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Carbon Budget Report

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 24 March 2011

The Climate Change Act 2008 requires the Government to set the fourth carbon budget level in law no later than 30 June 2011. I anticipate that a statutory instrument will be laid before the House after the Easer recess.

The carbon budget plan is still back-ended, calling for reductions of 4.7% compound after 2030 but only 3.2% before. That is credible so long as investment in research and development is strong at the front end. What more can the Minister do, working with colleagues in Government, to stimulate the development of low-carbon vans and heavy goods vehicles as well as power?

My hon. Friend is right: there is a whole range of measures, but transport is also key. The recent spending review announced that the Government have provided up to £400 million for measures to promote the uptake of ultra-low carbon vehicle technologies, including support for consumer incentives, the development of recharging infrastructure and a programme of research and development work, which we continue to add to.

The Committee on Climate Change recommended a tightening of the second and third carbon budgets in the light of the impact of the recession. Does the Minister agree that we must deliver on that recommendation and use the Committee’s report as a means of strengthening the UK’s global leadership in encouraging our international partners to tighten their emissions targets?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We must maintain our global leadership position, not only because it is important for tackling dangerous climate change, but because we want to grab market share in the new clean technology markets around the world, which are growing fast. We need to assert our leadership in the low-carbon markets, and to do so we need an ambitious policy to drive it at home.

When my hon. Friend heard Lord Adair Turner spell out his fourth five-year plan, was he, like me, reminded of the old Soviet planning system? I am sure that if anyone could have made the Soviet Gosplan system work it would have been him. Will my hon. Friend treat with great caution forecasts 15 years ahead for the costs to which we are committed, given that the Barclays and Accenture plan reckons that meeting current targets for 2020 will cost €3 trillion?

Clearly there is a huge investment agenda, and my right hon. Friend is right, but we see that as an opportunity as well as a cost. He will also know that the cost of doing nothing and standing by while climate change hits the world progressively through this century will be considerably greater than prudent early action.