. Friend has been trying to make.
I am grateful for what the Government have done, but I am bitterly disappointed, although unsurprised, that their amendment says nothing about adaptation. Can my hon. Friend explain why until the recent world recession CO2 emissions per capita in the United Kingdom had increased during this century?
I will go on to explain that our emissions have reduced in terms of the economy as a whole. That is what is critical in these talks. My hon. Friend knows very well both about my commitment to adaptation in this country and overseas and the fact that the Government have got a framework for adapting to climate change for this country, which is very comprehensive and on which work is continuously done.
I will not give way now, as I wish to make some progress.
When we go abroad and urge other nations to be more ambitious and to do more, we do so in confidence because we know this country has already stepped up to the mark. The UK commitment to unilateral cuts of 34 per cent. in our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and raising the target in the event of an agreement at Copenhagen meets the level of ambition required of developed countries by the United Nations framework convention on climate change. I remind the House that our Climate Change Act 2008 has made us the first country in the world to introduce legally binding targets to limit our greenhouse gas emissions and we are the only country to have a whole economy subject to carbon constraints through carbon budgets. In producing those budgets, we have taken the advice of the independent Committee on Climate Change.
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way, and may I add to the praise that has already been heaped on her for her personal contribution in this field? However, many of us are surprised that she has allowed her name to appear on this amendment, in view of what she has just said. Can she explain why the amendment praises everybody else for signing up to the 10:10 campaign, and yet it refuses to allow this House to join in with it?
If the hon. Gentleman is a little patient, I shall come to that.
No country has done more. I remind the House again that we will meet our Kyoto commitment by almost twice the amount required. Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions in the UK have reduced by 18 per cent., or 21 per cent. if we add in the reductions made through the European Union emissions trading scheme, but we are in no way complacent. We know that action is required at all levels, which is why we applaud the efforts of the 10:10 campaign and encourage greater ambition and getting ordinary people involved. We also agree with 10:10 that the public sector must lead, and have put in place a raft of mechanisms to make that happen. The Liberal Democrat motion calls for all the public sector to reduce its emissions by 10 per cent. in 2010 and for the Government to produce a delivery plan by the end of this year. I regret to say that that is typical Liberal Democrat posturing. Only a party that never expects to be in government could propose a motion for a totally uncosted, unthought-through programme for a single year cut, as opposed to the sustained actions already under way to meet our carbon budgets—carbon budgets that are designed to deliver three times as much, and that were proposed by us in Committee on 18 May and agreed by the Liberal Democrats.
I have never been slow to support the Government when they have done the right things, but surely the Minister must accept that on every single count the Government fail in these areas. Let me give her just one example. The building schools programme has no rules that enforce green building. Indeed, local councils have to choose between building either a school that is big enough or green enough. How on earth does she defend the policy?
I slightly regret the tone of the statements that the Minister has just made, because she is casting doubt on the Government’s ability to sign up to the 10:10 campaign. Given that her Department, the Department for International Development and some British embassies have signed up to it, precisely what excuses are being given to her by other Departments for not doing so?
I intend to explain things, and I just ask all hon. Members to be patient until I get through the next points that I wish to make.
I have referred to the carbon budgets. I suggest also that perhaps the Liberal Democrats are not really aware that the public sector reduced its emissions by one third between 1990 and 2007. Within government we take our responsibilities seriously and we are taking steps to put in place a strong internal mechanism to manage carbon budgets across Whitehall. In the transition plan to a low-carbon economy, we announced individual carbon budgets for all major Departments, representing their share of responsibility. All Departments will publish a carbon-reduction delivery plan by next April, which will include the indicators and milestones to monitor progress. All Departments will be committed to a long-term reduction in carbon emissions—that is a reduction not just in 2009 or in 2010, but through to 2022 and beyond. The Government are already on track to meet and exceed their carbon emissions target—I ask hon. Members to listen to this—of 12.5 per cent. reductions across their estate by 2010-11. We have already put that in place and we are already on track.
I thank the Minister for giving way to me at last; it just shows that it pays to persevere. I praise the work that she has personally done on tackling climate change, but does she not recognise that it is strange to praise the 10:10 campaign while refusing in the amendment to sign up Departments and, indeed, this House, to it? This House is not covered by the Government numbers that she just mentioned and it should have the opportunity to sign up to the 10:10 campaign. Today’s Liberal Democrat motion is a way of doing that.
Regrettably, the hon. Lady has not been listening to what I have said. I have been making it very clear what is already under way and why signing up to the 10:10 campaign does not make sense—[Hon. Members: “This House.”] This House can choose to do what this House wants to do, but the Government are clearly not committing the public sector as a whole—this is what the motion seeks—to the 10:10 campaign.
The Government are giving direct assistance through providing £54.5 million in this financial year for a public sector loans scheme, which is administered by Salix Finance. That provides interest-free loans for energy efficiency technologies that provide payback in less than five years, with ongoing savings then staying in the public sector. The Carbon Trust provides detailed support for the public sector, running a carbon management programme that enables many public sector bodies to identify savings of 25 per cent. over a five-year period. I am pleased to announce today that we are allocating £20 million to cut CO2 emissions from both the Government estate and its transport. Some of the money will go on energy efficiency, on smart meters and on low-carbon cars, and some will go on mapping the possibilities of renewable energy on public land—that will be led by the Forestry Commission.
All that effort, and much more, is the result of years of planning and experience. Consequently, I must say to the hon. Lady that it would make no sense to require the whole public sector to commit to a one-off emissions reduction when it is already demonstrating commitment in the short, medium and long-term. For some in the public sector a 10 per cent. reduction might be possible in a single year, and I congratulate those councils that have signed up to the campaign. I am pleased to say that the Department of Energy and Climate Change is ahead of 10:10. It has signed up to, and is on course to meet, a 10 per cent. cut in energy use in our building within this financial year.
For individuals, I understand that the 10:10 campaign is aspirational, designed to give people a target to aim for voluntarily. As such, it is warmly welcomed by Government and it is consistent with our approach to the Act on CO2 campaign. Like 10:10, we seek to encourage and help people to change their behaviour. With 42 per cent. of emissions down to our personal lifestyles, we can do much to match efforts in Government, business and industry. Since we launched our carbon calculator two years ago, more than 1.6 million people have visited the site. I welcome the involvement of 10:10 and we are keen to help them with our own resources. To demonstrate our support, not only DECC Ministers but the whole Cabinet have signed up to make a personal contribution.
Let me return to the bigger picture.
Does the Minister not accept that it sounds to everybody else who is being encouraged to sign up to the campaign as if the Government are inconsistent and not fully committed? If one or two Departments are signed up and so are bodies such as the NHS, but the Government cannot take collective responsibility, how can the Government—and Ministers—turn to the captains of industry, the leaders of the trade unions and local authorities and say with authority, “We want you to do it but we just cannot do it ourselves”?
It is. The carbon budgets are the result of years of effort. If a Department—or the whole public sector—were to try to put in place a 10 per cent. cut within a single year, I can assure him that projects would be absolutely useless. They would not come to fruition and that there would be chaos in planning. What would be the cost? If the Conservative party intends to support the Lib Dem motion, I hope that its spokesman will tell us what the cost would be of putting the whole public sector through that process in a single year instead of over the period of the carbon budgets to which he also signed up.
I need to reach some further points and to explain—[Interruption.] I have not rubbished 10:10. It is a very worthwhile campaign, but 10:10 has not approached us with this proposition for the whole public sector.
All sectors of the economy will have to contribute to the decarbonisation process required by the carbon budgets. We will need to change the way we do everything to cut down the amount of energy and other resources that we use. For example, by 2020 about 40 per cent. of our electricity will come from low-carbon sources—renewables, nuclear and clean coal—whereas 7 million homes will have had the opportunity to undertake whole house changes and more than 1.5 million households will be supported in the production of their own clean energy. The average new car will emit 40 per cent. less carbon than now.
We need to transform our electricity system so that our electricity comes from clean sources. We have done an enormous amount to make that possible in recent times. We plan to achieve an almost sevenfold increase in the use of renewable energy in just 11 years. To achieve that, we are expanding and extending the renewables obligation and introducing a new feed-in tariff to support micro and small-scale renewable energy projects. The inclusion of nuclear power in our generation mix can also contribute and we are therefore taking steps to ensure that unnecessary barriers to its deployment are removed. It will be for energy companies to fund, develop and build nuclear power stations, and that will include meeting the full costs of decommissioning and accepting their full share of waste management and disposal. Clean coal is another plank of our future low-carbon energy plans and, again, we are putting significant financial support into carbon capture and storage.
At the household level, we have already helped millions of families to save money, energy and carbon through our flagship scheme, the carbon emissions reductions target. Since 2002, the energy suppliers have spent billions of pounds on helping more than 5 million British householders deal with their energy efficiency needs. We expect that figure to exceed 9 million in 2011. That is proper, responsible planning and achievement.
We have also introduced a new community energy saving programme, and around £350 million will be spent on energy efficiency measures in some of the most deprived communities in the UK. Next year, we begin the roll-out of smart meters to every household in the country.
Beyond 2012, we know that there will be a need to go further. That is why we will have to introduce measures such as side wall insulation, microgeneration and new heating technologies. Such measures come at a high price, which is why we are piloting a new finance approach through the Pay As You Save pilots, which will help people take out loans that they can pay back from their energy bill savings.
I want to touch on transport for a second, as it is currently the second-largest contributor of carbon emissions in the UK. Our transition plan makes it clear that ultra-low emissions vehicles, including electric vehicles, will contribute to greater efficiency in carbon savings in the future. The Government have pledged £230 million for consumer incentive packages from 2011 to promote the early adoption of ultra-low carbon vehicles, and an additional £30 million for the installation of electric vehicle infrastructure.
Combined, these measures add up to the most ambitious transformation of the economy ever put forward by a British Government, and I defy either Opposition party to quarrel with that. Through a mixture of incentives, regulation and public spending, we are confident that we can move this country to a low-carbon path.
As we embrace a greener future, however, we also accept our historic responsibilities for our part in causing climate change. That is why we will continue to do our utmost to achieve agreement at Copenhagen. This is the most important negotiation that the world has ever known. Nothing should deflect us from that task, and no political posturing should be deployed to diminish public support for our ambition.
I begin by congratulating the Liberals on calling this Opposition day debate. It is not a catch-all debate on climate change, and because we are relatively short of time, I shall try to keep my remarks brief. The agenda is huge and we will not have time to cover all of it, so I shall focus on the 10:10 campaign.
It is rapidly becoming clear that it is nearly impossible to overstate the challenges posed by meeting and finding solutions to the problems of dangerous man-made climate change. Any opportunity for this Chamber to discuss that, and its profound effects, should be warmly welcomed.
Over the summer recess, we learned that Arctic summer ice will have disappeared completely, not by 2050 as we had previously thought, but possibly as soon as within 20 years. We can all agree that there is now widespread agreement about the nature and scale of the threat posed by climate change. Before I move on, I shall give the House one more fact: it is estimated that if the Himalayan glaciers were to melt, three-quarters of a billion people would be without sufficient water. We cannot pretend that that would not have serious consequences for all of us in terms of global conflict, mass movements of people and our national security.
There often seems to be a healthy consensus in UK politics on climate change, even if we do not talk enough about adaptation. Over the past few years we in the UK are fortunate enough to have enjoyed a good consensus, by and large, about the challenges and threats posed. We worked constructively with the Government across party on the Climate Change Act 2008. It is to the Government’s credit that that is on the statute book, and we look forward to strengthening and improving any new legislation on climate that is included in this autumn’s Queen’s Speech.
However, a broad consensus over the direction of travel and the nature of the challenge should not be mistaken for a sense of job done in respect of Britain’s political and economic response. A commitment to a framework of reductions is only a small first step. As the Government have demonstrated by their failure to meet their manifesto pledges to reduce emissions targets, frameworks and targets on their own are not enough unless there is a plan for delivery behind them. What we have learned from the Minister today is that for Labour, energy efficiency is a fourth-term issue.
On Government targets, it was the Minister who said that every new job should be a green job. That was in March this year. That same month, the Prime Minister promised 400,000 new green jobs, but at the Labour party conference that figure fell to 250,000. Is there any reason why the Government should have axed 150,000 jobs?
The hon. Gentleman spoke of the necessity for frameworks, which he has supported. I welcome that, but does he agree that having established the framework, having got the Climate Change Committee to make its recommendations, and having drawn up for Government a programme to enact those recommendations, it does not make sense to do something else and ask the Government to sign up to 10:10, which will conflict with the programmatic framework that the hon. Gentleman welcomed?
The most important thing about the 10:10 campaign is that it instils a sense of urgency into the agenda which is singularly lacking in the Government. They seem to take comfort from frameworks, regulation, long-term targets and the never-never land of 2020—when they will be long gone—believing that that justifies their inaction now. We must focus on what can be done.
Was not one of the most telling remarks made by the Minister in her contribution, when criticising the motion, that signing up to the 10:10 deal would cost a huge amount of money? She implied criticism of our Front-Bench team for not having costed that. This is not about cost. Does my hon. Friend agree that we are talking about saving energy, saving CO2 and saving money, not spending it?
Indeed. Labour just doesn’t get it. The Government still have an old-fashioned backward-looking 20th century approach. They think that the environment costs, and must be paid for, whereas people in the 21st century understand that progressive and globally competitive economies must be energy-efficient. That is not an optional add-on. Whether energy efficiency is financed in the public sector, in the private sector or by consumers, more and more energy-efficient models are self-financing. The Minister should be aware that despite the credit crunch, there is a great deal of innovative financing out there now which is coming to the fore and which demonstrates that it does not need a big up-front spend from the taxpayer. We need to show political leadership that puts that on the agenda. To retreat into carbon budgets as though they were some universal panacea is claptrap. What we need is real progress now.
The hon. Gentleman is making a powerful point. Is not Labour looking for excuses not to support the motion? If the Government had so much in place there would be no difficulty in delivering a 10 per cent. reduction next year, because the mechanisms would already be there. Why will the Government not allow the House to decide that it wants to sign up to that? If anybody wants to vote for that—
I thoroughly agree with the right hon. Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce). The trouble with this Government is that they are stuck in a rut. Their default mechanism is, “Don’t support an Opposition motion.” It just goes against the tribal instinct. However, I am sure that the Minister’s common sense argues in the other direction, and that she did her bit to try to support the motion, but unfortunately was not successful.
I would not have argued in any way for the motion. The situation is very clear to us: we have a programme that was laid out in detail in the transition plan this summer and covers the next decade. It includes the spending that we need to achieve and the policies that we have to put in place. We are talking about spending billions of pounds to achieve those policies, so it would be nonsense to try to turn that around for a gesture—for a single year—when we have a programme that runs to 2020.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Of course, not only will the 2010 target on emissions be missed, but the child poverty target will be missed, too. Again and again, Government Members sit on their Benches in righteous indignation because they have “laid out a plan”. It is not the plan we want, it is delivery—and it is delivery that we have never received.
Order. The hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) seems to be whipping up interventions, but I say to the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart), who just intervened, that there is a saying, “Never do anything twice,” and three times is getting a little excessive in this debate.
The 10:10 campaign has enormous strength, and is not its beauty due to the fact that it is a genuinely bottom-up campaign about changing the behaviour of individuals and organisations, and getting mass buy-in? Will the hon. Gentleman therefore say why he has not instructed all Conservative councils to sign up to it, or ensured that all Conservative-led local authorities and partner delivery organisations actively support it?
Would the hon. Gentleman mind if I finished my response to the previous intervention first?
We certainly do not anticipate a new layer of bureaucracy. The 10:10 campaign is a public campaign that will not give rise to new regulation or bureaucracy. However, we exhort the whole public sector to participate in it.
I shall try to make some progress now, but I shall try to take Members’ interventions a little later.
How would I sum up the situation? There is a huge gap between ambition, practical vision and delivery on the ground, and there is a woeful mismatch between the debate in the UK about the political response to climate change so far and what has happened in the past. The bottom line is that the Conservatives have had enough of well-meaning but unambitious small-scale tinkering with the energy markets; we have had enough of complicated overlapping initiatives and regulation that would leave would-be entrepreneurs and investors in our green economy scratching their heads; we have had enough of sham green taxation that raised money for the Treasury without any clear green outcome—and we have had enough of a Government who could not make up their mind on coal or carbon capture and storage, had to be forced into feed-in tariffs and have no real strategy on heat and energy efficiency.
Our low-carbon economy paper brings together all those elements in a coherent and ambitious strategy. It is a route to a transformation of the UK. It is not a wish list of targets and frameworks with no delivery; it is a plan for action which will be at the heart of the next Conservative manifesto.
The motion requires
“all public sector bodies…to make it their policy to achieve a 10 per cent. reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”
by next year. Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House how many Tory councils have already signed up to the climate change indicator in the comprehensive performance assessment, and how many Tory councils have mechanisms in place even to measure their emissions, let alone to cut them by 10 per cent. in one year?
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a figure off the top of my head, but I can tell him that Conservative councils are by far the most efficient in the country and will certainly be looking to save money. People have to understand that that is what the energy efficiency debate is about. It is not about the environment or about saving money, but about both—it is two sides of the same coin.
I have absolutely no doubt that the more Conservative councils come to understand the benefits of ambitious energy efficiency, the more they will be adopting such a strategy. There are certainly a lot more councils still to sign up. The 10:10 campaign was not launched in one go—it has been a viral campaign, and it is steadily growing. It started primarily with Liberal councils, but it is spreading, and I hope that more Conservative councils will take part. Where there are doubts about their ability to meet the targets, I will join in trying to persuade, educate and encourage them about how much of a money-saving strategy this could be. That includes my own local councils. Across the board, there are people who need to understand how beneficial this could be, as well as being the right thing to do.
Many people will be encouraged by what the hon. Gentleman has said. As his party is supporting the motion, will he encourage his colleagues around the country to support this initiative, wherever it comes from, particularly in places such as the Isle of Wight, which sadly, under Tory control, has acted as a barrier to wind turbines, indirectly resulting in Vestas closing down its plant and not producing them any more?
I think that Vestas closing down plant in the UK has less to do with the micro-politics of the Isle of Wight and a lot more to do with a total absence of leadership at national level after 10 years of a Labour Government.
If we are to show global leadership, it will be through our actions and their results, not through international grandstanding. That message was reinforced this morning when I met the high-level delegation from China who are en route to this weekend’s GLOBE International meeting at Copenhagen. They made it absolutely plain that they, pragmatically, set far more store by short-term actions than long-term targets. The two are not mutually exclusive, but one can certainly see their point. We must deliver emissions reductions at home to have any sort of global authority.
In the run-up to Copenhagen, it is becoming clear just how much the Government’s failure significantly to reduce emissions over the past 11 years is costing our credibility. As the Minister admitted, the DECC has the lowest possible rating for a Government Department, but unfortunately one would think from her comments that that was an aberration—that along the rest of Whitehall there were great beacons of energy efficiency and this was just one little period building. In fact, according to the Sustainable Development Commission, of the central Government and non-governmental public body estate, approximately 85 per cent. of buildings that even displayed an energy certificate were rated D or below and 59 per cent. were rated E or below. That is absolutely shocking. There can be no special excuses. Are we to expect the DECC to go round and occupy every single Ministry over the next 10 years as the only way to achieve delivery?
The whole Government estate has an energy bill of approximately £4 billion a year, so a huge amount of taxpayers’ money is unnecessarily wasted on electricity and energy bills. Yet we have had to wait until the fag end of a third-term Labour Government before they have begun to get even vaguely serious about energy efficiency. That is why Governments such as China’s are not taking this Government as seriously as they should. The failure is compounded by missed opportunities. Energy security, green jobs, the huge economic opportunity of leading in new technologies, and a higher quality of life: all those are on offer, but to galvanise the private sector into taking advantage of such opportunities we require clear Government leadership.
I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the fact that the House of Commons Commission, which is responsible for the carbon emissions from this building, considered this very matter at a meeting earlier this week. The minutes say:
“The Commission agreed that it could not sign up to the 10:10 campaign, but would explain that it planned to set meaningful and deliverable targets for 2010/11.”
Did the Conservative members of the Commission support its decision; if not, what did they say?
I am not going to get dragged into that, but it is unfortunate if the House has turned down an opportunity to join the campaign. I keep coming back to the fact that people want to see action, not yet more targets and budgets. They simply will not understand why things that can be done now are not being done, or why Ministers or their apologists are seeking some sort of safe refuge in future action at some unspecified date, or in further budgets and targets.
Does my hon. Friend agree that if firm, practical action along the lines of 10:10 were taken in this country, the effect would be to send out a message ahead of Copenhagen that this is not going to be yet another occasion that is all about warm words and signing up to something vague and meaningless, but that it will be an occasion when the world means business and something really has to change?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I apologise to the House for intervening, but I have something on my chest. Last week the Climate Change Committee’s first annual report to Parliament, containing many recommendations, was published. He does not have to wait until next year to respond to it. Will he say now whether a future Conservative Government will accept all its recommendations?
I certainly cannot do that, and I have to plead guilty: I have not read all the report. Even if I felt that I could accept all the recommendations, I fear that that would be way above my pay grade.
We must consider whether we have been left behind on wind and solar energy and why we lag miserably on energy efficiency. We need to act now to ensure that we grasp the clear opportunities provided by offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, wave and tidal power and a host of other technologies. How much more British innovation will go abroad? How many times will we see such situations as the Pelamis wave energy convertor going to Portugal before the Government wake up to the damage that a lack of strong political leadership is doing to us, and the extent to which it is setting back this agenda?
Having fixed our frameworks for emissions reductions in the Climate Change Act, we should focus entirely on delivering and executing our comprehensive and ambitious vision for a low-carbon Britain, all the way from local to international level. Of all the things that we need to do, energy efficiency is the lowest-hanging fruit; it is at the far end of the McKinsey curve. Industry and consumers are waking up to that fact, and we just need the Government to get on with the programme.
As I mentioned earlier, many councils are still perplexed by the mixed messages and lack of leadership from central Government. That is why the 10:10 campaign has a job to do. If everybody were signed up and doing the necessary things, there would be no need for that sort of motivational campaign. The fact that there is still resistance is the reason why we need such a campaign.
To give more local authorities, particularly smaller ones such as my own in Rother, the confidence that they will need to deliver on their targets, which are easy to sign up to but much harder to deliver, we need an ambitious roll-out of energy efficiency incentives, regulatory change and leadership from the centre to empower action in the community. Local authorities still encounter too many barriers to driving ahead as fast as they can. Better information on the latest technology and energy-saving best practice is needed, in an area that is changing all the time. There must be greater freedom to employ innovative financing schemes, particularly using energy service companies and new shared saving schemes that do not place the up-front costs of new technologies and retrofits on the taxpayer or on the overstretched budgets of local authorities.
Certainly, those concerns have been expressed to me locally, and I shall be addressing them at my local energy efficiency summit—[Interruption.] I hear someone on the Government Benches asking how much those things will cost. They just do not get it. They have clearly never heard of shared savings models or ESCOs—energy service companies—and they clearly do not understand the appetite in the private sector to be part of this revolution, or the changes that are happening out there in the world. The world out there is changing and the Government do not seem to have woken up to the potential or the opportunity.
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall try to bring my remarks to a close. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) makes a good and strong point. He is the champion of adaptation in the House, but I fear that, given the time constraints, this is not the debate in which to do that subject justice.
The 10:10 campaign is just that—a campaign. It is a way to motivate and inform not only local communities and individuals, but the Government. We need the Government to show that they are actually part of the same community as we all live in. It is no good the individual members of the Cabinet signing up around the Cabinet table to take action in their personal lives; we need them sitting at the Cabinet table taking action in their public lives. The ridiculous tokenism of saying, “Well, I’m doing something at home to change my gas boiler,” when they sit in charge of departmental budgets of, in some cases, billions of pounds, or a woefully inadequate estate, such as that of the Department of Energy and Climate Change or all the other Departments put together, is just not good enough.
We need Ministers to face up to their responsibilities and to realise that they do not have a monopoly on all the solutions or good ideas. They do not even have the confidence to embrace the new, interesting and exciting innovation out there. They really should join the rest of the world and support 10:10.
Order. I realise that I am fighting a losing battle on this occasion. There are a great many hon. Members, with great credentials on this subject, who want to speak. We will start with the pre-announced limit of eight minutes on Back-Bench speeches, but after 6 o’clock it will be reduced to four minutes.
I have listened to many of these debates and had the privilege of being involved in the Kyoto negotiations in 1997, when Britain played the leading part in concluding the Kyoto agreement. It is quite wrong for the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) to be talking as if we have no direction and no delivery. I think he knows as much about this Government’s delivery as he does about the recommendations of Committees of the House.
The motion before us may concentrate on 10:10, but I will be fair to the Liberal party and say that it makes no basic criticism of the leadership internationally. That is not the case made by the Conservatives, who clearly say that we did not live up to our obligations, that we did not deliver and that we did not show leadership.
May I instruct the hon. Gentleman a little bit on what the Government did to earn respect abroad? He is quite wrong to suggest that China is critical. I have met people globally, including the chief negotiator dealing with climate negotiations in Beijing last week. As my hon. Friend the Minister said, the Chinese admire the leadership that has been shown by this country. The facts are clear, and people in government have to show that.
We were the first country to achieve our Kyoto targets. We were one of only four countries that did so out of the 15 that negotiated at Kyoto, and we did so ahead of the Kyoto timetable. That is showing leadership.
Again, the hon. Gentleman shows his ignorance. Let me tell him this: presumably, there was some leadership to achieve the targets and bring things together. Only four countries in Europe actually achieved the Kyoto target, so we must have been all right on delivery. We were the first to want to talk about carbon trading, which Europe then took over from us. We were the first ones to bring in most of the changes well before anyone else was involved. To that extent, we can easily show leadership since Kyoto.
Globally, we have made advances under the leadership of this Government. When it comes to the argument for a statutory framework for carbon targets, tell me of any other country that has done that. If we look at other countries’ proposals, we see that are the most advanced. I have the advantage of being the rapporteur for the Council of Europe environment committee, together with my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale)—so I will go to Copenhagen—and I have had to look at what all the other countries have done. Without doubt, we have led on the major changes and delivered them.
The hon. Gentleman said that we should work with the private sector. Has he not heard of the climate change levy? How does he think that that came about? It was a major contribution to reducing carbon emissions, and it was done by the private sector voluntarily working with the Government to achieve the target. He just does not know what has happened since 1997, and that is why his judgments are so wrong today.
As the Prime Minister recognises, adaptation, mitigation and the other policies will require money. It is our Prime Minister who has put a figure on the amount needed, for the first time, and we will have to do a lot more to achieve it. No other country has done that and we have shown leadership, in the hope that we will achieve delivery internationally. We need global action and we have done well in leading that. We also need national policies, and we have shown leadership with the low-carbon road plan and the other issues that my hon. Friend the Minister has worked on. She has an excellent record and I congratulate her.
We also need action at a local level. I have campaigned in schools on the environment and specifically on 10:10, and I fully support it, but we have to balance that campaign against the Government’s proposals and what they will deliver over time. It is not long until 2020, and if we do not make the decisions by 2015 we will not achieve the reductions that we need, so we have set targets nationally.
The hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) is very vocal in my area in opposition to wind farms, incinerators and anything that will help to deal with climate change. He should talk to the planning people. Offshore we are on target, but onshore is more difficult. Some 75 per cent. of all planning applications for wind farms are turned down, mainly by Tory authorities, including in the east Yorkshire area that he represents. He campaigns on the basis that people want to keep their view, but that will not do anything to reduce carbon emissions or increase alternative energy provision.
By forcing policy on people—as the former Deputy Prime Minister liked to do in all his policy areas—instead of working with them, we end up with fewer wind farms. The right hon. Gentleman is always trying to overturn the local will of the people. That is what has caused the problem and that is why people reject his form of politics.
I do wish the hon. Gentleman would go and talk to his Tory council and see what is actually happening. I have 44 examples of wind farm applications all over the country that have been turned down. They were recommended by the planning officers, but they were rejected by Tory councillors. On appeal, 70 per cent. of those applications, which were rejected by the elected authorities, are imposed, because they are an essential part of our drive to reduce carbon emissions and increase alternative energy supply. Let us have a bit more sense and some more facts—[Interruption.]
Order. The hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart) must not ask a question and then keep chuntering from a sedentary position while the answer is being given.
The real issue is achieving agreement at Copenhagen—
No, because other hon. Members wish to speak.
I do not think that the European deal, which is based on emissions and which I call plan A, will work. There are 187 countries, not the 40-odd that were at Kyoto. We need consensus, and we need to recognise that 80 per cent. of the world lives in poverty. We are the 20 per cent. who poisoned the world. The emissions argument in the European deal would mean that less developed countries do not get the right to grow in the way that they should, and they know that. Instead of measuring our progress on emissions—whether 20 or 30 per cent.—we should start talking about gigatonnes. Let us measure that progress according to poisoning per head per year: in America it is 20 tonnes per head; in Europe 10 tonnes; in Japan 12 tonnes; in China 5 tonnes; in India 2 tonnes; and in Africa 1 tonne. Some 80 per cent. of the world’s population suffer the poverty of living on less than $2 a day. Unless Copenhagen recognises that the agreement must be about social justice, it will fail.
We must change, therefore, to a better way of measuring our progress. Many countries want to find an agreement; they certainly do not want to be accused of failing. However, we will not dot our i’s and cross our t’s at Copenhagen. We did not do that at Kyoto; we agreed the principles and then we went to the conference of parties to renegotiate. At the end of the day, Copenhagen will mean the leaders getting together, and who is the one man who has said that he will go to Copenhagen? Who is leading? Our Prime Minister has made it clear that it will be a political fix. The world needs it and if we are to look after our children and our children’s children, we had better start thinking seriously locally, nationally and globally. Britain is giving the leadership on that.
My hon. Friend the Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) made it clear that the Liberal Democrats are trying to focus on a very simple thing that the House could do today: sign up for the 10:10 campaign. I have absolute admiration for the Minister. Her commitment on this subject is acknowledged and her contribution is huge, but the fact remains that the Government sound as if they are looking for excuses not to adopt a motion that her own policies would enable them to deliver if they were implemented. Surely the House should be able to decide whether it signs up for 10:10. If the House votes for the Government amendment, it will be unable to do so; only by voting for the Liberal Democrat motion can the House assert that it wishes to do so.
I shall not take the hon. Gentleman’s intervention, but I will anticipate it. He said that the House of Commons Commission had indicated that it did not wish to go down that route, but that does not prevent the House from saying that it wants it to do so and asking it to think again. The 10:10 website, which I looked at today, says that the House of Commons has the opportunity to sign up for 10:10 today and asks people to ask their MP to do so. If the House does not pass this motion, I assume that tomorrow the website will say, “Parliament failed to join the 10:10 campaign because the Labour Whips would not allow it to.” Some Labour Members should ask themselves whether they want to be in that position.
The right hon. Gentleman feels strongly that Parliament has to commit to the 10:10 campaign today, but why was that not proposed by the Liberal Democrats as an amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008 when we passed it just a few months ago? Is it not a fact that this is about not a serious, sustained reduction in carbon emissions, but a gimmick to make them feel better?
Hang on. I did not like the last bit of the hon. Lady’s intervention. So 10:10 is a gimmick? Is that what she is saying? The fact is that there was no 10:10 campaign when the 2008 Act went through Parliament, but there is now and it has widespread support individually and collectively. It is right for the House to use this opportunity to give a lead by saying, “We wish to join that campaign as a Parliament,” as well as by urging the Government and other bodies to do so.
I am anxious to let other people make their speeches.
The point that I want to get across is that all of us have to think hard about the practicalities involved and how we can engage with central and local government to help each other to achieve the aim of joining the campaign.
I am grateful for the Minister’s intervention, and I accept her sincerity. On the other hand, the House faces a practical problem. If it wishes to join 10:10, it needs to vote for the Liberal Democrat motion, because it contains the wording that would allow that to happen. It is unfortunate that the Government, in seeking to amend the motion, did not incorporate that part of it and so, I suggest, make it easier for their own Members to support it. Some Labour Members should examine whether they really want to be in the position of having rejected that option.
I cannot take another intervention as others need to speak.
I will come to what the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) said shortly—I completely agree with his closing remarks—but before I do, let me say that we need to give people a lot more help domestically to deliver reductions. We are still taking a rather scatter-gun approach. Everybody knows that there are technologies out there, but it is difficult to get hold of them. For example, for the past seven or eight years, I have been told that micro-combined heat and power systems will be available next year—indeed, I am still told that. However, people find it difficult to know how to engage with that process and whether to choose air or water source heat pumps, or where to get them from.
There is still a huge role for solar power in this country, which is totally un-resourced. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman said in a previous incarnation that he would make it a building regulation that solar panels would be incorporated into the roofs of all new houses, but that does not seem to have happened. We therefore need to move towards giving people those opportunities.
I represent a constituency that is a major producer of oil and gas, and it will continue to be so for many decades to come. However, my constituency is also trying to adapt the technologies used for developing oil and gas to support the development of large-scale renewables systems, particularly in the marine environment. That is being done by installing offshore wind farms and tidal and wave technology, as well as other mechanisms to which the technology developed to install oil and gas platforms and pipelines is appropriately adapted. Indeed, we are looking for the opportunity to adapt such technology to deliver on our targets.
The point was made at a presentation in the House only a few months ago that if we are to deliver on our offshore wind targets, we need huge investment in lifting vessels that are capable of installing them, yet there is no indication that that is happening. As a consequence, we will not be able to achieve our targets. I am not criticising; I am simply saying that there is so much to be done if we are to deliver on that.
Finally, on the domestic front, I wonder whether the Government could use their unexpected role as the owner of substantial parts of our financial institutions to give people the mechanisms to invest in renewable technology and, in the process, create the thousands of green jobs that would help us out of the recession and reduce our emissions. There is now a unique and unexpected serendipity of circumstances, which, if the Government joined all those threads together, could enable us to move faster than we are. That is not a criticism of the Government, but perhaps a challenge and an invitation to take that idea forward.
I want to pick up on the remarks that the right hon. Gentleman made about Copenhagen. He is absolutely right: if Copenhagen degenerates into the rich nations’ club, with those countries trying to decide how to share out their emissions, there will be no point in going. It is as simple as that. Why on earth should the poor countries of the world sign up to anything that is conducted in that spirit?
As the Chairman of the Select Committee on International Development, I know only too well that the perpetrators of climate change are us—the developed world—while the victims are the poorest countries in the world. My Committee will be in Bangladesh and Nepal next week. Bangladesh is probably one of the poorest countries in the world that is suffering most from climate change. Half the country could disappear in 20 years unless Bangladesh has not only the mitigation measures, but the adaptation measures—the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) has left the Chamber—to enable it to manage.
As I found out from evidence given to my Committee yesterday, Bangladesh does not need a Dutch solution, because the way that the water flows there is very different from how it stands in the Netherlands, and it therefore requires a different set of technologies. Those technologies are ones that the west will have to help Bangladesh with, through both practical resources and technology. We have to commit to undertake to do that at Copenhagen. It is about technology and money.
With that qualification, I welcome the Government’s indication that they accept wholeheartedly the limit of 10 per cent. of overseas aid and development for climate change, but I suggest that there might be more strictures than that, and perhaps voluntarily. The second one may not be acceptable, but the first is that we should consider praying for climate change investment out of official development assistance only if it also delivers poverty reduction at the same time.
Well, I take that as a given, but it is important that that qualification is written in and the understanding is clear, so that projects are evaluated accordingly.
The second stricture that I was considering was that this proposal would be uncomfortable for the United Kingdom and should perhaps apply only to the countries that have achieved the 0.7 per cent. of GDP. People in poor countries are saying that the 10 per cent. rule implies that 10 per cent. is being skimmed off the development aid that they were expecting, in order to deal with climate change, which is a problem of our making from which they are suffering. I agree with the Prime Minister that we must find substantial additional resources, and that we need to make it clear that those resources are going to be transferred from the rich countries to the poor countries to help them to meet the challenge.
I should like to mention one particular exchange with the Prime Minister. At one point, he called for the World Bank to be turned into the environment bank. I shall give him the benefit of the doubt and say that that was a well-intentioned suggestion, but our Committee saw the danger of the World Bank, which has as a prime responsibility the reduction of poverty, being subsumed into making climate change a priority. I am glad to say that that proposal has not been pursued. We need to tackle both problems.
The Minister and I were active in the GLOBE forum of legislators, which is still continuing. She and I chaired the first meeting in London, in the run-up to Gleneagles, and another is taking place in Copenhagen this weekend. Legislators from around the world are going to try to help world leaders to come up with a text that is deliverable, that has the support of Parliaments—Governments and Oppositions—and that persuades the poor countries that there is a benefit to be gained, rather than a continuation of their suffering as a result of climate change. If we can bind Parliaments and Governments together, and bind successive Governments to meeting those commitments, we will have achieved a great deal. I believe that the interaction of Parliaments and Governments is the only way to do this, because Governments come and go, but Parliaments, although they change, can continue to provide the steel in the commitment to ensure that we not only make targets but deliver the policies that will make a difference.
I am very pleased to follow the right hon. Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce). I know how much work he has put in, through GLOBE and other forums, and I agree with a great deal—although not all—of what he said. I welcome this opportunity to discuss not only the practical ways in which the Government can achieve their own targets, but the wider implications, particularly in the lead-up to Copenhagen.
I accept that the Government must lead by example. They must set an example nationally—for the private sector and local authorities, for example—as well as internationally. They have a lot to be proud of with regard to their international lead, and I appreciate that the Liberal Democrats acknowledged that. They have given a world lead through the Climate Change Act 2008, through introducing the concept of carbon budgets, which will be crucial for the delivery of our targets, and through using market mechanisms, such as the emissions trading scheme that has been developed by the European Union.
I also very much appreciate the fact that the Government have been working together with the Foreign Office, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Treasury and our embassies abroad. They have held seminars and campaigned to build support for the objectives that we must achieve at Copenhagen, and they deserve a great deal of credit for that. Their work is widely admired in many countries. That is not to say that we cannot do more, however. Progress has been slow in some areas.
I welcome the fact that the Government have acknowledged the importance of the 10:10 campaign in their amendment and have not tried to undermine it in any way. The campaign has an important contribution to make. It is directed at individuals and organisations, which will have to make up their own minds and evaluate whether they will be able to achieve the target within 12 months. The problem with the Liberal Democrat motion is that it does not define the public sector or which aspects of government should be involved. I do not know whether a 10 per cent. reduction can be achieved in 12 months; I suspect that, in truth, no one knows that. These targets are worth looking at, and to do so does not undermine the 10:10 campaign, but it does no one any good to sign up to targets if they do not have the necessary information to enable them to deliver them. That would undermine the targets.
If the Government were to sign up to a target that they were not sure they could deliver, I suspect that the Opposition parties would not simply say, “Well, it was a bold move, and you did your best. We understand.” That is not to say that targets do not have a role or to say that targets should not be viewed as important—indeed, the Government have set them.
On that point, since the Government have already set themselves long-term but very challenging targets, and since we already know from the report by the Committee on Climate Change that they are not on a trajectory to meet those targets, should not the Government have the information, so that they know what to do to get back on target, which will probably require a 10 per cent. reduction in the very near future?
It may well; I accept that point. That is why I greatly welcomed what the Minister said about the obligation on all Government Departments to have carbon reduction plans in place by next April. It would be nice if that could be brought forward and if we could have an evaluation of whether a 10 per cent. target could be met. I certainly think that the Government should take that seriously as part of that carbon reduction plan. They should look at a proper assessment of what can and cannot be done.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman, who is very knowledgeable, to accept two points. First, the first 10 per cent. is often the easiest to obtain. Secondly, if bodies such as the NHS, which is the largest public sector organisation in this country and is larger than those in many other countries, can say, “We think we can deliver”, is it not ultimately a matter of will and intention rather than technicality? The figures and assessments exist, but it is all about the political will to deliver.
I agree with most of those points. It is quite likely that the first 10 per cent. reductions are achievable in many cases, but I return to the point that I do not know. I very much hope that the NHS signs up; it can do so, if it chooses, which is fine. The Government do not control that aspect of the NHS, of course, as they do not control local authorities, but I think that the NHS signing up would be a good thing. I also accept that there are savings to be had and appreciate that a great deal more could be done.
The issue of the Department of Energy and Climate Change building and its energy rating provides a good example. What concerns me is that the DECC building—it was formerly owned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; it is a Government-owned building—was actually gutted. The outside is original, but there is nothing original on the inside. It was done not that long ago, but who on earth set the standards for that? Why does it have such a low rating for what is a comparatively modern construction? There is no excuse for it. What DEFRA did in its recent refurbishment—for example, the use of recycled carpet tiles and the introduction of water-saving and energy-saving measures—provides an example of what can be done with an old building. The Treasury received awards for its conversion of the old Treasury building into a modern building. Clearly, there has been a failure with the DECC building, and someone is responsible for it. That is what worries me.
The Government are developing excellent frameworks and strategies, but the pace of progress in many cases is slow. I know that work has been done on procurement, but I am not convinced about the way in which the Government are delivering or whether they are exerting the influence that they should. An awful lot more could be done. I appreciate—I know it from my own experience—that the wheels of government turn at a terribly slow rate, and I think that that is the case whatever Government are in power. It could be better. I would be grateful if the Minister would ensure, in addition to the very welcome carbon reduction plans, that there is a mechanism for delivery—perhaps by using the green Ministers’ network or perhaps by having a much tighter evaluation of Government procurement, Government buildings and so forth.
Schools were mentioned earlier. I, too, was concerned about the original standards, but they have been improved. My own local authority is part of the current wave of Building Schools for the Future, and I am very encouraged by the work put into sustainability and energy saving. A great deal more could nevertheless be done, and the Government could have an enormous influence.
Let me deal briefly with Copenhagen, because it is crucial. This year is crucial, because the outcome of Copenhagen is crucial: the outcome is crucial for every part of the globe, and it is not going to be easy to get the one that we want. There is still quite a gulf between many countries, particularly between the developing and the developed countries. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) rightly touched on that, and I agree with what he said.
There must be an outcome, but I worry that the Copenhagen conference will just agree principles. There is some urgency, and Copenhagen must produce key objectives. Firm commitments from developed countries on their emissions are necessary. Given how difficult and crucial the conference will be, world leaders must be there. I am proud that our Prime Minister has given a lead by saying that he will go, and we need President Obama there, because key players such as the US, China, India and the UK will be very important.
Some commitments from developing countries are necessary, although they should not be the same as ours, as the right hon. Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce) has mentioned, because they are entitled to develop, as we have. However, they can develop in a clean way, and there is a role for the developed world in putting money into a clean technology fund. My last point, which my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris) will welcome, is that we need an adaptation fund to help the most vulnerable, poorest countries adapt to what is happening now.
The challenges are big and of great importance. I have great confidence in the leadership from our Government, but an awful lot of work must be done to build confidence with other countries. Part of that confidence building is leading by example. I, for one, am more than happy to sign up to the 10:10 campaign, because we can give individual leads by example as well as national and international ones. That is the important point that should come out of this debate.
I have shown that I support the Government when they do the right things in this area. I honour the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) who, from a standing start, worked extremely hard at Kyoto, where I was also part of the delegation, and gave a great reputation to Britain in those battles. I hope that he will therefore allow me to say that I am disappointed by the Government’s actions in the run-up to Copenhagen, which, if they had been different, would have given our negotiators a much better position.
I will continue, if I may.
The Climate Change Act 2008, rather than being a great Government triumph, was, first, forced on the Government, and, secondly, had to be constantly improved by the Opposition. I remember the battle on 80 per cent., and how long it took to win the Government round. Although I am pleased that the Government are on side, let us not take it as a great achievement. Let us look at how things have played out. Building Schools for the Future is still not right, because we still have to choose between green schools and schools that are big enough. As for recent changes, the new Ministry of Justice has installed hydrofluorocarbon air conditioning, and the same is true of the new Home Office. We know that HFCs are the most potent global warmer. We warned the Government, and they heard the warning. They said that they would act, but they did not do so. In every single case, we find the Government have not given the lead that they should. I do not want to go on about Heathrow, but how on earth can we go and fight such a battle at Copenhagen, when we have given the go-ahead to an utterly unnecessary and unacceptable extension to Heathrow?
I walked into my local prison—voluntarily, I am happy to say—and I was pleased to see on its energy notice that it has the lowest level possible, and if there were a lower one, it would have that. When I asked, however, I was told that there was no money for that. We are pouring out energy as a result of the fact that not even the smallest things are being done. Take the scrappage scheme—no other Government would produce a scrappage scheme that allowed people to scrap a car and buy the biggest gas guzzler they liked. Where is the connection there?
It is all very well for the Minister to utter soothing words, but let us consider the Obama statement about what the American Government would do. Some 38 per cent. of those measures contained a real green element, but where were we? Somewhere down in the low teens. Why were we not as good as the United States? Why were we not as good as Korea or even France? What was the Minister doing in allowing the Prime Minister to put forward something that put us at the bottom of the league?
I must tell the hon. Lady that that is not true. If she goes through the measures put forward by the United States one by one, she will see that all of them could have been adopted with advantage here. If she had done that, we would have been at the top of the list rather than the bottom.
The Government amendment illustrates why the Minister does not carry conviction, and why the Government do not carry conviction. The amendment takes out anything that would cause the Government to do something and keeps in everything that would cause everybody else to do things. It reminds me of the beginning of “Wuthering Heights”, which involves a man who is cleaning up outside going through the Bible in order to throw all the curses at other people and to keep all the promises to himself. That is exactly what the Government are doing. It is a case of “You get on with the job, but give me the credit.” The situation strikes me as really serious.
I hate saying nice things about the Liberal Democrats, but if the Government had read the Liberal Democrat motion, they would have noticed that they could have included the House. We could meet the 10 per cent. target merely by having a cool Chamber. The Chamber is incredibly hot today. Why on earth have we allowed that to happen? We would all be better with the odd jumper in the winter and rather less heat.
The Government have put themselves in a position in which it is difficult to defend their activities at home, and thrilling to support their statements abroad. We are all proud of a Government who, with their consensus attitude, have been trying their best to promote these matters. I do not for a moment take that away from the Minister. I am merely saying that we cannot go on saying something abroad and not doing it at home.
Let me list five things that the Minister could do, in addition to changing her mind about the motion. First, the Government should commit themselves to not taking on any building of any kind that does not meet the highest energy rating. Secondly, they should commit themselves to ensuring that that applies to all quasi-governmental organisations. It would not be difficult; it is quite possible—we are only talking about new actions to be taken in the future.
Thirdly, the Government could stand up and say that they will ban HFCs. The Government voted with the “brown” people—the people in the European Union who did not want to ban them. They voted against Austria and Denmark. What were we doing supporting the dirty team rather than the clean team? Why were our Government voting on the wrong side?
Why do we have a climate change levy, which is only good because the name is good, and not a carbon tax? What kind of attitude is that? The right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East, has left the Chamber now that I have given him his compliment, but I will give him the opposite now. He cannot defend a climate change levy that is a levy on energy and not on carbon. The Government should change that forthwith. There are five very simple things that they could do, but they are not even prepared to sign up to the 10:10 campaign.
The Minister has put me in a difficult position. I do not want to be directly unpleasant, but it is not possible to say that we cannot achieve the 10:10 target on the way to meeting our carbon budget. Let me explain why we have to do it. We have gone on for too long believing that if we say that something will be done by 2050, 2020 or 2015, it will all happen. We must show that it has to be done now, because the urgency is huge. If the Minister really thinks that this Government are so efficient, and these buildings are so energy-efficient, that they cannot manage a 10 per cent. decrease in one year, she is going against every bit of advice and anecdotal evidence. I do not know of a company worth its salt that has not seen that for economic reasons it has had to save 10 per cent. of its carbon footprint. Why do this Government not say, “This is nothing to do with greenery; this is just to do with trying to balance the books. In the next year, in this very difficult situation, we will do it”? The Minister must say that, and not simply say, “I don’t know how we’re going to do it. We may not be able to do it.” She must stand up and say, “We’ll do it,” and then it will be done.
Order. May I just remind the House that from now on there will be a four-minute limit on speeches?
I am not a Johnny-come-lately to the environmental cause, having joined Friends of the Earth shortly after it was formed and having campaigned with it throughout the course of three decades. I am particularly grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister and the Government for giving Friends of the Earth £30,000 to go around Europe to campaign to ensure that in Copenhagen we realise its goals, and our goals too.
I cannot support the motion because it comes from a party whose record when in power at local level, as well as when not in power, is absolutely woeful. To take just one example, trying to cut back on the use of cars through road pricing is a key environmental policy, but the Liberal Democrats are the party who opposed the extension here in London, and fought and campaigned against it being introduced in Manchester and my home town of Edinburgh, while all the time saying, “Of course, in principle we generally support it.”
No, there is not time.
The Liberal Democrats are the party whose policy statements say it wants to see hundreds of new trains and a massive investment in rail, but in Edinburgh it could not find the £38 million last year that consultants recommended in order to reopen the south suburban line stations and to ensure that up to 1.4 million commuting passengers were taken off our roads.
The Liberal Democrats are also, of course, the party who, wherever there is a wind farm project, find a good reason to oppose it and—
Order. When a Member says he is not going to give way and it is clear that he will not give way, it is simply a waste of time for the hon. Gentleman to persist.
Let me give the hon. Gentleman an example to put in his pipe and smoke. In the western isles, where the principled former Labour Member of Parliament Calum MacDonald supported the independent local council’s bid to grant a wind farm, and where the Member of the Scottish Parliament, Alasdair Morrison, did the same, it was the hon. Gentleman’s party, along with the Scottish National party and the Tories, who ran the campaign against the wind farms there, as they do elsewhere, and succeeded in removing these two people of principle. That, I am afraid, is rather typical.
I feel sorry for the Vestas workers in the Isle of Wight, but it is no secret that its Conservative council will not allow any wind farms to be put on the island. It is then very difficult for such workers to argue in the interests of their manufacturing base if their own neighbours—their own council—will not support them when they try to lobby Government or anyone else.
I want to praise my hon. Friend the Minister and remind the House of the record of the £1 billion already spent—not promised, not mere words—on regeneration and renewables, of the £97 million spent on marine, and of the £31 million on photovoltaics. In my constituency, that has meant that the Napier university Collington complex library computers are now powered by photovoltaics, the development of which was paid for by the Government. There is also the DART project to recycle tyres, that Professor Nick Christof and his colleagues have pioneered with £100,000 from the Government. That is part of the £1 billion already invested. I am delighted to note that we are stepping up our investment. That will benefit the country. I urge the House to reject the motion.
I rise to support my hon. Friend the Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) and this motion. Ever since I entered this House in 1997, I have had a deep interest in this issue and have tried to ensure that this House took it seriously. I served as my party’s energy spokesman for about eight years, during which time I shadowed seven Labour Energy Ministers—I believe there were also five Conservative shadow Ministers, so consistency has not always been around in this area.
In 2004, I was fortunate to be top of the ballot and able to introduce the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Bill in this House. I wish to say to the House and to the Minister that there have been missed opportunities as a consequence of the Government not choosing to implement what was in that Bill, which allowed them to amend the building regulations to take account of the sustainability and efficiency of buildings. The Minister knows this very well, but I wish to remind her that buildings are responsible for more than 60 per cent. of this country’s carbon emissions. If we are to make any serious effort to tackle the problem, we have to do something about buildings.
I also wish to remind the Minister that the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act 2004, as the Bill became, has lain dormant for five years and that the Department for Communities and Local Government has a consultation document out on the next generation of building regulations that still does not include any reference to implementing that Act or making any of its provisions legally enforceable. I am not sure, because this has not been mentioned, whether any other Member in the House is aware that the Audit Commission today published a report entitled “Lofty ambitions”, which makes the point that the single most important thing that the Government could do to reduce carbon emissions would be to increase the regulatory requirements in part L of the building regulations and commence an immediate programme to tackle the terribly poor standard of our building stock. Such an approach would reduce people’s bills, reduce fuel poverty, increase the quality of life of the people living in these houses and help to save the planet.
I was terribly disappointed by the Minister’s speech. The right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) made one of the best speeches that I have heard him make—that is because he is a Back Bencher now. I have heard the Minister make many excellent speeches when she was on the Back Benches, but her contribution today was a terrible disappointment. When she comes to write her autobiography in 30 years’ time, she will not have this as her proudest day in support of the environmental movement.
When are the Government going to improve part L of the building regulations? When are they going to take advantage of the 2004 Act, which this Minister supported, as did the Government at the time? When is it going to come into force? May I also ask her when we will have a spark of life on tackling the built environment? Oh, how I agree with the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer)—we are not building schools for the future; we are building schools just as we did in the past. We have to tackle the issue of public buildings, the built environment in the public sector and homes—the legislation is in place to do so. The Audit Commission wants her to do that, as does the Association of British Insurers. I could cite a tremendously long list here. This House wants her to do it, so for goodness’ sake let us start tackling the problem of the building stock now.
I will tell hon. Members how the Liberal Democrats in Brent sign up to the 10:10 campaign. Under the Labour party, Brent council was on track for a 20 per cent. reduction in its emissions by 2011. On Monday, the Liberal Democrats and their Tory partners in the administration signed up, with great fanfare, to the 10:10 campaign. At the next executive committee meeting they will take delivery of proposals, which they intend to support, that will reduce the figure from 20 per cent. to 6 per cent. by 2011. Under the Liberal and Tory policies at Brent council, the 20 per cent. reduction will not be reached until 2020.
I regret the tone of today’s debate. Normally when we debate matters of climate change, we have a considered and measured debate that is consensual and, usually, good. The responsibility for the way in which this debate has gone is to be found in the nature of the Liberal Democrat motion. The Liberal Democrats know, we know and everybody in the House knows that it is tendentious. It was put forward, as my hon. Friend the Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North (Ms Buck) said, as a gimmick, to try to bandwagon and to do something that the Liberal Democrats thought might be populist and might embarrass the Government. That is why the debate has taken the shape that it has.
The hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) spoke, quite properly, about the discussions that he had had with the Chinese delegation this morning under the auspices of GLOBE and of the discussions that he had had with Congressman Wang. The hon. Gentleman also said—although it was when he departed from his script and got carried away—that that was why the Chinese did not take the Government seriously. Earlier this afternoon, as I was chairing the GLOBE discussions with Congressman Wang, I happened to note down what he said: “The UK is one of the few countries that has honoured their commitment and achieved their targets and I wish that all developed countries would learn from the UK in this respect.” I am afraid that that knocks out of the water the remarks made by the hon. Gentleman.
Hansard will show what the hon. Gentleman said.
I want to turn to the real point, which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott). It concerns gigatonnes. This weekend, I will be going to Copenhagen as part of the GLOBE delegation and we will present to the Danish Prime Minister, ahead of the negotiations in December, the proposals from a group of legislators across the globe on the issue. The key point is gigatonnes, as 17 gigatonnes of annual emissions reductions need to take place by 2020. The reduction of only 5 gigatonnes can take place in the developed countries at less than €60 per tonne. That means that although the problem has been created, as my right hon. Friend said, by the developed countries, they are not capable within their own boundaries of producing the gigatonnes of solutions that are required to mitigate this problem. The funding for that extra 12 gigatonnes of abatement must come from the developed countries and be put through to the developing nations so that they can sustain equitable growth and standards of living and so that they can rise out of poverty on a low-carbon trajectory. That is the critical issue.
At Copenhagen, although we must sign under a post-2012 protocol, the developed countries must sign up to lower emissions and commit ourselves to those emissions reductions. We must also, on top of that, bear down on the caps so that we can generate through offsets the amount of money that is needed to bring people out of poverty in the developing world.
In supporting the motion, I shall restrict my comments exclusively to the Government’s failure to demonstrate leadership over climate change when it comes to our food market and reducing food miles.
The world’s population is set to increase by 50 per cent. over the next 40 years. Demand for food is set to double in that time, yet the Government have presided over a criminal reduction in this country’s food production capacity. That matters, because the Government’s target of an 80 per cent. reduction in carbon emissions—to which we all agreed—looks ludicrous when set against the ever-expanding emissions caused by the transportation of rapidly increasing amounts of food from overseas to our tables.
According to the Government’s own figures, since 1997 the proportion of imported meat has increased by two thirds, the proportion of eggs that we have imported has tripled, and the proportion of vegetables that we import has risen by one third. In the last two years alone, the proportion of liquid milk that we import has increased by almost 60 per cent. If we are going to tackle climate change, we must ensure that we produce as much as possible of the food that we eat as close to home as we can.
To do that, we have to ensure that we produce more food, not less, with the help of a farming industry that is confident and not fearful about its future. That means that, if we are to reduce carbon emissions, we have to expand our capacity to produce food in the UK. It is one of the easiest things that the Government could do to tackle climate change, and there are thousands of innovative farmers around the country itching to take the lead.
The reduction in capacity is happening because the Government will not tackle seriously the power of supermarkets, which place no environmental standards on their procurement policies and will not act to ensure fair trade for our farmers so that they stay in business. As we have heard, the public sector spends about £2 billion a year on food procurement for Government Departments, schools, prisons and hospitals. The NHS is the largest food purchaser in the country, spending nearly a quarter of the total public sector food budget, yet 75 per cent. of the meat and fish used in our hospitals is imported from abroad.
Another dreadful consequence of the importation of meat products is the destruction of the rain forest. Every 10 minutes, an area the size of 200 football pitches is chopped down in the Amazon rain forest, all to provide pasture land for cattle or to make way for soy plantations to provide feed for them. We could—and should—produce both in this country, slashing food miles and ensuring the preservation of the crucial carbon sink that is the rain forest.
The hon. Lady has read my mind, as I was about to mention that. About one in three of the bags of food that we purchase at the supermarket or wherever is effectively dumped. We wasted £10 billion worth of food in the last year, which is the equivalent of throwing away every third bag. The contribution to harmful emissions from landfill and emissions associated with wasted production is immense. There has been no leadership on tackling that from the Government: they have not attempted to address the wasteful, buy-one-get-one-free culture or, for example, the unbelievably fussy and excessive guidance on sell-by dates. Cutting out that waste would reduce greenhouse gases, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) suggests, by the equivalent of taking one in every five cars off the road.
The Government have also failed dismally when it comes to making sustainable use of food waste. Why are we not transforming organic waste into green energy? In Germany, there are 25,000 anaerobic digesters, but there are only 38 in the UK. I hope that the 39th digester will be opened soon in Casterton in my constituency, but that will be the result of work done by the local community, and despite the Government.
In conclusion, nearly everyone—apart from one or two of the Tories’ mates—now accepts that climate change is real and the result of human activity. However, if that is the case, it can be reversed by human activity as well, with “activity” being the important word. It is important that the Government act. They need to do the simple things as well as the difficult things, because these are what will make the difference in this crucial fight. The good news is that some of the simplest things that the Government could do to tackle climate change are to be found in the food market.
The Liberal Democrat motion deals with climate change leadership, but I think that by any standards the Government’s record in this area is pretty good. The UK is the first country in the world to set up rolling carbon budgets, and to have set a carbon emission reduction target of 80 per cent. by 2050. The Government are the first to have set up a prestigious and independent Climate Change Committee to advise them, and they also included aviation and shipping in the Climate Change Act 2008 and introduced feed-in tariffs. So far, so good.
Of course there are still problems, as there are in every country in the world. We should acknowledge those problems. Yes, we have not done anything like enough in carbon emissions reductions to meet the 60 per cent. target, let alone an 80 per cent. target. We have committed ourselves to trebling airport capacity by 2050, which would have the opposite effect. It would neutralise most, if not all, of the carbon reductions in virtually every other sector.
The commitment to building the first coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent is not very wise, when carbon capture and storage is highly unlikely to be available commercially for at least 15 years. On this island with enormous renewables capacity, we have a great deal more to do, as we still generate only 4 per cent. of electricity from renewables, compared to 10 to 25 per cent. in the other big European countries and 30 to 50 per cent. in Scandinavia.
I shall mention briefly three other areas for the forthcoming Copenhagen summit, where I believe it is necessary to make significant further advance and, above all, to get the developing countries on side. Without that, we will make no progress at all. First, substantially slowing the rate of deforestation worldwide, which is causing something like 20 per cent. of global emissions, should be a major objective of the Copenhagen negotiations—not by giving enormous sums of money to the major countries involved, because all that money would certainly be filtered off into the pockets of corrupt officials, but by tough international action against illegal logging corporations, which should be held to account and prosecuted in the courts of the metropolitan countries.
Secondly, we should champion a drive towards a worldwide carbon tax and show that we mean it by looking to introduce it ourselves, to be fiscally neutral by corresponding offsetting on VAT. That could do more than any other single measure to green the international economy and to arrest the spread of climate catastrophe.
Thirdly, we should reverse the current policy on carbon offsetting, which is allowing 50 per cent. and perhaps as much as 70 per cent. of carbon credits to be purchased from abroad, which is a sort of “get out of jail free” card and removes the pressure for major qualitative change within the UK. It is flawed by the additionality problem, but more particularly, the big countries—China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and Mexico—will co-operate only if they see that we who, in their view, caused the problem are taking sufficient action. If they think we are simply buying our way out abroad while doing too little at home, they will not co-operate. Then the global problem will be insoluble.
The Government’s record on combating climate change is not perfect, but it is arguably the best of any country in the world. I am pleased and proud to support them in the Lobby tonight.
I thank the Deputy Speaker for giving me the chance to speak, and I thank the Liberal Democrats for initiating the debate. I echo the sentiments of the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Andrew Stunell): everybody wants to tackle climate change. The question is how we do that. I shall limit my comments to that being a matter of trust—the plans that the Government have for being trusted to deliver a response.
I applaud voluntary action and fully support the 10:10 campaign. I am proud to have been able to answer many of my constituents already by saying that I fully support their campaign to have us support that. But we know that Government action is also necessary. Combating climate change is not something that individuals can do on their own. I welcome the bipartisan and tripartisan approach in the House today, and the commitment of so many Members to action on climate change, and I welcome the previous achievements of the House in passing the Climate Change Act 2008 to contribute towards what we all know we need to do.
The Government’s current plan lasts for 10 years and requires buy-in. That is what we must ensure by contributing a little towards that today in the debate. We may require a general election for a full mandate for such a plan, but before that moment comes next year, which I am sure we will all welcome, we must take the opportunity for international action. Many hon. Members around the House have commented on what must be achieved at Copenhagen later this year.
I come back to the domestic aspect. I shall speak about it as a matter of trust, and about what people look to us in the House to do. I hope I am not being too cheeky in suggesting that as the most recent Member to enter the House, I may bring with me a view from outside. That is to say that any Government action will require clear measurement, and the Government will have to go through a whole sequence: understanding the problem; diagnosing action that is possible; selecting the tools that we can use to go about those actions; setting targets; empowering people to meet those targets; and grasping the incentives available to help people to do that. I return to the value of the 10:10 campaign as a voluntary tool; it enables people to say, “We can do this, we want to do this, we want to be held to account, and we want the Government to join us.”
The Government plan must then be trackable and measurable. I welcome the recent publication of the Turner report, saying that the Government must be held to account for their actions. It says, too, that in the coming months measurement will be harder, because of distortions due to the level of economic activity, or lack thereof. Against that backdrop, we must make doubly sure that the Government—of any colour—can be trusted to do what we all want them to do.
We cannot drop any part of the cycle that I have just outlined. People must be able to trust that the Government’s plan will do all those things, and observe the Government doing all those things, so that individuals know that they are getting what they have signed up to—what they have put their necks on the line for, and said they will do.
Only last Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting in my constituency a school—not a Building Schools for the Future school, but a local academy—with a wonderful new building that serves as a teaching tool for the children on energy efficiency. That is the kind of measure that we need to help people to trust that things can be done and to learn how things can be done.
Finally, I draw the House’s attention to the question of how this Government will gain the mandate for their 10-year plan. If they do not, we must seriously question the measure.
I fully endorse the 10:10 campaign and proposals, and I hope that the House will fully endorse them and sign up to them tonight. The Government are right that we need more than a one-year strategy, because we have to have a strategy that takes us through to 2020, but the most important part of the imperative in signing up to the campaign has not come from any argument in this House; it came in September from Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He gave us all the starkest warning—the shot across the bows—when he said that it would not be enough for the world to aim to restrict carbon emissions to 450 ppm.
If we wish to keep climate change to within a 2° C rise this century, the practical limit will have to be 350 ppm. We are already at 385 ppm and the question is: how do we row back from that? The starting point is now. Rajendra Pachauri urged on us the point that what we do in the next three years will determine the shape of so much that follows. I am therefore happy to sign up to the belief that we need to set a 10 per cent. target for the coming year, and probably for the year after and the year after that—for at least the five years that follow. It is not a question of what the political will acquiesies to; it is an acknowledgement that the world will not wait. The two most important parts of the motion before us, on which I shall focus, are first, the significance of the built environment, and secondly, the mechanisms that will drive us into a renewable energy future.
The point has already been made that the built environment contributes 60 per cent. of our carbon emissions. If we were to set the targets that would meet our legally binding obligation to eradicate fuel poverty in Britain by 2016, we would have to set a standard assessment procedure rating for housing of 81, and establish a building renewal programme of about £4 billion a year between now and 2016. It is a lot of money, but we could save that amount in respect of many speculative schemes that cost the Government, the taxpayer and the bill payer far more.
If we were to do that, what we would achieve? The figures that have been provided to the House are staggering. If we were to set up that programme, we would take 81 per cent. of the fuel poor out of poverty by 2015. In doing so, we would reduce the terawatt hours of energy consumption by 48.1 TWh. That would mean a percentage reduction in energy consumption of 56 per cent. and a reduction in carbon emissions of 59 per cent. People talk about the 10 per cent. commitment at a personal level; this is 10 per cent. at a collective level. At the same time as saving carbon and saving the planet, it would take the poor out of fuel poverty—an adaptation measure that saved lives.
Given that huge numbers of the public use public buildings and that behavioural change could take place, does my hon. Friend agree that if it is not practicable for the Government to achieve a 10 per cent. reduction in the next year or so, it is not practicable to achieve our other targets?
I do not believe that it is impossible for the Government to achieve that 10 per cent. reduction. One of the ways in which they could deliver on it is by not only accelerating the introduction of the feed-in tariff regime that they propose, but changing the framework from one that works back from a minimalist, fairly measly assumption that we can deliver only 2 per cent. of our energy by 2020 from renewable tariffs to one with a target of 10 per cent., 15 per cent. or even almost 20 per cent.
For those who say that that is too much, let me refer to a conversation that I had with colleagues in Germany this morning about their proposals for delivering 100 per cent. of renewable energy for their economy by 2050. I said, “Look, isn’t that a bit ambitious?” One of them said, “Well it might be, but let me ask if you are aware that last weekend 90 per cent. of Germany’s energy came from wind and solar?” It presented a bit of a problem on Monday when the rest of the energy-generating systems had to kick back in, but that is an interfacing issue about a transformation into a very different future.
The difficulty for the UK is that we have set a threshold of ambition that will deliver the failure that it is designed to deliver. What we lack is the ambition to drive the transformation. We can start to achieve it by signing up to the 10:10 commitment and raising the level of feed-in tariffs to make a meaningful difference. Then we can save the generations who follow us.
It is a delight to hear the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson) talk about fuel poverty in such impassioned terms. That is precisely the issue that I tried to address through the Fuel Poverty Bill which I presented to Parliament and which, shamefully, this Government and this Minister finally killed off last Friday.
As I walk around the parts of my constituency that are below sea level and see the houses that are flooded each year, and as I look at the one-in-25-year and one-in-50-year events that are now happening regularly, the scientist in me says, “You cannot extrapolate from the particular to the general,” but my heart tells me that something is going badly wrong. That is what is causing so many people in this country to recognise at long last that there is an urgency to this—that it is something that we cannot wait any longer to deal with.
That is why the 10:10 campaign is so important, and why it is so disappointing to hear the Government, yet again, using all the excuses in the book to say that they will not do something positive about it instead of saying, “This is something that we want to embrace—it’s consistent with our principles and what we say we’re going to do about public buildings, so yes, we will make it happen.” I agree with the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), who made a superb speech in support of the contention that if the Government cannot achieve the 10:10 objectives, they cannot achieve the other objectives that lie in the future.
It is deplorable that the Government, by virtue of deleting the reference in our motion, are not allowing Parliament itself to sign up to 10:10, given that there is hardly a Member in this House who does not believe that the Commission could do the necessary work if it put its mind to it, and that we should instruct it to do so. I hope that Labour Back Benchers will be prepared to take a risk tonight and come into the Lobby with us to insist that that should be the case.
I have only one minute left.
What we have done in this House is considerable, and the Government should take credit for the good things that they have achieved, such as the Climate Change Act. They arrived at it by dint of pressure from all parts of the House, but it is of value. They rejected feed-in tariffs for a long time but eventually accepted them—although I agree that the design of them is deplorable. They are groping towards an energy policy, but there is no coherence to it.
I look at all those things and think that we have an opportunity to arrive at consensus. We are lucky compared with America, where there are divergent views. We generally have a consensus in this country, not just between the political parties but with big business. We have a huge opportunity, and we can do so much more if we shut off the poverty of aspiration that still bedevils us and grasp the fact that doing the right thing is not only right environmentally but right economically. The hon. Member for Nottingham, South made that point. So many of the measures that we can take make economic sense, particularly in a recession when we are trying to save money. We can save the environment while saving money and creating jobs, and that should be the aspiration of this House.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Barry Gardiner), I regret the tone of the debate. As has been amply shown, there is plenty of leadership at national level. I wish to talk about how that translates through to regional and local leadership.
In Exeter we have the green jewel in the south-west’s crown, the Met Office, which the Conservatives’ defence spokesman recently seemed to think it would be a good idea to sell off at this critical time. Our regional leadership has come from the former and current regional Ministers, my right hon. Friends the Members for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw) and for South Dorset (Jim Knight), working alongside the South West of England Regional Development Agency. The Conservatives would abolish the RDAs, but that leadership has ensured that there are key priorities in our region on resource efficiency, renewable energy, waste management, climate change adaptation and low-carbon technologies.
That has led to the region being the first to be given low-carbon economic area status as part of the Government’s low-carbon industrial strategy. That designation involves £30 million for the wave hub energy demonstrator off Cornwall and £15 million for the peninsula institute for marine renewable energy, which is a joint project of Exeter and Plymouth universities. Those projects will make major contributions to the national targets on which we have to deliver, and they are an important illustration of how we need to continue to invest at a strategic level. That investment will take time to deliver.
Locally, people in Plymouth are doing their bit. Not surprisingly in a constituency with 450 marine scientists and 1,500 environmental students, the university is top-performing in environment and sustainability, as rated by People and Planet in its green energy league table. There are businesses such as the Caribbean Car Wash, which has set a benchmark for high-quality eco-friendly car washing by reducing to half a litre the amount of water necessary to clean and valet a car.
I regret that our Tory council has not signed up to the 10:10 agreement and that its leader set a bad example by objecting to a school’s planning application for two small wind turbines and then employing a consultant when the school appealed. I regret the daft proposals to sell the green jewel in our city’s crown, a successful bus company that is one of the few in the country to have added passengers in recent years.
The 10:10 campaign is excellent, but no one should use it to talk down what we are achieving and our position of international leadership. Practicality is everything, and as my hon. Friend the Minister said in her opening remarks, some Departments have already taken the low-hanging fruit. Carbon budgets, mocked from the Tory Benches, will build on that success.
There are those who are still sceptical, although perhaps none of them are present in the House today. It took only one small mistake to detract from Al Gore’s brilliant film “An Inconvenient Truth”. The Government have to act responsibly, especially on matters in which they have already gathered in some of the low-hanging fruit.
Copenhagen is our last best chance to avoid catastrophe. For 30 years we have known about man-made climate change and I am deeply proud that the Liberal party, all those years ago, was the first British political party to address it. Since then, the science has become clearer and more worrying. There is now a clear global consensus among scientists that climate change is man-made but still preventable by human action—just.
The economics have also become clearer. The sooner and more urgently we act, the less risk of an economic collapse that will make the current recession look like a vicarage tea party. The Stern report spelled that out very clearly. It concluded that an atmospheric concentration of about 550 parts per million CO2 was perhaps adequate as a stabilisation target. It is now pretty clear that that was much too high.
We now know that about 2° C of global warming is all but inevitable, and that there is a significant risk of 4°, 5° or 6° C unless we have a concerted international deal. That would mean catastrophic disruption of food production, irreversible collapse of ice sheets and rain forests, huge areas of the planet rendered uninhabitable and mass displacement of people. With my background in Oxfam, I know what unimaginable human misery that would mean.
As environmental shocks mount, more and more nations realise that a global deal is in their interests. China and India now clearly understand that. They have many of the poorest people in the world, who will be the hardest hit by global warming. They have taken a lead on many issues, including renewable energy and reforestation, in their own countries.
We all agree that Britain also needs to take a lead; Parliament needs to take a lead. I pay tribute to the House of Commons Commission and the Parliamentary Estates management, which are making efforts. Only this week, they met myself and some of my constituents to attempt to find a solution to the large numbers of high-energy candle lights that proliferate on the estate, which take enormous numbers of people to replace all the time.
I shall ask a question that I asked of Conservative Members. Earlier this week, the Commission decided that it would not sign up to the 10:10 commitment. The hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey), who speaks for the Commission in the House, is a Liberal Democrat. Did he support the Commission’s view?
I was giving credit to the Commission for the work that it has done, but I am afraid that on the 10:10 campaign the Chamber must trump the Commission. This is where we decide on Parliament’s ambitions.
I also give credit where it is due to the Government. It is fair to say that they have shown leadership in helping to put climate change on the international agenda and introduced the world’s first climate change Act, although they were dragged somewhat reluctantly to the target of 80 per cent. However, it was supported by the Government in the end, which is good. They have also shown a commitment to renewable energy and carbon capture and storage, although they showed similar reluctance on feed-in tariffs and left something of a giant loophole in the CCS policy.
However, the Government must also accept that there are some worrying signs of complacency and lack of urgency. As the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) pointed out, it does not really compute that the Government can give the go-ahead to the third runway at Heathrow based on flawed calculations of the future cost of climate change while trying to maintain an international position as strong as that of President Obama. The right hon. Gentleman was spot on when he spoke of how much greener most of the stimulus packages around the world are than our own.
There is a constant recitation that we have been on target for Kyoto when, as the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) pointed out, that target was met long ago by the dash for gas. Actually, if the target is met, it will be partly because of the recession—[Interruption.] I am sorry, but it is true.
The Government are at risk of being seen to ask everybody else to act, but not to act themselves. They have an energy bill of some £4 billion and massive buying power. The public sector has the chance to shape entire markets, and how British industry and the private sector respond to the challenge of climate change. It is very worrying that the Minister who opened the debate, I hope in a lapse, described the 10:10 campaign as a gesture—[Interruption.] Those were her very words. It is also worrying that she cast doubt on the Government’s ability to sign up to 10:10 despite the fact that her Department has done so. Look at the list of organisations that have had that ambition and signed up to 10:10. It includes the Environment Agency; Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Bristol universities; 52 local councils responsible for 8.8 million people, including most recently, I am proud to say, Bristol city council; more than 150 schools; 40 NHS trusts; B&Q; Aviva; Microsoft; Atkins Global; and the Royal Mail—the latter does not get everything right, but it has signed up to the 10:10 campaign. It is a fantastic campaign that has finally captured the real sense of urgency that is needed to put us on almost a war footing—that psychology that we must act soon to avert catastrophe.
We have had one or two regrettably partisan and bad-tempered speeches. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Nigel Griffiths) claimed that the Liberal Democrats opposed wind power at local level. I can tell him about York, Leeds, Ipswich, Lewes, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Islington, West Berkshire, Devon, Vale of White Horse and Cornwall—I do not have time to finish the list. However, we have mostly heard real passion and wide support on both sides of the House. Many of the contributions have shown why the 10:10 campaign has captured the public imagination.
I am proud to have followed my hon. Friend the Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes), who has shown leadership on environmental issues for a few decades—I will not embarrass him by saying how many—and helped to make the Liberal Democrats such a green party.
To the Conservative Front Bench, I say that I forgive their nuclear peccadilloes and some of the people with whom they keep company in Europe on climate change, and the occasional Back-Bench outburst on wind power, and pay tribute to the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle on his articulate defence of the 10:10 campaign. He rightly pointed out that there is no conflict between carbon budgets of the kind supported in the Climate Change Act 2008 and the 10:10 campaign commitment. In fact, I would go further and say that committing to 10:10 will make those carbon budgets easier and cheaper to achieve for the British economy.
I also give credit to the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson) and all those Labour Back Benchers who have signed up to the 10:10 campaign. I hope that they are prepared, just this once, to defy the party Whips and do the right thing for this country, for the planet and the environment.
I make a final appeal to the Minister. She has a proud record as a political campaigner. Many members of my party have followed her on marches in the past and listened to her defiance of the establishment. Her Secretary of State has asked for a popular mobilisation to help to push through action on climate change. Well, we have got that. It is called the 10:10 campaign and tonight is the night when we can take a decision as a Parliament to support it. The Minister has signed her Department up to it and she says that Departments are working hard to improve their admittedly miserable record to date. It is therefore a mystery why she will not allow her colleagues to commit the whole Government—or at least this Parliament—to the 10:10 campaign. This is our chance to send the clearest possible signal to campaigners across the country and Copenhagen negotiators across the world that we are committed to urgent action. The truth is that the Minister probably does support this campaign and it is the establishment in the Treasury, No. 10 or Lord Mandelson’s Department who have got to her. This is the moment when she should join hon. Members on both sides of the House, rediscover her radical roots, be brave, ambitious and bold, and believe that together we can do more than we think we can—and support this motion.
We have had 17 excellent speeches. Although the tone of the debate has been sparky, as a couple of hon. Members have commented, that edge has illuminated the issues before us. I noted that when the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) opened the debate, he said that he would applaud the Government for the things that we have done well, and he did so in his speech. However, we did not fail to notice that no credit is given in the motion for anything good that the Government have done, and I regret that.
I have signed up to the 10:10 campaign. In fact, that benefited me in this debate, because I first heard that it would take place today in a text message from the campaign. The campaign is valuable for the reasons that many hon. Members mentioned in the debate: it is a bottom-up campaign that draws people in, persuades people to take action and is voluntary. I wish that I had only a fraction of its skill in communications. Only a couple of weeks ago, I launched the carbon reduction commitment energy efficiency saving scheme. That massive cap-and-trade scheme, which starts next year and covers every Department, most of local government and most of the local bodies referred to tonight, did not get a patch of the coverage that the 10:10 campaign has received already. It is remarkable that decision makers in the House during this debate gave no recognition of the fact that, starting next year, the CRC will begin to reduce emissions across the entire public sector.
Some people say that to start now we have to sign up to 10:10 across the entire sector. Have people such short memories? This year, the House passed the carbon budgets, which we have already started to implement and which will put us on a trajectory to get us to the 34 per cent. reduction in our emissions that we need to reach by 2020.
The Government’s record to date is fine. I accept what the Committee on Climate Change said about the need for a faster rate of improvement in the years up to 2020, and that is what our plans intend to achieve, but please do not ask us to dislocate the plans made to 2020 that start now and involve the efficient allocation of resources. Please do not ask us to sign up to something different now, instead of the things that we are doing already.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, while the Liberal Democrat motion makes no mention of costings, the Government amendment confirms a commitment to spending up to £20 million to help Departments reduce their emissions? Is that not a very good reason to vote for the amendment?
I confirm what my hon. Friend says. This country already has a good track record on energy efficiency, and I agree, that energy efficiency is an important part of the entire package that will reduce our need to consume energy.
Just today, we started on the next stage of our energy efficiency policy for domestic properties with the first of the community energy saving programme schemes—going house by house, street by street. That is the kind of approach for which many hon. Members have argued.
In our transition plan, which has been welcomed around the country and around the world, we say that we need to move to a low-carbon transformation involving the trinity of renewables, nuclear power and clean fossil fuels. It is a shame that we cannot persuade the Conservative party to support wind power in this country to its full capacity. According to a Greenpeace report, councils controlled by Conservatives are turning down and holding up onshore planning applications around the country. Also, according to the Financial Times today, the shadow Business Secretary said that the Tory policy is that no permission be given for onshore wind, even though it, along with offshore wind, on which we are No. 1 in the world, powered 2 million homes last year.
Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of speaking time left, but I want to confirm one important aspect of the transformation to 2020: our passionate intention that it be a just transition from which all our citizens benefit, and that no one be left behind. I want Members’ suggestions for how we can ensure that the kind of things that we will introduce, such as green mortgages, the pay-as-you-save scheme, the feed-in tariffs next year, the renewable heat incentive the year after and the smart meters roll-out, benefit every citizen, including the worst off in this country—
Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the proposed words be there added.
Question agreed to.
The Deputy Speaker declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to (Standing Order No. 31(2)).
That this House welcomes the 10:10 campaign as a motivator of public action to cut carbon dioxide emissions through individual and collective behaviour change; recognises the value of such campaigns to build public support for action by governments to agree an ambitious, effective and fair deal at Copenhagen; further recognises the significant effort made by individuals and organisations to cut their emissions through the 10:10 campaign; supports the Climate Change Act introduced by this Government, the first such legislation in the world, and the system of carbon budgets that enables Britain to set itself on a low carbon pathway; notes that carbon budgets ensure active policies by Whitehall departments and the public sector that deliver long-term sustained emissions reductions not just in 2010 but through to 2022 and beyond; further supports the efforts of local councils to move towards local carbon budgets by signing up to the 10:10 campaign; further welcomes the allocation of up to £20 million for central Government departments to enable them to reduce further and faster carbon dioxide emissions from their operations, estate and transport; and further welcomes the cross-cutting Public Value Programme review of the low carbon potential of the public sector, which will focus on how the sector can achieve transformational financial savings through value-for-money carbon reductions.