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Carbon Abatement Technologies

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 25 June 2015

13. What recent assessment she has made of the potential contribution of carbon abatement technologies to the Government’s decarbonisation strategy. (900549)

I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new position as Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee. To meet our legally binding target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 we are taking action right across the economy. This means delivering carbon savings through a range of technologies from nuclear and carbon capture and storage to low carbon heat technologies and energy efficiency measures in homes and businesses.

I welcome both Ministers to their positions. The fourth carbon budget report stressed the criticality of carbon abatement technology, and increasingly so post-2030, but the International Energy Agency report shows that if we fail, particularly on carbon capture and storage, the costs of decarbonisation and lower emissions could be up to 70% higher. On that basis, if the fifth carbon budget recommends greater investment in carbon abatement technologies and a faster trajectory to decarbonisation, will the Government accept those recommendations without reservation?

The Government have an open mind on the subject. We will put forward our policies towards the fifth carbon budget by the end of 2016. The hon. Gentleman is exactly right to point out the vital importance for the future of carbon capture and storage. He will be aware of the two projects—White Rose and Peterhead—that are currently under discussion, looking to achieve fulfilment so that we can prove the technology works. We hope to make progress on that.

Trees can play a very important part in combating greenhouse gases—the gases that we are all talking about which cause climate change. How much is the Department encouraging tree planting, especially in my constituency, Taunton Deane—where we have had terrible flooding and are dealing with the wider area—and worldwide? If we stopped cutting down the rain forest, that would have an enormous effect.

My hon. Friend is right to raise that point. She will be aware that tree planting has benefits not only for reducing carbon emissions, but for improving public health. In our environment it is vital to have trees and proper landscaping, so I can assure her that the Government are committed to such projects, and that the private sector, too, is pretty good at ensuring that its developments are properly screened and properly planted.

21. The Prime Minister told the Liaison Committee in 2010 that he supported a substantially decarbonised electricity sector by 2020. Is that still his view, and does “substantially” mean more or less than 75%? (900559)

It is, indeed, still the Prime Minister’s view. The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that in real terms between 1990 and 2013 emissions dropped by 30%. That is good. There is a lot more to be done, but we are making progress and we are fully committed to it.

Thank you for the encouragement, Mr Speaker. On the environment, since the Secretary of State said what she did about onshore wind, the industry needs to know what the Government intend for feed-in tariffs, contracts for difference and islands with regard to onshore wind.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new position. He is right. We want investor certainty. Our priority for the Department is to keep the bills down, to keep energy security and to decarbonise. In order to do that, we recognise that significant private sector investment is needed. We want to give certainty as soon as possible, and that is what we will be doing.