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Climate Change Bill [HL]

Volume 697: debated on Tuesday 11 December 2007

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD SPEAKER in the Chair.]

1: Before Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Objective of the Act

It is the objective of this Act that the United Kingdom play a fair and equitable part in the international effort to limit global average temperature rise to not more than 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

The noble Lord said: The Climate Change Bill is the most important Bill in this Session of Parliament. It raises large issues on carbon reductions well into this century and a number of global issues, all of which have been subject to a great deal of discussion and debate, not just in the United Kingdom and Europe, but in the global community. However, a key area not covered by the Bill is why it exists and why we should have the various targets, measures and frameworks that it will bring into action.

We all know that there is a consensus among the international community, climate change scientists and the political community that there is a considerable need to keep the temperature increase above pre-industrial levels to 2 degrees centigrade. If we do not have that in the Bill, I do not understand how the other major figures and items that we will come on to debate in Committee make sense. We from these Benches feel that it is very important that at the beginning of this Bill we have the objective that global warming should not be more than 2 degrees centigrade and that the United Kingdom should play its fair and equitable part in making sure that that objective is reached.

I remind the Committee that the Defra statement of 19 November on the post-2012 framework for tackling climate change said:

“To avoid the dangerous impacts of global warming, global temperatures must rise no more than 2 degrees above those of pre-industrial times”.

If that is not authoritative enough, the Prime Minister said on the same day in what was seen as a keynote speech on the Government’s climate change policy:

“But our mission is in truth historic and it is world changing—to build over the next 50 years and beyond a global low carbon economy … Our vision has one overriding claim: holding the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees centigrade”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it clear that if that objective is not achieved, among very many other consequences there is a risk of some 30 to 40 per cent of species becoming extinct—a risk, not a certainty, as in many of these areas of climate science.

For those reasons we believe that the Bill should do exactly what the Government say it should do; it should lay out without doubt the context in which the Government and this nation will pursue the problem of climate change. This target should actually be in—

Can the noble Lord cite an example in which the objectives of the Bill have been defined as far as statute law is concerned? I do not think that he can.

If I understand the noble Lord, in terms of being binding, the United Kingdom can only have a certain—

What I just asked the noble Lord is whether he can point to other statutes where objectives have been defined. I do not think that he can.

I will respond to that by saying that the Government are claiming that this Bill is unique, that this type of legislation has never been brought forward anywhere else in the world and that therefore it is of a different nature from much of the legislation that we have seen in other countries or indeed in this country. I think that it is entirely valid to have the proper objective as stated by the Government included at the beginning of the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment No. 2 is the only amendment in this group with which we are directly associated, but we agree with the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that it is a good idea to set out at the beginning of this Bill a statement on the objective of the Bill—not just the means but the long-term objective.

The amendment aims simply to ensure that the Bill has a proper aim. The logic behind it is straightforward: if the Bill seeks to solve the problem of climate change, that should be on the face of the Bill. As it stands, the Bill’s only real objective is to reduce the amount of UK emissions by an arbitrary figure, which even the Government now seem to recognise might not necessarily be the right one. Why is the Bill’s true purpose not reflected in the legislation?

We take our cue in mentioning the 2-degree increase in temperature from what seems to be the general consensus in the scientific community. That is what we seek to address. Indeed, the text of the amendment is based on a European Council document, cited by WWF. If the Bill is to have the scope that the Government seem to hope for it—that it is to be a serious assault on the problems associated with the rise in the earth’s temperature—we see no reason why this should not be reflected in legislation. We hope that the Minister will agree. If this is the scientifically identified problem, we should not shy away from naming it.

The amendment would also create a general duty, which we believe would focus the Bill. It is necessary to ensure that the committee sets a new, higher target for 2050, and to provide a framework or focal point for the other matters on which the committee will be working. This general duty means that our amendment goes further than the Liberal Democrat amendment, although it goes very much in a similar direction.

The Second Reading debate indicated that there will be much discussion in Committee about the precise percentage of reductions in carbon emissions. The Bill’s professed goal is being disputed. As all your Lordships agree that the genuine overall aim is to stop global warming, will the Minister consider reflecting this consensus in the legislation in the beginning? Any debate on the objectives of the Bill should be tethered to the scientific reality of the more general purpose of this legislation. In essence, we want to ensure that our objectives are clear. Although the magnitude of this problem is daunting, that should not keep it from being stated in the Bill.

I am content that the noble Lords who have spoken have put into the public domain the main concerns that I suspect we all share. It is important that your Lordships recognise that we, too, on these Benches recognise that this is probably one of the most important issues ever to come before your Lordships’ House. That is why there is yet another amendment to an opening title in my name.

Climate change has in the past been seen as an issue concerned solely with the environment, but I shall take a few moments to explain why it is so much more important and wide ranging. That is why my amendment includes a subsection to require the Prime Minister and other Secretaries of State to take personal responsibility for this and not to leave it simply in one area.

First, climate change is an economic issue. Sir Nicholas Stern’s report for Her Majesty’s Treasury illustrated this strongly, setting out clearly and powerfully the costs of dealing with climate change now and the vastly greater costs that will inevitably fall on us if we do very little at this stage.

Secondly, climate change is a key development issue. Recent Christian Aid research from Bolivia found that communities have noticed detailed and profound changes in the local weather and in plant and animal life. This is having an effect on their local food supply, the clothes that they wear, their sources of income and how they live.

Thirdly, climate change is a security issue. My noble friends will know of my interest in the Sudan, with which the diocese of Salisbury has had links for some 35 years. The conflict in Darfur has been described as the first climate change war. It is obvious, but still important to say, that the causes of any war are complex and manifold and that the conflict and consequent destabilisation in Darfur have a multitude of causes. However, greater pressure on scarce land and water resources has clearly contributed enormously, just as it has in relation to the use of the waters in the Upper Nile area. As in so many areas, climate change does not create the problem, but it does hugely worsen it. Sudan is the country with the dubious distinction of having the highest number of internally displaced persons—more than 5 million. One feature of a world in which the climate is allowed permanently and catastrophically to change would be massive increases in such displacement and in the overall levels of migration.

Fourthly, climate change is an issue of justice. The poorest countries which are feeling the very worst impact of the problems that I described are the ones that have contributed and largely still contribute the least to the problem. We must act on that.

I am concerned that the targets in the Bill are not strong enough. They were drawn up seven years ago and they are out of date. It is right for the Government to say that they will be put before the committee established by the Bill, but it is bad practice for us to pass a Bill that is already out of date when we start considering it. That is why it is important that we commit the leaders of our country—the Prime Minister and the heads of all the departments—to act together in this matter. It is not a matter just for the department dealing with environmental issues.

The Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester has said that if every country adopted Bills that only included equivalent levels of emission, global temperatures would rise by 4 to 5 degrees centigrade. Someone should take responsibility for this in the world and offer leadership. If we go on telling other people what to do about things but do not do anything ourselves, we will be in a weak position to take any leadership on this matter in the world. It will not do to stand by waiting for somebody else to take responsibility. That is why we need this Bill. Of course it can legislate only for what we do in this country, but it must include the whole range of the issues that I outlined. That is why my amendment uses rather stronger terms than those used by my noble colleagues.

My noble friend has spoken about Amendment No. 1. I want to speak to Amendments Nos. 142 and 157, which are in my name. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor: we support his amendment as he supports ours. There is not a great deal of political debate among the parties—even within the Government’s party—about what we are trying to achieve in this Bill. However, how we actually achieve that objective will suffer from some variance. The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, asked whether there was a precedent for this type of legislation. Of course there is: Kyoto is a classic example of something that we and a vast number of other countries signed up to. This is actually ratifying how we deal with the amount of emissions.

Amendment No. 142 deals with the aims of the committee. One of the problems that we have is with the committee itself, which has not yet come into existence—I do not believe that the members of the committee have been interviewed yet and they will have no power until the legislation comes into force. The committee will deal with science that is continually developing. The right reverend Prelate described how science is becoming old and how targets are being revised even as we speak. However, the 2 degrees Celsius target is most important because it is the one that most scientists agree will cause catastrophic change: it is the tipping point. Amendment No. 142 would ensure that the committee had an overarching aim to remind the Government that that was the target that we must meet.

Of course, if it was only up to the British Government to meet this target, the situation would be a great deal simpler. We have only a small influence on the total amount of gases emitted. However, if reports in the papers are to be believed, the amount of carbon dioxide that we are emitting has exceeded the levels that we thought had been reached, because of the carbon that we export to other producing countries. Amendment No. 157 would make it clear to the committee that that should be one of its objectives, along with making sure that recommendations of further cuts dealt with the rise of 2 degrees Celsius. That would be a clear aim of the committee’s recommendations.

Having been mentioned by the noble Lord in his contribution, I would like to answer the points that he raised. The Bill and the amendments that have been tabled should have a clear objective, but that is a matter for speeches rather than for definition in the Bill. It is important to recognise whether the Bill is justiciable. No amendments can address that point. As I say, the objectives must be defined by the Minister in his speech in support of the Bill. It is an appropriate matter to raise at Second Reading, but it is not appropriate for inclusion in the Bill. It is wholly inappropriate to try to illustrate the purposes of the Bill in a clause. If we applied domestic legislation as a precedent, the noble Lord could not point to a situation where that had been done. Of course, it has been argued that we are faced with a new situation, which we are. That does not mean that we have to devote ourselves to an irrelevant consideration as far as the Bill is concerned. I think that it is an irrelevant consideration—important to raise at Second Reading, but not, as a matter of course, in the Bill itself.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury has tabled a very interesting amendment. He made the point that Secretaries of State should be made directly responsible for the actions required. Did he really mean to refer to what the Bill calls the “national authorities”, meaning Ministers in the devolved Assemblies as well? I realise that he speaks from the Benches of the Church of England, but I do not think that the intention of his amendment will be met unless the devolved Assemblies are also given responsibility.

I have a question for both opposition Front Benches. If this objective is to be put in the Bill, plainly it must be capable of being decided in court whether that objective has been fulfilled. What is the pre-industrial level? How does one know what the pre-industrial level was? Even more fantastically, what are the “pre-industrial levels”—in the plural—as appear in both proposed new clauses? How on earth can an average temperature increase be of more than 2 degrees above various pre-industrial levels? The temperature can only possibly have risen above a specific pre-industrial level that is capable of absolute ascertainment.

The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, raised a point that also concerns me. The difficulty with temperatures is that they are very imprecise. The historical record clearly indicates that there have been considerable fluctuations in temperature over time. The record can be traced much further back than the pre-industrial level if one looks at the archaeological record. A more positive measure of what is going on in the atmosphere has always been, and still is, the number of parts per million of carbon dioxide. We can take that record back for a million years through the use of air bubbles in ice cores, which also contain carbon dioxide. That has been done. For roughly a million years, until somewhere in the 19th century, that level fluctuated around 270 parts per million, give or take about 10 or 15 parts. That record is consistent. So that is the first problem I have with this.

Secondly, 2 degrees centigrade where? Are we talking about 2 degrees centigrade here, 2 degrees centigrade in central Africa or 2 degrees centigrade in other places? If my reading is correct, some fairly recent research has shown that the temperature in this country has risen in the past decade by nearly 1 degree centigrade on average. If we were to keep up that rate—and that is where we are today—we would be way over 2 degrees centigrade. That indicates that we are perhaps already past the tipping point.

The third point about the 2 degrees centigrade is that it is severely open to question whether we might not already have gone past the point which will take our temperatures up to that level and beyond it, in which case we have something of a problem. So although I agree with absolutely everything that has been said, I find myself in considerable difficulty over including these amendments in the Bill.

Finally, I was absolutely delighted to hear what the right reverend Prelate had to say about our aspirations for leadership in this matter. He neatly trumped what I was going to say later. I may bore the Committee by repeating those remarks but at least he has the assurance that I will try to abbreviate them.

I support the amendment tabled by my noble friends. It is not as though they plucked the 2 degrees out of the air. The Joint Committee received an immense amount of evidence from very eminent scientists about what the Bill should aim to do. I believe that their amendment results from that. It is not something that they have thought up for themselves.

The part of the amendment that I particularly support concerns the fair and equitable concept. Although I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, says about leadership—the Government said a lot about the leadership role that the Bill plays—the Bill should, for the reasons laid out by the right reverend Prelate, be as much about cleaning up our own act and setting our own house in order as telling the rest of the world what to do. The amendment is particularly important because it would set the tone for the rest of the Bill. As we debate the level at which international credits should be set and what role the EU Emissions Trading Scheme should play we should keep very much in mind that individuals in this nation consume three, four or even six times as much as people not even in the poorest developing countries of the world but those on a middle income. We are really very greedy. We should make sure that we start to play a fair and equitable role and do not rely on some of the mechanisms that we could rely on, which would do very little. The amendment would establish a powerful context for that.

I see the logic of including an objective in the Bill. The arguments put forward by the proposers of all three amendments seem to me strong and convincing. This is an exceptional Bill, as the Government have said many times. Therefore, it is reasonable that it should have some exceptional features. Therefore, if it does, it is also reasonable to depart from precedent to this extent. I see the logic of the points made by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, and the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. However, on the question of justiciability, this seems an issue which arises in relation to other targets in the Bill and not just the 2 degrees centigrade. I am not certain that this is relevant to these clauses. As far as the figures are concerned, the science has evolved. As the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, was saying, we had much evidence put to us on the Joint Committee.

The science has evolved enough for specific figures to be feasible, testable and satisfactory and to be included in this Bill. Therefore, I support the direction of Amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3. However, I believe that the clearer, shorter and simpler this Bill’s objective is, the better—in particular, with regard to clarity of the 2 degrees centigrade figure. As between the three, I would prefer the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Teverson.

I support my noble friend’s amendment. When we debated this Bill at Second Reading, many of us were concerned that it is a skeleton Bill: that it leaves a lot of powers out—that there was not enough within it. We will discuss that in detail later.

Although one could say that the amendments may not be appropriate at the Bill’s final stage, they raise an important issue, upon which the right reverend Prelate has touched. It is clear that we are leading the world with this Bill. I do not agree with the comment that because it is a different Bill—because it has not happened before—we cannot take a stance on it at this stage. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis.

It is important that we have a slightly greater steer at the beginning of this Bill. If the Minister is unable to accept these amendments—I suspect that he will not be able to—the Government might consider strengthening what we have before us, because it is not strong enough. I would be concerned if I were in one of the foreign countries that will be most affected by it but which have very little control over what effect carbon emissions are having there.

I said at Second Reading that it is a moral issue. It is not just about what we do in this country, although that is enormously important to our people; it is much more important in relation to our responsibilities worldwide. I hope that the Minister will not just say that the Government cannot accept the amendments but that they will give serious thought to strengthening and improving the direction—the message—set out at the start of the Bill. I support my noble friend’s amendment.

Having read the amendment and listened to the debate, I am not convinced this amendment is necessary as a preamble to the Bill. The Government obviously take climate change very seriously. That is why they have produced the Bill, which is detailed and deals perfectly adequately with every matter raised during the debate so far. Additional verbiage in a Bill of this sort will not help the objectives, which some have doubts about. Statements have been made during this debate which one must query. The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, described this climate change as being unique. It is by no means unique. As everyone knows, climate change has been happening over a long period of time.

When I made the statement, I was referring to something that was said by the Opposition; it does not necessarily accord with my own views. I do not think that I would depart in any way from what I said. The job of the Bill is to enact exactly what we want and it should be justiciable, and in no way can this be.

I am interested in what the noble Lord has just said. I support the point that he made, but I am dealing with a statement that he made during his speech and that others have made before him. If the House of Lords had been around 12,000 years ago, we would not be debating a 2 per cent increase in temperatures; we would probably have been debating a 10 per cent decrease in temperatures. The situation now is by no means unique—

I did not want to go into that, but I will now go into the nature of it. Man has been doing all sorts of things over a very long period of time. Nature is actually very clever, because in many instances, it manages to undo the damage that has been done by man. But on that point alone it is being claimed that global warming is due to man-made activity. I do not necessarily dispute that, but the approach that this House and others are taking to rectifying that position is, if I might say so, quite absurd. They are blaming man for increases in temperature, yet they are quite happy to see the world’s population rise from 6 billion at present to 9 billion in 2050, so that the contribution of man could increase by 50 per cent. That is not being taken seriously.

Secondly, if man is going to make a real contribution not only to climate change but to other environmental aspects, people have to learn to live within the means of the planet. They are not doing that, and that is not what they are expected to do. In fact, every country in the world desperately wants to increase production year by year. That really is quite ridiculous and it cannot happen. If you believe that man’s activity will cause this huge climate change, you have to do something realistic about it and not just play with the problem; that is what we are doing in this Bill. I have to say that. After all, we make a contribution of only 2 per cent to CO2 emissions, so what we can do, except give a lead, is very limited. If the country and the world want to deal with the problem realistically, they have to make some very difficult and very serious decisions.

I would like to respond from our point of view. There has been criticism of the amendments. Those of us who want the Bill to be sound and thorough are grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Clinton-Davis and Lord Stoddart of Swindon, the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, and my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith for criticising, to some degree, the way we have presented an amendment that is more concerned with aims in the abstract than mechanics in the detail. That may be a challenge to good law—I do not know. However, when people look at the legislation 43 years from now, all the speeches that we are making will be totally forgotten. They will want to know what we were seeking to deal with when we set out. That has been made clear; all the evidence that we have received has shown that carbon emissions are leading to global warming, and that is what we are seeking to address. It is proper that we set out in the Bill what we are seeking to address by the mechanical means that we are giving the Committee on Climate Change, future Secretaries of State, Prime Ministers and Governments dealing the problem—those who will determine action for many years to come. That is why I believe we are right to debate these proposals at the beginning of the Bill.

We have got off to a good start. It would have been even better if I could have announced at the outset that the Government would be accepting the amendments. I am not able to do that today, for reasons that I will explain.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis about purposes and objectives. No one has mentioned the central duty of the Bill, which is clearly set out in Clause 1—to reduce the UK’s net carbon account by a certain figure by a certain date. It is clear, unambiguous, and one cannot avoid understanding the meaning. The UK remains committed to the European Union’s 2 degree target, but there is no simple relationship between that target and the UK’s 2050 target, which is why we oppose the amendments.

The increase in global average temperatures will be determined by atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There is significant uncertainty in the relationship, which is why bodies such as the IPCC use a range of probability to reflect the current level of scientific understanding. It is not clear how the amendments address that uncertainty. In addition, the science is clear that the UK cannot operate alone. We are responsible for only 2 per cent of emissions. People will argue that as it is only 2 per cent why are we bothering? The point is that we want to give a lead. We cannot achieve the 2 degree target on our own. That is clearly impossible.

At the moment, reaching the 2 degree target referred to by several noble Lords depends on atmospheric concentrations, and there is a degree of uncertainty. For instance, if atmospheric concentrations of the gases reach around 450 parts per million, it is estimated that there will be around a 50 per cent chance of exceeding the 2 degree temperature increase. It is likely that we will need global emissions to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and for global greenhouse gas emissions to reduce by at least 50 per cent by 2050 on 1990 levels. Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are already at 430 parts per million in a CO2 equivalent, and rising at more than 2 parts per million per year. Even if global emissions stopped today, there is around a 30 to 40 per cent chance of exceeding that 2 degree target.

Not accepting the new clause is not to shirk our responsibilities. We recognise that developed countries such as the UK must take a lead in reducing emissions. That was the agreed principle of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is why we have set ambitious targets through the Bill, and why we will be asking the independent Committee on Climate Change to review whether the targets should be tightened further. It is clear that the world will tackle climate change only if we take urgent and ambitious action together. That is why we are introducing the Bill in the first place; we need not apologise for that. To people living in other countries that will probably be damaged far more than the UK, we can proudly say what we are doing through the Bill; it is clear in the Long Title and Clause 1. It is also why we are working hard at international negotiations, including currently at Bali, where the Secretary of State and the team are to launch the negotiations for the post-2012 framework.

The amendments do not capture that important element of the UK’s efforts to tackle global climate change. In addition, significant uncertainties arise from the amendments—I am not nit-picking, but they seek to change primary legislation although I realise that they are in some ways probing—around, for instance, the concept of the UK’s fair share or how we will assess the UK emissions necessary to contribute to a particular level of global temperature. We think it better that there is a clear objective such as the 2050 target—a short number of words set out in the first part of the Bill.

I sympathise with the right reverend Prelate’s efforts to tease out the uncertainties in the relationship, but I am afraid that we cannot accept Amendments Nos. 3, 11A and 14 at this point. The proposals risk cutting across the review of the 2050 target which the Committee on Climate Change will carry out. The review will consider the scientific developments since the royal commission’s report in 2000; I fully accept that it was a long time ago and that things have changed, but that is what we are putting the Committee on Climate Change together for. The committee also has to take account of the wider international context. Amendment No. 3 also risks cutting across the UK’s efforts to secure international consensus. It would determine the UK’s “fair share” of global emissions to 2050 on the basis of the approach known as contraction and convergence, in the absence of international agreement on a different way of allocating the emissions between countries. As your Lordships will be aware, the long-term goal of guiding global action on climate change and how it should be allocated between countries is the subject of complex and delicate international negotiations. It is not a simple question; I am not saying that in a pejorative sense.

The contraction and convergence approach has some attractions, in that it identifies a fixed level of stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations, and that it is based on the idea of comprehensive global participation. However, one key element of any future regime has to be its workability. One concern with contraction and convergence is how globally acceptable, and in consequence how workable, it will prove. A number of other approaches to determine a fair and equitable share are being discussed at international level. Given that there is some way to go in building the consensus within the international community that would be required to agree on a framework for a way forward, it would be premature for the UK Government to commit themselves in law to any framework at this stage. By nailing our colours so firmly to the mast in favour of one approach, we risk undermining our ability to persuade international partners to sign up to any workable approach commensurate with the scale of the challenge.

Amendments Nos. 49 and 142 relate to carbon budgets. Clause 8, which we shall obviously come to in due course, already requires carbon budgets to be set with a view to meeting the 2050 target. That will ensure that, in the committee’s advice on carbon budgets and the Government’s decisions, budgets are set to put the UK on the right trajectory to meet the 2050 target. It is not clear how the amendments will add value to the Bill. The 2050 target provides a clear and defined goal, and the carbon budgets set under the Bill will take us there.

I shall turn briefly to Amendment No. 157—

As I understood it, the 2050 targets were set so that we did not go past the 2-degree threshold. What is the basis of the targets if not the 2 degrees?

I will come back to that. I have not said anything that contradicts it; the basis is exactly the same as when it started. As I said, these targets were set some time ago. One of the reasons that the Committee on Climate Change is being put together to review this is to bring the up-to-date science forward so that the Government can make the decisions, with the approval of both Houses. In other words, it is not fixed; otherwise we would not need the Committee on Climate Change. We would be relying on the science of some years ago and targets set more than seven years ago. We are accepting that the science has moved. That is implied, if I have not spelt it out sufficiently—the Government do not seek to gainsay it at all. It is just that the process we have arrived at, in bringing a plan to Parliament, gives us the flexibility—which we will discuss in later clauses—to make the adjustments necessary to take account of the science. I suspect that the science will move in coming years also.

As I have said, we have already announced that we will ask the committee to review the 2050 target and report on whether it should be tightened up to 80 per cent. In this review, the committee will need to look at all the evidence and provide its advice on the appropriate level of the target. It will, of course, include all the scientific developments, nationally and internationally, since the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s report in June 2000. The committee’s review of that 2050 target is the appropriate place to look at this kind of question.

I freely admit, as I have said to noble Lords privately and on Second Reading, that in the absence of having the final framework of how the Committee on Climate Change will work and its powers and functions—which will be debated in both Houses—and without knowing the names, stature, background and independence of the individuals, which we are not currently able to say as they have not been interviewed prior to appointment, the House is being asked to agree the basic framework on the basis that we get the rest right. We will know about the functions and powers of the committee if they change as they go through Parliament. By the time we get to Report and Third Reading we will have an idea of the membership, background and calibre of the committee, so that the House can be assured—or otherwise, as the case may be—of what it wants to do about reinforcing the Bill. I am not asking the House to take this on a blind promise. That information will be known at the relevant time.

I am sorry to intervene, and am sympathetic to the complexity of what the Minister has to manage. But it is precisely because the framework is not sufficiently clear that this matter is not just for the Committee on Climate Change. It involves all the other things that I put into the amendment in my name. Can the Minister give me an assurance that the major framework in which we are trying to debate these things will be reflected at the outset of the Bill as it is finally brought to us? That would give many of us in your Lordships’ House confidence that these issues were not just seen as isolated environmental issues but had to do with finance, defence, globalisation and the security and peace of the world as well. That is the reassurance I would seek from the Minister if I were not to press my amendment.

The right reverend Prelate has no need to apologise. Save for one other Bill that I helped to steer through this House just after I became a Member—after the 9/11 catastrophe in the United States—this is the only Bill to touch every department of government. I can assure the right reverend Prelate that while Defra is in the lead—some department has to manage it—the whole of Whitehall is engaged in the Bill. Whitehall is more engaged than it would have been if the Bill had started in the other place because it has received the distilled results and consequences of the Second Reading in your Lordships' House; and the message has gone around that in the Lords this will not wash as it is now. Therefore, some aspects put forward by Members of the Committee will require more flexibility. All the departments mentioned by the right reverend Prelate and others are actively engaged with the Bill team, which is Whitehall-wide, on what we need to do to secure a Bill with which we can all be satisfied. The Committee stage notwithstanding, early in the new year, at Report stage, there will be opportunities to look at what we do with the Bill, including the structure of the Committee on Climate Change, to see whether the House thinks that the Government have got this right.

To what extent are the devolved assemblies and the Scottish Parliament engaged equally with the Whitehall departments?

The Whitehall departments are still engaged with the devolved assemblies. We still have a Scotland Office, a Wales Office and a Northern Ireland Office. These are UK targets and the devolved Administrations are committed to following them. They may have to legislate for this in their own way and that which is reserved to Westminster will be covered in this Bill. We are not legislating for England only; this is the UK's contribution; but the devolved Administrations are fully on board and are actively participating in the discussions on the Bill.

My noble friend referred to the fact that the Committee on Climate Change would consider all the international evidence on the difference between 60 per cent and 80 per cent. Paragraph 45 of the report of the Joint Committee states:

“Bearing in mind however the weight of scientific evidence before the Committee that a target of more than 60% is likely to be necessary”.

To what extent was evidence before the Joint Committee which suggests that the 80 per cent target might be necessary? Has that already been considered in the departments? It would be interesting to know that before the debate on the 60/80 issue.

All I can say to my noble friend is that the Bill refers to at least 60 per cent. There is a strong indication there that the Government accepted that 60 per cent was the minimum and that the desirability was to be above 60 per cent. That is probably an inadequate answer for my noble friend. The fact is that it was considered relevant in Whitehall and among those planning the Bill that the target would be not 60 per cent but at least 60 per cent.

I thank the Minister for going through the Government’s view of this new clause in great detail and the other amendments in the group. I return to the understanding of temperatures in the past and their variability. I am sympathetic with the many Members of the Committee who spoke about the habit of statisticians who talk about great accuracy in statistics when there is none. There is considerable research about these temperatures and there is sufficient evidence on which we can rely. Our own Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology’s publication on climate change science states:

“Over the last 100 years the global mean surface temperature has warmed 0.74oC ± 0.18oC, although there is significant regional variability”.

We all understand that there are limitations, but that shows that we can have confidence—as much as we can in any climate change science—about the figures that we are discussing. Indeed, we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater if we start to question the numbers that the Bill is based upon. The Joint Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill, chaired so well by the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, went through so much of this so that both Houses could assure themselves that the figures were correct.

I return to the amendments. I agree with many of the comments by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, particularly those in his second intervention. There is a great need for clarity in the Bill. The fact that something has not been done before in UK domestic legislation should not put us off doing something special here, as the Bill is very special. Therefore, we owe it to have clarity. We are asking the Committee on Climate Change to consider revising the specific targets in the Bill, so it is important to have that context and objective in the Bill. That is why the argument for having 2 degrees centigrade in the Bill, and at the beginning, remains important. We will wish to pursue this, but for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 not moved.]

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.