To call attention to the changes required of society to meet the 2050 carbon dioxide emissions target set by the Climate Change Committee; and to move for Papers.
My Lords, in moving this Motion I remind the House that we live very much in a globalised world where our best interests must take into account what is happening elsewhere. We know that the global population is heading for 9 billion people by 2050, from 6 billion today. Supplying the resources to support that increase will strain our ingenuity as well as our present standard of living. One effect will almost certainly be that agricultural land will be focused almost entirely and exclusively on food production and will not be available to produce energy. Here in the United Kingdom our own population is heading for 80 million by 2050. These increasing numbers mean that meeting their energy demands will be likely to negate much of the gain that we hope to achieve through better fuel economy in what we are doing today.
The decision of the Committee on Climate Change to raise the target for greenhouse gas emission reduction to 80 per cent by 2050—a very neat movement in the goalposts—will require a much more focused approach than we have at present. It is worth noting that if we simply use carbon dioxide as the measurement, because greenhouse gases were not in the basket at that time, then we passed the level which we are now required to meet in about the middle of the 19th century, when our population was less than 25 million.
Some industries that are fundamental to modern society have no alternative but to use fossil fuel. The metal smelting industries use fossil fuel to reduce ores to base metals; we cannot do without them. The cement industry requires a similar process with similar emissions. Aviation, because of the problem of energy density, might well be included within this category of essential industry. Agriculture—my own industry—emits around 8 per cent of the United Kingdom’s greenhouse gases because of the livestock sector. That is food, so we can do nothing about it. These essential industries will take up the major part of the 20 per cent that is left for greenhouse gas emissions after 2050. In any event, any residual free capacity at that point will be too small to support any major industrial output. If that presumption is correct, everything else will have to change and become zero emissions-based. That is why I initiated this debate today.
We should not overestimate the problem. It remains the fact that any establishment, commercial or domestic, which runs exclusively on electric power is already a zero-emissions establishment. Of course, there is a problem with that, a problem that affects us all: the electricity generating industry, which may be our proxy in this regard, emits huge quantities of greenhouse gases at present and is not as energy-efficient as it could be. However, if we can source our electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, a major problem is solved.
The Government's decision on carbon capture and storage is welcome—I have some doubts about both cost and competitiveness, and I understand that the process is not 100 per cent efficient in capturing carbon, but it is welcome—and we must explore it, but there are many other sources of greenhouse gas-free electricity. Nuclear power is a well known, proven technology. Wind power is another proven technology and, again, the Government have taken action to promote it. Hydroelectricity in this country is already near its capacity, but we could use turbine technology to extract more power from the rivers. Estuarial barrages are a proven technology. They are very expensive, but the high cost is offset in many ways by their very long service life. Tidal stream and wave technologies are very much at the prototype stage, but, again, for us in this island, they have high potential. Domestic and other waste can be digested into methane to generate electricity with a fertiliser residue, and microgeneration in all its forms will unquestionably make a considerable contribution.
Above all—something I have not mentioned so far—is solar power, an almost unlimited resource. The latest prototype solar power-generating stations can capture enough heat during the day that they can then release it at night and continue generating for 24 hours a day. If the sun is not powerful enough here, is that a matter of concern? We already ship gas and oil through pipelines or in large tankers across thousands of miles to meet our needs. Why could we not transmit large quantities of electricity, probably as direct current, where the transmission losses are less, in a similar way?
A more difficult issue is land-based transport. Railways are no problem. They are already almost completely powered by electricity, and it would not be difficult to ensure that they were totally electrically driven. Road transport is not so straightforward, and we are very road transport-dependent. However, it is interesting that the technology required to make road transport emissions-free already exists and has done for some time. We simply need the willpower to develop it. The Government have made a welcome move on battery cars, which unquestionably have a place in the outcome that we are looking for, but I have doubts about them on two grounds. First, I am not sure that heavy road transport can afford the weight penalty that batteries imply. I am not sure, either, that I like the idea of those batteries being disposed of—and they will have to be. They will contain large quantities of noxious material and will present a major problem when battery-powered cars are in general use. There is also the problem of the long refuel time required.
It is of interest that New Holland Clayson has a prototype fuel cell-powered agricultural tractor with 120 horsepower. It has produced this on the basis that agriculture has the space to generate its own hydrogen, which is what the fuel cell depends on for its power. That could easily be developed and enhanced for heavy transport. We have had buses on the streets of London powered by fuel cells. Again, they have been prototypes and have run very successfully. I believe that I am right in saying that they will be back here again, some time next year or the year after.
Honda has fuel cell cars going on lease to customers in California, where it seems likely that they intend to make one road a hydrogen highway with sufficient infrastructure. These cars are similar in performance to present-day cars, but, unlike the battery-powered cars, can be refuelled completely in a matter of minutes. Hydrogen, the fuel for these vehicles, is the most common element in the universe. The fuel cell exhaust is pure water. Hydrogen can be generated from water using greenhouse gas-free electricity. That means we need increased generating capacity, but if we mean business, we will have to adopt some technology of this nature. The 2050 target is achievable but one has to acknowledge that there is a big question of cost. At the moment it looks as though the cost will be frighteningly high. All our experience, however, shows that as new technologies develop, particularly in the initial stages, the costs come down with further experience, development and mass production.
This all sounds pretty radical, and probably a bit extreme. And it may well not be the answer. I have moved this Motion today not because I have the answer—although I would love to say that it is the answer—but because we cannot afford to wait until 2030 to find that the existing, rather hit-and-miss proposals, which are all done with the best of intentions, will not actually meet the target that has now been set. The critical date is 2050. If we are a bit slow at the start it does not really matter, but we must be absolutely sure that we can get there.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, on securing this important debate. The Government have much to be proud of in their record on climate change. They have pushed forward the agenda at Kyoto. They have enforced the climate change levy. This Government enacted the Climate Change Bill. That said, the debate is too important to give in to partisan instincts. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is quite right to focus on what really matters: the practical changes we all need to make to reduce emissions.
I do not propose to go over the details of the targets set in the excellent report of the Committee on Climate Change. Whether we focus on the 34 per cent reduction in emissions that it proposed for 2020 or the 42 per cent that it suggested if we reach agreement in Copenhagen, both will require enormous changes in every aspect of our lives. That means we must address both local social changes and global challenges. Individuals and nations often put off doing what is right for the planet because of fears over cost, economic consequences or impracticality. People want to protect the planet, but they also wish to live within their current means. Those in power should understand the pressures people face and try to help them to take environmentally friendly decisions.
One way to square the circle is to develop superior technological solutions to global environmental challenges. There are two stages to doing this. First, there are incremental steps to lowering energy consumption. We can develop and deploy photonics and plastic electronics that will deliver high-quality, low-energy lighting. Lighting causes as much as 20 per cent of UK emissions, so this would help consumers to change their impact on the environment. Such steps might also involve finding better alternatives to plastic bags and the more energy-efficient use of public transport during the school run. These technological and social changes will have a minor impact individually but will make major differences as they accumulate.
Next, major step changes in the way in which our society works, such as modal shifts in transport, have an impact not only on individuals but on the way in which we all live. On these, we need to take a cradle-to-grave approach to emissions reduction. For example, implementing electric cars requires a major network of power supply stations. Yet if our energy transmission and production systems are not green, reducing tailpipe emissions by burning ever more coal and gas is unsustainable. We might well be better investing our resources in lightweight materials, tyre technology and driver assistance systems, especially if other countries cannot plug cars into a national grid without building dozens of new power stations. After all, we need to develop low-emission technologies that are applicable globally if we are to drive social change worldwide, not just at home.
The International Energy Agency says that we will see a growth in global CO2 emissions from 27 gigatonnes in 2005 to 42 gigatonnes by 2030. India and China will account for almost half of that emissions growth. Why are their emissions rising so fast? Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that 6 per cent of global emissions, or 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2, were caused by goods exported from China. That is a third of China’s total emissions. As one of the biggest consumers of those exports, we must recognise that our relentless hunger for low-cost, high-tech goods creates emissions elsewhere in the global economy, and we must take steps to address the emissions that are created by our demand. That is the issue lurking in the sustainably sourced woodpile, if the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will forgive the pun.
To reduce emissions, we must make individual, society-wide and global changes at the same time. To take one example, we know that western businesses and drivers cause the greater part of car emissions, so we need stricter regulations to reduce tailpipe emissions. We saw just this week the agenda that President Obama and Governor Schwarzenegger have set up to help to reduce car emissions; but we cannot leave it at that, welcome though such regulations are. We must also help to change the behaviour of individual members of our society. A driver employing a low-carbon driving style can save up to 40 per cent of their fuel consumption, according to Japanese research that builds on work done by our own Institution of Mechanical Engineers just across the road. That kind of saving will happen only if thousands of drivers are trained to have a low-carbon driving style and if we develop technology—such as stop-start ignition systems, which are already there—that makes it simple for everyone to drive with lower emissions. Yet even this will not be enough. The scale of the green challenge cannot be confined to one individual or one society alone.
We know that many of the component manufacturers that supply parts for our cars are located in other countries, so the emissions from component production are kept there. We also know that as the population of developing countries becomes wealthier, there will be increased demand for vehicles, just as we have seen in Britain in the past 60 years. Component and car manufacturers around the world must develop sustainable technologies if we are to reduce global emissions. Today, those businesses are looking for our help. We must offer it or be left behind when others do. If we work with suppliers, manufacturers, technologists and researchers around the world, we stand a better chance of making the changes that we need at home and helping emerging markets to cut their own emissions. This will help our global partners to make changes in their society as we improve our own. It will make reducing emissions far more co-operative and far more profitable for us.
We cannot know for certain the most effective path to reduce emissions. We do know that, whatever happens, the research and work that is being done around the world will find ways to reduce emissions. In transport, this could be through battery technology, hybrids, driver education, tyre technology or lightweight materials; it might well be all of these together. However, if Britain is to contribute significantly to this global environmental challenge, we must help individuals to change their behaviour, research to develop new technologies, and co-operate on a global level to reduce emissions. This effort must reach every corner of our society.
There are two societal changes we must make if we are to help deliver a lower emissions world. The first change is to take responsibility for changing our own behaviour step by step, process by process, and technology by technology. The second is to invest in global, low-emissions technology, both for ourselves and for those around the world who have a shared interest in a greener global society.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith for introducing this debate, which has given us two interesting speeches already. Last week, when we debated the climate change orders, my noble friend Lord Leach of Fairford, at the start of his brilliant exposition which thoroughly demolished the Government’s case on climate change, picked up a metaphor which he said had been used by the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, although I have not been able to find it in Hansard. This was to the effect that the debate reminded him of ships passing in the night. Endorsing this metaphor, my noble friend Lord Leach said that he would rather sail on HMS “Lawson” than on HMS “Stern”. I, too, would rather sail on HMS “Lawson”, and in the absence today of the captain of that ship—and of the first officer—as a humble rating, I step on deck to put an opposing view to that of the Government.
The Minister’s boss, the Secretary of State, Mr Ed Miliband, has famously said that he would like opposition to wind farms to become as socially unacceptable as not wearing a seatbelt or failing to stop at a zebra crossing. Incidentally, not wearing a seatbelt and not stopping at a zebra crossing are both offences, as I know only too well, since the only endorsement I ever received to my driving licence was for failing to stop at a zebra crossing. However, the Minister is, I know, too democratic to wish to stifle debate, and I am sure he will not repeat his boss’s remark, which is as overbearing as it is wrong-headed. He has absolutely no chance of getting those who oppose wind farms to be treated as social pariahs. Up and down the land, the most respectable of citizens—pillars of their local societies who would not dream of not fastening their seatbelts or not stopping at zebra crossings—are coming forward to protest against the destruction of our finest countryside, despite the iniquitous pressures lined up against them.
One of those pressures is the regional targets. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool is to speak in a moment. To judge from his intervention the other day, he seemed to be asking for sanctions to be applied to local authorities in cases where regional renewable energy targets have not been met. I hope we will see nothing of the kind. Regional renewable energy targets were set by unrepresentative, unelected and now defunct regional assemblies. In the case of the north-west region, with which I am familiar, the targets set for Cumbria were entirely inappropriate and were opposed throughout by the elected county council.
If one believes in the desirability of reducing carbon emissions, encouraging wind energy is the most absurd way to go about it. Why? Because wind power has to be backed up by fossil fuel power stations, which have to be continuously turned on and off as the wind comes and goes. Nuclear power stations are no good for that purpose as they lack the necessary flexibility. However many wind turbines are eventually built, there will still have to be a sufficient capacity of conventionally generated electricity to satisfy on its own peak demand plus a margin of perhaps 10 per cent. Wind turbines also destroy the coastline and the finest landscapes in the country, which have been a magnet for visitors from all over the world. They are viable only with colossal subsidies, which the Government constantly have to ratchet up in a desperate bid to maintain the momentum of their renewable energy commitment.
Perhaps I can illustrate the extravagance by the example of the London Array offshore wind farm, which is now back on track as a result of the Government having substantially increased in the Budget the subsidies available to offshore wind power. This wind farm is planned eventually to have up to 341 turbines, spread over 245 square kilometres, 12 miles off the Kent and Essex coasts in the Thames estuary. Let us suppose that the turbines each have an installed capacity of 3 megawatts. The total installed capacity will be more than 1,000 megawatts, producing something more than 300 megawatts per annum, assuming a 30 per cent load factor. At a conservative capital cost estimate of, say, £2.5 million per installed megawatt, the cost will be something of the order of £2.5 billion, or perhaps £3 billion. The ROC subsidy, which is now increased, that is available to the developers should amount at current ROC prices to something between £250 million and £300 million a year, a sum which is added to consumers’ electricity bills.
Meanwhile, in the field of unsubsidised energy, the recently consented 2,000 megawatts combined cycle gas turbine due to be built at Milford Haven will produce up to 1,800 megawatts a year, compared to London Array’s 300 to 400 megawatts. Each one of its five turbines will therefore produce as much electricity or more as the London Array in its entirety ever will. It will cost £800 million, according to the developer, compared to £2.5 billion to £3 billion for the London Array. It probably will occupy about 20 acres as opposed to 90 square miles. The London Array will have to have fossil fuel power stations backing it up. Which of those would make the most efficient contribution to our economy?
Incidentally, I have seen it written that the London Array will produce enough electricity to power 750,000 homes. Such claims are frequently put forward for wind farms, but they are thoroughly misleading. No wind turbines can ever produce enough electricity for any homes unless the occupants wish to be without power for between 10 and 100 days a year at moments which they have not chosen and usually when the weather is at its coldest.
I find it hard to understand why the Government think that wind power is the route to reduce CO2 emissions. The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark are all way ahead of us in the amount relatively of wind-generated electricity they produce, yet none has succeeded in bringing down its per capita CO2 emissions, which are all higher than ours. The two European countries which display considerably lower per capita CO2 emissions than us are Sweden, which produces much of its electricity by hydro-electric power, which this country cannot do much to increase, and France, which produces 80 per cent or most of its electricity from its nuclear power stations. Yet it is the policy of Germany and Denmark, not of France, that the Government have been so keen to follow.
The Government’s renewable energy policy adopted to prepare us for the distant and debatable threat of climate change of course does nothing to help us deal with the much more immediate threat to our energy security posed by the closing down of up to one-third of our obsolete power stations and—taking up a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bhattacharyya—perhaps I might add that it is aggravated by a prospect of a London filled with electric cars. Indeed it detracts from the achievement of that objective because it leaves huge quantities of capital up a complete cul-de-sac and it positively retards the other objective of the Government’s energy policy, namely to abolish fuel poverty by 2016 and in vulnerable households by 2010. This is because the vast subsidies made available are added to consumers’ electricity bills. The effects can be seen already. In a parliamentary Written Answer given in another place on 12 May, the Minister revealed that the number of households in fuel poverty rose from 2.5 million in 2005 to 3.5 million in 2006 and was expected to rise by a further 1.2 million households by 2008. So, not much progress there.
It is, however, a relief that after 10 years of going nowhere, the Government have eventually decided to revert to nuclear power, currently the only method of viable generation that will reduce carbon emissions on any scale. But we cannot expect any new nuclear power stations to come on-stream for another 10 years, so where do we go in the mean time? A headline in the Times last week neatly illustrated the risks attached to increasing any further our already alarming and continually growing dependence on imported natural gas. Talking of the Arctic, it ran:
“Russia warns of war within decade over hunt for oil and gas”.
Beneath that heading, the article stated:
“Moscow appears willing to defend its interests by force as the region becomes ripe for exploitation in a world hungry for energy”.
With the North Sea running down, the proportion of the gas we use that is imported is due to rise from 50 per cent today to upwards of 70 per cent in a few years. We will have to build coal-fired power stations, and indeed we have in this country any amount of unmined or ungassified coal—300 years’ worth, I have heard it said. The Government are inching towards making greater use of it, but everything is made dependent on progress in the EU-led drive to achieve carbon capture and storage.
Two questions pose themselves. Can we close the energy gap in time if we wait for CCS, and is it in any case worth the stupendous cost? I do not know the answer to the first question, and the answer to the second depends on which way you look at it. If it is the case that CO2 in the global atmosphere has increased by no more than 23 per cent since 1900 and that at today’s rate of increase it cannot double for another 200 years, and that if it doubles it can only produce an increase in the global temperature of less than 2 degrees centigrade, I think that we have more urgent things to think about.
That brings me to the heart of the problem with the Government’s whole renewable energy agenda. Nothing we do, whatever policies we pursue, could make anything but the most infinitesimal difference to the world’s carbon footprint, yet this Government appear willing to see businesses bankrupted, to impoverish consumers, wreck the countryside, destroy the economy and put out the lights, making in the process some completely negligible reduction in our carbon emissions, and all in the hope that we may influence other countries to adopt our largely foolish policies. I only hope that they will have the good sense not to. So it is not society that I wish to see adapting itself to the Government’s renewable energy policies, it is the Government’s energy policies that I wish to see adapted to suit the national interest.
My Lords, this is a timely debate and the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, deserves our thanks for raising the key issues so clearly. It is important to remember that the entire debate is in the context of an aim to bring down world emissions of CO2 by 2050 to half the level they were in 1990. In deference to the noble Lord, Lord Reay, I think there is a real chance that if business as usual is maintained, the carbon concentration could more than double during this century. This target of halving CO2 emissions by 2050 has been espoused by the G8 and the European Union. It corresponds to two tonnes of CO2 per year from each person on the planet. For comparison, the current American figure is 20, the European figure about 10, and the Chinese level is already over four. So to achieve this 2050 target without stifling economic growth in the developing world is indeed a huge challenge. It is clear that the deepest percentage cuts are expected of the countries that now have the highest per capita emissions. Here in the UK, of course, an 80 per cent cut by 2050 is enshrined in the Climate Change Act. In the US, there is no legislation yet but President Obama has publicly espoused a similar goal.
What matters for the next century’s climate is the cumulative amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere, so there is a real urgency in reversing the year-by-year rise in annual emissions. Indeed, many climate scientists argue that unless this rising curve can be turned around by about 2020, the atmospheric concentration will reach a level that is threatening in the long term. That is why it is urgent to implement interim steps and why the Committee on Climate Change is setting targets for 2020 and 2030 as well as 2050.
As many have emphasised, a lot can be achieved by increased energy efficiency. In particular, we can cut the energy used in heating buildings. That and other similar measures will actually save money. But to reduce greenhouse gas emissions further while still ensuring energy security requires a diverse mix of technologies. Moreover, the clean technologies for power generation that are available for immediate deployment are limited. That is why we are hard-pressed to reach the EU’s 2020 renewables targets. Technologies such as offshore wind are mature enough to be deployed, but their contribution is limited by the sheer engineering challenge of constructing them fast enough.
At present it is necessary to back-up intermittent sources of energy with fossil fuelled power plants in order to maintain a reliable supply of energy when it is needed. So any credible mix is likely to include nuclear power, with enough new build, at the very least, to replace existing plants being decommissioned in the period up to 2020. These new nuclear power stations will be of well-tried design. Concerns over waste disposal and security must none the less be openly addressed and allayed.
Even optimists have to acknowledge that it will be at least 30 years before renewables or nuclear could fully take over from coal, oil and gas, which seem set to be important in the UK and, more importantly, to dominate the world’s ever growing energy needs for at least that long. That is why it is important to explore the various technologies for carbon capture and storage. Full-scale demonstrations can be delivered before 2020 if we start now. Only then will we know the feasibility of this technology. The recent commitment by the Department of Energy and Climate Change is welcome and the UK Government can send a strong signal by approving the building of new coal-fired stations only on condition that operating permits will be withdrawn if the plants fail to capture 90 per cent of their carbon dioxide emissions beyond some target date. The UK has the chance to play a leading role in the development of this technology across Europe. Making retrofitting of existing plants economically viable will require the legal, regulatory and financial markets to be changed.
In most contexts, 2050 seems so far away that it is beyond the planning horizon. But the timescale for replacing our infrastructure is 50 years. Power stations now being planned will still be operating in 2050, so it is not too soon to focus on moving towards a zero carbon economy by that date. However, this will require real innovation. We can exploit waves and tides. We have the geography—capes around our coasts with fast-flowing tidal currents—and we have marine technology from North Sea oil and gas exploration.
Then there is bioenergy. There has, rightly, been ambivalence about first-generation biofuels, but the prospects for biofuels that convert cellulose or for intensively cultured marine algae merit further investigation. Beyond that, genetic technology may have a lot to offer, but the tension between land use for food and for fuel will indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, emphasised, get sharper.
Another need is for better energy storage such as lithium batteries and super-capacitors, not only on the scale needed for cars, but also for larger-scale use in power stations, to smooth over peaks and troughs in demand, and to complement unsteady power sources such as sun and wind.
Synthetically produced fuel is also needed—for instance, methanol, combining CO2 from carbon capture with hydrogen from carbon-free sources. Parenthetically, though, I note that the United States has de-emphasised hydrogen in the short term in favour of prioritising improved battery technology.
We should also bear in mind that the nuclear power stations now being built are designs that were established decades ago. There is scope for developing so-called fourth-generation nuclear-fission power stations, and that is where, again, more research and development is needed.
As discussed in an earlier debate in this House, nuclear fusion remains a hugely important area of research with major long-term potential. Payoff there is so far ahead that it all has to be publicly funded, but it is surely worth the global investment of $1.5 billion or $2 billion a year, given the scale of the problem.
I will put my personal long-term bet, however, on solar energy. Huge collectors in the Sahara could generate power that was then distributed via a pan-European smart grid. Achieving that by 2050 would require vision, commitment and investment on the European level from both governments and industry.
These are all exciting long-term prospects. There have been welcome positive steps in the UK and in the EU, but energy R&D is still far below what the challenge demands. It is a mere 0.2 per cent of what is spent on energy consumption, in glaring contrast with, for instance, the equivalent percentage in the health sector. When he addressed the National Academy of Sciences last month, President Obama declared that the centrepiece of his science and technology policy would be energy, just as in the 1960s it was space exploration and the Apollo programme. Europe has equivalent economic power and innovative skills to the United States, and it needs to make a matching commitment. We in the UK are well placed to lead this effort. There is a need, but for us there is also a real opportunity.
In summary, there are two big questions. First, are the declared targets of 80 per cent cuts by 2050 technically feasible? Here I am confident that the answer is yes. We could by then have developed a low-carbon economy that would not impede our economic growth or quality of life. This cannot happen, though, without sustained R&D followed by massive investment and vast infrastructure projects co-ordinated at the European level.
The UK contributes only 2 per cent of the world’s energy. We cannot abate global warming by ourselves. So there is a second question: can a political commitment to a low-carbon economy be adopted internationally and sustained? Here one cannot be so confident, but what happens in Copenhagen in December will be crucial in determining the odds on that.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord for tabling this important debate, especially at a time of economic crisis when some voices, even in your Lordships’ House, are questioning the priority being given to creating a low-carbon economy.
I welcome the proposals of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and humbly suggest that they are by no means too radical. It is entirely consistent for a political party with “conservative” in its title to take a lead in a debate on policies that conserve our resources. We need now more than ever to develop a truly conservative attitude towards the earth, which is not a limitless larder that can be plundered with impunity.
Members of this House will recall the time and energy that we invested last year in ensuring a thorough and effective Climate Change Act. The recent economic crisis has added complexity to the decisions that we need to make and the actions that we need to take. I commend the Government for having maintained a focus on the need to invest in the growth of a low-carbon economy, especially at this time, although your Lordships' House ought to know that the low-carbon element of our economic stimulus package sadly lags behind that not only of Germany and Japan but of America and China.
Before I turn my attention to the noble Lord’s proposals, I should like to address one issue related to the scepticism sometimes shown in your Lordships’ House—we have heard it expressed today by the noble Lord, Lord Reay. In speaking about climate change, I defer to the scientists in your Lordships' House: it seems perhaps impertinent of me as a religious person to speak about a scientific subject. I comment simply as a lay person. Surely no scientist denies that CO2 contributes to the blanket of gases that wraps itself around the earth. Whatever else is happening within the natural cycle, the population of the world is increasing, from 6 billion now to, putatively, 9 billion by 2050, which means that more carbon is going into the atmosphere daily. We cannot ignore the fact that, because of population growth alone, the blanket is thickening and trapping the heat around the earth. By a variety of measures, we simply have to reduce the export of carbon into the atmosphere, as we have heard just now from the noble Lord, Lord Rees. Why? It is for the sake of the poor, who are already feeling the effects of climate change, and for the sake of ourselves, who have yet to feel the full effects of what is coming if we do not act now and urgently.
I welcome this debate because it is not sufficient to leave the responsibility for action just with the policy-makers. The answer to the noble Lord’s questions lies in three areas. The first is in policy: the British Government have shown consistent international leadership on this issue, not least, as we have heard, with the Climate Change Act. The answer lies, secondly, at the parochial—if I may use such a word—or local level: in our communities, neighbourhoods, and places of work and learning. Thirdly, it lies at the personal level, in the choices that we make about how we live.
I turn first to policy. I welcomed the inclusion of consideration of climate change in the Planning Act and in current discussions about the marine Bill. However, to achieve our 2020 and 2050 targets, we need a culture change throughout our society and in government, so that climate change is not regarded as largely the responsibility of a Secretary of State but is understood to be the responsibility of all Ministers, all departments and all officials, so that it is woven like letters in a stick of rock through everything that we decide.
For example, the Government are the largest commissioner of public buildings in the United Kingdom. Therefore, surely all government-commissioned buildings, and not just some of them, need to be carbon neutral. The Government can show leadership in this area which can be followed by other sectors.
I was encouraged to hear in the Budget the Chancellor pledge investment in the development of carbon capture and storage. The global requirement to find ways of generating clean energy offers a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom to be at the forefront of global innovation and development. The urgency of this issue encourages us to work with other nations as well as independently. As we have already heard, President Obama recently called on America to rise to the global opportunity of responding to climate change, stating that the economy that innovates and find ways to build a low-carbon economy will lead the world in the coming century. Government policy needs to enable, not constrain, innovation in the UK so that our own economic recovery builds a low-carbon economy, and so that the UK leads the world in developing these new technologies.
An example that has already been cited, but where I can put more flesh on that particular bone, is in the estimate that developing tidal power in the easiest estuaries and waterways of England and Wales could produce 20 per cent of the country’s electricity needs. The technology is already there; it needs financial investment and political will. That technology, as we have already heard, could satisfy the needs of the developing world. For example, I recently heard a delegation from China reaching out on behalf of the developing world for access to such technology.
Changes required to society are not simply at the policy level; they must also involve our neighbourhoods. They must be parochially rooted, and education and schools play an important part there. I declare an interest in that I chair the governing body of a city academy that has taken the environment as its specialism. It has a solar atrium, solar panels and rainwater harvesting, and as the young people come into the academy they see, digitally recorded, the amounts of energy being garnered and of rainwater being harvested. It is humbling to be taken around the academy by the young people of that inner-city school and to have them tell visitors the importance of addressing our environment in this urgent way.
I am delighted that, next year, building on that academy’s success, and again in the north-west of England, we shall be opening our second academy, this time with the St Helens authority in Newton-le-Willows. It will be called the Hope Academy, and be the first to take sustainability as its specialism. Already, the specialism has been incorporated into the building’s design with—I am glad to say—a special grant from the Government in order to produce a carbon-neutral building. It is not just about schools and education; faith groups also have an important role to play. I am glad that in the north-west, through the help of the regional development agency, the faith communities have come together, establishing an organisation called Faiths4Change that engages mosques, temples, synagogues and churches in rolling out the regional strategy for climate change and trying to reduce the carbon footprint.
This has to be incorporated not only at policy and parochial community level but at a personal level. Three years ago, during Lent, the diocese of Liverpool launched what we call the carbon fast. Instead of giving up inconsequential things like chocolate or alcohol, people were invited to begin to reduce their carbon footprint by reducing carbon. Last year, it went on nationally and over 300,000 people took part. This year, with the help of the Secretary of State, Ed Miliband, we launched it globally and have seen a great response from people realising that, in the global discussions of this strategy, they can do something locally and personally. It is estimated by Tearfund, which has been behind this campaign—I declare an interest as a vice-president—that following that programme reduces a person’s carbon footprint by 25 per cent. The climate of opinion on this subject needs to change more rapidly than the climate itself if we are to avoid disaster, which is why I welcome the Motion for Papers by the noble Lord.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for giving us an opportunity to discuss this subject. I shall make a subjective intervention in the debate. Before I do so, however, I want to congratulate Sir Ranulph Fiennes on getting to the top of Everest at the age of 65; it is an example to us all. I shall also draw on my personal experience of working on the Indian subcontinent for six years and living for two months of each of the past 20 years in south-east Asia, where I have some declared interests. I am intervening today also because of a pledge that I gave to my late friend Dr Michael Cole, a Cambridge physical scientist, to put forward some of his alternative views—which I share with him and with my clan chief, the noble Lord, Lord Reay, and with the noble Lord, Lord Lawson—on global warming.
Dr Cole and other distinguished scientists have had many doubts about the relationship between the IPCC scientists who formulated the Kyoto treaty and the politicians around the world who supported them. The scientific facts as presented by the IPCC scientists to support the treaty have led to the publication of the Stern review, to the Climate Change Bill and many other related papers, and, indeed, to this debate, but they may not be quite as clear-cut as they should. It therefore may be worth while for a non-scientist such as myself to spend a moment checking out some fundamentals regarding the role of science as a reliable guide for us in the political spectrum, and for political decisions to be made in general.
A good question for starters is, what is “science”? Terence Kealey, the vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, where I have a declared interest, raised that in his very readable book entitled Sex, Science & Profits, which he sent to me last month. He provides a good answer on page 274:
“There is no such thing as ‘science’—there are only scientists”.
Kealey goes on to say that many people—including myself—used to believe, along with Francis Bacon,
“that science was dispassionate, with scientists collecting a mass of objective data dispassionately and inducing theories dispassionately … But if science is, in fact, factional and verificational, then its funding by government must inevitably favour one faction or another. And because politicians are effectively unaccountable in many of their funding decisions, their funding removes science from those ultimate tests of credibility, namely the collective judgements of the market, civil society and of the disinterested parts of the scientific community”.
I believe that that is particularly relevant to the subject that we are discussing today.
My first experience of the two sides of science was when I raised the matter of atmospheric carbon in this House with an Unstarred Question as long ago as 1978. My Question was put as a result of reading Sir John Mason’s scientific paper to the Royal Society when he was head of the Meteorological Office. However, I was surprised that the Royal Society—and I say this cautiously, bearing in mind that my noble friend, who is its president, is sitting behind me—did not sound the alarm bells that were ringing at that time, despite the fact that the science on which Mason’s paper was based has not altered one iota between now and then. We had to wait for Kyoto and the IPCC team of scientists to warn the world about the apparently serious implications of an increase in atmospheric carbon.
Everything then changed with the publication of my noble friend’s review, The Economics of Climate Change. This great work has had a profound influence on society and its governance around the planet. That is despite the fact that my noble friend Lord Stern is not a scientist but a very distinguished economist who, in my view, may one day also be recognised as the post-modern alchemist who revealed to the world a magical formula for transmuting atmospheric carbon into gold dust for government departments and profits for big business. Perhaps we can prove that point. Can the Minister say how many extra staff, NGOs, consultants and advisers have been added to his department since the publication of the Stern review? Can he also say whether atmospheric carbon has been increasing or decreasing since the publication of the Stern review and the Climate Change Bill?
The Minister will undoubtedly recall that the right honourable gentleman Mr David Miliband, the architect of the Climate Change Bill, wrote in its foreword that the Bill would,
“create a new expert Committee on Climate Change to advise the Government on the best pathway to 2050”.
Can he say what qualifications are represented by the members of the present Committee on Climate Change to classify them as “expert”? Can he also say where we can find carbon dioxide targets established by this expert committee? The Printed Paper Office could not find any reference to them prior to this debate. That is possibly my fault, but I should have thought that it would have something on them.
Are we then to presume without this information that the targets are the same as those in the Climate Change Bill? If so, does this mean that the UK’s cumulative carbon budget of emissions for the years 2000 to 2050 will be between 5.5 billion and 6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide? The Minister will be aware that, under the Kyoto treaty, this target figure does not include the aviation and maritime figures which, if included, would raise the UK’s total emissions to between 7 billion and 7.5 billion tonnes for the years 2000 to 2050.
According to the Tyndall centre, the UK must emit no more than 4.5 billion to 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide if it is to maintain its agreed target of atmospheric concentrations of no more than 450 parts per million. Can the Minister confirm this? What the Tyndall centre is saying is that the science does not support the Government's targets as set out in the Bill, which craftily exclude the total volume over the target period by including annual emission levels only at two fixed points—2020 and 2050. Can the Minister say whether these fundamental errors have now been corrected by the climate change committee? If so, what are the new targets, and are they in his opinion attainable?
With respect to the right reverend Prelate, I do not think that there is a snowball’s chance in hell of attaining those targets—if those figures are correct—if the maritime and aviation pollution figures are included. What are you going to do with them—sweep them under the carpet, or just hope that they go away? Is this not proof that there is a clear division between real science and the political science utilised not only by this Government but by Governments around the world? Is there not a need for the climate change committee to draw on all known methods of atmospheric carbon reduction, especially where power generation is concerned?
Therefore, when the committee took evidence from experts in power generation on four different occasions in the past two months—on 1, 22 and 29 April and on 6 May—why was daylight saving, which could save at least 2 per cent of generated electricity per year, never put on the agenda? Is this debate not about saving energy and atmospheric carbon? Why was Dr Elizabeth Garnsey, from the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge, not called to submit her well-researched and erudite paper on the subject? Her report, of which the Government must be aware, clearly demonstrates that daylight saving is energy efficient and would assist the UK in meeting its challenging emissions targets. It would have prevented an extra 46 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere since 1971.
Dr Garnsey’s sources, including the National Grid, are almost precisely the same as those that gave evidence to the climate change committee. Why did they exclude the subject of daylight saving from their evidence to the committee? Why did they not even bother to look it up? Why was it not included? The Government must be fed up with my mentioning this all the time—but others have also mentioned it. So why does the committee, which calls itself a climate change committee, not put it on its agenda? Is it because it cannot prove that daylight saving does not save electricity and atmospheric carbon? Where is the proof that I and others who support daylight saving are wrong? Let us have the proof and I will stop mentioning it and give you all a bit of relief.
This leads me to a more serious point. As almost every speaker has said, the concept of slowing down global warming, or atmospheric carbon, depends on the great subcontinents of India and China reducing their emissions. As I said, I lived in India for six years. One of the greatest needs of India, Indonesia and, to a certain extent, China, is rural electrification. If you fly over India at night, or even during the day, you will see the great brown haze caused by the burning of lumps of wood or cow dung in cooking stoves. For their standard of education to match that of the rest of the world, these people need to be able to cook without cutting down their forests and polluting the atmosphere to the extent that they do. Therefore, rural electrification should be very high on any agenda for these countries.
We are trying to encourage India, China and other countries to engage in carbon capture. This is an untried system and, from what I gather, is extremely inefficient. In fact, it could well be a net producer of atmospheric carbon, as opposed to a net reducer. When I visit the Far East every year, I detect increasing hostility to the concepts of carbon capture and carbon trading—which was dreamt up by the same people who got the world into its present financial crisis—as simply being devices to slow down economies that compete with western economies. That serious criticism underlies policies in China, India, Indonesia and other countries. We should proceed with great care and stop calling these countries developing countries. The great countries of India and China are the empires of the future and were empires in the past. If we do not acknowledge that, or their economic strength, and if we suggest silly ideas to them, we will create serious political problems stretching far beyond that of atmospheric carbon.
My Lords, I join others in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, on initiating this debate. Like him, I draw attention to the expanding population of the planet and, indeed, of this country. We should remind ourselves that nature has a rather brutal way of dealing with any species that either outstrips its own resources or so pollutes them as to make their appropriation difficult or impossible. It is always timely to have that in mind.
However, I intervene in this debate to talk about the science and technology role as opposed to the personal change role, as I believe this important point underpins the discussion. I intend to mention aviation only tangentially but I declare an interest as the campaign director for Future Heathrow. Many years ago—I think it was in the 1970s—the BBC broadcast a wonderful programme, “The Weather Machine”, which was really the first alert to the dangers of climate change. I remember being very struck by that programme. At that time we were more concerned about the planet cooling rapidly and triggering a new ice age. Certainly, in the 1980s I wrote articles expressing acute concern about that. In some ways I suppose that I was doing what some people are doing now as regards being in a slight panic mode about it. We have to draw back a bit and understand that this problem is one of serious pollution but that it can be resolved. We have to get right the balance between science and technology and the need for individuals, societies and communities to change their behaviour.
I stopped supporting Greenpeace about 10 or 12 years ago following the mistakes it made in the Brent Spar incident and in one or two others. During the past 10 to 15 years I have been troubled by a sense that an anti-science role is rapidly emerging, which is profoundly dangerous. A good example of that was touched on by other speakers; namely, the very successful lobby group which slowed down, and almost stopped, the development of nuclear power. No one is suggesting that nuclear power is the ideal solution to climate change. However, it has been known for a very long time—many of us have been worried about this issue for a long time—that nuclear power is an essential part of the medium to long-term answer.
I remember listening to someone only a couple of years ago boasting proudly of how they had taken their family on holiday to north Africa entirely by train, and thus avoided polluting the planet, because otherwise they would have flown. They were also anti-nuclear. It seemed almost cruel to point out that 80 per cent of the electricity for the high-speed rail network in France is produced by nuclear generation, and it would have been even crueller to point out that it would probably have been better if they had flown directly to north Africa. I left them alone on that occasion, but I will not promise always to do so.
This is the difficulty, in a way. If we lurch into a slightly anti-science and anti-technology mode, we begin to not only make people think that there are simplistic solutions which can be achieved simply by changing our behaviour, we also, importantly, stop some of the progressive things that can and should be happening. This is very true when people get into this mode of saying, “We must stop people doing things”, whether it is stopping them flying, developing nuclear power and a whole range of things. The real message is that in all walks of life—our personal lives, communities, social, leisure, work and everywhere—we have to drive down carbon emissions. We need to look at that in a positive way, rather than in a “let’s stop everything” way.
There is a lesson from history, in that Thomas Malthus believed we would all end up starving because were going to outstrip our food sources. If it had not been for science and technology, he might well have been right. However, just as science and technology were allowing people to live longer and healthier lives, they were creating the facility for increasing food supplies. There are ways of addressing this issue, and we have to get the balance right. I emphasise that we should put right up front of any debate about climate change the argument that although science and technology on their own cannot solve this problem, they are vital ingredients. It would be infinitely more difficult and almost certainly lead to a dramatic loss of life if we tried to tackle climate change without science and technology. They are part of the answer.
The key is to ask: what are we doing now that we can do better? When people say, for example, we must stop flying, I say: “You pick on flying, but let’s say you stopped everyone in this country flying. Even if it had a significant impact and never mind stopping people flying in other countries, what then do you turn on?” There are a number of things. For example, you could turn on the media, which might please some people in the political process. The production of television and programmes, their distribution and broadcasting, have a massive impact on climate change; but we do not say, “Let’s stop watching ‘EastEnders’ or ‘Big Brother’”, even if it might push people back into their communities where they sat on the doorstep and talked to each other, which might please the right reverend Prelate. You would not need to set up a neighbourhood watch because you would not be watching telly all the time.
You can get into all sorts of arguments about stopping people from doing things in order to solve climate change, but the answer is more sophisticated. We have to do these things in a more environmentally sensitive way and make sure that we are not doing them in a way that increases climate change. There is a core problem about the population issue, and the noble Lord and my noble friend Lord Bhattacharyya touched on it. There is no way that India, China, South America and so on will hold their standards of living down. Any lectures to them about not developing industry, not flying and so on, would be seen for what, in some cases, they are: western countries and organisations telling them not to do what we have already done and not to expect the living standards that we expect. There are all sorts of moral traps in this issue.
The key is to drive down emissions. I try to do that in my personal life and I hope and expect other people to do that in theirs. It is more difficult when we start to think about the community activities we involve ourselves in, because, very often, they involve a considerable degree of climate-changing activity. Which is why—and it is right that in all walks of life we address this issue—you need to say in those organisations, “What are we doing to reduce climate change?”. I often walk into this place and find the lights are on, and I cannot think why. The daylight is pretty good—that will please the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw. Even given the hours we work, we still have pretty good daylight and do not need to have the lights on. Also, in older buildings such as this, we ought to use electricity only from renewable sources, because it is much more difficult to make old buildings carbon-friendly.
I will give another example, which is drawn from Heathrow. I visited the new scheme that will serve Terminal 5, initially from the business car park, but will spread wider in November this year. What happens at many airports around the world is that people park their cars, go to a bus shelter and wait for a bus, which is very often empty. It trundles around and around all the time, picking up a few people and taking them to the terminal. On the new system which is already functioning at Terminal 5, you go to a very modern-looking bus station, you press a button, a small vehicle without a driver approaches you, it takes up to six people and suitcases and so on, you step inside, you press a button and the vehicle takes you to the terminal. Work is under way on a model which, in a few years, will allow you to insert your flight ticket, and then take you to wherever you need to go for your flight.
That sort of clever technology—driven by a professor from Bristol who set up a company—is interesting local authorities. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, with his knowledge of local government may be interested in looking at that and perhaps trying to persuade some local authorities to take a risk on this technology. I gather that one local authority in the Midlands is interested, because if you can personalise your transport in that way, you reduce the need for large numbers of vehicles trundling around semi-empty. It is that sort of clever, long-term technology that we need to develop to deal with the crisis.
There is no simple solution and there certainly is no quick one, but it is a manageable problem, as long as we combine the science and technology with the necessary social changes. The Government’s role is to do what they are doing rather well by trying to drive the science and technology forward and, at the same time, raising people’s awareness of what they can do in their personal lives. That is a core message for dealing with this problem. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for bringing it to the attention of the House.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for initiating this debate, but, even more, for inviting me to speak. He knows what my passion is, and he still invited me. I thank him for that. I am very pleased that not only he, but the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool, touched on the population issue. I had the privilege of hearing the right reverend Prelate give a lecture at St George’s House on this very issue—not on population, but on climate change and so on. It was an extremely good lecture and I, too, thank him for speaking today.
Nice things have been said about India, and as I am Indian, I have appreciated them. But I remind the noble Lords who have said nice things about India that it has more malnourished people than any other part of the world. Let us not get carried away by the progress and the things that we see happening, including the increase in business and in India’s capacity to buy companies abroad and so on, because the poorest people have not been touched. In fact, if anything, they have become poorer. As I have always said, the poorest of the poor are women. Women in the Indian subcontinent and Africa are the poorest; their lives are not much different to those of slaves. They are very disposable, too; if a woman dies or becomes sick, it does not matter—you get another one. So I will speak more about that issue, because it is very much connected with population.
I remind the noble Lord, Lord Soley, that he chaired a committee which produced a report on the role of intergovernmental organisations. It stated very clearly that population increase was one of the major reasons for a rise in the prevalence of some devastating diseases, such as HIV, TB and malaria, and the possibility of an influenza pandemic. We should bear in mind that that increase is connected not only to climate change and greenhouse gases but to the devastation, to which my noble friend Lord Tanlaw referred, caused by burning whatever is available in order to cook food. The noble Lord, Lord Browne, when chairman of BP, arranged for some scientists to produce a cooking stove that would take any kind of material. It was sold, at a very low price, to women in India because, like me, the noble Lord believed that charity does not work. You have to make people give something for something. When you give something for an item, you use it; otherwise, you get it but do not use it. I am concerned that I have not heard what happened to that stove. We need far more of that type of thing in developing countries to help women, in particular, to save the environment.
Women are in many ways the key players in this matter in poor countries. They are closest to the environment, they carry the water and they rear the children. We also have to recognise how many women die in childbirth: one every minute. Also, 6 million children die every year from malnutrition, yet population has not become a major issue in discussions around the globe. We marvel at the progress that China has made and how it has changed, but do noble Lords believe that China could have done that without its one-child policy? I do not. Some 400 million children have not been born in China as a result of that policy. Mao’s attitude to population was that China’s strength lay in people. Six, seven or eight children were being born in each family. If China had not taken that drastic step, it would not have made such big leaps so quickly.
The two other areas where large population increases are possible are Africa and the subcontinent of India. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, referred to aiming for a negative target by 2050, when there will be more than 8 billion people on this planet. One hundred years earlier, in 1950, there were 2.6 billion people. If we just keep that figure in mind, it will remind us of the extent to which climate change is caused by the number of people on the planet, yet that argument is not brought forward as a central issue. I realise that not every country has a dictatorship in the way that China has, and not every country can say, “You will not have any children”. There are numerous countries in Africa, where the population is likely to increase by 1.3 billion by 2050—the largest increase in the world. The people there are already malnourished and the children are already dying of hunger. When the population reaches that figure, how many more people, including children and mothers, will die?
It is all very well for me to spell out all the negatives to noble Lords, but I do so because they are not becoming central points for people to think and talk about. I know that a great deal of our aid goes towards family planning but, overall, the amount given for family planning through aid agencies has reduced. It is most appalling that it is reducing and not increasing.
I have to say a word about the Catholic Church. It is doing something which should be considered a breach of all our human rights—particularly of women’s human rights. I should very much like someone to tell me exactly where the Bible says that you cannot use any kind of family planning. I have not found it but I would like to know how and where this notion started.
When the churches came into existence, there were very few people. Muslims are quite open about having large families: they do so because they want more Muslims in the world. However, if that is also Catholic ideology, the Catholic Church should tell us. It should say that it wants Catholics to have more children because it wants more Catholics. However, it does not say that; it just says that family planning is a sin. That is a terrible problem for women, in particular, who are concerned about their faith, and it also has an impact in places where there are not just Catholics but where much of the education and welfare is carried out through Catholic churches and sits alongside the anti-family planning dogma. I repeat that I find that very worrying.
I should like to touch on the millennium development goals, which were signed up to by 189 countries in 2000. We are now nine years on and the goals are supposed to be met by 2015. I do not know whoever thought for a moment that they could be met, or even that we could have made a move towards them, by then. We have not moved towards achieving any of the millennium development goals. The only figure that I have been able to find is that 4 million children have received primary education. That has happened in nine years but there must already be an extra 4 million children by now. Therefore, we will always be chasing our tails if we do not do something about population.
One of the goals is about hunger and poverty, which concerns agriculture. Eighty per cent of the agriculture in Africa is looked after by women, who do not receive any payment or economic reward for it. It is agriculture carried out at subsistence level. If we started to work with those women and got co-operatives going, they could feed half of Africa’s population, but we do not do that.
As my time is running out, I turn to my final point. Having painted this dire picture, I want to put forward a solution. If we help poor women in Africa and the subcontinent to earn a small amount of money—to become employees and not just work from morning till night for nothing—they will change and begin to feel that they are worth something. They will look after their health and send their children to school. They will not drink or gamble and nor will they collect men off the streets. This is where the answer lies: we should concentrate on helping poor women to earn money.
We have been talking about education, but education cannot come to them. That is not possible; it is a pipe dream. Children can be educated but, at that stage of their lives, mothers cannot. If we help mothers to earn money, they will educate their children and they will also start to think about family planning. This is the only solution for our planet—to try to halt the huge increase in population. We should work with the women and help them to earn money. All businesses should start to think of employing at least a few women. Only in India and Africa are poor women not in the workforce, whereas in Burma and elsewhere, they are. In Burma, of course, it is a different story, but all the other countries have improved their economies and their earning capacity by having women in the workforce. It is not a western idea.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for bringing forward this important debate about carbon dioxide emission targets. I shall declare two interests before I start. I am president of the Micropower Council and a non-executive director of a heating company that specialises in combined heat and power, district heating and geothermal energy.
It is clear that there is quite a lot of agreement in the House on this issue, with the exception of the noble Lords, Lord Reay and Lord Tanlaw. We have had a wide-ranging debate and a particularly interesting contribution from the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, who has just spoken. There is also agreement that if we are to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions we need to do two things. The first is to use less energy, whether at home, in our offices, in travelling, or in buying everything we want in the modern world. Secondly, we need to try to use more renewable energy and phase out energy sources that produce carbon dioxide, although there is no agreement about exactly how we might do that.
It is disappointing that over recent years, although we talk and agree a lot about things, the progress we have made towards our ambitions has been a little slow. Carbon dioxide emissions in the United Kingdom have risen 4 per cent since 1999 and 1 per cent in the past year alone. The Government have said that that makes it difficult for them to reach their domestic target of 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2010. The other disappointing thing is that although we have green taxes, the take from them is falling. It was 3.6 per cent of our gross domestic product in 1999 but in 2006 it was only 2.7 per cent. Energy consumption has gone up by more than 3 per cent since 1997 and the most disturbing bit is the 11 per cent increase in electricity consumption. Although we have made progress on renewable resources—we can argue about which ones are effective and so on—the UK’s domestic electricity target of 4.6 per cent from renewables is some way off the 10 per cent for 2010.
I shall touch on aviation, with which the noble Lord, Lord Soley, is familiar. Of course, there has been a 61 per cent increase in air passengers since 1997 and aircraft emissions are up 23 per cent. I agree with the noble Lord that we need to be careful about how we talk about this because it is not straightforward, as his example showed. The other big transport issues are cars and the traffic on our roads, which is up 12 per cent since 1997. We are all very good at setting targets. I put myself into that category, too, in the work that I have done in this area over the years. As I am speaking from the Liberal Democrat Front Bench, I will be a bit political—I know that the noble Lord, Lord Bhattacharyya, said that he was not going to be political on this—but I will talk about what we believe. We could reach 100 per cent reduction in our CO2 emissions by 2050 and we have put forward a comprehensive range of policies based on evidence that we have taken relating to climate change mitigation and adoption within the United Kingdom as well as in the international arena.
We see a zero-carbon Britain that will be energy independent and that does not overly rely on foreign sources. Action at EU level, such as the European supergrid, will be very important in breaking our current dependence on fossil fuels imported from Russia and the Middle East. We believe that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme has the potential to be a major lever for promoting low-carbon technology. Lots of people have talked about how we need to change what we are doing and change behaviour, but we need to ensure that the price of the carbon is appropriate.
I want to touch on five key areas that we have looked at—there are a lot more. The first is a commitment to 100 per cent carbon-free, non-nuclear electricity by 2050. If we are to do that we need to provide incentives for people to use renewable energy, microgeneration, guaranteed prices, feed-in tariffs and smart meters. We think that we could make the programme about half as long as the one put forward by the Government. We need to build decent high-speed railways and back all sorts of rail improvements. We would try to pay for that by tolling lorries on motorways. We want to introduce green loans to finance the upgrading of our housing stock. I shall say a bit more about that later, but that would be in addition to extra money to help the fuel poor, which is again a point mentioned earlier in the debate.
It would be a national scheme, enabling householders to apply for funding to insulate their homes and to finance microgeneration renewable energy, and at the same time avoid large upfront costs. The cost of the work would be in the form of a loan, repaid over a period agreed by the householder paying the repayments through their energy bills. When I got married in the 1960s, I paid off my cooker and fridge on my energy bill, and I do not see why we cannot do that sort of thing to help people pay for the cost of refurbishment in their homes. It is important to tax the people who pollute and use the money to reduce income tax. I have already mentioned the EU ETS and we want to see the permits being auctioned, as we would get a better price for carbon in that way.
I shall now spend a little time talking about the energy efficiency of buildings, which is an area on which I have campaigned over the years. I lived in Stockholm in the late 1960s and early 1970s in a properly insulated flat. It was cheaper to heat than the box I had left behind in England, partly because it was so well insulated and partly because there was a decent and more efficient heating scheme in the area. I realised that they did not have excess winter deaths; there was no such thing as fuel poverty. It is a great disappointment to me that 40 years later we are still not building to those standards in this country. We are beginning to get towards it, but we still have not used combined heat and power and district heating in the same way as they have done in Scandinavia. None of this is new technology. It is all tried and tested, and it works.
In the other place I successfully piloted the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995—with the help of a lot of other people, I have to say—through Parliament. It was an enabling Bill to allow local authorities to gather statistics about how energy efficient the homes in their area were. The Government would then have those figures to target resources and local government could suggest ideas on how they thought they could be improved. Unfortunately, the Government did not run with it. They never used the Bill as they could have done to give them the information that they need, and now they want to repeal it, which is bitterly disappointing, although I do not think they have got that far yet.
The Government will say that we have the Climate Change Act, which is the most challenging legislation in any developed country. That is true and we are making progress, but it is regrettable that we have lost so much time. There has been too little finance and too many disparate schemes in recent years. There have been lots of good intentions but they are often not properly carried through.
Lastly, I shall touch on the Government’s record in their own buildings, which the noble Lord, Lord Soley, referred to earlier.
My Lords, I am not surprised that the Minister is a bit disappointed; it is very disappointing. One in three government buildings has the lowest possible rating for energy efficiency. I quote an article in the Observer, which states:
“Overall, 98 buildings were rated G”—
which I think is the lowest score—
“and a further 34 scored F. In total more than 70% were rated E or below, which means that they are less energy-efficient than normal buildings of their type”.
Of course, none made the top score of A. What I found most extraordinary when reading the article was that the new Home Office building and the newly refurbished Treasury are only rated F; that is pretty near the bottom.
Noble Lords will see why I particularly liked this quote from Paul King of the UK Green Building Council, who said:
“The only thing that sets the government buildings apart is that we actually know how bad they are because of this quirk of European policy that has required these energy certificates for public buildings. What we desperately need is similar information about the rest of the UK's buildings”.
If they had used the Bill that I put through Parliament properly, they would have just that information.
In conclusion, we could find the finance to reach our 2050 CO2 targets. As other Members have said, it is challenging. We have the science and technology to do it, and we have a lot of will. We have lots of legislation, both UK and European, to help us to do it. I hope that the Minister can indicate that we will have a bit of a step change in the rate at which we try to tackle the issues that we have been debating today. That is not only because many of us care about the planet and the well-being of the human race, but because we have a golden opportunity in the recession. We can create lots of green jobs that will help people in the difficult times of the credit crunch and so on.
What I really want to say today, with which I am sure many in the Chamber will agree—not everybody, of course—is that we need to get on and do more. We need to do it better and, above all, we need to do it faster.
My Lords, many interesting and valuable points have been raised throughout this debate and I am pleased to see that climate change is getting the full attention it deserves. As others have done, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith on giving us the opportunity to debate how society needs to change to meet the 2050 CO2 emissions target. His remarks have been thought-provoking and it will be interesting to hear how the Minister will respond to them.
My noble friend mentioned a particularly sobering fact: in order to reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, we need to get back to levels of emissions that existed in 1850 when our population was only 20 million. However, our population is due to increase by a third, from 60 million today to 80 million by 2050. This brings home the magnitude of the task facing the UK. It is clear that human interference with the stability and security of our climate system is the greatest long-term threat facing mankind and that we must take action now if we are to limit the damage. It is now time to map out a path that will take us all into a low-carbon future, and a future where we are more self-sufficient with our energy supplies.
The basis of this debate was to ascertain how society can best meet the 80 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target set by the Climate Change Act. The target was based on the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, which, as we know, was established under the Act as an independent advisory body to the Government on such issues as climate science, low- carbon technologies and energy security. While the committee is required to make recommendations to the Government, it is not its role to implement or propose mechanisms through which such targets can be achieved. It is now down to the Government to put in place the policies that will enable the aspirations of the Act to come true.
One thing is for certain: we must start decarbonising our economy now. There are three key issues we must work on. First and foremost, we must decarbonise our energy supplies. Secondly, we must make major improvements in domestic and commercial energy efficiency and, thirdly, we must decarbonise our transport system. These three priorities are not all we can do; they are the least we must do. Without delivery in these key areas, an 80 per cent reduction will be impossible.
There has been some interesting debate on how we can shift Britain away from our reliance on fossil fuels. I particularly liked the idea of the noble Lord, Lord Rees of Ludlow, of solar power from the Sahara, distributed via a pan-European grid. That alone could probably solve all our problems.
This is a serious challenge, but it is also a serious opportunity. It is possible to turn Britain into the world-leading economy for green innovation and technology. We have some of the best renewable resources in the world, such as wind, wave and tide. We have leading expertise in areas such as marine engineering and energy infrastructure. We are surrounded by shallow waters and are in close proximity to large energy markets, both at home and on the continent.
With all these benefits, the UK must recognise that this carbon reduction target is not a problem but an enormous opportunity. By tapping into these new, abundant low-carbon sources we will make our country more energy secure by providing our homes and businesses with power sourced close to home, not from places such as the Middle East or Russia. This will benefit our balance of payments and our security.
Reducing our carbon emissions will also create many new jobs and more wealth. We must realise that a green future means a jobs-rich future. It was announced a few days ago, as has already been mentioned, that the largest wind farm, the London array, will proceed in the Thames estuary. Yesterday, there was the switching-on ceremony of the enormous Whitelee wind farm in Scotland.
I can sense my noble friend Lord Reay wincing at the prospect. He has consistently criticised wind turbines, particularly their siting and cost-efficiency. At the risk of being called a heretic myself, I have some sympathy with him. I am not totally convinced that they are the right answer. I need persuading. I am not sure that they are effective at energy production. We are constantly being told that x per cent of our energy comes from wind, but does this mean the maximum output from wind if the wind blew perfectly for 365 days a year, or is this the actual output, bearing in mind that turbines are only 27 per cent efficient?
Then we come to cost. Wind power, we are told, is much more expensive than other forms of energy production. Again, I should like to know whether this cost relates to the wind blowing perfectly for 365 days a year, or whether it relates to the actual 27 per cent output. But we do know that wind power is more expensive, whichever method is used. Yet the Government pour huge amounts of taxpayers’ money into this industry, which begs the question: is this money well spent, or would it be better spent going towards another form of renewable energy? That is, would we get a better output of megawatts for our money if the Government spent it elsewhere? My noble friend Lord Reay gave an example that suggested that the answer was yes. The noble Lord, Lord Rees of Ludlow, put forward the idea of solar power from the Sahara. Would that be cheaper per megawatt than power from wind?
We should not roll our eyes when people question perceived wisdom. We should constantly challenge what we are doing and whether there is a better, more efficient way of doing it. One is left with the depressing feeling that, currently, wind energy is the only weapon in the Government's armoury. I hope not; we need to get other forms of renewable energy on-stream quickly. Wind undoubtedly has a part to play, but at what cost? It will be interesting to hear what the Minister has to say about that, and about the other points raised by my noble friend Lord Reay. If the London array wind farm is to go ahead, we must ensure our competitiveness in this project, so that as much as is possible of the manufacture and installation of the offshore turbines and other technologies is provided by British businesses.
Carbon capture and storage technology is another case in point. We on these Benches were delighted to see the Government last month adopting the Conservative Party position on carbon capture and storage. Coal is a plentiful and indigenous energy source for the UK, but in a carbon-constrained world we cannot afford to build any more unabated coal-powered plants. Ensuring that any new coal-fired power station has carbon capture and storage technology running from the outset will not only allow us to meet our carbon budgets, it will give Britain an opportunity to lead the world in the implementation of that technology.
Our homes and businesses can also be dramatically more efficient. Improving household insulation, as has already been mentioned, will have a big impact on energy consumption, which is why my party has proposed an entitlement for every home to be fitted immediately with up to £6,500 of approved energy-efficiency improvements. The cost would be repaid through fuel bills over a period of up to 25 years but it would deliver immediate reductions in the gas and electricity consumption of participating households.
We must also bring our ageing national grid into the 21st century. A dynamic electricity grid, called an electricity internet, will allow us to balance supply and demand and run smart appliances and electric vehicles off the grid. Homes, businesses, schools and hospitals will be able to contribute energy from their own small-scale, low-carbon energy production, or microgeneration systems, via their smart meters, earning money in the process. It is pleasing to note that the Government are now accelerating the rollout of smart metering.
To conclude, I restate that, although the 80 per cent reduction target for 2050 is a major challenge, it is achievable and can be achieved at great benefit to our economy, national security and quality of life, but the work must begin in earnest, and it must begin immediately, because neither the science nor the global market opportunity will wait for us should we fall behind.
My Lords, this has been an extremely interesting debate and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for the quality and breadth of his speech. We have been debating these issues almost daily during the past week, and listening to noble Lords who take climate change seriously, I wish rather more of them than just the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, had been present for our debate on carbon budgets last week, when we had a different cast list with a very different view on the issues. None the less, today has been extremely interesting.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, about the need for a more focused approach to the 2050 targets. That was his first substantive point. In July, we will publish our strategy document on how to take forward our policies on climate change and energy. I say to the noble Lord and the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, that they will be convinced that this is a serious, realisable but ambitious approach.
We believe that the climate is already changing. The atmosphere is warming up because of the greenhouse effect, and the rate of change will accelerate rapidly unless we take decisive action. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, and say to the noble Lord, Lord Reay, that, frankly, I would rather sail on HMS “Stern” than sink into the rising sea with HMS “Lawson”.
The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, asked me whether my new department, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the direction of government policy had led to a big increase in staff; he seemed to think that it might have. He will know that my department is only six months old. Its size is roughly equivalent to the size of the energy group within BERR and the former climate change group in Defra. I must say that the discipline on public finance within government is very tough at the moment, having been responsible for overseeing budgetary matters in the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the past few weeks. The new department has been faced by some mega-issues about both climate change and energy. It is a very exciting time, but the demands we are making on our staff are considerable and I have been impressed by the quality of our people and their motivation. That gives us a great foundation for the future.
Last week, we had an entertaining debate—perhaps not for me, but for other noble Lords—and saw the benefit of debating a statutory instrument in prime time, when we debated the whole question of the science. The noble Lord, Lord Reay, raised that and referred to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Leach, last week.
The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, made some interesting comments about the role of scientists and the IPCC in particular. It is worth making the point that its most recent report, its fourth assessment report, was written by 619 named scientists and reviewed by another 622, and that objectivity is ensured by the broad and open review process and shared responsibility for the report. No one Government, organisation or individual has sole responsibility for any part. On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, on the influence of the political process on that work, the IPCC is very careful to keep science separated from the political negotiations that take place at UN climate change convention meetings. The scientists in the working groups write their reports, which are then extensively reviewed and edited in draft before government review and final acceptance. IPCC assessment reports are not written or changed by Governments. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Rees, was persuasive on that point. I understand that there will be disagreements about the science, but one should not ignore the rigour of the IPCC process.
Let me come on to the role of carbon budgets. We debated that last week. The Climate Change Act, which introduced the binding long-term framework to limit greenhouse gases in this country and the carbon budgets that provide the engine room, if you like, for reducing carbon emissions, are critical to our success in the UK. At the Budget—the statutory instruments that we debated last week follow on from it—we announced the levels for the first three carbon budgets for the periods 2008-12, 2013-17 and 2018-22, representing respectively more than a 22 per cent, 28 per cent and 34 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to 1990 levels. These budgets correspond to the interim level recommended by the Committee on Climate Change. However, we have made it clear that we will tighten these following a global deal to reduce emissions and subsequent agreement within the European Union.
On the expertise available to the Committee on Climate Change, I should say that the seven members of the CCC include three scientists and an engineer—the noble Lord, Lord May, Professor Jim Skea, Sir Brian Hoskins and Professor Julia King—all of the very highest calibre. I have been impressed by the quality and rigour of their advice to the Government. All of this is in the context of seeking international agreement in Copenhagen so that we can take action to ensure that we see the kind of progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that is necessary.
I said last week that we are confident. It is going to be very tough; we have always known that negotiations at Copenhagen would be tough. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has taken part in extensive international meetings; he was recently in China. There are positive signals. We should not ignore the impact of the change of Administration in the US. There is a long way to go, and I am sure that these negotiations will be very difficult. However, we are optimistic.
I take the point about the energy needs of developing countries. That has to be taken into account; that cannot be inconsistent with a global deal. I understand the points about the importance of India and China that a number of noble Lords have made, and I will come on to carbon capture and storage. It is clear that the Chinese Government are extremely interested in carbon capture and storage technology, which is why our decision, made only three weeks ago, is so important; not just for what we can achieve in this country, but for the opportunity for the export of technological and, we hope, other know-how in this area.
On the international dimension, the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, once again made a very measured and interesting contribution. She raised some inevitably difficult and ethical points about population issues. She was right, I am sure, to mention the pressures that population growth will bring to the globe. She also mentioned the role of religion. I suspect that she probably absolved the Anglican diocese of Liverpool from those strictures, given the remarkable progress that the right reverend Prelate has made. What he had to say was very interesting. When one thinks of climate change and the poorest countries, one thinks of the impact of the rise in sea levels and the flooding, drought and disease that will inevitably follow. That is why international action and agreement are so critical. The noble Baroness made some very important points about women and their role in the very poorest countries.
The noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, and other noble Lords put a great deal of emphasis on energy. That is absolutely right. We should focus on energy, as this House has done on very many occasions. We all understand that decarbonisation of our power supply is an essential foundation in moving towards a low carbon economy. It is an approach that looks for a diverse supply of energy in the future. We see a new generation of nuclear power stations in prospect. We are overseeing what is, undoubtedly, the fastest growth in renewable energy in Europe. Yes, it is from a lower base, but the progress that has been made recently must give us a great deal of encouragement for the future, including on pioneering carbon capture and storage.
Let me make it clear; I know that noble Lords are concerned about what they call the energy gap. Security of supply has to be my department’s most important obligation. We are aware of the plants that are due to close and of the decommissioning of a number of nuclear power stations. We should not ignore the plants that are now in construction, the plants that are with consent and other proposals that will come along in the next year or two. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Rees, about storage. Good progress is being made.
There was a very important announcement on coal. As I said, we think that this has huge potential for up to four new projects to demonstrate carbon capture and storage. I have the privilege of attending a conference in Norway on CCS next week to discuss this and the question of international co-operation and collaboration. It is quite clear, if one looks at the amount of coal that is used globally, that we need a great deal of international effort and co-operation. In the UK, we are in a very good position to influence that because of the announcement that we have made.
On the takeover of British Energy by EDF, we signalled the way for new nuclear. Since then, other companies have also intimated their desire to develop new nuclear power stations. It is very encouraging. There are questions about the supply chain and to what extent we in the UK can take advantage of this investment. That is something my department is very concerned about.
On renewables, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, talked about estuary tidal wave technology and its potential. I agree with him. I recently visited the Orkneys to look at some of the technologies there. It is very exciting. If we can really pull it off, the UK is undoubtedly in a technological lead. There are some major companies involved. It has yet to be developed at scale. The next two years or so will be very important but, if we can pull it off, it will bring huge advance to this country.
The noble Lords, Lord Rees and Lord Dixon-Smith, again emphasised the potential of solar. It will be very interesting to see how these proposals develop. I confess that I thought the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, was with me when it came to renewables, until he started to talk about wind. We are not going to meet the renewable energy targets that we have been set without wind. Wind will be an important part of the mix in the future. In our renewable energy strategy, which we will publish in the summer, we will say much more about it. I understand the issue of intermittency; it is why we need a diverse source of supply.
Renewables come with a cost. However, we must remember what the noble Lord, Lord Stern, said on the economics of climate change that, essentially, the sooner we get on with taking the actions that are required, the cheaper it will be in the long run. We also have to bear in mind the costs with regard to the issue of energy saving potential in the future, which I will come to in a moment.
The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, made a point about daylight saving in relation to energy saving. I know that he is very frustrated by what from his point of view is an utterly logical argument seeming to run up against what I think he feels is a brick wall. I hope he will not cease to make the case for that. It is a powerful case, but noble Lords will know—we have debated this on a number of occasions—that it is not a simple matter. Noble Lords will also recall the issues that arose when it was introduced for a short time some years ago.
The right reverend Prelate also made a point about energy saving and procurement. He is absolutely right; it is a very important point. The Office of Government Commerce looks at these matters very seriously when it gives guidelines to those who will procure in the future. I was very interested in his points about the involvement of his regional development agency. It is the lead RDA on climate change, and I am impressed with its work. I am also interested in the way in which it uses its resources to lever the kinds of changes about which the right reverend Prelate spoke. The carbon fast is a brilliant idea. Let us hope that it develops and grows globally in the way that he has suggested.
We need to do much more about energy saving. We can do more. We know that families lose at least £300 a year from inadequate energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is one answer to the question of cost because, although developing renewables may have a cost, the more energy efficient we become the more the costs to the customer are reduced. We have strong ambitions, which we need to develop.
The noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, made the point that once we have got beyond cavity walls and loft insulation—in some homes much more needs to be done— funding is very important. We are working through ideas about how one can establish a financial framework that one way or another makes it worth while for the householder, who will not get support from the public purse to make what can be very expensive changes. Again, this is part of the work that we are undertaking at the moment.
The noble Baroness is right to emphasise the potential of CHP and district heating. Again, this is work that we are undertaking at the moment. She may know of the work in Birmingham on district heating. We have been talking about this for a long time, but a district heating system has been established in the past 18 months and is being extended. The cost of the infrastructure for district heating is an issue, but again the RDA, Advantage West Midlands, is putting in resources to extend it, and it will be very interesting to see how that works out.
The noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, talked about the grid. We readily accept that we need to move from what might be described as a passive grid network to one that becomes much smarter. The smart meter rollout will be an important step in laying the foundations for a smarter grid. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, thinks that this should be done rather more quickly than it will be within the 10-year timetable, but she will know that we looked into this very carefully in the context of the Climate Change Act and we will, I hope, be able to come up with more details about the rollout.
My noble friend Lord Bhattacharyya talked about social change and the potential of technological solutions. That was a very important contribution, in which he talked about the demands of the electricity supply, an off-grid electricity supply for vehicles, components and the fact that car manufacturers must produce sustainability. He urged us to work with other countries and companies across the world. I agree, although I hope, like him, that the West Midlands has a critical role to play in that, not least in his work at Warwick University.
My noble friend Lord Soley and the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, talked about energy-saving buildings and the Government’s own performance. I have to admit that it is a fair cop, because noble Lords will know that my own department’s building is not rated as highly as we would wish. It was of course inherited, and we are now taking action, but their substantive point is right; if the Government are going to put mechanisms into place, we must practise what we preach. We are very exercised about it. One of my offices is in Defra, which would look beautiful with solar panels on the outside and wind farms above it, but I am not sure that we will get away with that. No doubt one of our quangos will rule against us on environmental grounds.
There will be a cost as a result of the measures that have to be taken, but I ask noble Lords to remember the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Stern, when he said that a low-carbon economy does not mean a low-growth economy. The noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, surely got it right when he spoke about the huge potential for jobs and exports for this country in leading the world in having a low-carbon economy. That is a wonderful prospect for us, and we should not ignore the potential benefits to our economy.
I thank again the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for introducing this debate and for the quality and breadth of his speech.
My Lords, one of my ambitions has been very well fulfilled this morning: to draw on the pool of intellectual power in this Chamber to discuss the subject of the Motion that I brought forward. I am most grateful to all those who have contributed to the debate and made it so very interesting.
I shall make two very brief points. First, my concern is that, in meeting the needs of global society, we need to be very certain that we do not in some physical way curtail the needs and ambitions of our own society. It is not the quantity of energy that we use that is a problem; it is the way in which we source it. We should always keep that in mind.
The second point that we need to bear in mind—I aim this particularly at my noble friend Lord Reay and to some degree at the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw—is that the cost of our existing energy infrastructure is met by consumers, as all these costs are. Even if the Government of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, are offering financial support, in the end the taxpayer has to pay. Our existing energy is relatively low-cost because the cost of the environmental damage that it is doing is not charged to the consumer. If it were, we might see a very different approach to the whole subject, but that is a matter for yet another debate.
I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, for his winding-up speech. I am bound to say, as always, that it was masterly, but I look forward with keen anticipation to July and to what he actually puts into the report. I would like to think that what Members have said in this Chamber today might have some influence on it. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.