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Emissions Reductions

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 24 March 2011

6. What recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the setting of an EU-wide 30% carbon dioxide emissions reduction target by 2020. (48543)

I have had numerous discussions with my EU colleagues in recent months on the importance of the EU low-carbon transition, including the role of an EU-wide 30% target. In response to the publication of the Commission’s 2050 low-carbon road map on 8 March, I wrote an open letter jointly with my ministerial colleagues from Denmark, Greece, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Sweden urging an open debate on a 30% target. I continue to use opportunities such as the discussion of the road map at the forthcoming informal Environment Council meeting to make the case for an early move to a 30% target.

I thank the Secretary of State for his reply. Does he agree that the Chancellor’s Budget statement yesterday confirming the capitalisation, timing and role of the green investment bank will do much to inspire confidence in Britain’s ability to achieve its own emissions targets by 2020?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. One of the most important announcements made yesterday was the one on the green investment bank and the fact that we have trebled the amount of capital found for its capitalisation during this spending round. We will try to do our bit on asset sales, but if they cannot be found, they will be guaranteed by the Treasury. In addition, the fact that the bank can begin to borrow and lend before the large amount of energy investment in offshore wind is crucial.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s comments about working with other European countries to seek a reduction in carbon emissions. Will he explain, then, why his Government have just announced a unilateral carbon floor that is making steel companies, such as Tata in my constituency, extremely jittery and is making them consider pulling out from investing here to invest in other countries in Europe? We will simply be uncompetitive, even with our European partners.

The reasons for the carbon price floor were set out clearly by the Chancellor. We need to send out clear signals to investors about the transition to the low-carbon economy. This measure will do that, and it will also, operating within the power sector, ensure that we use low-carbon sources of electricity through the whole process and the transition rather than merely using high-carbon ones. It is an important part of our transition to a low-carbon economy.