My Lords, this seems a convenient moment to repeat the Statement made in the other place by the Secretary of State. The Statement is as follows:
“With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the independent report on the economics of climate change by Sir Nicholas Stern, commissioned by the Chancellor and the Prime Minister in July 2005. This morning Sir Nicholas published his comprehensive and compelling report. I believe it is a landmark in the debate about climate change.
“The Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary have repeatedly stressed that climate change is an economic, energy, security and political issue, not just an environmental issue. The Stern report shows why this is true. The conclusions of the report are clear.
“Climate change is the greatest long-term threat faced by humanity. It would cause more human and financial suffering than the two world wars and the Great Depression put together. All countries will be affected but the poorest nations will be hit hardest.
“The costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of action. At a minimum, a failure to tackle climate change will cost 5 per cent of global GDP. Costs could run to 20 per cent of global GDP.
“The window of opportunity to reverse the rise in global emissions is narrowing. The science and the economics suggest that to avoid catastrophic climate change, global carbon emissions must peak in the next 10 to 15 years.
“The Stern report shows how the stock of CO2 or equivalent has risen over the past 150 years to 430 parts per million. It continues to rise at about two parts per million per year. Stabilisation at between 450 and 550 parts per million would mean at least a 25 per cent cut in global emissions. For richer countries with high emissions, this would mean a cut of 60 per cent or more.
“Finally, climate change is not an insoluble challenge. The technologies to reduce energy demand, increase efficiency and develop low-carbon electricity, heat and transport are within grasp. The costs are manageable at around 1 per cent of global GDP. The earlier we act, across all countries and all sectors, the more we will keep costs down.
“Stern argues for both global co-operation and domestic action. Let me set out our initial response.
“First, on emissions trading, Stern argues that we must create a price signal for carbon, in particular, through the development of emissions trading schemes around the world. Emissions trading can not only ensure cost-effective reductions in emissions but could also drive tens of billions of dollars each year to put developing countries on a path to low-carbon economies.
“In this area, the European Union is a world leader and it is a European solution that is key to our goals in this area. Today we are proposing that the EU commits to new targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 and at least 60 per cent by 2050. And we are setting out our commitment to strengthen the European Union emissions trading scheme as the nucleus of a global carbon market. I will be discussing with business and environmental groups on Wednesday how we can develop a unified UK position for phase 3 of the scheme from 2012. I am sure we need to secure the long-term certainty of the scheme, extend it to cover new sectors—especially aviation—and link it to other emerging emissions trading schemes.
“Secondly, Stern argues for a stronger focus on technological company-operation, including the doubling of energy research and development support and a five-fold increase in the deployment of low-carbon technologies.
“In March, the Chancellor announced the creation of the Energy Technologies Institute, a new public/private partnership designed to co-ordinate £1 billion worth of research and development funding into low carbon energy technologies over the next 10 years. Today, we can announce two new companies will be joining the partnership, Scottish and Southern and Rolls Royce, taking total contributions so far to£550 million of funding—half Government, half private sector.
“Stern also identifies a specific need to develop low carbon transport fuels. That is why the UK has initiated a joint task force with Brazil, South Africa and Mozambique to promote the development of a regional sustainable biofuels industry in southern Africa. The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), which the UK launched in 2003, is now working in over 40 countries to develop policies and financing frameworks for investment in sustainable energy.
“At the Gleneagles G8 summit last year the UK was instrumental in establishing the Energy Investment Framework, led by the World Bank and the Regional Development Banks, to catalyse increased investment in energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, as well as adaptation. The UK Government are therefore pleased to announce today with President Wolfowitz of the World Bank, together with the four leading regional development banks, a partnership with the World Economic Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to stimulate private sector investment through the Energy Investment Framework. President Wolfowitz and the Chancellor will co-host a conference early in February 2007 to kick off the partnership.
“Third is the action to reduce deforestation, which makes up 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year—equivalent to more than the whole of the transport sector. Forests are of great global importance for climate change and biodiversity. But they are also sovereign territory of the countries whose forests they are, and only those nations can decide what happens to them. With the governments of Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Costa rica and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, with Germany holding the presidency of the G8 and the EU, and with the World Bank and other interested parties, we will be exploring over the coming months how to mobilise global resources for sustainable forestry.
“Fourth is the need for adaptation. The review suggests that richer countries must provide financial support to developing countries to adapt to the changes in climate already in train. The UK Government are strongly committed to making climate risk reduction key to development activities. Contributions to the special climate change fund (SCCF), the least developed countries fund for climate change (LDCF), and the Canadian International Development Research Centre, are additional to development finance and policy as part of this drive.
“In all these four areas, the UK is determined to continue to show international leadership; that drive is strengthened by our domestic leadership. To be the most convincing persuaders, we must also be effective contributors.
“Between 1997 and 2005, the economy has grown by 25 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by 7 per cent. We are exceeding our Kyoto targets and are the only country on track to double them. The ambitious commitments inthe energy review to take a further 19 million to25 million tonnes of carbon out of the economy will add further impetus to the drive to reduce emissions.
“We have now also decided to put in place a legislative timetable to become a leading low carbon economy. Our climate change legislation will provide a clear, credible, long-term framework for the UK to achieve its long-term goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
“The Bill will be based on four pillars. For each, we will come forward with details at the time of publication of the Bill. We are in addition determined to promote the widest possible debate in this House and across the country about the contents of the Bill.
“The legislation will, first, put into statute the Government’s long-term goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 from 1990 levels. We will also consider appropriate interim targets. We are determined to enhance Britain’s competitive position and believe that business in particular will benefit from the long-term framework that it says is so important for effective investment decisions.
“The new legislation will, secondly, establish an independent body—a carbon committee—which will work with Government to reduce emissions over time and across the economy. We will ensure that the committee’s advice is transparent, equitable and mindful of sectoral and competitiveness impacts, including the need to secure energy supplies at competitive prices.
“Thirdly, we believe that targets need to be accompanied by substantive measures if they are to have credibility. This legislation will, therefore, create enabling powers to put in place new emissions reduction measures to achieve our goals.
“The final pillar of the legislation will be to assess what additional reporting and monitoring arrangements are necessary to support our aims of a transparent framework for emissions reductions, including reports to this House.
“I believe that the House and the country owe a huge debt to Sir Nicholas Stern and his staff for their outstanding work. I believe his report should be a cause for alarm but also a cause for action. It is action that the whole Government are determined to deliver—at home and abroad”.
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made by his right honourable friend in another place. May I also add my thanks and the thanks of my colleagues toSir Nicholas Stern and his assistants for this landmark report which so adequately puts the problem of dealing with global warming into a proper perspective. It is better to act now than to attempt to clear up a mess later.
The report is in considerable contrast to the Government’s approach to energy matters up until now. The last energy White Paper and indeed the preamble to the latest energy review both concentrated on security of supply using traditional fuels. The contrast is even deeper with the rather extraordinary meeting between European Prime Ministers and President Putin only 10 days ago which rather appalled me—they appeared to be grovelling in order to secure supplies of gas from Russia. The question is: will we now begin to see real action to develop green fuels and thereby really tackle the issue of carbon dioxide emissions?
All this of course illustrates the international nature of the problem and the depth of change in attitudes that will be required if we are to succeed. One only need mention three countries—China, India and the United States—to see that all too often short-termism is the dominating sentiment that is ruling policy. Developing green energy sources is apparently a very low priority for any government in the present era. It is to be hoped that Sir Nicholas’ report will change that.
In the Statement—on page 3 of the copy—there is a sentence that I found puzzling. It refers to the specific need to develop low carbon transport fuels and says:
“That is why the UK has initiated a joint task force with Brazil, South Africa and Mozambique to promote the development of a regional sustainable biofuels industry in southern Africa”.
That may all be very worthy but I was not aware that Brazil was in southern Africa, still less in the UK, nor that half the southern hemisphere constitutes a region. This is very peculiar and I suspect it is simply a device to secure large supplies of imported biofuel, which would be a kick in the teeth for British agriculture.
The policy is short-sighted for two reasons. First, if that were the case, transport costs would of course not be very green and, in the longer run there is not enough land—and I have said this in this House before—to produce both biofuels and food for society, so this can only be a short-term Statement. Sir Nicholas mentions the need for green fuels; there is no mention in the Statement, or in anything else I have seen, of the development of hydrogen, which is the ultimate zero emissions fuel.
Only one domestic action is mentioned in the Statement—the creation of the Energy Technologies Institute. There is no mention of green taxation, widely floated in the media, which apparently had access to the report long before us. I recognise that that is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I would be grateful if the noble Lord could help us with a statement of principle. Are green taxes to be additional revenues for the Government, or substitute revenues? In other words, as green taxation increases—I hope it will be a carbon-based tax if we have any green revenues—will other taxes be reduced as it is introduced? Otherwise the tax burden on society will increase, which will not be very helpful at this time. Can the Minister help us on that?
The truth is that under this Government carbon emissions have increased for five of the past eight years. It is true that the Government are still meeting their Kyoto targets, but the outlook is worsening rather than improving, and it will take very positive action to reverse the developments in the economy and get carbon emissions under control. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, from the Liberal Democrat Benches, I welcomeSir Nicholas Stern’s report. Credit must go to the Treasury for taking a brave and wise lead in commissioning it, reversing its previous stance of failing to make any switch from taxing work totaxing pollution. I congratulate the Treasury on commissioning such an important piece of work and Sir Nicholas on implementing his brief very fully.
The Statement justly credits the EU as a world leader in showing how emissions trading can drive innovation and carbon reduction. It has not been a perfect mechanism but it has been an extremely valuable start. The report is a blueprint for further action, and not just UK action. As one would expect from a former chief economist of the World Bank, the report is a blueprint for international action. I believe that it will provide the route map for the post-2012 route that follows the first round of the Kyoto negotiations. It will be a springboard for those starting to develop a framework, not just for developed nations and the EU, but for the rapidly developing nations. I particularly welcome the point about the action that the World Bank will be taking.
The Statement contained some interesting suggestions about deforestation. I am sure that the House will benefit from knowing more about what that will mean. There is an interesting list of the nations which will be taking part; it does not include Guatemala, Belize and Mexico—although they may be in the Coalition for Rainforest Nations—which, after the Amazon basin, have the largest area of rainforest in Latin America.
The report will make us—as businesses, as a nation and internationally—take account of the true price of things; not just the financial price but the hidden cost. Cheap goods are not so cheap if the environmental or social costs are high and hidden—particularly, in this case, the environmental costs.
The report is particularly important; it takes the debate out of the province of scientists and environmentalists, although of course they have a critical role to play. However, the report has made it quite clear that it is for everyone, from the boardroom to the tearoom, to think about the implications, whether it is a question of future investment for large corporations or how much water to use to fill a kettle—even, indeed, what sort of kettle.
The “act early” message is extremely important. The past decade has been marked by inaction and emissions in some sectors have risen. Transport emissions in particular have risen under this Government. Private mileage has increased because cars have become more efficient, so the overall effect is that, given the lack of investment in public transport, emissions have increased. In passing, I congratulate Defra on its Environment in Your Pocket publication. It often comes in for criticism, but that very informative publication is exactly what the public need to play a part in this important debate.
The other people who must play an important role are the media. I do not think that today’s headlines were helpful. The Evening Standard, in particular, was scaremongering about tax rises before looked at the report. The Government could take a leaf out of the book of Liberal Democrat-controlled Richmond council; it received very positive coverage for its gas-guzzler parking charges. I hope that the media will play a responsible part in pushing the agenda forward and make every effort to be informative as opposed to publishing what was called by the IPPR report, “climate porn”. Some of today’s headlines could have been called the same thing.
Stern makes a very important comment on investing in research and development. He suggests doubling expenditure, from a very low base. I look forward to hearing what the Minister says about the research and development budget. It is impossible to imagine moving forward without the innovation that that research will bring. That will be key in making this a success or a failure.
My Lords, I am most grateful for the contributions of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, and the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. I do not think I can answer everything in detail, although I would like to make one or two points. In his final point, the noble Lord referred to taxation. All I can do is repeat what was said this morning and in the other place that people should look at what the Chancellor has done. The climate change levy was offset by national insurance, and I understand that one of the other green taxes had an offset as well. This was not used as an excuse to raise more funds; it was designed to change people’s behaviour. The investment in the climate change levy was offset by national insurance.
The noble Lord mentioned Brazil. I did not say that it was in South Africa; the fact is, Brazil is the biggest, most expert producer of bioethanol fuels, and one has to share global experience. That is the issue relating to South Africa and Mozambique, which have come forward.
The noble Lord also asked about land. We in the UK do not have enough land for all our fuel requirements. If we used all our land, we could not grow enough for our food and fuel. He implied that we would have to import all our biofuels and then said that there was not enough land for biofuels and food. No, there is not—I accept that.
My Lords, I take the noble Lord’s point and apologise if I misunderstood him.
I freely accept that there will have to be arrangements for transporting biofuels around the world. Nevertheless, a start will be made to develop a large-scale, world-class biofuels industry. This cannot be done on small plots of land, hence we are using the experience of Brazil, South Africa and Mozambique.
The noble Lord also asked about the need for a balanced supply of energy. The energy White Paper published in the summer made it clear that we want a balanced supply. We will be using fossil fuels for a considerable time and some 20 per cent of our power comes from the nuclear industry. We have made it clear that we will not use public subsidy, but the existing nuclear supply will be phased out and the question therefore arises about replacements so that there is a balance. And it is, of course, carbon-free.
I have not read the 700 pages and do not know if there is a mention of hydrogen. Yet—I have used this example in this House before—I have been into a dwelling in the Midlands which is fuelled by hydrogen as an experiment. There are experiments going in the UK now; they are small scale but high-level experiments and other fuels are used.
I freely admit that I have not seen the headlines today, but sometimes the hysterical approach of the media can be counter-productive. I am not saying that every scientist in the world agrees with this, as no doubt I am about to be reminded. Yet the position on climate change, as explained today, is vastly different from what it was 10 or 20 years ago. On balance, taking the precautionary principle, we have had it set out that if we do not move on carbon—if it went up from 450 to above 550—we may not be able to get it back anyway. We have to deal with this issue. If the scientists are wrong, at least we survive. If they are right and we have done nothing about it—which we owe to the next generations—then it is a complete failure of our society.
There will obviously be debates on this and legislation, as the Government have indicated. I am grateful for what the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, said about Defra’s handbook. It is incredibly easy to read, unlike some of the material put out by government departments that sometimes have a difficulty with material for general consumption. They always want to get it right, so you end up with too much detail and the message gets lost. This Defra handbook is incredibly easy to read and ought to be compulsory reading. I am grateful for what the noble Baroness said about Defra doing that, and also welcoming that it was the Treasury that commissioned the report. This goes beyond the environmental aspects, as the Statement said. It is also about security, energy and finance. The report shows, in summary, that we can deal with climate change without wrecking our economies, provided we move now. If we leave it 10 to 15 years, then, as the report makes clear, we are in a no-hope situation.
My Lords, how can airlines, particularly from the United States, China and India, be compelled to enforce the higher levies on carbon dioxide emissions unless there is an enforceable, international agreement? Will the Government adopt an appropriate international initiative, and when will they do so?
My Lords, my noble friend is quite right to refer to aviation, which is mentioned in the Statement. The intention is to get it included inthe European emissions-trading arrangement. Yet aviation is international and the issue as he put it can be dealt with only on an international basis by the international aviation authorities. This report gives the lead. Clearly some action is required and it cannot be done solely by the UK or the European Union. It requires international action, and the aviation industry is now on notice.
My Lords, on taxation, as raised by my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith, if the Government are going to carry the people with them in their determination to deal with climate change, it is essential that they make it clear that they will not use their response to the threat as an excuse to pile more taxes on an already over-taxed people. It is not good enough to say that once or twice in the past there has been some balancing reduction. This is a good opportunity for the Minister to give an undertaking that necessary green taxes are not going to be used as an excuse to increase overall revenue.
My Lords, will the Government bear in mind the need for some caution in the Statements they make? This is not the time to debate the Stern report—which is going to be a very important question indeed—but there will be actions which he recommends that will be unpopular. It will be vital to get popular support for such actions. There will not be popular support if the claims made are not supported by scientific evidence and are then found to be false.
For example, it has been widely stated that Hurricane Katrina was the result of global warming. That is something that Mr Gore says in his film—although he also makes a number of statements in his film that I fully agree with. The evidence on this is not yet clear and it is a dangerous claim to make. This year, for example, there have been fewer hurricanes. Many people may say, “If global warming causes hurricanes and there are now fewer hurricanes, then there ain’t no global warming”. It is important that we do not make rash statements.
The Statement says that climate change is the greatest threat faced by humanity. But climate change has always been happening. It is not climate change that is the threat; it is global warming caused by human activity and the effects of global warming, which may or may not be very serious. There is a lot of evidence that it may well be serious, and that would justify action. It is therefore important that the Government are cautious in the Statements that they make. I am somewhat worried that they have appointed Mr Al Gore, or so certain reports say, as their adviser. While there are many good things in his film, he is inclined to exaggerate and to take themost pessimistic view of everyone. He suggests, for example, that the thermohaline current is going to switch off, although most meteorologists do not think that very likely. Will the Government exercise some caution?
My Lords, with due respect to the noble Lord, there are a few wild statements there. There is not enough time for me to rebut them. However, less than a week ago, in this House, I read from some scientific literature about the thermohaline current possibly switching off. If it does, it will not switch on again. Those documents are in the Library: it was a Cambridge Press/Defra publication from an international symposium. It is not clear that scientists say it will not switch off. That is a threat.
The Statement said:
“Climate change is the greatest long-term threat faced by humanity. It [could] cause more human and financial suffering than the two world wars and the Great Depression put together. All countries will be affected but the poorest nations will be hit hardest”.
This is a banal point to make, but if anybody wants to query whether something is going on out there, then just look at the leaves on the trees.
My Lords, I welcome this Statement by my noble friend. Perhaps I may concentrate on transport, which is my interest. Does he agree that there is going to be a strong need to change behaviour and the way in which people and goods travel by road, rail, air, sea and whatever? Are the Government thinking of extending emissions trading to all transport, and, if so, how? My worry about emissions trading as it is at the moment is that although we have started in Europe—not on aircraft emissions but on other things—there are many stories about other member states initially giving such a leg-up to companies that may be at risk of having to spend large sums on buying emissions quota that it all becomes pretty meaningless. Does my noble friend accept that some people will get hurt to change their behaviour while others will probably benefit?
My Lords, the summary makes it clear that if we act now, it need affect only 1 per cent of GDP and will not stop growth of the economy. That is one of the central messages. I heard Sir Nicholas say this morning that if we act now, growth is not at risk. There is a one-off 1 per cent change, so there need not be damage to the economy.
I believe the Statement only referred to aviation in the European emissions trading system. There are many complaints about people flying short journeys when there are perfectly adequate railway networks; the argument against that might be that the railway networks are expensive, but that is because the flights are not paying the full cost of the carbon damage to the atmosphere. That is what this is all about: putting a price on carbon, so activities are charged for the cost they impose on the planet.
My Lords, seldom can this House have heard a Statement containing so much fantasy with so little relation to the real world. I have one specific question. It is generally agreed that China will very soon overtake the United States as the largest emitter of carbon dioxide. If the Chinese insist on maintaining their current position of generating their growth on the back of low-cost carbon-based energy, what do the Government propose to do? Will they pay the Chinese to change their ways, or propose trade sanctions against them if they do not? What are they going to do, in concert with our allies and partners in Europe?
My Lords, the noble Lord made sweeping statements about the whole of the Stern review. I acknowledge his position, which he has held for a long time and expressed in this House, to my knowledge, on more than one occasion. I do not think that China should be put in the dock. I understand that it is opening a coal-fired power station every week. We are working with the Chinese and looking at low-carbon technology for burning that coal. They will carry on burning it, because they want to grow. There is no reason why their growth should not continue, but it could be low-carbon growth. That is the offer. The Chinese will be just as interested as anyone else, by the way, in people being flooded out of their homes, or in having no land to grow crops because it has got too hot. They are not divorced from this and we should not put them in the dock. We have to help. We are all in this together.
I have no idea, my Lords. I went to the launch this morning and picked up a 30-page executive summary and a disk. I have not put the disk in anything yet; I assumed it contained the whole report. As far as I know, the report is available. It is 700 pages long. I understand that it is not available in the Printed Paper Office and I am going to find out about that. I was supposed to be given a line on that before I stood up, but I realise I have not been. I suspect that this issue was raised in the other place, but I do not think that the Chancellor is so mean as not to allow the publication of a report that will have such an impact on all our lives, both economically and socially.
My Lords, I welcome the report. It is marvellous that it brings to everyone’s attention that there is a problem, because for so long people have been saying there is no problem. However, following the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, it is extremely difficult for us to assess the, I think, 612-page report—but then of course there are lots of appendices we do not even know about, as they are not in the contents—by reading the Statement.
The Minister said that if we act now, we can stop the problem. Surely that must be naïve. There is not a single mention of the word “USA” in this four-page Statement. There is no mention of China. Aviation is briefly mentioned, but surely most of the aviation in the world is in the US. How much notice will the United States, India and China take of the report? Do we not have an exalted view of our influence? I quote from the Statement:
“The UK is determined to continue to show international leadership”.
Honestly, if, as I am told, we only contribute something like 2 per cent of the carbon emissions, is anyone going to listen?
My Lords, our contribution of 2 per cent is small. It could be argued that we do not need to do anything; that we are overshadowed, and our contribution would be replaced by some of the developing countries within 10 months. That is not a satisfactory situation when we have taken the position that, if we do not move within 10 to 15 years, the process will be unstoppable. According to the chart shown by Sir Nicholas this morning, the temperature could rise by 5 degrees—well above the 2 degrees that I understand is a turning point. We have to move on this.
I cannot give chapter and verse about what individual countries are going to do. The report has been published today, and we want the rest of the world to have a look at it. It will be discussed in a few days’ time in Nairobi at the pow-wow of environmental and Treasury Ministers, and it was partly discussed during the recent discussions in Mexico. The issue is being dealt with at a world level, not at the UK or EU level, but we are attempting to take a lead. We have a contribution to make.
Regarding the printed report, my note says:
“Mix-up. Full report soon”.
It also says, though, that if the report is on CD,the CDs are more environmentally friendly than 700 printed pages anyway. I do not know anyone who cannot put a CD into a computer and read from it. Grey power gets hold of computers and gets going at them better than the youngsters sometimes. However, I apologise if the noble Lord has not been able to get his copy today.
My Lords, the Minister is very good at knowing the reaction of people in the street, and in villages and towns. First, does he agree that, if this is to work, there has to be strong popular support behind it, as my noble friend Lord Taverne said, and that what the people of any country can do is address the subject of energy conservation, on which the UK has a bad record? Does he agree that there ought to be a fifth heading concerning energy conservation, which is crucial if this great aim is to be achieved?
Secondly, does he agree, having referred to the fact that forests are the responsibility of the country in which they lie, that the idea of renting substantial parts of untouched forest land should be looked at closely in terms of the international bargain between the rich world and the poor? If we are going to save the planet we have to start by saving the forests, and in many forest lands there is no money whatever to do so.
My Lords, the noble Baroness has raised a practical solution that has very seductive undertones. There is clearly an issue. Sometimes people have destroyed their heritage—that is, the forest—because of money. There is no other crop, as it were. They have to be prevented from doing so, and shown the wisdom of preserving it. But they have to have alternatives. If we can sell this to our people on the basis that we can make all these changes and still grow our economy, the same must apply to everyone else. They will want to grow their economies, because they are far behind us in that respect. This issue has to be dealt with.
I regret that I did not comment on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, relating to public perception. He is right: if the public are not on side, nothing will happen. Ministers talking, business acting or taxes changing to change people’s behaviour will not work. It will build in resentment. People have to be made to understand that there is a major problem.
We have an outreach programme focusing on the private sector, legislators and broader civil society. I shall briefly give some examples of what was done. In December last year, a new campaign was launched, called “Tomorrow’s Climate, Today’s Challenge”, which included free resources; short films; a website; a communications guide; a £6 million climate challenge fund to support local level communication projects, and we expect to announce winners on 5 June; a European environment day; large-scale national activities allowing local level activities to feel part of a wider government-backed initiative to commencein 2006-07; and a youth competition to help communicate climate change in their region, in which nine regional climate change champions were announced on 11 May 2006. Work has to go on over a whole range of activities. It is not just about the media but about understanding the footprints of normal people’s lives.
My Lords, I am old enough to remember that not long ago we were being warned of a new ice age, so we have to take that into account, too. I have two questions. First, the inexorable growth in world population is estimatedto increase by a further 50 per cent over the next30 years, I believe. Do the Government have any plans to address that problem, because if we do not deal with it, we have no hope of solving global warming? Secondly, will the Government review their policies on airport expansion, particularly at Heathrow and Stansted—and in other parts of the country? Unless the Government do that, aircraft movements will continue to rise and rise and there will be no hope of reducing aircraft emissions.
My Lords, on that last point, I cannot go beyond what I have said, other than that the Statement attempts to bring aviation into the emissions trading scheme, so that the cost of aviation pollution is paid for and will bring about a change in people’s behaviour. As I said, plenty of trains are available for short journeys in this country and between this country and other parts of Europe in which one can probably travel faster than if one used the airports.
As I understand it, forecasts of population growth are taken into account; but is it not also the case that when countries have good economies and economic growth, population growth decreases? This is a serious issue. It is a fact that we are using up the planet at a greater rate than we are creating more planet, if you like—and the planet is finite. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, half joked about a new ice age that has not yet happened, but if the Atlantic Gulf Stream closes down, we will soon know about a new ice age.
My Lords, while I welcome the Minister’s assurance that any new green taxes would be matched by reductions in indirect taxation and his acknowledgment that everything depends on growth economies such as China and India buying into this proposal, could he assure us that providing leadership does not mean putting up taxes on business in this country in advance of those countries doing the same? Given the mobile nature of capital, will not business simply switch its investment into countries where there is no such levy or charge, whether it be a tax or a carbon trading scheme? How will the Government deal with that?
My Lords, the noble Lord has described exactly what has happened in some parts of the world in recent years. Countries have been pillaged environmentally because there has been no international agreement about what happens to their resources. I cannot say any more about what would happen as regards the effects of taxation, because they will be matters for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He commissioned this report, so it is self-evident that there are issues beyond the environment, including social, cultural, energy and conservation issues, as well as the economic issues of climate change, that, clearly, the Treasury will take into account.
My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Third Reading of the Education and Inspections Bill be now adjourned. In moving the Motion, I suggest that that the House returns to that business not before 8.42 pm. For the convenience of your Lordships, it may be helpful to know that the usual channels have agreed that it will not be possible to begin the Report stage of the Armed Forces Bill tonight.
Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.