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Carbon and Renewables Targets

Volume 585: debated on Thursday 4 September 2014

12. What recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in other EU member states on carbon and renewables targets. (905186)

I have engaged extensively with my EU counterparts on the European Commission’s proposals for a 2030 climate and energy framework. That has included discussions at the Energy and Environment Councils in March, May, June and July, and several meetings of the green growth group of like-minded EU Ministers, which I established. Throughout the discussions, I have stressed the need for early political agreement on an ambitious, cost-effective and flexible 2030 framework. That is important to unlock investment and to put the EU in a stronger position for the global climate negotiations in 2015.

To date, EU targets have focused principally on renewables, not on carbon reduction. The result is that countries such as Holland, Germany and Denmark, which produce more carbon per capita than us, have exceeded their renewables targets. Will the Secretary of State ensure that any future targets that we sign up to are focused on carbon reduction, which is the primary aim, and not on the secondary aim of renewables? That would allow nuclear, carbon capture and storage and gas to play a part in other states.

As my hon. Friend is a huge expert in this area, he will know that the electricity market reforms in this country have been deliberately technology neutral. That will be the case as the market evolves over the next decade and more. This country has therefore not had targets for particular technologies. We want the market to decide on the mix. That is the approach that we have taken in the European negotiations. We have argued for the most ambitious greenhouse gas emissions target of any member state and for it to be technology neutral. I am delighted to report to the House that we are winning that argument.