House of Lords
Tuesday, 8 December 2009.
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Salisbury.
My Lords, does he not have rather more than concerns, given that the BBC Trust was forced through against strong advice that it would provide a fatally divided structure at the top of the BBC? Has not the Secretary of State, Mr Bradshaw, said that the trust is not,
“a sustainable model in the long term”?
So, is it the Government’s policy now that the BBC Trust is not sustainable?
No, it is not, my Lords. The Secretary of State was indicating that the next charter review should look at the regulatory structure, but the trust is the product of a very extensive consultation on the charter and provision for the BBC. Every model of governance had both proponents and opponents, but the trust received greater favour than other possible solutions. After just over two years of the trust, which has a destined life of 10 years, we should give it time to settle in and to prove that it is fit for purpose.
My Lords, the trust certainly has a major obligation to the licence payer. Any other model of supervision of the BBC would either not serve the interests of the licence payer as effectively or would so closely regulate the BBC that it would be subject to political interference, thereby destroying the independence which it has enjoyed for 80 years.
My Lords, as regards the future of the BBC, will the Minister assure the House that the Government do not intend to top-slice the BBC licence fee in order to pay for the independently-funded media consortia once the pilots are over?
My Lords, that is a marginal consideration as far as the future of the BBC is concerned. After all, we are talking about potential savings from the necessary moneys devoted to the transfer to digital. Therefore, it is an absolutely minor amount for the BBC and is not part of its regular budget. However, the Government have not reached a decision on whether this specific part should be devoted to the independent news consortia. We are considering the matter, but that is one possibility.
My Lords, in response to my noble friend Lord Fowler, the Minister explained that the BBC Trust was not sustainable. Yet in his subsequent remarks, he said that it should be allowed to settle in, in order to become fit for purpose. It cannot do both. Which is the Government’s preferred option?
My Lords, it can do both because, as I am sure the noble Lord appreciates, we are not talking about an institution which is subject annually to a change of government, but a structure which has to be created to preserve the crucial independence of the BBC. That is why the charter has a 10-year span and why the licence fee has a number of years attached to its regulation. That is the position of the BBC, which is valued across the world in terms of its independence from government. All that the Secretary of State was indicating was that the trust might be looked at in the fullness of time when it comes to a review of the charter.
My Lords, given the degree of self-regulation built into the Communications Act 2003, can the Minister expand a little on what the trust does that Ofcom or a similar regulator could not do? I am thinking about the future rather than the present.
The noble Baroness is quite right to indicate that in future discussions the role of Ofcom would almost certainly feature as a possible solution to the issue. But of course that position was considered in the review of the charter which we carried out prior to the decisions in 2006 and 2007. There are problems with the position of Ofcom; it might look as if it was, in fact, there solely to look after the structure of the BBC on a day-to-day basis, when the essence of the trust is to give reassurance to the licence fee payer that the BBC will be properly controlled and governed, while preserving a degree of BBC independence from direct political interference.
Is it not true that the threat to the BBC comes not from problems with the trust, which everyone acknowledges can be changed from time to time, but from the threat to hive off bits of it at the request of other self-serving interests? News International and the Daily Mail spring to mind. In fact, the BBC provides one of the great services not just to this country but to the world in terms of the protection and enhancement of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. We should be proud of that and be very wary of those organisations that want to get their hands on little bits of the BBC in order to emasculate it.
I am grateful to my noble friend for emphasising the virtues of the BBC in our debate last Thursday. Every single contributor recognised the value of the BBC as a very significant institution in Britain. Therefore, we ought to look with some care at those who threaten the BBC from a perspective that may be self-serving of their interests, but not in the interests of the wider community.
My Lords, in all the discussions on the BBC to which I have been a party in recent months and years, I have not identified an issue of confusion. I have identified criticism of the trust. Any BBC governing body is subject to criticism, because the BBC, given the sheer range of its programmes and the service it provides, is bound to attract criticism from time to time. Whoever is responsible for answering questions on those criticisms will themselves be subject to scrutiny. The trust simply fits into that pattern.
Anti-social Behaviour: Family Intervention Projects
My Lords, since 2007, DCSF has collected detailed monitoring information on progress made by every family supported by a family intervention project. We are strengthening the evidence base for FIPs and have recently begun to monitor whether the impact on families is sustained nine to 14 months after they leave the project. Evaluation published in November this year shows significant improvements in outcomes for the families involved.
My Lords, we know that the families targeted to be part of this project are often in receipt of significant investment from public services. The average cost of running a family intervention project can be around £8,000 to £20,000 per family, but the overall cost of the different statutory interventions for families such as those involved in a FIP can be anything between £250,000 and £350,000 per year. Therefore, we can see that the family intervention project is very cost-effective.
My Lords, the Minister seems to be indicating that this is a successful project, even though we are at the beginning of the evaluation. If it proves to be the success that she is indicating, will she consider encouraging other groups to use this holistic social work approach with other families? I think particularly of those families where there is a likelihood of breakdown and of children being received into care. Bearing in mind that the number of children before the courts has risen by 50 per cent this year compared with last year—I declare an interest as the chair of CAFCASS—does she not feel that this might save substantial funds and give those children a better life?
I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Baroness. It is important to remember that such significant cost benefits come about in part because the families that we target through family intervention projects have an extremely intense need. They may be very chaotic and in receipt of a wide range of services and they may be having quite a detrimental impact on their communities, so we can make a big difference by bringing in the family intervention project. The noble Baroness is right that one of the real success factors of the project is the approach of looking at the whole family—the extended family—and not trying to address the needs of an individual family member. The project looks at how the family works together and wraps around services in a coherent and determined way.
My Lords, that is a very interesting question. I think that I can fairly say that family intervention projects do not concern themselves with the colour of the attire of the children involved but are much more concerned about getting kids up and dressed and back to school. They make sure that parents are capable of parenting their children and can address the support needs of, say, a teenager who might be going off the rails. Family intervention projects are about ensuring that families can do the best for themselves.
My Lords, can the Minister confirm that, among families where there have been substantial anti-social behaviour problems, the evaluation shows a reduction from 40 per cent to 6 per cent in those problems? Given the dedication of this Government to joined-up thinking, can she also tell me why they did not think about putting this holistic programme together very much earlier?
The noble Baroness is helpfully highlighting the successful outcome of the family intervention project. I shall add some further background. For example, we found that cases of domestic violence involving families who had been through the project fell from 22 per cent to 9 per cent. That is an important impact. The family intervention project is specific intervention involving a determined key worker—in some cases, an ex-police officer—who embraces the family, gets services to work together and drives forward behavioural change. This specific intervention has been developed by Action for Children since 1995. We are very pleased that the results have been well evaluated and we can see a read-across into such things as the family nurse partnership and specialist drug and alcohol courts.
If a grandparent is involved, what extra support might they expect? More generally, where grandparents are having to take on the parenting role, what support is there for them? For example, is there support if there are immediate costs in adapting a house to take in children?
The family intervention project embraces the whole family, which includes grandparents and extended family members. Often the grandparents provide the kind of stability and support that sometimes is not present in chaotic families. It is essential that the “think family” approach is adopted locally and across the board. There is much more that we can do as a society and a Government to support grandparents in that role and I hope that we will be able to say more about that in the coming weeks.
My Lords, I shall return to the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Knight of Collingtree, if I may. Does the Minister agree that her friend Harriet Harman was talking absolute rubbish when she said that girls should not be brought up in pink clothes and boys in blue clothes? I say that because it is only when they get older that boys wear pink clothes—as I do with my pink shirt—with equanimity.
My Lords, I am sure that the noble Earl looks very dashing in his pink shirt or pink tie. The right honourable Harriet Harman was making a serious point about how to ensure that we as parents give girls the best possible opportunities and do not stereotype them into for ever taking a passive and pink role in life. Having brought up a daughter, I think that it is extremely important that we make sure that girls have a chance to play with trucks and trains and to wear blue if they look pretty in blue. We should not define how young people are looked after by the colour of their toys.
Finance: Fiscal Deficit
My Lords, the Government are delivering significant fiscal support to the economy, helping to reduce the risk of a deeper and more prolonged recession. The Government have set out a clear plan to reduce borrowing once the recovery is secured. This will see the deficit halved over four years, ensuring that public finances remain on a sustainable footing. The Queen’s Speech announced the Government’s intention to bring forward a fiscal responsibility Bill in the fifth Session, enshrining this plan in legislation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will set out full details tomorrow in the Pre-Budget Report, alongside his forecast for the public finances.
I thank the noble Lord for his reply, although I anticipated it. I did not expect to hear the details of the Pre-Budget Report today. Perhaps it will be repentance on the scaffold tomorrow for the Chancellor.
I shall try another tack. Was the Guardian newspaper correct when it reported the other day that the cost of quangos—those much maligned, non-departmental and non-ministerial bodies—is now £10 billion a year, but that 123 of them are to be abolished at a saving of £800 million? Is that correct? If so, it would be interesting to have the names of the quangos that are to be abolished. Why were they established in the first place, and why are they going now? Some of us might like to have a few words on the matter.
My Lords, I believe that that may well have been covered in a Statement read to the House yesterday afternoon by my noble friend Lord Davies. I will not speak to the veracity of the Guardian newspaper report, but there is clearly scope to reduce the number of quangos and secure significant savings. As part of the move towards sustainable public finances, once the recovery is firmly established, clearly each and every aspect of public expenditure will need to come under very critical examination.
My Lords, does not the Minister agree that the timing and pace of the reduction of the fiscal deficit should be determined by what is happening in the real economy, such as sustained growth, growing employment and availability of finance to businesses, rather than some arbitrary and unenforceable target, whether set out in legislation or not?
We are very clear that we want a reduction in the deficit of public expenditure and are committed to halving it over a period of four years, once the recovery is well established. It would clearly be most unwise to contemplate any significant change in fiscal policy or support for the economy until the recovery is firmly established. Indeed, that would be irresponsible in its impact on the economy. The IMF has made clear in its recent publication that it believes that the public sector borrowing requirement as a percentage of the deficit will remain below average for the G7 countries throughout the forecast period to 2014.
I think that we can rest assured that the shareholders of the major banks, including the two banks in which the taxpayer has a significant interest, will take due and proper care to ensure that those banks are being run properly. My observation about whether people were in the real world was very much limited to the issue of bonuses.
My Lords, bearing in mind that it is pretty foolhardy to discuss a Bill that we have not seen yet, the fiscal responsibility Bill, I ask my noble friend a sensible question: are we clear how we should measure the fiscal deficit? As far as I know, what counts in the deficit is a very tricky question. When the time comes, I hope that he will ask our right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get some expert advice on the correct way of measuring the deficit.
One of the advantages of the fiscal responsibility Bill which the Chancellor will be announcing tomorrow is that it will allow Parliament to look at multi-year fiscal plans and challenge them. That will include a discriminating eye as to the difference between recurrent expenditure and investment, which is a critical aspect in calculating the deficit—expressing the deficit not so much in absolute terms but in the ability to pay in terms of percentage of GDP.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the debate about the recently published e-mails sent by scientists in the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia has altered their stance on the evidence of man-made climate change.
My Lords, no: we remain absolutely convinced by the comprehensive and compelling evidence that shows that humans are causing the climate to change.
My Lords, I am very thankful that the Government are taking that position and I thank the Minister for that Answer. Does he agree that, just as in a sick person, the temperature rise is just one symptom of the very sick state of the planet, and that the conference at Copenhagen represents a step change in trying to deal with many of the symptoms to do with our overuse of resources? Does he also agree that it is an outrage that those who quibble with the evidence and who want to deny the little bits of evidence here and there are those who want to continue business as usual and deny future generations their rights?
Yes, my Lords, I think that the noble Baroness is spot on in her analysis of where we are and of the importance of the Copenhagen discussions. No one should underestimate the challenge of reaching agreement at Copenhagen but we are confident that we can see a successful outcome.
My Lords, does the Minister agree that the data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia agree with the two data sets collected independently in the United States at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Climatic Data Centre, and that all three data sets show that thermometer measurements of the global temperature have risen by 0.75 degrees since 1850? Does he also agree that where direct measurements from thermometers conflict with proxy measurements such as those from tree rings, the thermometer measurements should be treated as more reliable?
My Lords, does the Minister agree that the rise in carbon dioxide is entirely uncontroversial and that if we had no other information apart from the agreed measurements of carbon dioxide and the projections that they carry for the second half of this century, that would in itself motivate very strong action at Copenhagen?
My Lords, I think that that is right, and that is why it is so important that we should reach agreement in Copenhagen. No one should have any doubt that the evidence has been rigorously assessed by a number of institutions throughout the world and that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is real, it is happening, and we have to do something about it.
I’m up, and I’m staying up.
My Lords, does the Minister agree that questioning theories by subjecting them to rigorous testing is the foundation of scientific method and is how our body of knowledge was built? Although the revelations at the University of East Anglia are deeply concerning, our knowledge of climate change does not hang on this set of e-mails but on the work of thousands of scientists pursuing many separate lines of inquiry over many years.
My Lords, I agree with the general thrust of the noble Baroness’s question. As for the UEA, the university has announced an independent review, and I think it best to await the outcome. However, I am convinced that the evidence overall, not only from that university but also from other universities around the world, is utterly convincing.
Will Her Majesty’s Government promise to work very hard indeed through the usual polite channels to persuade a few myopic and reactionary US senators of the need to support a full universal treaty when the time comes on 20 December and not to resile back into old views which are out of date on this matter?
My Lords, I have some sympathy with the noble Lord’s point. However, I think it is worth saying that the position of the US Administration is very much more positive than it has been and we are very much encouraged by that. However, no doubt there will be considerable challenges ahead.
My Lords, I think we should hear from this side.
My Lords, while I and a great many noble Lords are persuaded of climate change and that much of it is manmade, and that science and change in lifestyles will have to be used to counter it, will the Minister accept that nature can give us a hand in this? Has he seen the independent report chaired by Sir David Read, which has concluded that an extension of our woodland cover in the United Kingdom by 4 per cent would allow us to sequester 10 per cent of our carbon emissions? I declare an interest as chairman of the Forestry Commission.
My Lords, I have not read the report, but I understand my noble friend’s point. There is no question that forestation offers many opportunities. As part of the agreement in Copenhagen, we must ensure that action is taken to prevent further deforestation.
My Lords, is the Minister aware of the discovery of the mammal in Siberia that is said to be 37,000 years old? As a result of some of the investigations that have been made, it is clear that 37,000 years ago the arctic was tundra; there were grazing animals and people living there. It was considerably warmer, and it is doubtful whether there was any ice there at all. Would the Minister agree that as a result of that we are probably in a cycle returning?
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for imparting that information to your Lordships' House this afternoon. The fact is that of course there have been periods of warmth, and natural processes can obviously affect climate. However, we are seeing temperatures rising rapidly due to human activities. I am convinced that we have to take action to limit this warming to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Canterbury City Council Bill
Motion to Approve
Nottingham City Council Bill
Motion to Approve
Bournemouth Borough Council Bill [HL]
That the Commons message of 3 December be now considered; and that the promoters of the Bournemouth Borough Council Bill [HL], which was originally introduced in this House in Session 2006-07 on 22 January 2007, should have leave to proceed with the Bill in the current Session according to the provisions of Standing Order 150B (Revival of bills).
Manchester City Council Bill [HL]
That the Commons message of 3 December be now considered; and that the promoters of the Manchester City Council Bill [HL], which was originally introduced in this House in Session 2006-07 on 22 January 2007, should have leave to proceed with the Bill in the current Session according to the provisions of Standing Order 150B (Revival of bills).
Legal Services Act 2007 (Functions of an Approved Regulator) Order 2009
Legal Services Act 2007 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2009
Transfer of Functions of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Order 2009
Transfer of Tribunal Functions Order 2009
Amendment to Schedule 6 to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 Order 2009
Motions to Approve
Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill [HL]
My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
My Lords, as someone who, like others in this House, has campaigned for the purposes of this Bill for many years I feel privileged to be present in the House today. Perhaps I may express my warm thanks to noble Lords in all parts of the House for their strong and articulate support for this Bill in the Queen’s Speech debate.
This Bill has a very clear objective; that is, to put in place prohibitions on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions in UK territory and by any UK nationals. In doing so, it will implement our country’s international obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, paving the way for the UK to ratify this significant arms control treaty. I also thank your Lordships for the wider moral support and commitment across this House on arms control for many years. I particularly want to join the tributes paid to my noble friend Lord Dubs and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who have campaigned tirelessly for the banning of cluster munitions. I look forward to working with the whole House to ensure that our shared objective of the speedy ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2010 can be realised.
The House will be aware that in Oslo, just over a year ago, my right honourable friend David Miliband signed the treaty on behalf of the UK. As he said, the Convention on Cluster Munitions,
“is a remarkable achievement, carried out at a remarkable pace”.
Like the Ottawa convention on anti-personnel mines before it, it is an example of what can be achieved when like-minded Governments join forces with parliamentarians and civil society.
When my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown took part in his first debate on cluster munitions in this House he welcomed this activity. He said:
“Pressure in a Chamber such as this moves the issue forward”.—[Official Report, 15/11/07; col. 602.]
I agree. Debates in this Chamber supported by civil society helped to shape the UK’s policy and ensured that we saw international progress. I believe that this treaty will make a difference. As many of us in this House have seen for ourselves, cluster munitions can cause immense suffering to the civilians caught up in conflict and can leave a deadly post-conflict legacy for future generations when they fail to explode. It is right and proper that we are taking global action to prevent this.
Recognising the humanitarian implications, the UK Government have been at the forefront of efforts to prevent the proliferation of cluster munitions. The Export Control Order 2008 placed cluster munitions in category A, making them subject to the most stringent trade controls. This measure effectively banned trade in cluster munitions by any UK entities. Cluster munitions will remain in category A. We see the Export Control Order 2008 as complementary to the Bill’s prohibitions.
As your Lordships will know, the UK has also been at the forefront of the international debate on how to address the problem of cluster munitions. We were one of the original signatories of the Oslo declaration in February 2007 calling on countries to prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. This declaration started the international negotiation process and we continued to play a leading role in bringing this to a successful conclusion, with the Prime Minister’s personal intervention breaking the deadlock at the final conference in Dublin where the convention was adopted on 30 May 2008.
The decision taken by the Government to give up our remaining cluster munitions was not taken easily, especially with our substantial and active military commitments, but we recognised the importance of our endeavour. That was referred to in the opening address at the Dublin conference, which was made by the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross. When he quoted the authors of the St Petersburg declaration he said that the task was,
“shaped by the need to ‘fix the technical limits at which the necessities of war ought to yield to the requirements of humanity’”.
I believe that we have a Bill that robustly and faithfully implements the terms of the convention. In doing so, it puts in place a strong and practical framework to enforce all of the convention’s prohibitions. A good example of this is the provision establishing the offence of assisting others to engage in prohibited activity, as set out in Clause 1. This reflects the wording of the convention. I understand that not all countries that have passed similar legislation have included such a prohibition. However, the Government felt it to be imperative to do so, thereby creating the widest possible prohibition, according to the treaty.
On assistance, I refer noble Lords to my Written Statement yesterday in which I clarified that the prohibition on assistance will cover direct financing of the production of cluster munitions. Given the Government’s desire to see an end to cluster munitions, it also outlined the further steps we will be taking to prevent indirect financing, including working to produce a voluntary code with British business. With this commitment the UK is, I am proud to say, again at the forefront of international action.
The Bill’s prohibitions are also extra-territorial, applying to all UK nationals and companies regardless of whether they engage in prohibited activities in the UK or elsewhere. Again, not all countries that have passed implementing legislation have done this. But Article 9 of the convention stipulates that states parties are required to prevent prohibited activities from taking place both on their territory and being engaged in by persons under their jurisdiction or control. We thought it important to reflect this.
I will now outline the main provisions of the Bill. It will give effect to the Government’s future obligations as a state party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, notably to prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions on UK territory and by UK nationals. The Bill has a great deal in common with the Landmines Act 1998 that implemented the Ottawa convention on anti-personnel mines. In both cases the issues of breaches of humanitarian law have been cited as a clear justification for the broad support of the House.
The Bill begins by setting out a clear definition of cluster munitions and relevant explosive bomblets—the prohibited munitions to which the provisions apply. To ensure that the Bill faithfully reflects the convention, these definitions are drawn directly from Article 2 of the convention, as are other definitions in the Bill. It then establishes a series of offences in relation to activity concerned with prohibited munitions. These offences are based on the prohibitions in Article 1 of the convention: to use, produce, develop, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions. As I have said, it will also be an offence to assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in these activities. The Bill establishes criminal penalties of a fine, a 14-year prison term, or both, for committing these offences. This is consistent with the penalties in the Landmines Act 1998.
However, the Bill goes on to provide defences for certain purposes which include enabling the prohibited munitions to be destroyed, and development and training in techniques for the detection, clearance or destruction of prohibited munitions or for the development of countermeasures. These defences are allowed under Article 3 of the convention. The Bill’s enforcement provisions will ensure that limited numbers of cluster munitions will only ever be possessed for these permitted purposes, and under the convention’s transparency reporting requirements, information will be publicly available on the number retained by the United Kingdom. This again is the case with anti-personnel mines retained for the same permitted purposes under the Ottawa convention.
The Bill also includes a defence for certain conduct during the course of military co-operation and operations with states not party to the convention. This defence will enable the UK to continue to play a full part in ongoing military operations. In doing so, it implements Article 21, which provides for such continued military engagement. As noble Lords will be aware, this provision was a vital element in allowing the United Kingdom and other countries involved in coalition operations to sign the convention. However, I reiterate that under no circumstances will any UK national ever use or produce cluster munitions. Furthermore, I can reassure the House that, in compliance with the convention, no UK national will request the use of cluster munitions when the decision to do so is within their exclusive control.
In the course of the debate on the Queen’s Speech, the noble Lord, Lord Astor, while supporting the Bill, argued that it was essential that the operational capability of our Armed Forces and their safety in the battlefield are not compromised. I thank the noble Lord for raising such an important issue and would like to reassure him that this will not be the case. The operational capability requirements that were provided by cluster munitions will in the future be met by other munitions, which are still as effective but far more precise and therefore do not carry such threats to civilians.
The Bill also includes various related provisions to ensure the effectiveness of the prohibitions. These include powers to enter and search premises for prohibited munitions; powers to remove, immobilise and destroy prohibited munitions; and provisions for the production and disclosure of information necessary for the UK to fulfil its reporting requirements under the convention. Finally, the Bill includes a number of general provisions. These include safeguards on the powers of entry to ensure these powers are used appropriately; and a power to modify the Act by affirmative resolution. This power is included to allow for any future modifications potentially required by an amendment to the convention.
In addition to these prohibitions, which require legislation to implement, the convention includes a number of other positive obligations. The Government are committed to fulfilling all their obligations under the convention and I trust that I will not be imposing on your Lordships if I briefly continue to set out our position as a number of these are important issues. Under Article 3 of the convention we have an obligation to destroy the UK’s stockpiles of cluster munitions. This is being taken forward. On 30 May, on the eve of adopting the convention, the MoD proactively withdrew all its cluster munitions from service and began a destruction programme. Destruction of UK stocks is now well underway, with one third of total stocks already destroyed. Noble Lords will appreciate that this is an enormous task and should not be underestimated. There were in the region of 38 million submunitions held in UK stocks; to date we have destroyed nearly 13 million. We intend that the considerable majority, if not all, of our stocks will be destroyed by 2013. This will be well before the eight-year deadline that the states parties will have under the convention.
I am aware that there has been speculation about the fate of the stockpiles of cluster munitions that other countries may have on UK territory. Last June, my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown told the House that it was his expectation that there would be no permanent stockpiles of cluster munitions on UK territory at the end of the eight-year convention deadline. This is also my firm expectation.
Once it comes into force, the convention will establish an effective framework for international co-operation on the clearance of cluster munitions’ remnants and support for victims of cluster munitions. The convention obliges states parties to support other states parties that are affected by cluster munitions. The UK already has a strong record in this regard. Over the past decade, the Department for International Development has provided more than £10 million a year to clear landmines and other explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions. This year, the department has continued with clearance in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laos, Lebanon, Mozambique, Somaliland and Sudan. It also provided an additional £1 million for emergency clearance in Sri Lanka, helping the safe return of the civilian population. This strong support for clearance efforts where they are most needed will continue.
The Government are also working in other ways to address the use of cluster munitions. Universalisation of the convention was raised by several noble Lords during the Queen’s Speech debate. The convention obliges states parties to discourage the use of cluster munitions and encourage others to join, with the ultimate goal of universal global adherence. The Government are fully committed to a global convention and we are playing our part in supporting this important effort.
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, I was able to speak to a number of Commonwealth Ministers as part of out efforts to achieve this goal. Forty-seven of the 53 Commonwealth states have signed the Ottawa convention, but so far only 26 have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We want to change that.
At CHOGM, we co-sponsored with Australia a declaration inviting non-signatories to commit to signing the convention. Several countries associated themselves with the declaration, which is a useful step in advancing adherence to the convention within the Commonwealth. I shall write to all Commonwealth Foreign Ministers, represented in London by their high commissioners, urging them to add their signatures to the convention as quickly as possible. We intend to continue working closely with these countries to assist their signature and ratification. I have met representatives from Landmine Action and the Cluster Munition Coalition, who have agreed to support these efforts.
To date, 103 countries have signed and 24 have ratified, but we know that there is a long road ahead. As was mentioned by noble Lords participating in the Queen’s Speech debate, some of the major users and producers of cluster munitions have not yet joined the convention. The Government will continue vigorously to promote the convention with those states whenever it is practical.
I also put on record that, working more generally with civil society and other countries, the Government will continue to identify every opportunity to promote the convention. I hope and trust that the next important step we take will be to inform our international colleagues of the UK’s successful legislation and ratification of the convention.
This Bill and the UK’s subsequent ratification will send a clear, strong signal and a political message to other countries that a new standard is being established in international humanitarian law. With this legislation, the UK will again set a strong example and continue our leading role in making the world a safer and more secure place.
My Lords, before I welcome the Bill, I should like to embark on the pleasant and, under the present circumstances, reassuring task of telling the Minister how very welcome she is at the Dispatch Box. If she manages to sponsor only Bills that have as many good intentions and prospective effects as this one, she will be unique in the annals of politics.
The Bill is enormously welcome here. In our own community, it is not really necessary to say why, but, as this debate will be read elsewhere, it might be worth spending just one moment refreshing your Lordships’ memory for the benefit of others about what it is intended to deal with.
On my way here, I picked up the preliminary report of Handicap International. Meticulously prepared, it is dated November 2006. Things have moved on from then, but that does not make it any the less telling. It shows, first of all, the scale of the problem. During the Vietnam War, the Americans bombed the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos next door, which was not actually in the war. The grand total of casualties in that area—not in Vietnam—by 2006 was 4,813. None of them was a military person; they were all civilians. Those figures built up after the conflict was over. From 1964 to 1973, the United States used a wide range of submunitions, resulting in estimated contamination of 20.9 million to 60.6 million submunitions. At the other end of the scale in terms of area and population, in the Lebanon, at least 4 million submunitions were delivered in July and August 2006. The average pre-conflict casualty rate, from weapons from earlier conflicts, was two per year, but the average post-2006 conflict rate at the time the report was written was two and a half per day.
I have met a number of victims of these weapons: people minus a hand, minus both arms, minus both legs or sometimes without sight. It is an appalling tragedy. None of them was a combatant. The highest number of combatants I have seen is something like 15 per cent of the total post-conflict injury. Quite a lot of them are civilian deminers, enormously brave people who defuse these horrible devices.
There is no doubt that the Bill is needed. The Minister was kind enough to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, and me on our persistence in helping. However, she should realise that we have been helping an enormous international movement. I should like to recognise the work of the Cluster Munition Coalition, which was mentioned by the Minister. It consists of 350 civilian organisations in over 80 countries under the charismatic leadership of Thomas Nash, who, like the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, was at every conference that I went to over several years. He is enormously effective. There is also our own local Landmine Action, led very well by Simon Conway. Those names ought to go in the record. The result of all this is the Bill, which has been well described by the Minister. I believe that it is well fitted for the task for which it is intended.
I do not want to leave the subject of what has been done for the Bill without thanking the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, for his part, which was much more vigorous than mine. In particular, he was much better at socialising in the later hours of the night than I was. In this sort of campaign, that is a valuable asset, and I do not possess it.
My noble friend Lord Astor of Hever expressed reservations about the effectiveness of the Bill. The Minister dealt with them very quickly. The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, will deal with this in more detail. I anticipate that he will give examples of land being sterilised for our troops by the high failure level of these munitions, which turn into landmines where they fall. That was why the American forces on the right flank in the first Gulf War arrived late on target. They had constantly to rely on, and wait for, helicopter transport in order to get over the ground in which they had just harassed the enemy with these weapons.
Although this is a great Bill, this is not an occasion for great long speeches from people who are in favour of it. I take great pleasure in welcoming it. I congratulate the Government on the extent to which they are already assisting in clearing up the vast number of these weapons scattered around the globe. It is an expensive and dangerous job. I thank the Minister for her efforts at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and subsequently to get further signatories to this treaty.
The one thing nagging at the back of the minds of people who are aware of what we are doing is that the major manufacturers and, hitherto, the major users of these weapons—among them the United States, Russia, Brazil, I think, and Pakistan—have not signed up to the treaty. The effect of the treaty banning the use of landmines, which is also lacking signatures of that sort, has been to render landmines a pariah weapon. Those weapons are now used only by Burma; civilised countries, if I can use that term, do not use them. I fully expect that the cluster munitions treaty will have the same effect and that in due course all countries will sign up and embark on the essential job of clearing up the lethal mess left behind. As agricultural land becomes more and more precious, so removal will become more and more urgent.
What has been started today is an important and exceedingly welcome humanitarian step, which I, for one, will support throughout. Small areas may need to be tested by amendments, although these will not necessarily be carried or even pressed. For example, I should like to discover the effectiveness of the term,
“under its jurisdiction and control”,
when used in Article 3 of the convention and applied to stockpiles by other countries on our territory. This is an area that we need to look at closely. However, I am well seized of the Government’s good and honourable intentions in this area and am very happy to welcome the Bill.
My Lords, I, too, welcome the Bill and congratulate the Government on taking the UK to a point where this article can go into law. I also congratulate the noble Lords, Lord Dubs—whose Bill on cluster bombs paved the way for this—Lord Elton, Lord Ramsbotham, Lord Hannay, and others on their assiduous work in bringing this about. I only wish that my noble colleague Lord Garden, whose last substantive speech in this House was in the debate on cluster bombs introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, on 17 May 2007, could have been here today to see this. When he and the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, with their impeccable military and strategic credentials, demolished any possible military case for these weapons, surely the writing had to be on the wall for the Government’s support for cluster bombs.
Cluster bombs disproportionately produce civilian casualties, with all the humanitarian consequences of that. Worldwide, civilians constitute 98 per cent of all recorded cluster bomb casualties. Cluster bombs kill civilians during attack because they spread across a wide area. They also kill after the conflict when civilians stumble across them. And of course there is the longer-term impact in that farmers cannot use their land or they endanger themselves by carrying on doing what they need to do to keep their farms going.
It seems to me, as others have said, that one key to the success of this campaign, led so expertly by Landmine Action, has been the argument that cluster bombs are simply not militarily effective. From accounts in the Balkans, their effectiveness seems to have been very limited; in Kosovo, 78,000 cluster bombs were used, yet only 30 major items of military equipment were thereby destroyed. Most of the UK cluster bombs were unable to penetrate the armour of the main battle tanks that had been in operation since 1970.
Then, most critically, is the potential, in effect, to undermine military action. As the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, argued in 2007 in the debate of the noble Lord, Lord Elton,
“the use of military force is much more politically directed now, and there must be a political end to every employment of military means … That is bound to include state rebuilding and winning and retaining the hearts and minds of the people in the country concerned. Therefore, it must be unwise at best to do anything likely to alienate the very people whom you are trying to win over with whatever action you are taking. Nothing could be more counterproductive than causing endless unnecessary casualties, particularly to tomorrow’s generation, which seems to be the biggest victim of all”.—[Official Report, 17/5/07; col. 281.]
The cogency of that surely cannot not be disputed.
The campaign to ban cluster bombs was clearly right, but that did not mean it would deliver. Cluster bombs were used by the UK in Kosovo and then in Iraq, although that cannot have helped in terms of winning hearts and minds. The UK Government, I remember, were evasive about whether they were using these weapons in Iraq. Eventually they owned that they had.
A huge impetus to the banning of landmines was the action by Israel in Lebanon over the summer of 2006. For many, it gave definitive impetus to the campaign. What happened in Lebanon was controversial enough without the use of cluster bombs. Here we had a fragile state, and in the south, every day, people were killed or wounded by a previously unexploded cluster bomb. What reminder did that serve to those who resented the incursion into their territory?
A reservist quoted in Haaretz on 8 September 2006 recalled that:
“In the last 72 hours we fired all the munitions we had, all at the same spot ... ordinary shells, clusters, whatever [we] had”.
It was the desperate, but incredibly destructive reaction of an army in retreat. If ever there was a reason to ban these bombs, you can see it in the tinder box of the Middle East.
Haaretz reported their use again in Gaza, but it is disputed. I note that Goldstone makes no mention of them being used by Israel in Gaza. Once again that offensive was controversial enough, and white phosphorus was clearly deemed useable. But is it the case that cluster bombs, after the outcry over Lebanon, were not used? I would be interested to know if that was the case. Does it reflect the fact that international outcry does make a difference? One has to hope so.
For some while, there were ludicrous distinctions drawn by the Government between so-called smart and dumb cluster bombs. Norwegian research and the experience in Lebanon gave the lie to those distinctions. After Lebanon, we saw the battle in the UK Government over whether they should support the convention to ban the use of cluster bombs. We saw Hilary Benn lead the way in trying to convince his colleagues in the Cabinet and especially against the force of the MoD. He deserves great credit for the pressure he brought to bear on this. Against much expectation, Gordon Brown signed up in Dublin to the convention on behalf of the UK Government. It was certainly not apparent two or three years ago that that would be the outcome, and I am delighted that we are where we are.
So what is the scale of the problem? I understand that about 75 countries hold cluster bombs. Whereas landmines were in widespread use, by all sorts of groups as well as states, this campaign came at an earlier stage, before cluster bombs were in widespread use by non-states. They were used by Hezbollah and probably used in the Balkans. But this convention is to be welcomed before these bombs are used on an even wider scale.
There are issues in this Bill that need clarification. Like the noble Lord, Lord Elton, we are concerned to ensure that others should not be able to stockpile cluster bombs on UK soil and would like to see a commitment on that rather than merely an expectation, as the Minister expressed it.
We wish to know when the UK stockpile will be destroyed and are interested to note what the Minister has said on that. How and how often will the Government report on what they are doing in this area? Can we be assured that where the UK has used cluster bombs, for example in Iraq, those are all mapped? What proportion of coalition force cluster bombs in Iraq has been destroyed? When will that task be completed? Are there any other UK cluster bombs that remain uncleared? What is the situation in the Balkans?
We welcome what the Government said in a statement yesterday about tackling indirect financing of cluster bomb production. What is the timescale for this consultation? We also ask the Opposition Front Bench to comment on their plans in this area, in case that becomes relevant.
I am glad to hear about the moves in the Commonwealth to sign up to this. What action is being taken to get other countries to sign up to the convention, and then to ratify it? I am thinking here particularly of Russia, China and the USA. What will be done about transparency, which is mentioned in the Bill, including the establishment of a possible inspection regime? What does it mean, under the Bill, to be able to hold munitions for permitted purposes? How many do the Government envisage and why? I note what the noble Baroness has said in seeking to reassure us on this, but it is not particularly precise. How do the Government intend to take forward victim assistance? What do they plan for Iraq, for example? This is a very important development in international humanitarian law and that is very welcome.
I remember saying at Second Reading on the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, in 2006, that I felt for the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, who was then the Minister and had to defend the Government’s position. I said I was sure that the Government would change their view, but not in time for her to answer the debate. In the end they have and that is very welcome. These weapons were not militarily useful. The human consequences in lost and ruined lives are appalling. It is excellent that there is an international convention to ban their use; it is excellent that the UK has signed up to this. We will do what we can to make sure that the Bill is brought into law so that the UK can indeed ratify this extremely important convention.
My Lords, I give this Bill a very warm welcome. It is not often that we have a debate on a Bill for which there is as much positive feeling and enthusiasm as there is today. I am delighted that the Minister is, with her first Bill, doing something so important and so widely welcomed. Even if she stays a Minister for many years, as I hope she will, I doubt if she will have a day when she will make such an important contribution to humanity as she will with this Bill. I am also grateful to her for the reassurances that she has given us about some aspects of the issue which are not necessarily contained in the Bill itself; nor need they be. As other noble Lords have said, the Bill will make an enormous difference to many people in the future, who will not lose their limbs or their lives. We have to remember, as the Minister said, how many millions of these awful weapons are still lying about, ready to trap and maim innocent civilians, long after the conflict in which they were used is over.
It is important that the Bill becomes law before the general election, partly because it will send a strong signal to other countries, and partly because, frankly, if a Bill such as this cannot get through, we will all be failing. I hope the Government’s commitment is absolutely firm and that the Bill will sail through this House and the Commons and become law very quickly.
My involvement with this issue stems back many years to the campaign against anti-personnel landmines when I was at the Refugee Council. I learnt then at first hand what weapons of this sort can do and the harm that they can cause. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton. He and I have worked together on this, and many other Members of this House have been helpful and supportive. The late Lord Garden was a stalwart figure in the campaign and there were so many others that I cannot mention them all. I join in thanking Landmine Action, led then by Simon Conway, for the work that it did and the help that it gave us; and the Cluster Munition Coalition, of which Thomas Nash was a prominent member.
I also remember the occasion when a number of us went to see not one Secretary of State but three. We got to talk to the Secretary of State for Defence, the Secretary of State for Overseas Development and the Foreign Secretary. We got them in one meeting and pushed them very hard on the issue. I also express my thanks to officials from the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, who have been consistently helpful in this. I met some of them only last week and had a very useful discussion with them as a preliminary to today’s debate.
It would be wrong to leave out two other names. One is John Duncan, who was our ambassador in Geneva and took the lead for this country in the negotiations at the various meetings, including in Dublin. He was very open, explained what was going on and was generally very helpful. I also thank Norwegian People’s Aid which, although it is an NGO in another country, has been very much in the lead in this matter, has put a lot of effort into it and has been very supportive to many other NGOs the world over.
In south Lebanon a few months after the 2006 conflict, I watched 20 or more United Nations teams—quite a few of them were British—clearing the remnants of cluster munitions from olive groves, farmland and villages. I saw them blow up one weapon. One could see the weapons—they were taped off at this point, so there was no danger of my stepping on them—lying in the soft earth, ready to explode if anybody, by some mischance, stepped on them.
One of the key issues that we often discussed, including when I raised this matter in a Private Member’s Bill some time ago, was the failure rate. We had interesting technical discussions on how many of the bomblets coming from a cluster bomb did not explode when they hit the ground. The Government’s then view was that the failure rate was less than 1 per cent, but we had evidence that it could be as high as 10 per cent. If one tests these weapons on hard concrete, they will go off, but normally they fall on soft earth in olive groves and agricultural land, where their fall is slowed down by trees and other plants. That is why the failure rate is much higher than was originally suggested. I am glad that argument was dismissed a long time ago.
I attended various meetings in Vienna, Dublin, and in Oslo when our Foreign Secretary signed the measure. When some of the key decisions were made in Dublin, it was very clear that the British Government’s view was considered to be important. Admittedly, the Government did not agree to sign up to the measure until partway through the discussions, and there were some tense moments when we wondered whether things would work out all right, but they did. Our negotiators got the message from London and the British Government agreed to sign. That had an influential effect on some of the wavering countries that were not certain what to do. When they saw that the British Government had signed up, they said, “If the Brits can do it, so can we”. That had a knock-on effect on quite a few of the countries that were present in Dublin, although not on all of them. The situation was touch and go, but eventually it worked out well.
I fully appreciate that there are difficulties. After all, we are members of NATO, and not all members, including the United States, have signed up. When the Dublin convention was agreed, and then signed up to in Oslo, it was understood that some compromises would have to be made as the price of getting a ban through. I appreciate that some countries have not yet signed up, but as with the Ottawa convention on anti-personnel landmines, the fact that so many countries signed up deterred others from using those weapons. Similarly, the fact that so many countries have signed up to the convention on cluster munitions means that at least some users—but not all—will be deterred from using them. Sadly, in the conflict in south Georgia some 18 months ago, they were used by both sides. Nevertheless, I believe that the fact that so many countries have signed up will have an important influence on the others. I very much hope that the Government will use their influence—I think that the Minister said this—to persuade other countries in the Commonwealth and outside to sign up. The United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Israel and one or two European countries have not signed up, but I believe that, in the main, the future is with us, and that they will realise that they should sign up.
I welcome the fact that so many of our stocks—up to a third—have already been got rid of. Initially, I thought that it was simply a matter of blowing them up. However, I was assured by military experts that it is not as simple as that. They tell me that it is difficult to minimise pollution and other unfortunate consequences, and that therefore it is a painfully long task to dismantle these weapons. The fact that we have got rid of 13 million out of 38 million of these weapons is a tribute to the Government’s will to get on with that task. Good progress has been made, which I welcome. All I ask of the Minister is for the Government to keep us informed as progress is made in getting rid of more of our weapons and of other stockpiles on British soil, and in persuading other countries to do as we have done.
My Lords, it is a great pleasure and a privilege to follow the noble Lords, Lord Elton and Lord Dubs, whose contributions to this day have already been praised, not just today but in the Queen’s Speech. It has been a privilege to work with them and to contribute perhaps a slightly different slant, as I am a former practitioner who was converted from protagonist to antagonist or proponent to opponent—whichever is the right terminology.
Previously, I reminded the House that these weapons were designed for a completely different type of war situation than that which we currently face. They were specifically designed to counter a mass attack by the Warsaw Pact when we were not only outnumbered but outweaponed. Therefore, a weapon which could deliver a mass effect at a fairly short price was to be welcomed. We welcomed not only the fact that the missiles could be fired by shells, but particularly the top-attack weapon, which was able to take the soft engine plates of tanks, which were the most vulnerable parts, quite apart from what was meant to be an airfield attack weapon. I favoured those weapons because, like most of my military generation, I spent a long time in Germany preparing and training for what, thankfully, never happened.
However, in my last appointment there I was commander of the 3rd Armoured Division, which was the first division to be given a counterattack role during the whole time that we had been in Germany since the war. This was because we had a new tactic which used ground in a different way. Rather than just sitting and defending it nationally, you used it to attack. When I was forced to try to plan quick shock action, I found that it was inhibited by what we had put on the ground, particularly the cluster munitions—no one knew where they had gone—because they could rapidly destroy any momentum that we wanted to develop. It therefore seemed to me that in that sort of tactic, before the end of the Cold War, cluster munitions were of limited military use if we wanted to both attack and defend.
Then the first Gulf War came. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, mentioned the problems of movement on the right flank, but there was also a complete failure to attack Iraqi airfields. Therefore, cluster munitions proved to be militarily inefficient. Indeed, the Iraqis knew that and used to put blobs of sand on the runway, which we took photographs of and assumed that they represented craters from cluster munitions. They did not. The Iraqis had worked out the pattern; the things had bounced off the runway and the Iraqis confused us.
After retiring from the Army, when I joined a private security firm involved in post-conflict reconstruction—particularly demining—I came across first-hand the problem of the relics left for future generations by the vast numbers of munitions which lay around in various countries. We came up with the slogan: “there is no development without demining”. Demining actually meant clearing away all the detritus of the battlefield. The weapons that were most difficult and caused the most residual problems were the small cluster munitions, because no one knew where they were and there was a huge failure rate. As the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, mentioned, it takes time to clear these things, because you have to go over the ground with a piece of wire to poke and find individual munitions, or you use dogs. There is no mechanical way of clearing them. Therefore, our generation, which employed these things, has stored up a potential threat to life and limb for many innocent people in future generations, and it seems that it is our duty not only to ban their further use but to make every possible effort to clear up the mess that has been created in all the countries that have already been mentioned.
I fully respect the view expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that there is a need to look after the defensive or other requirements of the Armed Forces, but we are now involved in a rather different type of warfare. These weapons cannot possibly be used in asymmetric warfare or war among the people. When I went to Afghanistan last year, I made a point of asking the military not whether they would have used the M85, which is a shell and a gun, but whether they would have used the M73, which is a helicopter-fired weapon. They said, “On no account. There is no situation that we have come across where this would have been a useful weapon. We are not faced with that sort of mass, and of course we want to use the ground afterwards, as do the Afghan people”. Therefore, the military cannot see a use for these weapons in that sort of conflict, and I should have thought that that was a voice worth listening to.
The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, quoted an earlier speech of mine. In 2007, a new counterinsurgency manual was published in America, and it is most important because it marks a total change in the American way of waging war. Instead of using overwhelming force, it looks at the needs of the people first. A very important excerpt from this manual endorses the line that I took in 2007:
“The fact or perception of civilian deaths at the hands of their nominal protectors can change popular attitudes from neutrality to anger and active opposition. Civilian deaths create an extended family of enemies—new insurgent recruits or informants—and erode support for the host nation. Counterinsurgents must therefore be strategic in applying force and sensitive to its second-order political and military effects”.
To my mind, nothing could be more telling than that last sentence, and I believe that it should be on the desk of anyone, political or military, who is responsible for planning any involvement in counterinsurgency operations.
Therefore, I welcome the Bill. I realise that there may be a certain amount of tidying up to do but it is nothing more than that and, like the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, I hope that it gets through. I am concerned about protecting the legal position of the military involved in any operation fighting alongside people who may not, for example, have signed up to the convention. I am interested to see that Clause 9 has two separate parts which refer to operation and co-operation. I do not know many military operations that do not involve co-operation with someone else and I hope that this will not be a problem.
I particularly welcome the fact that we are being taken through the Bill by the noble Baroness the Minister, who has a track record on this issue, and I look forward to playing my part in seeing the legislation through to a speedy conclusion.
My Lords, no one can be in any doubt that the Bill will be universally welcomed by this House. I am delighted that Her Majesty’s Government have expressed their determination to see it pass swiftly into statute in time for the UK to become a state party to the CCM ahead of the first meeting of states parties in November next year.
Having followed the genesis of the Bill since the whole idea was first championed by the noble Lords, Lord Dubs and Lord Elton, I am delighted that we have reached the exodus and are at the point where movement is to take place. We now agree on the pernicious and tragic consequences of cluster munitions for civilians, and it is very good that Her Majesty’s Government have been persuaded that these weapons are agreed to be unnecessary militarily—it is a changed world, as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, has just told us—and to see the energy with which the Minister is ready to carry through these aspirations into the detail of the legislation. It was not always so, but our leadership in the world community seems to me to be very important. People will be shamed into signing up—I hope and pray—as this passes rapidly into legislation.
However, there are one or two areas to which I draw the Minister’s attention. First, we want her reassurance that either they will be dealt with in Committee or will be put into some kind of code of practice, which may be more persuasive when we come to parley with other nations which are perhaps more reluctant to sign up in the future. That includes our relationship with states which are not party to the CCM, and in particular to provisions that seek to interpret Article 21 of the CCM permitting member states to engage in military co-operation with non-members. The Bill’s provisions could be interpreted as a wide loophole allowing UK forces knowingly to assist states which are not party to the CCM with prohibited acts, and allowing indefinite foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions. In Committee, the Minister will probably tell us that this will be covered in detail in legislation, but I should be grateful for that reassurance.
Secondly, I refer to military co-operation. I hope that the Government can provide assurances that nothing in the Bill is intended to allow a member of the UK Armed Forces knowingly to undertake any act that would assist with a prohibited act and that the Government will do all they can to prevent the use of cluster munitions in any operation in which the UK is involved, in accordance with Article 21 of the CCM. That seems to be another matter that is probably overshadowed in the Bill in the general terms in which it is couched but we want to see the detail in Committee.
Thirdly, there is the matter of stockpiling. As the Minister has already mentioned, in June the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown, said:
“The reading of the treaty indicates that there are overriding political reasons to expect that there will be no such weapons on British territory at the end of that eight-year period. That includes other people’s bases situated on our territory ... even a country such as the US, were it not a signatory, would no longer be able to keep such weapons on UK territory”.—[Official Report, 3/6/09; cols.79-80.]
That is another matter we want to see in the small print of the legislation at the next stage.
Another concern relates to the compatibility with the UK Export Control Order 2008—in particular regarding transhipment and provision of ancillary services, including investment in cluster munition producing companies. Close to Salisbury is a large and slightly discreet factory—it is in the middle of Salisbury Plain—that ostensibly produces fireworks for display. It is possible that that kind of activity could also include the manufacture of other devices. How, in a more tightly regulated world, will all these apparently collateral and perhaps even extraneous companies in which people can make money be regulated or monitored to ensure that there is no production of devices that could fall under either cluster munitions or any other kind of undesirable and banned devices?
A number of key provisions are shadowed in what the Minister expects to be the way in which the Bill will operate, such as the prohibition on investment in companies producing cluster munitions, notification of non-party states of UK obligations, victim assistance, clearance, stockpile destruction and comprehensive reporting. Might an amendment be made to Clause 2 to include a comprehensive prohibition on investment in, or provision of, financial services to any company involved in the production of cluster munitions? Ireland and Luxembourg have both taken this step, and Section 4 of the Irish legislation provides a potential textual point of reference.
Finally, the Bill does not include any of the positive obligations enshrined in the CCM. Although such an omission is not unusual in UK legislation when international treaties are implemented, certain points may be useful to include via amendments, such as the following: a requirement for the Secretary of State to table in Parliament the transparency reports required under Article 7 of the CCM, which could be included as an amendment to Clause 20; a requirement for the Secretary of State to,
“collect reliable relevant data with respect to cluster munition victims”,
as per CCM Article 5.1; and an amendment to Clause 9, noting that the Secretary of State,
“shall notify the governments of all States not party to”—
“of its obligations under this Convention”,
“shall promote the norms it establishes”.
I do not know whether we will come to that in the detailed discussion of the Bill, but I make these comments at this stage so that when it comes before us in Committee and the amendments are marshalled, we can find the quickest route to legislative agreement. Like other noble Lords, I think that it is enormously important that we get this in place quickly. It is a matter on which we are all agreed, and we must ensure that we have as comprehensive coverage in the Bill as we possibly can of these seemingly peripheral but quite important matters.
I hope that the convention will be ratified in time for the first meeting of the states parties in November 2010, but as watertightly as possible, because otherwise it will be less persuasive internationally. I agree with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Elton, about how people may catch the drift of what we are doing and feel almost shamed into signing too. That will be greatly strengthened if the Bill is as comprehensive as possible. Meanwhile, I am delighted to give my wholehearted support to the thrust of the way in which the House is responding to the Minister’s drafts.
My Lords, this is a Bill to welcome unreservedly and speed on its way. When I preceded my noble friend Lord Dubs as Lords vice-chair of the all-party group aimed at banning cluster bombs, we thought that it would be very tough to get a ban in force. That was despite the clear view of experienced and distinguished members of the Armed Forces that those cruel weapons have no place in the kind of war that we wage now. It was despite the unforgettable evidence of my own eyes in Laos of so many children and young people limping or dragging themselves around to beg for a living as a result of mutilation by cluster bombs dropped by the Americans. It will be tough, we thought, simply because it is hard to get Governments or departments to change their mind.
The vigorous campaigning of my noble friend, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and others has had a powerful effect. There has been another very powerful factor: the personal support of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The Government and the Ministry of Defence ave changed their mind, and we should congratulate them on that.
The Bill could go a bit further in a few respects. I agree with the right reverend Prelate that it could prohibit services ancillary to furnishing or manufacturing cluster munitions, such as financial services, and it could require more specific data on victims to be collected and produced than is envisaged in Clause 20. I appreciate that my noble friend the Minister has just told us of movement in this direction, which is excellent, but I hope that we can go further. We need to make quite sure that we are not part of another nation's activity in using cluster munitions. Instead, we should be urging states that are not yet party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to join it. My noble friend has given us an assurance of that.
I am also puzzled why the Attorney-General's consent is required for prosecution. Similar statutes do not require it. The OECD convention against bribery will be implemented in UK law by the Bribery Bill. That does not require it either.
These and other points can be discussed in Committee. But the best approach to this Bill is to get it passed so that we can ratify the convention in time to play an influential part in the first meeting of the states parties in a year’s time. Only in that way can we make a real start in ridding the world of these terrible, cruel weapons.
My Lords, I am delighted that our Government have decided to sign the convention outlawing the use of cluster bombs. I was among those who opposed their use, but the Members of this House who have been most active in the campaign against their use are my noble friend Lord Dubs and the noble Lord, Lord Elton. They are to be congratulated on the way in which they continually pressed for the Government to sign up to cluster bombs being banned.
Cluster bombs are anti-personnel weapons that continue to threaten civilian populations long after wars have terminated. They were used in the Kosovo conflict when NATO used them against the population of the town of Nis, when 20 people are said to have been killed and more than 70 injured. Surdulica was also hit with a similar number of casualties. Furthermore, cluster bombs have been used in Afghanistan, in Iraq and by Israel in the conflict in Lebanon.
There were protests at the time. Many of us felt that the use of these munitions was bound to result in civilian deaths and injuries as well as continuing problems for civilian populations when the conflicts were over. The Government at first contended that the use of these weapons was a military necessity. Then the Government acknowledged that while the bombs could leave a dangerous legacy for civilians, this was more true for so-called dumb munitions, which eventually the Government agreed should be banned while retaining smart bombs, which were alleged to be less of a threat to civilian populations. The Government have now moved from there and have adopted a position in opposition to both smart and dumb bombs. This is a change I very much welcome.
However, the previous usage in the conflicts to which I have referred had been undertaken not just by our forces but by NATO. Since many of the conflicts in which we are likely to be involved are probably to be led by NATO, it is important to be clear that the ban envisaged in the Bill would also include any conflict led by NATO. What must concern us all is what is being done to clear up these dangerous devices. We know that if they are left, they kill and injure yet more people, possibly including children. Farmland will not be used because people will be too scared to till their fields.
There was an article in the Independent on Sunday to the effect that there has been a worldwide campaign to clear out landmines and also cluster bombs, and this is really most interesting. The article refers to a report given by the Mines Advisory Group, a group based in Manchester which apparently clears mines and other unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs, and employs thousands of people, 95 per cent of whom are national staff and some of whom are disabled themselves by mines. It now operates in 17 countries. It apparently is proving to be highly successful, with farmers who hitherto have been afraid to farm their land now beginning to do so. This is extraordinarily heartening if it is true. Incidentally, the same report includes the statement that the Obama Administration in the United States are presently reviewing Washington’s stance. That really would be most interesting. Let us hope that they do more than review and decide to come on board with us and to join the ban on these devices.
In the mean time, thanks to the Government for the Bill, and congratulations to all who have campaigned for this to happen, including congratulations to my noble friend the Minister on the very comprehensive report that she has given to the House this afternoon.
My Lords, I should begin by declaring an interest as the chair of the board of the United Nations Association of the UK, which is a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition which has been campaigning for Britain to join the ban on cluster munitions which we are debating today. I should also like to thank the Minister for the extremely comprehensive way in which she introduced the Bill, which I found remarkably helpful. In the plaudits to those who have played a part, including the noble Lords, Lord Elton and Lord Dubs, I should like to add my old department, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which I think played a remarkably skilful role in the negotiations on the convention under circumstances which, with somewhat divided counsels behind them, were not absolutely ideal. I mention in that respect my noble friend Lord Jay of Ewelme, who has been a very strong supporter of this since he joined this House. I shall pass over in silence whether he was a strong supporter of it when he was in government service, but I think that rather likely.
In general terms, the Government deserve a lot of credit for deciding almost a year ago to sign the Dublin convention banning cluster munitions, and also for their decision to give a high priority in our legislative programme to early ratification of the convention. This Bill is an essential preliminary to that. Those of us involved in the campaign are only too well aware that the decision for Britain to sign up to the convention was not at all an easy one. There was resistance to it within the Government and by a number of major world powers, including our principal ally, the United States. Our own Armed Forces possess a considerable arsenal of these weapons, which will now have to be destroyed and, as the Minister said, is in the process of being destroyed. So it would have been easy to have stood aside—easy, but quite wrong. Not only have the truly appalling consequences for the civilian population of using these weapons become more and more evident following the hostilities in Kosovo and south Lebanon, but their basic military utility has been increasingly challenged, as was so ably demonstrated by my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham, as hostilities have moved away from the pattern of high-intensity warfare between armoured forces and towards what has come to be known as “war amongst the people”.
The advocacy of my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham and a number of other military figures has been extremely powerful in undermining the military rationale for retaining these weapons. I hope that the Government’s campaign to persuade those who have not yet signed up will make use of those military views. In some countries that are resisting signing up, a group of former military men explaining as cogently as was explained to us this afternoon why these weapons are not useful militarily could have more effect than diplomatic jawboning.
The Government deserve credit for their decision and can take real satisfaction from the influence that our decision had on a number of other Governments that were undecided up to a late stage in the negotiations as to whether to sign up. The Bill before us will clear the way for early ratification of the Dublin convention by this country and will thus help towards the early entry into force of the convention by adding to the list of those who have ratified, ensuring that Britain continues to play a leading role in the governance structure of the convention, as it has in its negotiation. I strongly support the Bill and hope that the cross-party support for it will ensure that it completes all its stages, here and in another place, before the end of this parliamentary Session.
I have one or two detailed points, on some of which the Minister has already commented but on which I should like further clarification, which would greatly assist the legislative process on which we are embarking. First, I note that there is no trace in the Bill of the implementation of our commitment to destroy our cluster munitions, which is part of the convention itself and by which we will be bound when we have ratified. Will the Government reflect whether some commitment might not be contained in this Bill on the destruction of our cluster munitions, given that we have embarked on the process and seem to be reasonably well advanced on it? I should have thought that there was value, as has been the case with legislation on things like climate change and our commitment to aid targets, to put that in our national legislation and not just leave it as an international obligation.
Secondly, I note that several noble Lords have raised the problem of the stockpiles on our territory of other states which are not party to the convention. I welcome the Minister’s reassertion of what the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown, said in June. I hope that in some way or another it is possible to make that very clear and very firmly on the record when we ratify.
Thirdly, nothing is said in the Bill, but quite a bit has been said by the Minister and her colleague in the other place, about indirect investment in the manufacture of these weapons. Such investment could perhaps be by British banks or other companies in manufacturing capacity overseas in non-signatories of the convention. I have heard it suggested that such investment already exists in manufacturing capacity for cluster munitions in Singapore, South Korea and Pakistan.
I note what Ministers have now said about their intention to pursue a voluntary code of conduct with British business on this matter, which I welcome. It is a valuable first step, although I hope that they will not omit to say that if that were not successfully agreed, legislative force might have to be given to that measure at some stage. It would be a help if the Minister could say that clearly in winding up the debate. I know that it was in the Written Statement made yesterday by the Minister and Chris Bryant.
Fourthly, I note too what the Minister said about the detailed provisions of the Export Control Order 2008, which is a bit more rigorous than the provisions in the Bill. She stated that these provisions would be complementary and would match each other. Before Committee stage, I would like her to look again at whether it is entirely desirable to have two sets of obligations running side by side in that way. I am, alas, all too well aware of the problems we got into over the International Criminal Court Act when we discovered that we had legislated a loophole by mistake. It would be a disaster if we did that again in this case. I am not suggesting that we are doing that, but I would be greatly comforted if a further look could be taken before the Committee stage.
Having reiterated the hope that some of these points can be dealt with, I now turn away from the detail of the Bill to the wider diplomatic scene and the Government’s policy objectives in moving the ban on cluster munitions to that universality of application which is so highly desirable. It is a matter for regret that so many states, among them a number of our close allies and Commonwealth partners, have declined so far to sign the convention. What progress have the Government made? I very much welcome the efforts taken by the Minister at the Commonwealth conference last week in attracting new signatories since Dublin was signed. What are the prospects for the future?
Even if universality is likely to elude our grasp for a considerable period of time, which, alas, I fear may be so, have the Government given any consideration to the possibility of promoting at least a de facto moratorium on the actual use of these appalling weapons in any areas with a substantial civilian population? After all, in the context of the testing of nuclear weapons, while entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has not yet been achieved, a de facto moratorium has been widely observed even by some of those who have not ratified. Could not that sort of approach be promoted in the field of cluster munitions?
On the vexed question of the verification of how signatories implement the commitments into which they have entered, as with all international agreements prohibiting or controlling categories of weapons, this issue of verification cannot be ducked if we are not to run the risk of the international regime gradually unravelling. After all, not all the signatories to this convention, as with all the signatories to many others, can necessarily be trusted to apply its provisions in a uniform and rigorous way. What thought are the Government giving to this aspect of the prohibition? When the convention enters into force and its governance is taken forward, will they press for genuinely international verification procedures? Will there not need to be some kind of system of challenge inspections to handle any evidence that emerges of non-compliance by signatories?
In conclusion, I apologise for raising so many points, but I have done so in a positive spirit and as one who is extremely appreciative of the way the Government have handled this whole matter.
My Lords, like many others in the House, I welcome the Bill and I thank the Minister for her Written Statement yesterday and for taking us through the Bill so clearly today. I also congratulate civil society and Members of both this House and the other place on keeping up pressure on this Government and others to ensure that we could receive the Bill. I look forward to its smooth passage through both Houses and hope that it is passed before the general election.
Cluster bombs are hell from above. The initial bomb is about two feet long, but when it explodes a very large number of bomblets are released. These bomblets are time-delayed and sometimes do not explode for a year or two. Deployed bomblets kill and maim children, livestock and women, although these are not what the bombs are aimed at initially. I have seen what happened in Lebanon and I have read about Afghanistan, Iraq and Georgia. Children and women are maimed and the land cannot be used for a long time. This is terrible for a society, and it normally affects the poor.
I would like to see pressure put on the main countries that continue to wish to use cluster bombs, such as Israel, and on the way it uses them on the countries around it. Others are Russia, the United States of America, China, India and Pakistan. In June we had the G20 conference, while in July there was a meeting of G8 Foreign Ministers in Trieste. I ask the Government to start working with the Sherpas for both the G20 and G8 so that this issue can be put on the agenda and not put to the side. Then we can start working with these countries to ensure that cluster bombs are eliminated. We have only to look at what they do and will continue to do to people long after this legislation has been passed.
Furthermore, I am not sure whether it is possible, but I would like to see if we could speak to the Treasury. We have managed to bail out a number of financial institutions over the past year, including banks. They know well some of the people who invest in the relevant companies, and that is our money being invested. I know that it is not part of the Bill and I shall not put down an amendment on this, but I would like it to be noted and hope that the Treasury can put pressure on the banks. In the end it is the financial institutions that make it possible for these bombs to be made and for those who invest in them to make large sums of money.
My Lords, the Convention on Cluster Munitions is a further welcome addition to international humanitarian law dealing with the protection of civilians. Some would argue that existing international law is sufficient to deal with the issue of cluster munitions, and it is certainly true that there are instruments which are designed to protect civilians in areas of warfare. For example, Part IV of the 1977 First Protocol to the Geneva Convention requires a clear distinction to be made between civilians and combatants, and requires as far as possible the protection of civilian life. Article 57 requires states, in conducting attacks, to do everything possible to avoid or at least minimise incidental civilian loss of life or injury. Moreover, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War have also done much to deal with the post-conflict situation.
However, clearly in respect of cluster munitions those instruments did not go far enough. They did not ban the use of such weapons, and the enforcement of the instruments against those who would use such weapons is and was extremely difficult because, very often, it involves dealing with judgment calls made by military commanders whose principal aim may be the attainment of a military objective.
We now, rightly, put a high premium on the protection of civilian populations. In an era of instant communications, pictures of and commentaries on alleged war crimes can be on our television screens and the internet almost as they happen. When Clausewitz said that war was diplomacy by other means, he was writing in the 19th century; in the 21st century we can perhaps say that war is the attainment of political objectives by other means. A military campaign is as easily lost in the living room as it is on the battlefield, so the conduct of military operations must conform to the highest standards of international law and morality.
This Bill implementing the convention, as it does, is greatly welcomed. I add my congratulations to the Government and to the campaign of my noble friend Lord Dubs, the noble Lords, Lord Elton and Lord Ramsbotham, and others.
We will, of course, look closely at how the Bill reflects and implements the convention. One area of concern is the issue of joint operations involving states which are not parties to the convention and how exactly the defences contained in Clause 9 of and Schedule 2 to the Bill will operate, and how far they reflect the intentions of the convention as a whole and Article 21 specifically. I am concerned about the extent to which it might be possible for a member of the UK Armed Forces, engaged on international military operations with forces of a state which is not a party to the convention, to assist, encourage or even induce a member of those forces to use cluster munitions. If that interpretation is right, I question whether that would fully implement the convention and be within its spirit. I shall explore this area in Committee.
Perhaps the Minister could say a word or two about how she and the Government envisage UK military personnel operating with military forces of states which are not parties to the convention, what instructions and orders might be given to UK personnel in such a situation, and what agreements will be reached with such states prior to the commencement of such operations.
However, none of this should detract from the broad welcome that the Bill has from all sides of the House. It will certainly get my support.
My Lords, I thank the House for allowing me to make a brief intervention at this stage. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, and other noble Lords on their initiative in bringing forward this issue, and the Government on carrying it forward so quickly and with such efficiency.
I first concentrated on cluster bombs when I was the international development spokesman for my party in the other place. In 2001, I got into big trouble—it was not the first time I had gotten into big trouble, but one of the first times—for opposing the bombing of Afghanistan in the autumn of that year. I knew from all the NGO reports that that country was in the grip of a fierce and terrible famine. It seemed horrible to contemplate bombing a country in that state and I, rashly, as it turned out, suggested that we should be dropping food and not bombs on the Afghan people. The Americans, as some noble Lords may remember, then took up that suggestion and started dropping food together with cluster bombs. Sadly, I was told by NGOs that they were the same colour as and of similar appearance to the cluster bombs. Children who thought that food packages had landed were picking up cluster bombs and being terribly mutilated as a result.
This debate gives me a sense of déjà vu. Ten years ago in the other place, we had debates about the banning of landmines. I remember standing in my office with my researchers as news came through that the late Robin Cook was perhaps hesitating in Rome about signing the landmines treaty, but he was not and he signed up—thank goodness. Is it not odd that, 10 years later, we are debating in this House the banning of what I like to call “son of landmines”, which is cluster bombs?
I do not expect the Minister to answer this now, but at least I have flagged it up. What is being developed by arms manufacturers now, as we have this debate, to become the son of cluster bombs, which, in 10 years’ time, we or the people who follow us in this place will then have to ban and have another debate about?
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury and other noble Lords mentioned that investment in munitions, and cluster munitions in particular, needs to be looked at. But just what is in the pipeline that we shall have to ban in 10 years’ time? Is there nothing that this Government can do to stop the constant production of even more sophisticated weapons—perhaps a refinement of white phosphorus, which my noble friend has already mentioned? Can we not do something to pre-empt the development of these evil weapons that do so much harm to innocent civilians and children?
My Lords, it is a great privilege to participate in this fine humanitarian Bill regarding the abolition of these ghastly weapons. Deservedly generous tributes have been paid to all those Members of your Lordships' House who have battled over the years to see this legislation brought in. Particular mention has been made of the noble Lord, Lord Dubs. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, referred to the fact that the noble Lord is a great socialiser. Perhaps when the Bill passes, which we hope will be before the general election, the noble Lord may well buy a drink for the Minister and a number of us will be included in that generosity.
I thank the noble Lord very much indeed.
I cannot claim to be one of those who have battled away for this legislation. Indeed, thinking back to my time as a Defence Minister in the early 1980s, I suspect, rather as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, said was the case when he was in uniform, that I was probably in the other camp. Of course, we then had a Cold War situation; thankfully, the world has moved on.
I should like briefly to question the Minister on three areas. First, on our existing stockpile, she referred—I think that it was for the first time—to something like 38 million munitions, a third already destroyed. I understand that we stopped using cluster munitions in 2008, but when did we stop manufacturing them? I understand also that we will complete destruction of our munitions by 2013, but that non-UK-owned stockpiles in the United Kingdom, which the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, touched on, might not be cleared for eight years after ratification. Is there no way that that could be improved upon and speeded up? Can the Minister tell us the value of the stockpile that has been destroyed? Is any compensation being paid to those who manufactured it?
Secondly, on the financing and indirect financing of cluster mine manufacture here or overseas, given that the Government now have such a substantial position in relation to our joint stock banks, could they not as soon as possible—even before a voluntary agreement or before the Bill becomes law—write to them drawing their attention to the Government’s wishes and the wishes of this House in this area?
Thirdly—and perhaps I can answer in part the questions raised by my noble friend Lady Tonge—my understanding is that the follow-on weapon will be called the ballistic sensor fused munition. It is a so-called smart weapon with a self-destruct mechanism. Delivery to our forces is apparently scheduled for 2012. Can the Minister tell us about the characteristics of this weapon? How guaranteed is the self-destruct mechanism? Who is manufacturing it and what is the value of the contracts that have been placed so far? Having asked those questions, I place on record that these Benches give unqualified support to the Bill and wish it a speedy passage.
My Lords, our attitude on these Benches to this Bill can be described succinctly: it is to give the Bill a warm welcome. We are glad to see it come forward and happy to help it on to the statute book. I congratulate the Minister on her comprehensive presentation. The unanimity between all the parties in agreeing on the virtues of the Bill is notable. I have to tell the Minister that it may not always be quite like this on other legislation. However, the Bill has substantial support from all sides. I join in saluting my noble friend Lord Elton and the noble Lords, Lord Dubs and Lord Ramsbotham—and the late Lord Garden—for their expert support work. They speak with great experience when explaining how these weapons are not only hideous but useless.
Of course, my noble friends and I and other noble Lords on other Benches will need reassurance on certain points, and noble Lords will, no doubt, make some suggestions in Committee for improving and strengthening the Bill, which I hope the Government will accept. However, there is no question about the Bill’s main purpose and aim, and we support it.
One must, of course, be realistic as well as properly idealistic. Noble Lords, Ministers and many others, including organisations outside this House, have worked very hard over a long period to see this legislation emerge. However, we have to face it that, as in other fields of government, merely passing a law does not necessarily make it so, or certainly not immediately. The wish has to be progressed into thoughts and action. In a number of senses, there is still quite a long way to go. First, we have to recognise that we are dealing with a very complex pattern of products and situations. There are no fewer than 210 different types of cluster munitions produced by 34 countries and distributed to many others round the world. The largest producers, as noble Lords have reminded us in their excellent and expert contributions, have not signed the convention—that is, China, Russia and the USA. Nor has Pakistan and nor has Israel, which used these weapons in such profusion in south Lebanon a couple of years ago. Nor, of course, have the rogue states, the usual suspects: North Korea, Iran, Myanmar and so on. Worse still, these ugly munitions may well now be in the hands of non-state groups like Hezbollah, which may have even less scruples about using them when the pressure is on. We must recognise that much persuasive effort is still required.
I greatly welcome the report that the Minister gave us about what went on at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Trinidad. That is just one more example of how the Commonwealth is emerging as a new additional and supportive platform in promoting soft power or—dare I even say it?—smart power, and carrying forward humanitarian and other peace-engendering moves around the planet.
As for timing, the convention comes into force only when 30 countries have ratified it. So far 24 have done so, although several more have signed it, as we know. Even after the 30-state point for ratification, the Bill requires six more months before the convention's prohibitions come into force.
A number of questions have been asked about actions on the ground, to which it would be interesting to hear the answers. We understand, and the Minister needs to confirm this clearly, that it will take until 2013 to destroy the UK’s own stockpiles, and that the aim is to see all stockpiles belonging to any country destroyed or removed within eight years. That embraces all the stockpiles held by foreign powers on our soil.
To look, slightly negatively, at the things we have to overcome to carry all this forward, there is the problem that the Minister herself raised in a Statement yesterday, as did Mr Bryant in another place, about the indirect financing of manufacturing activities that may produce these horrific weapons. The direct financing is dealt with in the Bill, but the indirect financing needs more attention, as the Minister has explained. In short, this is not a rapid-result process. We are not going to see instant solutions. Nor should there be such solutions, probably; there is a lot of detailed work to be done. In the Bill there are a range of practical defences and clauses allowing for flexibility in the way that the rundown is handled. The destruction of these weapons is covered by the necessary transfer experimentation, research and so on. Clause 7 sets out some of these in detail.
In many areas of the world—I am thinking of Lebanon, Laos, Iraq, Nagorno-Karabakh and Sri Lanka, most of which I have had the opportunity to visit—this prohibition comes much too late anyway for the children who are dead, the families that are destroyed and those whose limbs have been blown off.
We need to examine with especial care what this ban does to the situations in which our Armed Forces may find themselves, and we need to be sure that in prohibiting killer cluster bombs and their use in the ways that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, has so expertly described, we do not also limit the technical means to take out systems rather than people. I do not think that this has been mentioned in the debate. I have in mind here such weapon types as the CBU-94/B so-called soft bombs, which do not blow up and damage people but scatter fibres to short-circuit electricity systems. These devices were used to great effect, as the Minister will no doubt recall, in taking out Belgrade’s electricity grid in the Bosnian war. That certainly helped to bring that ugly conflict to an end, simply because the Serbian Government realised that they could not go on. It could be argued that the sort of technology that disables utilities and knocks out the remains of normal life in a rogue country or society is much better than bombing civilian fixtures flat or scattering explosive antipersonnel weapons that kill large numbers of civilians in the process and, as we have heard graphically, continue to kill them for years afterwards.
As to the position of our Armed Forces, the Bill recognises that they could find themselves operating with other military contingents from countries which have not applied the prohibition. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury and many others raised this point. These matters are addressed in Clauses 8 and 9 under the headings of “Visiting forces” and “International military operations and activities”. The buzzword here seems to be “interoperability”, or, to put it in plain, non-military jargon, what happens when our forces, without cluster weapons—rightly—find themselves in joint operations alongside forces which want to use them or do use them.
Optimists may say that this is not very likely to happen, but in the world of globalised security operations that may turn out to be quite wrong. I heard one senior defence official claim recently that the Afghans, for instance, would never put up with foreign troops on their soil. But in the future, everyone may have to get used to the mixing of armed forces of different nations, not only in visiting each other and training together but even, possibly, being based together. That is the pattern of global security and global peacekeeping in the future. That is what they may come to mean. Anyway, here in Europe we have had foreign troops on home soil for nigh on 65 years—the Americans here and our own British forces in Germany. These have on the whole been welcome arrangements and have led to all kinds of joint operations. Even the Japanese know all about foreign troops on sovereign territory, with only one or two points of friction.
The point I am getting at is that these mixtures of forces in the general cause of peacekeeping and global stability will become more and more frequent—in fact, they will become the norm. If every nation had signed up to the convention and ratified its requirements, there would be no problem, but in real life—in the practical and most likely future—armed forces from nations which are party to the convention and those which are not yet so will be more and more likely to work together and train on each other’s soil. This raises some very important issues which the Bill addresses, although there are complications and questions that need clarification. This is what is happening already, and we must not allow the practical problems of this kind of interoperability to undermine or mess up the convention’s high and noble purposes. It can be safely predicted that in the international intervention patterns of the future, our Armed Forces will almost always be operating jointly with others. It is usually the Americans nowadays, but maybe in the future, as the landscape changes, it will be the Indians, the Japanese, the Ukrainians, Gulf forces, Polish forces or the Egyptians. Who knows? We have already seen this kind of joint effort in existing war theatres and there will be much more of it.
These operations will have to be swift and flexible, and able to adapt to the terrifying asymmetry of modern warfare, which empowers the smallest groups with the most fearsome weapon. It would be miserable if they became tangled up in interminable arguments about interpreting the convention. The best must not become the enemy of the good. What I am saying is not in any way an argument against this fine Bill or its purposes; instead, it is in favour of making the provisions in these complicated future circumstances as simple and workable as possible. I hope that that can be done.
I hope that my points have illustrated to the Minister some of our concerns on the issues on which we need reassurance, while generally wishing the Bill to go forward fast. We have one or two other reservations and queries such as the granting of yet more power to the long list of officials allowed to enter people’s homes. I know that it is necessary—it is always said to be necessary—but we need to be careful when we as legislators add to such powers on the statute book. Those are points of detail that we can address in Committee. We also all want to know how, in the light of what the convention requires, we can give maximum help to those sad bomb victims, of whom there are so many thousand around the world.
In general, we like what we see. We want it to work and we share the Minister’s determination and enthusiasm that it shall. In an uncertain and unpredictable world, we can be proud for the contribution that we make in seeing that the legislation goes forward.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in such an expert way in this excellent debate this afternoon. It has been well informed and thoughtful and I have very much enjoyed listening to the points that have been made. I appreciate the support that the Bill has received across the House. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that this is a special experience for me because it is not always the norm. However, on an issue such as this it is appropriate and good to have this consensus around what is an important Bill.
Even where there is general and strong support, noble Lords quite properly want to probe into the detail, as noble Lords have done, of government policy and the detail of the Bill. A lot of points were made and I will do my best to address them. I promise to go through Hansard and check on anything that I did not cover adequately and respond subsequently to noble Lords if I find that I have not covered the points that they have raised.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for his very kind words. It is appropriate to say that he and other noble Lords have shown an admirable dogged determination on this issue. The noble Lord has a fine reputation for that. As the noble Lord said, the evidence that one sees of the courage and determination of the deminers is something that one never forgets. One needs to understand how courageous they are, as are the Cluster Munition Coalition and Landmine Action, for their excellent work on these issues.
The noble Lord, Lord Elton, said that nagging at the back of his mind is the worry that there is a lot more work to be done and more persuading that we need to do. But I assure the noble Lord that all of us are very determined to continue to do that. He referred to Laos. The Government are happy to have supported Laos’s clearance efforts over the past decade. Since 1999, DfID has contributed more than £4 million to clearance projects in Laos People's Democratic Republic and we welcome Laos’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We hope that other heavily affected countries will follow that example so that the convention’s aim can be realised which, as so many noble Lords have said, is to end the suffering and the casualties caused by cluster munitions.
I should like to clarify what is required under the Convention on Cluster Munitions with regard to stockpiles. The convention states:
“States Parties are required to destroy all stockpiles of cluster munitions under their “jurisdiction and control”.
While US stockpiles on UK territory are under UK jurisdiction, they are not under our control. Notwithstanding that, there have been discussions with the United States on this matter, as my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown told the House on 3 June 2008. In July 2008, the US announced its new policy on cluster munitions that after 2018 the US will employ only cluster munitions containing submunitions, which after arming do not result in more than 1 per cent unexploded ordnance. As a result of this policy on cluster munitions and unintended harm to civilians, signed on 19 June 2008, our understanding is that the US has identified the cluster munitions on UK territory as exceeding operational planning requirements. These cluster munitions will be removed from sites in the UK in 2010 and from all UK territories by 2013. I think a number of noble Lords raised that question.
The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, raised the point about use in Kosovo. Yes, the UK used cluster munitions in Kosovo. We have provided extensive targeted information to Serbia through NATO to assist in the post-conflict clearance in Kosovo. Furthermore, the UK donated more than £12 million for mine clearance following the conflict.
The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, also raised the issue of white phosphorous being used by Israel in Gaza. We are, of course, very concerned about reports of white phosphorous ammunition having been used by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza. It is an exceptionally densely populated area, as the noble Baroness knows, where white phosphorous used as an air burst is liable to cause horrific injuries to non-combatants. We consider such use in these circumstances to be totally unacceptable.
On Iraq, again, the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, asked about the use of cluster munitions, whether they were mapped and what was being done to remove them. Cluster munitions were used in Iraq. They can be mapped and we have the data related to their locations, dispensed by UK Armed Forces, as the noble Baroness requested. UK forces have subsequently provided extensive information and assistance to NGOs working on the ground to clear explosive remnants of war. Indeed, UNOPS and UNICEF praised the UK for its response and assistance to the local population, its co-operative approach to international organisations and its commitment to post-conflict reconstruction.
The UK has cleared more than a million items of abandoned and unexploded ordnance, with Royal Engineers also being involved in the marking and fencing of bomblet strikes. We have gone to great lengths to educate local populations about the dangers of abandoned munitions. DfID is now actively considering what capacity-building support the UK could provide as we go forward.
There is the question of why we cannot include indirect finance now. Given the complex nature of indirect financing, there is a need for thorough consultation so that we can consider the impact of any measures. We will work closely with industry to take this forward and we will develop guidance to ensure the scope and applicability of any future measures, so that it is absolutely clear what they are. I repeat at every juncture that at this time our immediate priority is the Bill and the ratifying of the convention.
On the timing of transparency, under the convention we will be required to submit a transparency report within 180 days of the convention entering into force. Thereafter, we will be obliged to present an annual report. I hope that that satisfies that question. On the question of permitted purposes, I will expand on what I said in my opening remarks. Permitted purposes are, first, the development of and training in techniques for the detection, clearance and destruction of cluster munitions; secondly, the development of countermeasures; and thirdly, the purposes of criminal proceedings. Those are the permitted purposes that have been identified.
My noble friend Lord Dubs gave a comprehensive and wide-ranging presentation this afternoon. I particularly valued his remarks about the process that has taken place. I also value the engagement that he and other noble Lords have offered this issue. I very much appreciate his final words, which were, I think, “the future is with us”. That is something we have to be aware of as we press forward to see the final ratification of the Bill in our Parliament.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, for his kind words, interesting speech and valuable understanding and expertise. I thank the noble Lord very much for the efforts that he has made. I concur with his view that there should be no development without demining. I shall remember that comment and try to use it in future exchanges.
I will comment later on protecting the legal position of the military and interoperability, as a number of noble Lords raised that point. It was pointed out that there is no mention in the Bill of the positive obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Government understand that these positive obligations are vital if we are to realise the Bill’s humanitarian aims. We take very seriously all our obligations under the convention. However, unlike the convention’s prohibitions, these positive obligations do not require legislation to implement them. That is the precise reason why they are not included, although we are very aware of them. These obligations mirror those in the Ottawa convention and the Landmines Act 1998. No mention of these positive obligations was made in that Act, so we are following the same path as that followed in the Landmines Act. Our actions over the past decade have demonstrated our clear commitment to these measures, including all the convention’s transparency reporting requirements, as I said to the noble Baroness, Lady Northover.
The interoperability defence in the Bill is very important. Clause 9 and the provision in the convention safeguard the legal position of our military on the ground, including in the most exacting combat situations, to avoid any prosecution or difficulty that may occur as they continue to work alongside coalition partners who are not yet ready to sign up to the convention. Noble Lords will understand that this safeguard has been put in place to protect our military working alongside other combatants who are not signatories to the convention. It is a vital security requirement that the UK and others are able to carry on working militarily with all our allies and partners. This requirement was recognised by countries negotiating the CCM, and expressly provided for in it. This provision, which the Bill’s interoperability defence reflects, was a vital element of the convention. Without it, the UK and others would not have been able to sign the convention and the situation would have been extremely difficult. Those who have followed these matters closely well understand that point.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury asked what the Bill would continue to prohibit. I reassure him that, in accordance with Article 21.4 of the convention—he is well aware of the various articles and clauses—nothing in the Bill will permit the UK:
“To develop, produce or otherwise acquire cluster munitions; To … stockpile or transfer cluster munitions; To … use cluster munitions; or To expressly request the use of cluster munitions in cases where the choice of munitions used is within its exclusive control”.
I hope that that is reassuring. I shall come back to other points made by the right reverend Prelate.
The noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, has supported the Bill for the entire time this House has worked on it. She raised important points about state parties ratification. That is what we must focus on, but we must position ourselves very clearly as soon as we can. As I think I said yesterday at a meeting that we attended, I assure the noble Baroness that I will inquire about and consider the point she made about the Attorney-General, which is of concern.
On the question of financing, raised by the right reverend Prelate, the fact is that Ireland has banned only public financing. Luxembourg has no sanctions in legislation and we are seeking to be more comprehensive and consultative, so that we can work with the public and private sector to get effective prohibition on financing. That is our objective.
On victim assistance, in accordance with the convention and existing practice, any cluster munitions victims under the UK’s jurisdiction or control will receive all the assistance that they require, and there will be no discrimination between cluster munitions victims and those who have suffered injuries or disabilities from other causes. We would also collect any relevant data on cluster munition victims. I hope that that is a satisfactory reply to the question asked.
My noble friend Lady Goudie asked about the use of weapons by Russia and Georgia in 2008. Cluster munitions were used, probably by both sides, and that underlines the need to use all available international forums to secure action on cluster munitions. I have to say that neither side has signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but they are involved in the ongoing efforts to address the use of cluster munitions within the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. That is an area in which we have to work more seriously and positively in the future.
My noble friend asked about talking to the Treasury. We will consider reviewing public investment guidelines, and I expect that that will include working with the Treasury.
Some questions were asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, who has played a very positive and important role in this House’s efforts to place us where we are today. He has previously raised concerns about the lack of verification provisions within the Convention on Cluster Munitions. He suggested that the convention could usefully be amended to provide for challenge inspections to take place. He also suggested a de facto moratorium on the use of cluster munitions by those who retain them where there are civilian populations. I thank the noble Lord very much for his useful suggestions, and I can fairly say that I will share them with others in the Government and see what progress we can make on those matters.
The noble Lord also mentioned the Export Control Order 2008. In drafting the Bill we worked closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to ensure that the Bill and the Export Control Order 2008 are complementary. We are satisfied, for reasons I gave earlier, that there is no need to reproduce in the Bill the wording from the order, nor is there any need to reference the order in the Bill. That is the advice we have been given, and it is acceptable. I can assure noble Lords that trans-shipment is caught by the Bill’s definition of transfer, which would prohibit the trans-shipment of cluster munitions. Direct financing of such trans-shipment would be an act assisting a prohibited activity and would, therefore, be prohibited. I hope that that makes the position clear.
On disinvestment and financing, as I said in my opening remarks, the Government are committed to taking action to prevent indirect financing, but passing this Bill and ratifying the convention are the immediate priorities. The measures that we have outlined are and will be the most appropriate and effective way to take things forward, given that we are dealing with such a complex number of issues. That is why we will work closely with British industry and others to ensure that we develop the most appropriate and effective way to address these issues.
As a result of the policy on cluster munitions and unintended harm to civilians, signed in June 2008, we have identified cluster munitions on UK territory as exceeding operational planning requirements. These cluster munitions will be removed from sites in the UK in 2010 and from all UK territories by 2013.
I have two minutes left and I am trying to speed forward. I will provide answers if I do not reach the end. I think that I have covered the question of the commitment to legislate on financing. With regard to the intervention of the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, I do not think that I can speculate on military developments but I sympathise with the sentiments that she expressed. I assure her that the UK will always be at the forefront of humanitarian work to protect civilians. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Lee, the ballistic sensor fused munition is compliant with the requirements of the convention. Its weight, the ability of its two submunitions to detect and engage single independent targets and its self-destruct features mean that the BSFM will not fall into the convention’s definition of a cluster munition.
The value of the stockpiles is £180 million, rounded up from £179 million. The breakdown includes: M483A1, value £12 million, and all variants of BL755, £11.5 million. That is followed by a long list which I can give to noble Lords later if any of them wishes to see it.
Finally, I hope that most of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, have been covered in my responses to other noble Lords. I value his support for the Bill and very much hope that we can continue to work together to see ratification fulfilled. I think that I addressed the point about indirect financing.
When I opened the debate, I wanted to communicate that the Bill has a very simple and clear humanitarian objective, which many noble Lords have eloquently identified: to ban the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. It will pave the way for the UK to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions. This will, we hope, allow the UK to play its full part at the first meeting of the states parties expected to take place in Laos in November 2010, and we will continue to play a leading role in the area of arms control. In conclusion, I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.
Bill read a second time and committed to a Grand Committee.
Climate Change: Carbon Budgets
Motion to Take Note
My Lords, the Government recognise that the challenge presented by climate change is enormous in both scale and urgency, as I know the vast majority of your Lordships are keenly aware.
The scientific consensus is unequivocal: the global climate is warming and this is caused primarily by human activity. The impacts of climate change are already being felt. That is why the House passed the Climate Change Act last year. As noble Lords will be aware, the Act establishes the world’s first long-term legally binding national framework to reduce emissions and support the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy. It shows our commitment to playing our part in global efforts to tackle climate change. One of its core provisions puts in place a system of five-year carbon budgets to set the trajectory towards our long-term targets—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 below 1990 levels, and to reduce them by at least 34 per cent in the period 2018-22.
The Act also established the independent Committee on Climate Change, whose primary role is to advise government on the level of carbon budgets and monitor progress through annual reports to Parliament. This cycle of reporting plays a fundamental part in holding the Government to account in relation to their budgets and targets and providing a challenge to the action taken by the Government to meet them.
The Government very warmly welcome the committee’s first progress report entitled Meeting Carbon Budgets—The Need for a Step Change. This report makes an important contribution to the debate on how successfully we can make the transition to a low-carbon economy in the UK. The Government are considering the report in detail and we will lay a response before Parliament in January, but I hope this evening to give a broad outline of the Government’s position, and I welcome the opportunity to listen to the debate and to respond to the points made.
We agree with the committee that a step change is needed in the pace of emissions reductions. In calling for a step change, the report recognises the importance of the Government’s UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, published in July, in setting out how we will meet our budgets, through emissions reduction policies in each sector of the economy. Indeed, the committee’s report describes the transition plan as “ambitious” and “very comprehensive”.
The committee identified a number of areas, including in the power sector, buildings and industry, and transport, where it considers that further policy detail is needed to meet the ambition of the transition plan. We broadly agree with its assessment, and much of the work that it recommends is in hand. For example, the six draft national policy statements were published for consultation in November. These clearly set out how we will ensure that low-carbon and renewable power can be brought to the level necessary to make the right contribution towards our carbon budgets. Our framework for the development of clean coal announced on the same day establishes the most environmentally ambitious set of coal conditions of any country in the world.
These commitments clearly fulfil the action on coal recommended in the committee’s report. It also identified the potential impact of the recession in our performance towards meeting the first carbon budget. I agree with the committee that the recession will lead to lower emissions than would otherwise have been the case. But emissions reductions in the recession are no substitute for the permanent reductions that we need to decarbonise our economy and meet our 2050 targets. So, I can say categorically that there will be no let-up in our policy efforts because of the recession. We have the right framework in place—through the transition plan—and it is important to note that the plan will not be put off-track by the recession.
As well as the impact of the recession on emissions, the report recognises that the credit crunch has limited the finances available for renewable energy. I do not underestimate the impact of the credit crunch on lending to low-carbon energy projects, and the Government have acted to protect investment during the downturn. The Budget 2009 announced more than £1.4 billion in additional targeted support for the low-carbon sector, and last month a new lending scheme was launched by the European Investment Bank and partners that will facilitate investment of up to £1.4 billion in onshore wind projects over the next few years. Of course, we will continue to monitor the support required by the sector to see whether additional instruments may be needed.
The committee also concludes that the recession will result in a significantly lower carbon price in 2020 than previously projected, and recommends considering measures to strengthen incentives for low-carbon investments. The current carbon price is relatively low as a consequence of the downturn, but there are some risks that should not be ignored in attempting to manage the carbon price. Our view remains that the best approach is to set the right long-term regulatory framework. Under the revised EU Emissions Trading Scheme directive, the EU ETS cap will fall by a fixed percentage every year after 2013. That gives the long-term signal that investors look for, and EU leaders are committed to reviewing and tightening the cap further as part of a new global climate agreement at Copenhagen.
I agree with the committee that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is not enough on its own to support all the investment in low-carbon electricity generation that is needed. We are taking action now to support or facilitate the low-carbon trinity of renewables, nuclear power and clean coal. I have already described our clean coal framework and the importance of the energy national policy statements in speeding up planning decisions on low-carbon energy developments. We are also working to ensure that access to the electricity grid is not a barrier to new low-carbon generation, particularly for offshore projects. By June of next year, we will introduce enduring new grid access arrangements.
Improving the energy efficiency of homes and communities is a crucial part of our strategy for tackling climate change. It already brings benefits by reducing fuel bills and reducing our reliance on imported energy. We have already delivered large volumes of low-cost measures such as loft and cavity-wall insulation through our carbon emissions reduction target—an obligation on energy suppliers—but we will need to ramp up delivery to meet our carbon budgets. I note that the Committee on Climate Change has acknowledged that, and the significant delivery challenge that we face.
Transport, too, has a major role to play in meeting carbon budgets. That was underlined in the committee’s report. Alongside the transition plan, we published Low Carbon Transport: A Greener Future, which sets out our strategy for reducing emissions from transport. We reckon that it will reduce domestic emissions by about 14 per cent by 2020, compared to 2008, in the period 2018-22.
Another important issue in the committee’s report was the establishment of a suite of indicators in key sectors of the economy, which the committee will use to monitor progress. Those indicators will be very important in ensuring that we understand what extra effort may be required to keep on track, to meet the budgets, and where in the economy it is needed. We welcome that approach, and will be following a similar approach in our own progress monitoring as we develop our plans for managing carbon budgets within the Government.
As set out in the transition plan, the Government are putting in place a strong internal mechanism to manage carbon budgets across Whitehall, so that all parts of the Government do their bit. A point made strongly to me by energy companies and others is that decisions made now on energy and other infrastructure are likely to affect our emissions for the next 30 or 40 years. That is why we are already looking beyond 2020 to our 2050 target, and in spring next year we will publish a 2050 vision setting out the path to a low-carbon economy by the middle of the century, which will complement the transition plan to which I referred. That will include looking at where we need to accelerate development of particular technologies.
My comments so far have focused on what the UK has to do to reduce its own emissions. But of course, this always has to be considered in the context of the global challenge. That is why the conference currently taking place in Copenhagen, which formally started yesterday, is so important.
All the developments since July 2009 show that publication of the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan was not the end, but the beginning of a process of implementation of new policies which deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Government are fully committed to making the comprehensive strategy set out in the transition plan a reality. In doing so, we look forward to working with the Committee on Climate Change. In introducing this debate, I pay tribute to the committee and its members for the outstanding piece of work that they have undertaken. As I said, we will respond formally to the report in the new year. In the mean time, I beg to move.
My Lords, the whole House will be grateful to the Minister for the way in which he has introduced this very timely debate and given us some foresight on the Government’s response to the progress report from the climate change committee. I also paid tribute to the members of the committee. I am very pleased that during the course of the debate we will be hearing from two of its members, and from the noble Lord, Lord Stern, who in many ways set the agenda.
I should perhaps declare one interest, which is that I chair the partners’ board of the Living with Environmental Change Programme. This brings together the public funders of research into how we might respond to environmental change—not just climate change, but environmental change in its widest sense—for example, the impacts of population pressure on natural resources and ecosystems.
As we would expect at this early stage, the second year of the first budget report, the progress report is inevitably more about setting out a framework for emission reductions and policy options, rather than reporting on progress to date. As the Minister reminded us, and as the foreword to the progress report states, the economic recession could produce an over-rosy impression of progress against budgets. We must be careful to ensure that we have long-term targets in mind.
I must declare immediately that I am a fully paid-up supporter of the need to limit atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and equivalents to about 450 parts per million, the level believed to be consistent with a global average temperature increase of about two per cent. To those who say that the science is uncertain, I say that I agree, but given the risks, we have to be quite sure that the science is wrong before following the sceptics. To those who say that the costs of reducing emissions exceed the benefits, I would say that at least we can agree that the win-wins, the low-hanging fruit that the noble Lord, Lord Stern, identified in his review, should be harvested as soon as possible.
It is some of those win-wins that I want to refer to today. In later budget periods, we will be relying on innovation, highly speculative at this stage, such as carbon capture and storage, the development of long-life batteries and second-generation biofuels, to name just three. All will require massive international funding to develop those technologies. However, as the progress report reminds us, there are some less speculative, far less research-dependent measures that we can adopt immediately—and that we should adopt as soon as possible. I refer in particular to Chapter 5, which refers to the major opportunities for reducing emissions in buildings and industry through energy efficiency improvement. To you and me, that means lagging the attic and cavity-wall insulation. If we could just start with those two, we would make a pretty dramatic improvement on the present emissions from buildings.
The present framework policy for delivering residential emissions reduction is simply not appropriate. We rely on the energy suppliers to promote to their customers energy-saving measures—there is a contradiction. As the report states, it will take a long time—2022 is mentioned—before less than half the emissions reduction potential will be achieved. That is through using the procedure known as CERT.
The Government’s new policy framework sets out in the heat and energy-saving strategy three pillars for a new approach: a whole house approach; a neighbourhood approach; and new funding mechanisms. A retrofit programme aimed at improving all properties in England to EPC bands B and C, which, currently, only 6 per cent of properties achieve, would cost an average of about £7,000 a house, according to the progress report. Fuel bills per household would be reduced by an average of 46 per cent. To my mind, that is a win-win. You do not muck around. If you can achieve those sort of savings in emissions and in the cost of running a household, you get on with it.
The problem is that that is the average house. The report notes that a housing association based in Petersfield, the Drum Housing Association, was asked to do a pilot study on the less efficient houses, and found that that could work out at up to £38,000 a house. Of course, that is with all the bells and whistles. That is adding solar heating, PV and the like. I would simply say: stick to what will give you the quickest return and get on with it. Do the whole house audits, which will not cost a lot. Find the houses in which insulation will show the greatest return, and get on with it. At the moment, 40 per cent of the input is restricted to priority households: those on benefit or aged over 70. There is an economic case for widening that rapidly.
Heat is an important part of the equation. After all, heat accounts for nearly 50 per cent of final energy consumed and nearly 50 per cent of CO2 emissions. We must do something about the present, lamentable level of renewable heat—1 per cent. The progress report suggests that that figure might be improved, but not dramatically.
Again, I would look very quickly at where there is the most opportunity to provide renewable heat at competitive prices. So I think that you would have to look at houses that are not on the gas main, because they clearly will be far less inclined to change. We are looking, therefore, at rural properties where biomass heating plants could well be attractive. In other words, you have to develop a wood-chip, wood-pellet supply chain. This is not rocket science—it is already being done. A number of houses and neighbourhood developments have made it work, and work efficiently. Of course, if oil prices go up, it will be all the more easy to demonstrate the economic viability. But the real advantage—I hope the noble Lord, Lord Clark of Windermere, who chairs the Forestry Commission, might be able to add to this—is that, at the moment, about 70 per cent of our privately owned woodlands are either under-managed or derelict. That is because, since the war, there has never been a viable market for the by-products—the thinnings, the lop-and-top—coming out of these woodlands. Perhaps I should declare an interest here as a woodland owner myself in the south-east. This is true throughout the country. There are an awful lot of by-products coming out even from the commercial woodlands, such as the Forestry Commission’s woodlands, for which there is currently not an adequate market.
The improvement gained by going back to the sort of coppicing practices which we had between the wars, when there was a market for charcoal and the secondary crops, is that we will improve biodiversity and rural employment and much else besides. There are many win-wins here. It is very easy to set up: you really only need a hard hat and a chainsaw with instructions on how to use it. You will quickly find that you have on your hands a biomass resource that can serve competitively an awful lot of households, particularly in rural areas. But of course to get this going you need a champion and someone who will ensure that there is a guaranteed market for the chips, and this is happening very slowly at the moment. I would urge government procurement to play an important role in this. Whenever anyone is building a hospital, laboratory or any other development, they should think of the opportunities, particularly in rural areas, for putting in a biomass boiler and thereby securing all these win-wins.
Page 177 of the progress report refers to the uncertainty of the availability of sustainable biomass and, for that matter, biogas. Again, this is simply where we will need policies. Biogas can be provided from anaerobic digesters. There is a lot of biodegradable waste coming out of farms and the infrastructure can and should be put in place to feed into the gas main or to put the gas into generating electricity. There are waste materials that are underutilised and there for the asking.
While talking of waste, I would simply make the point that there has always been a great concern in this country to abide by what is called the waste hierarchy: you must always ensure that waste is used for the most conservationally acceptable purpose. That makes it very difficult to use waste for energy, but that is often the sensible thing to do. It saves using fossil fuels, it saves landfill, and it saves the littering that is a feature of so much of our countryside.
When we look at the policies that will deliver some of these win-wins and some of these easy benefits, we will probably have to upset some of these sacred cows. Another sacred cow, talking about land use, is that we have always seemed to have in this country the attitude that extensive farming will always be the most desirable in terms of conservation. But that is almost certainly not going to be the case when it comes to carbon footprint. I shall quote the English Beef and Sheep Production Roadmap produced by the levy board of the English beef and sheep sector. So the farmers themselves are saying:
“The fundamental differences between more extensive and intensive production systems are particularly clear in this context. The poorer quality nutrition and longer production times of hill sheep mean very much higher GHG emissions per kilogram of lamb produced”.
So in other words, when we get these policies, we will have to think very carefully. That is not to say that we should not be supporting hill farming, the biodiversity benefits or the ecosystem services that will arise from sustaining these extensive systems, but be under no illusion: if it is carbon footprint that you want, that is not necessarily going to be the answer. When the Government roll out the policies to meet the targets that have been set so appropriately by the climate change committee, there are going to be many hard calls, and I have referred to just one or two of them.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the committee on this extremely readable report. It is a great asset to be able to debate a report that I sat down and read from start to finish only this morning, which is no mean feat considering how difficult the issue can be. I must also declare an interest as one of those involved in passing the Climate Change Bill. It is gratifying indeed to see this report come forward.
I start by saying that I am a sceptic, not of climate change—I think that that would be idiotic, a word which I use advisedly—but of the EU carbon trading scheme. I have set that out before. I therefore have a problem with the report. If you believe that the EU ETS will fundamentally not work because of the financials on which it is based, you will have a problem with how we are looking at carbon in the next few years. One of the interesting things raised by the e-mails, and the reason why the press jumped on them, is the fact that everyone is looking for a get-out by establishing that climate change is not happening and proving that the scientists are lying to us. The size of what we have to undertake is quite staggering. The report clearly sets out how little impact the measures we have taken over the past few years have had on our energy consumption. Calling it a step change is a slight understatement because we have to leap over a huge chasm.
I, too, take massive issue with one part of the report—the part about aviation. It is interesting that we are talking about the aviation figures for 2050. It is interesting not because of the science on how much energy will be used—although I take on board the fact that a massive expansion in aviation will require a reduction in somebody else’s budget, an issue which I will move on to later—but because we are hitting peak oil, a fact which most people seem to ignore. Although the price of oil might fall during a recession, the price will rise massively as oil becomes scarcer and more industries want to use it. I believe that cheap air fares will not survive the next decade and that budget airlines will be seen as a blip. I do not see air travel in the same way as others. So, according to that view, there is no need for a third runway at Heathrow.
The report raises a real issue which I hope the climate change committee will take on board. It seems to be skewed towards electricity. When we talk about the energy needs of this country, many people talk as though electricity is the sole energy source. Gas, in the form of heating for homes, also is a major provider of energy. Of course, 50 per cent of our emissions come from homes and buildings. We should therefore not underestimate the problems with gas.
On electricity, I very much hope that the committee will start looking at balancing the grid, which is a major problem for this country. New nuclear power stations are planned but will not come online until about 2030. One of the issues is how we can best use our current energy infrastructure. I am particularly concerned about the grid, which seems to have been neglected in many of the reports. Many of the White Papers have not talked about the electricity grid itself. An inefficient grid will waste enormous amounts of energy. I very much hope that the Government will look over the next couple of years at the whole issue of energy storage. This is the holy grail of electricity. With energy storage, you could turn renewables into base load and vastly increase the value of energy coming from energy storage. I declare an interest as a shareholder in an energy storage company called Highview, which will produce electricity from liquid nitrogen. However, I shall not go any further into that because, whenever I mention it, it takes people a long time to work out how you can use liquid nitrogen. However, I believe that energy storage in many forms—whether through liquid nitrogen or batteries—will be a real issue. I know that the Americans are spending enormous amounts on this.
One real concern that I have is that we are underestimating a key contributor to carbon in this country: boilers. I am very boring on the subject; I have raised boilers a great many times, and it does not seem to catch the public imagination as it should. It is an issue. However, a group called G2Action has calculated that we have a slight issue with boilers; even if we start converting at the present rate to A-rated boilers, we will miss the target for reduction in CO2 from boilers that is set down by 1.5 billion tonnes by 2050. I went through the figures myself and the reason for that is that, although we can increase the efficiency of boilers so that they are at 97 per cent efficiency—and you cannot get very much more efficient than that—they are not being replaced fast enough. Even when you get to that efficiency rate, the increase in the number of households in the country negates that saving. It is a real concern. Therefore, we have to look at ways in which to deal with that.
Suggesting a change to an A-rated boiler would be a helpful hint to people. However, I have just changed my own boiler at a cost of £5,000. I know that I will save that, but it is a large financial leap. I have worked hard with Ofgem over the past two or three years to look at CERT on boilers to see whether we could come up with some financial incentives. Boilers have been included in CERT, but at an average of £65 per boiler it is insignificant and irrelevant. So CERT has failed as a financial mechanism for boilers.
The one way in which to deal with the problem of boilers is by decarbonising the gas grid. The only way in which we could look at doing that is by looking at renewable gas through biogas. This is an area that I am particularly keen on and have spent a great deal of time on recently. Indeed, I set up the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association and became its chair to look at the anaerobic industry. We have been working very hard on that recently and found that there is probably about £680 million of plant under development or in the planning process at the moment. To give the size of the market that I believe will take place, there are probably about 1,000 plants; 75 per cent of those will be in the agricultural sector, while 25 per cent of those will deal with municipal waste. From those 1,000 plants, we could produce between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of our domestic gas. That will be vital because, by 2015, we will import about 80 per cent of our gas. Therefore, the more gas we can produce from the renewable sector, the more it will affect gas prices. We have a massive problem with gas storage, which leads to the fact that the spot price on gas is what we are paying, rather than the underlying price.
The report talks about the renewable heat incentive, and there were certain question marks over biogas. Gas produced by anaerobic digestion plants, of which there will be quite a large number, then pumped into the grid, is a form of heat, using the gas as an energy-carrier medium. It is probably one of the most efficient mediums to carry energy to the household, if it is fired through a condensing boiler, because you do not lose the heat through a district heating system in the process. That is of particular interest with regard to the renewable heat incentive; one application for that incentive that DECC is considering at the moment is how heat can be dealt with and subsidised. That is a real issue, and I very much hope that the consultation process that is starting in January is looked at carefully. We will have to look at a high price for the renewable heat incentive for biogas, but it will have a major impact on our supply chain and the cost of gas. Far more than that, it will have a massive impact on the carbon content of the gas going into the national gas grid. That is a fundamental issue that we will have to look at with the RHI. I hope that the renewable that everybody is talking about next year is anaerobic digestion and biogas and that the next document that comes before Parliament from the climate change committee looks carefully at its role.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for this opportunity to debate the climate change committee’s first annual report. I am delighted to hear the positive response that the Minister indicated the Government had made to the report. I declare an interest as a member of the climate change committee as well as the chairman of the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the CCC.
I will not live to see the potentially damaging consequences of climate change and, looking around the room, I believe that the same may be said of a number of other noble Lords in the Chamber. However, I have a two month-old grandson, who certainly will live to see the damaging effects of the profligacy of our generation. So it is certainly a moral imperative for us to do what we can to put right the damage that we have done to the planet, for the sake of future generations. It is also worth reflecting that the commitment made in the Climate Change Act, and on the basis of subsequent advice from the climate change committee, to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050 is based on an assumption of global equity. If in 2050 everybody in the world produces 2 tonnes of carbon per year, that would have a reasonable chance of stabilising global warming below the dangerous levels that would lead to tipping points.
I add an aside on climate change sceptics. There are those around who still do not accept the science behind climate change and the human impact. Of course, there are still many uncertainties in the science, and we should continue to improve our scientific understanding. However, in explaining this to people, I say that all they have to remember is three facts that are well established. First, carbon dioxide in greenhouse gases trap the sun’s heat and keep the earth warm; without them, we would be living at a temperature of minus 18 degrees. That was worked out in 1824 by the French scientist Joseph Fourier. Fact two is that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels have gone up in recent decades; indeed, since the start of the industrial revolution, CO2 has gone up by 30 per cent. The third fact is that that increase in CO2 can be attributed, by the isotopic signature of the carbon directly, to the burning of fossil fuels. Those three facts, together with the direct measurements that temperature has gone up by three-quarters of a degree since the beginning of thermometer records in 1850, is absolutely irrefutable evidence of global warming and that human activity has made a contribution.
I come to the points that I want to make about the committee’s report. In the UK, we are rightly proud of the fact that we lead the pack, as the Minister has said, in establishing a legally binding target for greenhouse gas emissions. Our intention and plans are very good. But before we let ourselves get too excited by our achievement we should ask what is happening to our national carbon footprint. As is so often the case, we appear to be better on process than on action, which was one of the headlines of the CCC’s report. Emissions need to go down between 2 per cent and 3 per cent a year to meet our target of 80 per cent reduction. But at the moment they are going down by less than 1 per cent a year, which is why the committee called for a step change. We have to triple our rate of greenhouse gas reductions if we are to meet the target. I am sure that other noble Lords will say more about the details in the committee’s report, which looks at how emission reductions can be achieved in relation to power generation in buildings and in road transport. But a central objective of the report is to decarbonise electricity generation and then use electricity as the energy source of choice.
I want to make simply one general point. Much of the policy of this and other Governments over recent decades has relied on the mantra of the market and individual consumer choice delivering the desired outcome. The climate change committee’s report makes it clear that the operation of the market and consumer choice will not deliver the required step change. More intervention, more tough choices and more leadership by government are required. That is true in relation to renewable energy and the switch to electric cars, as well as to increased energy efficiency in the home. Will the Minister confirm that the Government are, as recommended by the climate change committee, prepared to take a more interventionist stance to achieve their emissions targets? That may involve investment, incentivising individuals to make choices, regulation or, as referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, procurement decisions.
It is also clear that lessons may be learnt from what other countries have done. Germany, for example, is considerably ahead of the UK on wind power, even though we have the natural advantage of living on a very windy island with a huge coastline. How has Germany got ahead of us? I am told that two very simple measures played an important role. The first was the introduction of a guaranteed price for wind energy through a feed-in tariff that made wind farms a good investment for the private citizen as well as for businesses and the second was the requirement for local governments to identify suitable sites for wind farm development. Will the Minister confirm that the Government are prepared to learn lessons from other countries and apply them in an appropriate way in this country?
My final point is about adaptation to climate change. However successful we are at mitigation and even if Copenhagen exceeds the wildest hopes of environmentalists, which, in itself is most unlikely, we are committed to some climate change. The climate system is like a very large tanker. You cannot turn it around quickly. Even if we radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, it will take some time for the climate system to respond. For example, it is estimated that 20 per cent of today’s carbon dioxide will still be in the atmosphere in 1,000 years.
The longer we go without a global deal to stem greenhouse gas emissions, the more important adaptation will become—not as an alternative to mitigation, but we need to prepare ourselves for the inevitability of some climate change. The impact of this change will be felt partly directly here in the UK and partly indirectly through the effects on other parts of the world that will have knock-on consequences for us. According to some climate models, a 4 degrees centigrade global temperature rise, which is within the range of possibilities, would make the Mediterranean basin more like the Sahara desert. We should pause to think of the consequences of this, not just for our holiday homes in Italy or southern France, but in terms of food production, climate migrants and tourism.
The Met Office Hadley Centre has produced projections for the UK up to 2080—the so-called UKCP09 projections. These projections should be treated with great caution because they are provisional and are pushing the modelling by climate scientists to their limits. Nevertheless, they give us an indication of what we are likely to have to adapt to. I hear some people say, “Global warming, bring it on. It will get warmer here and London will be more like Lisbon. Wonderful”. But we should stop to think about what it would be like to travel on the London Underground day after day, week after week, in 40 degrees centigrade temperatures. We in this country are not well prepared for a significantly hotter world.
Water supply may be at least as important as temperature rise in adapting to climate change, in the sense of both getting too much and having too little. One prediction of the climate models is for more frequent periods of drought and heat stress, particularly in the south-east, which is already water stressed. At the same time, heavier seasonal rainfall, as well as the possibility of a sea-level rise, will make many parts of the country more flood prone. While the recent floods in Cumbria, as well as the July 2007 floods, cannot as individual events be attributed to climate change, they could be an indication of what is likely to come. The Environment Agency has estimated that already one in six homes in England is at risk of flooding. The misery caused to the occupants and the problem of insurance are likely to increase.
Measures can be taken to adapt. We could stop building new homes in flood-prone areas. Equally, on water shortage, we could make more efficient use of domestic water by a range of measures. When you think of it, it is bizarre that most of us treat water as a more or less free good. The Environment Agency and today’s Walker report have already recommended that all homes should have metered water, which would cut consumption by an estimated 10 per cent to 15 per cent. It is further estimated by the Environment Agency that domestic water consumption could be cut by as much as one-third by installing grey water recycling systems. It is truly profligate that we wash our cars and water our gardens with purified drinking water. It is madness. I am told that the cost of fitting grey water recycling systems to new houses would add perhaps 1 per cent or 2 per cent to the overall price that people would pay for a house.
As with mitigation, the adaptation agenda will require leadership from the Government. I shall end with an echo of my earlier question on mitigation. Will the Minister confirm that the Government are prepared to take the necessary action to prepare us for the inevitable change to our climate that lies ahead, as well as the action to mitigate against further climate change?
My Lords, the problem with global warming and climate change is that the urgency of the task requires action. Moreover, it requires change and sacrifice. The church often prefers to deliberate, talk, reflect, pray, debate or plan. It prefers to do anything other than do something or, as in this case, stop doing things. It is clear from this debate that meeting carbon budgets is a precise, calculated and even legally definable science. Many noble Lords are telling us what we might do and how we might do it.
I shall offer some comments on the effects of global warming that can be observed, as the alarming photos of disappearing ice in the Arctic or on the alpine glaciers show. The deductions based on them virtually all point in one direction; namely, how we decide to live more frugally in energy terms. I believe that that is a precise and positive choice and not a matter to be left to economic laissez faire. This makes what happens at the Copenhagen summit all the more important. As we can see, the production of more evidence along the lines of the CCC’s progress report is not in itself enough to galvanise people to act. The more vulnerable nations already suffering from a less predictable climate are less able to help themselves, so significant efforts to cut emissions will be made only when the nations make a commitment to act in concert. To do that, their leaders need an indication that a decent proportion of their people are behind them.
It is the intention of the Church of England to persuade its members to support our Government in their endeavours to co-operate with other nations and, more significantly, to act itself. The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury is going to Copenhagen to preach there and to make our support explicit. Last month, the church issued a seven-year plan to be implemented by its 16,200 churches and 4,700 schools across the UK in an effort to cut the combined annual carbon footprint of around 330,000 tonnes of CO2. The report, Church and Earth, includes emissions reduction targets for the church as a whole in line with the national target of 80 per cent by 2050, and with an interim aim of reducing the church’s carbon footprint by 42 per cent by 2020. This plan puts education and young people at the heart of the church’s climate change strategy, with all 4,700 church schools nationwide aiming to achieve “eco-school” status and implementing government policy on education for sustainable development.
It is not only the Church of England; the world’s major faiths have drawn up long-term plans which were discussed at Windsor in November by more than 200 leaders of faith groups as part of their programme for “seven-year plans for generational change”. The major faith communities worldwide recognise unequivocally that there is a moral imperative to tackle the causes of global warming. They have a crucial role to play around the world as key agents of change in pressing for changes in behaviour at every level of society and in every economic sector. Faith groups reach half of all the world’s schools and have been called on by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to,
“inspire people to change [by setting] an example for the lifestyles of billions of people, and encourage politicians to act more boldly”.
The churches have accepted the responsibility to learn how to live and develop sustainability in a world of finite resources, and we will redouble our efforts to reduce emissions that result from our institutional and individual activities.
The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, referred to water as a particular example. In the part of sub-Saharan Africa that I know well—Sudan—it is quite clear that water shortage is not only a present difficulty in environmental terms, but that it is also highly likely that access to water and, indeed, how the Nile is treated higher up than Sudan, will be the cause of major conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa in years to come. It is not just a matter of our carbon footprint now and over the next 20 years, it is also a question that profoundly affects the possibilities for peace in that very troubled area of the world. If Ethiopia were to cut off supplies from the Blue Nile, Egypt would at once become unsustainable and infertile. There would be an immediate and determined attempt by the Egyptians to try to enforce the plans and covenants they have tried to put in place over the waters of the Blue Nile. It is only one example of the way in which the patterns of our future lifestyle are interconnected and require us not merely to make national or even modest international progress in trying to act together, but to mobilise the community of the world. That is needed not only for the sustainability of our world in terms of lifestyle, carbon emissions and climate change governance, but also to provide for the world a pattern of living together in such a way that we will be able to avoid some of the conflicts that will inevitably come upon us if we do not take these options seriously.
Surely these kind of corporate commitments are preferable to what the report calls the,
“more forceful role for Government”.
That is not what we need. What we need is a greater degree of co-operation between the nations of the world, to act together in this, as in so much else.
My Lords, it is a privilege to participate in this debate and I am happy to follow the right reverend Prelate in his general thesis. I am persuaded by climate change. We need to act quickly and it means that we have to change our habits as individuals and, indeed, as a society and as a Government. That will involve hard choices individually, nationally and internationally. However, I would add a caveat in saying that. When we are talking about hard choices, we must ensure that there is a sense of equity, as the right reverend Prelate said, in the international context for the undeveloped world. Just as when we think about our own citizens, we must not get into a situation where there is no equity so that the poor end up paying a disproportionate price for the inevitable costly hard choices.
It is also clear that we must use science to help tackle this problem. I declare an interest as a non-executive director of Sellafield and a lifelong supporter of the nuclear industry. I follow the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, in his special plea for the electricity grid. It is something that the Government need to be moving a little faster on. I clearly believe that at least one new nuclear power station is needed in west Cumbria, but I recognise the difficulties involved in getting the electricity on to the current grid system. We need to be thinking about to develop a grid that will have to run through a national park, and work needs to proceed to see how efficiently we can transmit that electricity under the estuaries—perhaps even across Morecambe Bay to Heysham power station itself. That sort of preparatory work could be taken forward now.
I also want to make that the point that it is not just window dressing when we talk about the economy of west Cumbria as the “energy coast”. It has gone right through and energised the local society, and I can cite the example of the town of Cockermouth, which has suffered so much of late. Recently a group of youngsters came down from the local comprehensive school. It was one of the most inspiring events I have been to. The key fact I want to impress on noble Lords is this: more than 90 young people from that comprehensive school are studying A-level mathematics, while more than 100 are reading A-level physics. That is a measure of the hope and expectation for science that we have in that part of the world. I believe that we need to use the nuclear industry as the non-carbon power base for our baseload of electricity.
The other thing is that we should not forget nature in all this. Any society in an increasingly developed world is becoming more and more removed and remote from nature. Although we see the great power of nature, as we did in Cumbria three weeks ago, sometimes we still think that we as mankind can do it better and more cleverly. In this climate change debate, we ignore nature at our peril. That may seem mere tautology, but I declare an interest as chair of the Forestry Commission. It is probably the last time I shall make that declaration because I finish my eight-year stint at midnight tomorrow. It has been a great privilege to hold that post because I started my life as a forest worker. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, that climate change is long term and most of us will not see its effect, applies equally to forestry: you plant trees and very rarely see them harvested. Incidentally, this applies also to nuclear energy, which is another long-term industry.
I make that point because for the past two years I have been encouraging my director-general, Tim Rawlinson, to take a lead internationally to see what we can do in the forestry world. In many ways we are inspired to do so by the impressive work of the noble Lord, Lord Stern, on climate change. Although we may argue about the odd percentage, he made the point that about 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. That is almost as much as the industrial emissions from the whole of the United States of America. It is a large contribution that we have to tackle. The level of deforestation is still proceeding, which all adds to the difficulty of the situation.
However, the Forestry Commission in Britain has taken the lead by establishing an organisation called the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration. It is not good enough to stop deforestation; we must start increasing afforestation. In degraded parts of the world and in areas that used to be afforested and are now just deserts, we can grow trees again. At a conference in London a couple of weeks ago, a number of European Ministers signed up to that. It was held in conjunction with the IUCN, and Latin American and South American countries and China have joined us in that effort. Reafforestation is an important issue.
However, it is not as simple as that because we do not know what the position is here in our own country. In order to find out, we asked the eminent scientist, Professor Sir David Read, a former vice-president of the Royal Society and an eminent professor of plant pathology at the University of Sheffield, to chair an inquiry by a group of scientists and he reported a couple of weeks ago. His remit was, basically, to analyse the position of forestry in Britain in relation to the mitigation of climate change. He has produced a sound report which is well worth studying.
In that report he picks up a number of points which we, as a Government, can utilise for the benefit of the country. The main point he makes is that sequestration of carbon by trees is beginning to decline in this country simply because our planting has tailed off. Having said that, he and his panel believe that if we increase tree cover by a mere 4 per cent in the United Kingdom, it would sequester 10 per cent of our carbon emissions. That is a significant percentage and we ought to address this issue. The percentage varies: coniferous forests, which are hated by many people, sequester far more carbon than the more natural and more acceptable oak. For example, he estimates that coniferous trees sequester 20 tonnes of CO2 annually whereas with oak it is 15 tonnes.
On top of that we can store even more carbon in the timber itself. It is therefore important that we use more wood in our construction industry because it would tie up carbon for many years, decades and occasionally centuries. We ought to do that. It is possible. Between 80 and 90 per cent of new houses in Scotland are built using the timber-framed method; in England, the figure is less than 20 per cent. The challenge for the Government is to give a lead to architects, developers and builders. It is not only a sensible way to store carbon but, given our climate, it is a cheaper way to build houses.
I hope I have made the case for an increased use of timber and an increase in forest coverage. I take the point of the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, that there are certain parts of the country, especially the south-east, where there are many wooded areas—the most wooded counties in England are Kent, Sussex and Surrey—but no market for the wood. However, as it is basically hard wood, it is ideal for burning and producing energy and biomass. We work very closely with the South East England Development Agency but more effort could be put in by regional development agencies to progress that issue.
People love trees and here we have something which can help us to fight carbon emissions and provide so many things for people—timber, recreation, biodiversity, conservation, health promotion; the list goes on and on. I am sure we will hear from the Minister today that the Government are keen to help the Forestry Commission to expand the tree cover in this country.
My Lords, in the first progress report of the Committee on Climate Change, one sentence on page 31 says it all:
“Whilst emissions currently appear to be falling as a result of the economic recession, this will be largely reversed when the economy returns to growth”.
So not much progress so far. This, incidentally, gives lie to the claim made by the EU Environment Commissioner, reported in the 27 November issue of Resource Management & Recovery, that emissions in the 15 oldest European Union member states had fallen by 4.3 per cent from 1990 levels by 2007. He made the misleading boast:
“These projections further cement the EU’s leadership in delivering on our international commitments to combat climate change”.
No doubt one could find similar empty claims made by national Ministers.
So all of our recent achievements, such as they are, have been derived not from our own efforts, strenuous and expensive though those have been, but as the result of an economic recession that none of us would have wished to happen—none of us, that is, except, conceivably, those diehard environmentalists and others who would prefer not to see economic growth and prosperity as priorities of policy.
The question is: will the future tell a different story? I shall confine my remarks to electricity generation, which accounts for the largest single demand for primary energy, ahead of transport, and is the primary energy-using sector with the highest CO2 emissions at about one-third of the total, ahead of both industry and transport. A recently published report by the leading engineering consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff, entitled Powering the Future, forecasts that the United Kingdom generating capacity existing today will fall to a half of its present level by 2023 and will have disappeared almost entirely, with the sole exception of Scottish hydroelectric power, by 2040. So virtually our entire electricity-generating capacity will have to be replaced in the next 30 years. It will mean that new plant will have to be built at a rate at least equal to the highest historical rate achieved in this country and at a time when our own power plant industry is greatly reduced.
At the same time, the demand for electricity will surely rise, with, as the report before us shows, population expected to increase by 9 million by 2022, 3 million new houses likely to be built by 2020, road vehicle emissions expected to continue rising as they have in the past and demand for electricity itself having shown in the years leading up to the recession a secular increase of just over 1.5 per cent a year—and all that before the appearance of the electric car, for which the climate change committee also calls loudly.
Against this background of demand for new plant on an unheard-of scale for replacement of our existing power stations, and the likelihood of a substantial increase in the demand for electricity, unless it is stifled by the effect of environmental taxes, how does the committee propose the gap be filled?
It proposes three essentially carbon-free means: nuclear power, carbon capture and storage and wind power. The trouble with nuclear is that even the committee cannot see more than two new nuclear power stations coming on stream before 2020, by which time it would have liked us to reduce our CO2 emissions by 40 per cent. According to the table on page 146 of the report, the contribution of nuclear power will be less in the third budget period than it is in the first.
The problem with carbon capture and storage is that the committee and the Government are calling to their aid an unproven technology. It looks likely to be extremely expensive, requiring twice the amount of fuel perhaps to produce the same quantity of electricity. And if it comes at all, it will come too late, at any rate to help meet the targets. As the report sets out, there are still demonstration plants due to be built by 2016, and the first new full CCS plant is not due to appear until 2022.
It is no wonder, therefore, that the report is obliged to conclude on page 76:
“Investment in wind generation is key to necessary decarbonisation of the power sector in the period to 2020 and beyond”,
adding on page 112,
“because it is the only low-carbon technology that is ready for deployment now”.
So the immense reduction in CO2 emissions that the committee is looking forward to—40 per cent by 2020; even more than 50 per cent at one moment, as stated on page 93; 60 per cent by the third budget—is so far as electricity generation is concerned all to depend on wind power.
At what cost will that be and how realistic are those expectations? In the first place, wind can deliver only very modest amounts of electricity. Even Denmark and Germany, two countries renowned for their achievements in this field, get only 7 per cent of their annual electricity consumption from wind. The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, was right to say that Germany has gone ahead of this country: it has almost 10 times the number of turbines as us. But do we wish to follow it?
In this country, wind power is paid for by enormous subsidies, mostly indirectly from the consumer, to the tune of more £1 billion per annum today and likely to rise at least fourfold if the Government’s targets are ever to be met, pushing electricity bills through the roof. There is not much on that subject in the report.
Wind power is far into, but has by no means finished, the process of industrialising much of our finest countryside, which has been a magnet for visitors from all over the world and inspiration for some of our most famous artists. Here, I declare an interest in that I continue to oppose wind farm applications made close to where I live in the north-west of England.
Wind farms drag in their wake new transmission lines, bringing electricity from remote areas to where it is required at the other end of the country. Incidentally, these new transmission lines are in themselves inefficient, because they have to be capable of operating at a level of capacity which they are only occasionally required to reach.
Offshore wind is little better. It costs at least twice as much as onshore wind, takes twice as long to install and brings with it immense maintenance issues. It must be most doubtful whether the Government’s offshore wind targets are achievable. As the report points out on page 117, the United Kingdom will need to access no fewer than 10 additional installation vessels, which cost between £50 million and £150 million each, have a three-year procurement period and of which we currently have only two. Even if we had the vessels, the rate of wind farm construction that would be required has never been achieved anywhere else in the world.
Wind farms also eat up capital that should be spent on more appropriate efforts to resolve our looming energy crisis. In this regard, the chief executive of Ofgem had some ominous words for MPs last week when he told them that the major energy companies now had serious capital constraints and that the United Kingdom was in danger of losing its position as a prime place for energy investment. We do not live in a world in which we can afford to waste vast sums on the wrong priorities.
Aside from the expense and inefficiency of wind power, what about its justification in the climate committee’s eyes: its supposed capability for reducing CO2 emissions? Is it effective in that regard? It must always be borne in mind that the existence of wind power, however big the so-called wind estate, does not result in the closure of a single fossil-fuelled power station. On the contrary, conventional power stations on their own must always be able to meet peak demand, for there are moments, often coinciding with extreme temperatures, when no wind is available, often across the country and even across Europe.
Moreover, these changes occur abruptly and flexible forms of conventional generation must be ready to step in. Present nuclear plants are no good for that purpose as they can take 48 hours to warm up. That is one reason why far more gas-fired power stations than any other sort are now being built. These power stations are kept in a state of so-called spinning reserve and are constantly being ramped up and down, which of course produces additional CO2 emissions. Moreover, why is it right to ignore the CO2 emissions produced in the manufacture, erection and maintenance of wind farms and their attendant transmission lines, considering that they are all entirely surplus to electricity-generating requirements?
There is another factor. To the extent that the conventional power supply sees its CO2 emissions reduced by a move to nuclear power and, in theory, eventually to coal with carbon capture, wind power’s carbon emission savings are reduced because they are calculated by reference to the CO2 emissions from the other forms of generation for which wind is a substitution.
The Government have already conceded that wind farms save less than half the CO2 that they did a few years ago while gas has replaced coal. If the committee was to attain its eventual objectives for nuclear power and coal, wind power would cease to produce any CO2 savings. So even if wind power produces on balance some CO2 savings today—and even that is doubtful—one day it will produce none at all. Yet we will still have the wind farms, a blot on the landscape and a reminder of our past follies.
This report stands fully behind, indeed it shares a responsibility for, the Government’s commitment to spend staggering and ever-rising amounts of money—the agreed total at the moment seems to be something in the order of £200 billion by 2020—not in an attempt to ward off an energy crisis, nor to help this country achieve greater economic competitiveness, nor to try to uphold the standards of living of the people of this country, but to pursue a policy which has a negative impact on all those imperatives and to do so at a time of the utmost financial stringency and economic vulnerability. I cannot conceive of anything less in the interests of this country, the West or, indeed, developing countries.
One of the Miliband brothers called my noble friend Lord Lawson—who, with Christopher Booker, leads the climate change sceptics in this country—“profoundly irresponsible”. I very much doubt whether that will be the verdict of history.
My Lords, in his first party conference speech after the Labour Party won the election in 1997, the Prime Minister, Mr Blair, took climate change as his major theme. He distributed a 5,000-word essay on the subject by his Chief Scientific Adviser. This set the tone for a Government whose recognition of the problem and the concomitant need for action, both national and globally co-ordinated, has been world-leading and much to their credit. Jonathon Porritt recently stepped down as chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, which he chaired with a fascinating mixture of distinction and occasional exasperation. He said,
“the Climate Change Act … for me stands out as the single most important addition to the Statute Book that this Government has achieved”.
I concur with that appraisal. It brings me to today’s debate, in which I want to make three points, at diminishing length. I shall spend most of my time on the first point.
As we have heard, the Committee on Climate Change, which was established by the Climate Change Act, recently issued its first annual report. I declare my interest, as I have been one of the eight members of that committee from its inception. The most significant aspect of the report is embodied in its title, Meeting Carbon Budgets—The Need for a Step Change. To draw an analogy that comes comfortably to an Australian, the simple fact is that we are falling behind the run rate—not just the run rate for 2050, but for 2022. It is understandable, but unfortunate. It essentially derives from the gap between the Government’s sincere aspirations and the fact that many of the consequent actions run up against political difficulties. Let me give the House four examples.
My first example is nuclear energy. In 1997, the amount of electricity on the grid coming from nuclear had just slipped below 30 per cent. Today, it is below 20 per cent, and we have heard of the difficulties of ramping it back up. Of course nuclear has problems, as does, essentially, every method of generating energy. On the other hand, expert opinion—the Government have come round to this view more recently, but the lag will linger—sees it as a necessary component, along with other things, in the medium term. It was a difficult issue to deal with because it lay on the fault-line between old Labour and new Labour.
My second example is wind power. My noble friend Lord Krebs has already pointed out that wind power—and I shall not take a detour to respond in detail to the jeremiad we have just heard on the subject of wind power—is not the answer, but it is part of the answer. Those who feel it is a blot on the landscape may do well to read Ruskin on the Monsal Dale railroad and reflect on that as they walk on what is now one of the treasures of the dales. The noble Lord reminded us that other countries—Denmark and Germany—are doing markedly better in this respect. The Committee on Climate Change has had a little study done on how Germany is doing much better than we are in insulating houses. As he said, and as I shall not further elaborate, part of the answer is that Germany has a more interventionist approach—almost shading into a command and control thing—whereas we are still too committed to what Jonathon Porritt, in his vivid prose, would call the fundamentalist neoliberal financial orthodoxy. It has its merits, but there are other ways of getting things done and some things that other countries are doing better.
My third example is the one I find most upsetting. We, like other countries in the OECD and elsewhere, have a massive stimulus package, and properly so. However, it is fairly generally agreed that if one rates it as a green package, it can be put generously by saying that it is not in the top half. One specificity that I find frankly incomprehensible was the scrappage package for older cars, the £2,000 intervention to help people trade them in. The CCC promptly suggested that some limit on the grams of carbon per mile should be added. On that topic, the Treasury gave us two fingers.
My fourth example is more general and picks up a theme that has already been sounded by the noble Earl, Lord Selborne. Perhaps some noble Lords are not aware that Selborne is a particularly resonant place to be the earl of because the first serious work on ecology is Gilbert White’s The Natural History of Selborne. The noble Earl is a worthy—not genetic—heir of that tradition. My noble friend Lord Krebs, who I more commonly think of as John Krebs, and the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, reminded us that climate change is only part of a gestalt of problems that roil together and are made up of increasing impact per person and increasing numbers of people. It is curious that we are focused on total impact in the UK and have not talked much about numbers of people. This is a more general question globally, and there are uncertainties about that that are not as explicit in the report as I perhaps would have wished. The current population of Britain is 61 million or 62 million. We do not know; most countries do not know to within 1 or 2 per cent what their population is. Projections for 2050 range from a low of high 60 millions or low 70 millions to a high of high 80 millions, and there is even an EU projection that suggests that by 2050 we will have the highest population. This is not me wishing to set an agenda for the BNP, but it is another issue. It has more general implications for educating women in the developing world and in our own country and empowering them to make non-coerced choices about families.
Ultimately, our trajectory to the Committee on Climate Change’s 2050 target and to sustainable development more generally depends on us all co-operating nationally and internationally in equitable proportions. Unfortunately, an increasing number of studies and experiments on how people co-operate, such as games played by university students as metaphors for addressing a co-operative phenomenon such as climate change, show how easily, “I will if you will” slides into, “I won’t if you won’t”.
This, as many noble Lords know, is Darwin’s year, and I have given more lectures than I care to remember on that. My standard Darwin lecture, which I will not inflict on the House, is about Darwin’s great unsolved problem, the remaining puzzle of how we became a co-operative group once we had got bigger than bands of closely related hunter-gatherers. It is a problem that underlies much of the discussion, and it leads me—this is a bit of a leap—to the conclusion that in many ways, given that we have no evolutionary experience of acting today on behalf of a seemingly distant future, voluntary bodies and NGOs are none the less more effective in delivering such things than are the more process-oriented machineries of government.
Others have made many requests of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, but my one request is that we give a bit more consideration to distributing some of the money for initiatives to some of these voluntary bodies. The Ashenden Foundation, with which I have no association, made a particularly favourable impression on me. It has an annual awards ceremony in which it has a hierarchy of awards to primary school kids—so you hear six and seven year-olds talking about what they have done to try to sensitise their fellows to being less wasteful—up through secondary school and on to local councils. There is an understanding that if you get one person in a street to make their house more energy-secure, you will generate demand for the whole street. It needs a fairly minimal subsidy to get that kind of ball rolling. This echoes a theme that I went on about at excessive length in the debate on HIV not long ago: how much more effectively we could be acting on sexual health if we gave more of the money to voluntary bodies.
My third and final point is that we need to stop thinking about the unwelcome question of the costs of these actions. In the world that we are heading towards, the actions recommended in the climate change committee’s report and accepted by the Government and which will produce the step change, uncomfortable, awkward and difficult though some of them may be, will have net benefits to the UK in energy security, food security and other respects, regardless of whether other countries are shouldering their burden. It will put us ahead of the curve for a future that will be different from the past, and where those who act early will benefit.
My Lords, it is entirely apposite that this debate is taking place at the same time as the meetings in Copenhagen. Whatever happens there, everyone recognises that there has been a tremendous change in global attitudes towards the risk of climate change; 192 countries are meeting there, and no fewer than 100 heads of state are attending.
I join noble Lords in paying homage to my noble friend Lord Stern. I know that in technical House of Lords terms he is not my noble friend, but he is noble—is he not?—and he is a friend and colleague in the context of the London School of Economics, of which I am also a member. He has had a tremendous impact in raising world consciousness about the dangers that we face.
In this country, as other noble Lords have remarked, we have been slow to introduce effective climate change and energy policy. Across the industrial world there is a cluster of avant-garde states that we lag behind, including Germany, as has been mentioned, Denmark, Sweden and even France, which gets nearly 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear. With the Climate Change and Energy Acts, the Government can no longer be accused of not having seriousness of intent, but now the hard part starts. Ambition has to be brought into line with achievement, a truly formidable task.
As the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has already said, the climate change committee’s progress report recognises that when it uses the term,
“the need for a step change”.
I think we are talking about a revolution here. We are talking about a transformation of our society and our economy that is probably as far-reaching as the original industrial revolution. We have to think through the implications of all that, and we have to do so against the background of climate change, which is not a take-it-or-leave-it issue. You can say, for example, that global poverty is a terrible thing, and if the level of it is the same in 2050 as it is now, it will still be a terrible thing. But climate change is not like that; every hour, week, month and year that we fail to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions going into the air—they are still climbing on a global level—we meet a future that leads to a potential catastrophe because, as has been mentioned, once the emissions are in the air we know of no way of getting them out again.
The sheer scope of these changes requires a new political framework. We are talking—several noble Lords alluded to this—about a return to planning; to something like a national plan. When we do so, we have to ensure that we do not make the mistakes that were made in the 1960s and 1970s when planning was in vogue.
I have four main comments on the committee’s report. The first echoes what other noble Lords have said: there are huge areas of contingency in all the policy innovations covered, especially when we are looking at targets relatively near at hand for 2020. It is like a spread bet. I am sure that most noble Lords will not be familiar with spread betting; in such a bet, you have to get a whole range of outcomes right—and you have to get all of them right if you are going to achieve your end. This is the case with the report; it reflects the fact that we start from so far back.
Everywhere you look, that is the case. Some previous wind power projects have either been aborted or delayed for as much as 10 years. We need a big change in respect of planning permission and other things. Three new nuclear power plants are envisaged but planning permission for Sizewell B took something like six years, so a terrific change is required there. The report notes:
“Currently there are no electric cars and plug-in hybrids commercially available in the UK market”.
The point has been made about CCS. We do not really know whether it will work or how available it will be commercially, and there are already quite big “not in my back yard” issues around CCS in several of the few plants that exist across the world.
I was reflecting on what one can do about this. It is not the fault of the committee; it is due to the fact that we start from so far behind the lead states on all this. Two things occur to me. One is that we could be more radical in one or two areas to make up for potential shortfalls in others. One is the area noted by the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, the one where we know we have the technologies and where we know we can make a big difference quickly: energy efficiency and insulation. I suggest a more radical attack on that. We are talking about a national plan here. Therefore, it should be taken to the people; it should not be introduced from on high, as it were, because the co-operation of citizens will be needed if there is to be any chance of success.
Secondly, I have objections to the form of the report, which essentially uses an additive or wedge approach. You get a certain proportion from this technology, a certain proportion from that technology, a certain proportion from this one, a certain proportion from lifestyle change, and so forth. The main problem is that the implications of each of these for all the others are not properly traced out. For example, new forms of taxation are mentioned at many places; they have to be put together and their overall implications assessed. If you recognise that we are talking about transformative change, you have to look at this holistically; you have to look at the impact of everything on everything else. I do not know what the noble Lord, Lord Stern, thinks—he may disagree—but it seems to me that even though the term “low-carbon economy” is readily bandied around, we do not really know what it will look like. We need to do a lot more intellectual work on it. It cannot possibly be an economy of the sort we have now, just with some renewable technologies grafted on. These sorts of transformations are pretty profound and therefore have implications for everything —employment, welfare, fiscal systems, skills training, and so forth. I see a huge task for economic, social and political theory in trying to work out what an overall low-carbon economy would be and how it would relate to active industrial policy, because it is plain that we must move back to that.
Thirdly, having spent some two years immersed in the literature on this, I find it hard to believe that we can achieve the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that we need without any sacrifice. Basically, we are living in an unsustainable civilisation and are coming up against the limits of that sustainability. Climate change is the most dramatic and radical expression of that, but it is more generic too. We have to take account of the discussion of growth and GDP and their connections with welfare, which has received quite a lot of prominence in recent years. We should be discussing the Sarkozy report; after all, a cluster of prominent economists worked on it, including Joe Stiglitz and Amartya Sen. In a previous debate on the gracious Speech, I drew attention to the work of the Sustainable Development Commission, which has been mentioned. Whichever way you look at it, the various reports produced by the Sustainable Development Commission, especially Tim Jackson’s book Prosperity without Growth? merit attention. He is right when he says that we do not have a macroeconomic sustainable economy, and we have to do a lot of intellectual work on that too.
So far as I can see, we are looking for a different model of economic and social development. This will also apply to China, India and large developing countries. We accept that they can develop as we did, at least for a few more years, but at a certain point there will have to be a new model of development, and we have to pioneer what that would be.
Fourthly, I have a specific question for the Tory Front Bench. I stress that I do not in the slightest mean this as party-political point-scoring. My view is that climate change is not a left/right issue; I am very pleased that there is a consensus across the parties in supporting the Climate Change Act and the Energy Act. My point concerns the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Krebs. When we were talking about a national plan, transformation and a guiding role for the state, the state will appear everywhere in effectively implementing the provisions of the report of the Committee on Climate Change. I take the liberty of quoting what it says about the electricity market, which I think is perfectly true. It says that,
“no other country has relied on a fully liberalised electricity market of the type that we have in the UK to deliver investments in low-carbon generation”.
This applies to all areas of the document. We are talking about the return of the state, and in a big way. How will the Conservatives reconcile the need for the return of the state in what, after all, are big structural areas in our economy and society with their proclaimed intention to strip the state down?
My Lords, in thanking the Minister for introducing this debate, it is only natural that I, like everybody else, should pay tribute to the Committee on Climate Change which has generated the report that is the background to all that we have heard. As always when I take part in one of these debates, I am impressed by the breadth and depth of experience which constantly confirms my feeling of privilege to be a Member of this House. Even my noble friend Lord Reay, whose contribution and approach to the subject are totally opposed to mine, made an important point. He drew attention to the vulnerability of our energy supplies in this country at this time, due in no small part to the dilatoriness of the Government over the past decade.
That said, we have a very serious subject to debate today. I want to step back from the report for a few minutes in order to look at the background in a bit more depth. The problem which the report addresses on a purely national level, as so many other noble Lords have said, is part of a very great international problem. In the end, every other country in the world must face the issues that we face today. Even those countries in the less developed world, which think that the whole problem is the problem of the developed world—and to a certain extent it is—cannot solve their problems and aspirations today without taking the same sort of steps that we will have to take. If they do not, climate change will not be arrested if, as we in the developed world run down our greenhouse gas emissions, countries in the less developed world simply increase theirs. That is not a solution: it is a recipe for a continuing risk of disaster.
The implication that lies behind this is that the technological answers that we find have to be capable of development across the globe: if they are economic here they will be economic across the globe, and if they are not economic here they will not be economic across the globe. I will return to that point in a little while.
My second point is one that the Minister has touched on already, although very indirectly, when he said that we would have a debate some time in the new year on the implications for 2050. The focus of the report, quite naturally, is where we are now, what we can do now and the start of the process. The focus is inevitably short because there is too much consideration, in my view, of 2020 issues which have been established as a target by the European Community. But the critical target for this country and across the globe is the 2050 target, which might suggest some rather different, more radical approaches from anything we are doing at present.
I have said before that the shape of the 2050 economy can already be predicted in broad scope. By then, our 80 per cent reduction on 1990 levels implies, quite clearly, that only essential emissions will be acceptable after that date—emissions that can otherwise not be avoided. One could begin to list them. I declare an interest as a farmer, because agriculture is essential if we are to maintain our food production. We cannot do without livestock, and regrettably, that means greenhouse gases. We cannot do without the smelting industries that provide our metals, nor cement manufacture. I suspect that we cannot do without aviation and shipping although those can, like every other aspect of the economy, become more energy efficient.
That implies that the whole of the domestic sector, the whole of our industrial and commercial sectors and the whole of our land-based transport sector have to have zero emissions. We need to think about the technologies that will make that possible. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, thinks a great deal—and I have every sympathy with him—about anaerobic digestion producing gas, but that is but a step in the process. The gas can be used to produce electricity and post-2050 electricity will be the energy source that we use almost universally. There is a question mark over road transport, which I will not go into now because I have before. That is the background to where we are. One of the step changes we need to make is to stop looking at the 2020 targets and look very seriously at the 2050 target and the international implications of that.
We should not overcomplicate the issue. I hear so much about what needs to be done in the domestic sector. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said that if you want to produce a top-quality energy-efficient house, the additional cost of doing so is £17,000 on the average home. But we have 23 million existing houses that have to be adapted and the cost of doing that is probably not that dissimilar if you are to do it to the highest quality. But I can make my home zero emission very simply for far less. All I have to do is use immersion heaters for my hot water system, put space heaters in my rooms and cook with electricity and my home has zero emissions. That might cost me £2,500.
Of course, that depends on my electricity supplier being emissions free, but we will have to make the electricity supply industry emissions free anyway. I wonder whether we should not focus our finance and resources entirely on making sure that that is what happens and not worry quite so much about the domestic consumer. The domestic consumer already has responsibility for the energy efficiency of his own home and will have to make his own decisions. There was a time when I was responsible for the whole of the built estate for Essex County Council and a major consideration was the question of energy efficiency. Energy projects went in and out of programmes with amazing rapidity depending on the wildly fluctuating state of the then economy. We need to recognise that the important thing is that the decision to invest—and energy efficiency is an investment—belongs to the property holder and property owner and we should not take it away from him.
I have two questions for the Minister. One is almost a complete digression, but it has an important aspect to it. First, nuclear power is at the moment the only greenhouse gas-free energy source that we have in this country that is not dependent on the weather, which is an important criterion. Can the Minister give us any encouragement about the position of applicants with planning applications for nuclear power stations coming forward so that once the planning policy statement is approved and the planning commission is at work, there will be applications immediately for consideration? Going back to what was said by my noble friend Lord Reay, that work should really have been done last week.
My second question is slightly different and not intended as a red herring. Under the European Commission’s environmental directives, if one interferes with an environmentally sensitive directive of major international importance, one has an obligation to replace the interfered-with assets as part of the project. The greatest difficulty with this process arises particularly in relation to the Severn barrage—the Severn estuary being the second most powerful potential electricity generator at the moment. We may not see how to undertake that scheme at present, but the time may well come when we can. We need to bear in mind that if we fail on the climate change initiative in toto, the Severn estuary will be ruined anyway, by rising sea levels and rising temperatures. Would it be worth approaching the European Commission for a derogation from the obligation to replace environmental assets where necessary in order to prevent the catastrophic change that is possible if we do not get the environment under control?
My Lords, on first reading the Committee on Climate Change’s latest progress report, I found it an impressive document. It was broad in scope and very detailed. But the more I dug into it the more troubled I became. Below the surface there are serious questions about the foundations on which it has been constructed. There are questions in four areas—the framework created by the Climate Change Act 2008, the policy responses at EU and UK level, the estimate of costs and finally the scientific basis on which the whole scheme of things rests. I will consider each in turn.
Unlike many of those involved in the climate change field, I have no pecuniary interest to declare, but I am a founder trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which seeks to bring rationality, objectivity and, above all, tolerance to the debate.
I have long been in the camp of what might be called the semi-sceptics. I have taken the science on trust, while becoming increasingly critical of the policy responses being made to achieve a given CO2 or global warming constraint. First, let us look at the Climate Change Act, which has been highly praised, even today, as the most comprehensive and ambitious framework anywhere in the world—a real pioneering first for the UK. However, it has serious flaws. It starts by imposing a completely unworkable duty on the Secretary of State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, even though many of the actions required lie outside his control. It would have been better, as the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and I argued, for the duty to be connected to what the Secretary of State can control, such as his own actions and policies, and not the outcome, which he cannot.
In the Act’s passage through Parliament, the target was raised from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, with little discussion of its costs or feasibility. It is a simple arithmetic calculation to show that if the UK economy continues to grow at its historic trend rate, we will need, only 40 years from now, to produce each £1,000 of GDP with only 8 per cent of the carbon we use today. That is a cut of 90 per cent. Many observers think that this is implausible. A recent report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers reported that the rate of improvement in carbon intensity/productivity would need to quadruple from the 1.3 per cent achieved in the five years up to the recession to around 5.5 per cent. It would need to be even higher at the end of the period to make up for what the noble Lord, Lord May, calls falling behind the run rate.
Professor Dieter Helm has pointed out that the measurement system used in the Kyoto framework and in the UK’s carbon accounts is a misleading guide to what is really being achieved. The carbon accounts use the territorial method—that is, the emissions from UK territory. In this way, the UK is able to claim that CO2 emissions have been reduced, but that is a misleading way of measuring a nation’s carbon footprint and its impact on the world. It should include the carbon in its imports. If this was done it would show that we are going backwards, since we would be forced to take responsibility for the manufacturing that we have outsourced to such countries as China but are still consuming. The current method is, of course, politically very convenient as it allows us to label China as the world’s largest emitter. The embedded carbon calculation is, I accept, far more complicated, but it is far more honest.
Another flaw in the framework is that the targets are unconditional. It is a legal duty, irrespective of what other countries achieve. Some, including me, argue that there should be two targets: one of which is a commitment, and a higher one which we will argue for internationally but only undertake as part of an agreement. Ironically, this is precisely the approach that the EU is taking with its 20 per cent reduction target by 2020, which would be raised to 30 per cent as part of an international agreement. The danger is that by going it alone we could face a double whammy, paying for decarbonising our own economy, yet still having to pay for the costs of raising our sea defences if others do not follow suit.
Secondly, let us consider the specific policies that have been adopted. Current EU policy follows two inconsistent paths. On the one hand, the ETS seeks to establish a common price for CO2, against which various competing technologies can be measured. The market share of each is determined by the relative costs. This is attractive to economists, since it allows the cost per tonne of CO2 abated to be equalised at the margin, thereby ensuring that the cost of achieving any CO2 target is minimised. The problem is that, despite its theoretical attractions, the ETS is failing. It provides no clear signal on the price of carbon on which investors can base their decisions. The committee, in this report, estimates that the ETS CO2 price in 2020 will be around €22 per tonne. The committee has rightly identified the central contradiction in its own report: the carbon price will be too low and too uncertain to stimulate the low-carbon investments needed to validate the committee’s projections.
At the same time, the EU is following a different approach under its 20:20:20 plan—to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2020, with 20 per cent of energy coming from renewables. In this way, it predetermines a market share for a technology—renewables—rather than letting the merit order decide. The danger is that in pressing to achieve this target, which implies that over 30 per cent of electricity generation will come from renewables, some renewables capacity will be created which will be more expensive than other responses.
There is also a lack of clarity about the true cost of wind power, once we factor in the cost of retaining a large amount of underutilised conventional capacity, and the extension of the grid. The noble Lord, Lord Reay, has said more than enough on that so I do not need to follow that line of argument.
There is illogicality in the treatment of nuclear energy in the climate change levy. It is ridiculous that nuclear power, as a low-carbon source, is still in the taxable box. For 50 years, a major experiment has been conducted just 20 miles off our coast. France has generated three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power. The French believe that it has been a huge success, delivering electricity which is secure, cheap and stable in price. France’s carbon intensity is 0.3 of a tonne per $1,000 of GDP, compared to 0.42 in the UK, 0.51 in Germany—so much for it being a market leader—and 0.63 in the US. However, the French option has barely been considered in this country.
As part of the EU plan, 10 per cent of road fuel is mandated to come from biofuels, but by the time this was enacted the credibility of first-generation biofuels had collapsed. Finally, our policy framework lacks balance. It is almost exclusively focused on mitigation through CO2 reduction, The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has argued for what it calls a MAG approach, with effort being committed not just to mitigation but to adaptation and geo-engineering.
Thirdly, there is the issue of cost. All we had to go on at the time when the target was set more ambitiously was the estimate by the noble Lord, Lord Stern, of 1 per cent of GDP. Many people were sceptical at the time and probably even more are now, including, it seems, the noble Lord, Lord Stern, himself. It was reported in the press last week that he now thinks that it might be 2 per cent, but could rise to 5 per cent. I hope he will clarify this when he speaks to us shortly.
In the document that we have before us, the committee says that it previously estimated that costs in 2020 would be about 1 per cent of GDP. That is consistent with its view that it might get to 2 per cent by 2050. In the new report it simply reaffirms the 1 per cent figure in just one paragraph in 250 pages. That is it. I have to say to the noble Lords, Lord Krebs and Lord May, that I do not think that that is adequate. It is difficult to relate these figures to what we are observing on the ground about the difficulties and costs of bringing on stream different technologies such as offshore wind and CCS.
One of the problems bedevilling the debate is the lack of transparency over the huge cross-subsidies that are being created by the renewables obligation and the regime for feed-in tariffs. There is no assurance that their extent is commensurate with the benefits in CO2 abated. My electricity costs me 11p per kilowatt hour. If I erected a wind turbine, I could sell the power I produced to the grid for a whopping 23p. I think I would go out and buy a gizmo which linked my inward meter to my outward meter. That excess cost is averaged over the bills of consumers as a whole, but how much is it in total, or for individual consumers? Here I differ from the noble Lord, Lord May. The whole issue of cost must be given far more attention. The Government cannot ask people to make radical changes to their lifestyle without being more open about the costs that they are being asked to bear.
I accept that “do nothing” is not the right option. Some measures, such as energy efficiency, heat recovery from waste and biomass, and stopping deforestation are probably justified on their own merits. More nuclear power, which in turn would open the way for electrification of our transport fleet, would enhance security of supply. Other measures may be justified as pure insurance, given the uncertainty that we face. But what is badly needed is a consistent metric that allows us to judge whether any given objective is being achieved at minimum cost. The recent book by Professor MacKay, the newly appointed scientific adviser at DECC, provides an excellent starting point. I also very much welcome the intervention by the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, debunking the waste hierarchy and the act of faith that that embodies.
There is the issue of the science, which I had previously taken as given; but many people’s faith is being tested. We are often told that the science is settled. I suppose that is what the Inquisition said to Galileo. If so, why are we spending millions of pounds on research? The science is far from settled. There are major controversies not just about the contribution of CO2, on which most of the debate is focused, but about the influence of other factors such as water vapour, or clouds—the most powerful greenhouse gas—ocean currents and the sun, together with feedback effects, which can be negative as well as positive.
Worse still, there are even controversies about the basic data on temperature. The series going back one, 10 or 100,000 years are, in the genuine sense of the word, synthetic. They are not direct observations but are melded together from proxies such as ice cores, ocean sediments and tree rings.
Given the extent to which the outcome is affected by the statistical techniques and the weightings applied by individual researchers, it is essential that the work is done as transparently as possible, with the greatest scope for challenge. That is why the disclosure of documents and e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit is so disturbing. Instead of an open debate, a picture is emerging of selective use of data, efforts to silence critics, and particularly a refusal to share data and methodologies.
It is essential that these allegations are independently and rigorously investigated. Naturally, I welcome the appointment of my old colleague, Sir Muir Russell, to lead this investigation; a civil servant with a physics degree is a rare beast indeed. He needs to establish what the documents really mean and recommend changes in governance and transparency which will restore confidence in the integrity of the data. This is not just an academic feud in the English department from a Malcolm Bradbury novel. The CRU is a major contributor to the IPCC process. The Government should not see this as a purely university matter. They are the funders of much of this research and their climate change policies are based on it.
We need to purge the debate of the unpleasant religiosity that surrounds it, of scientists acting like NGO activists, of propaganda based on fear for example, the quite disgraceful government advertisement which tried to frighten young children, the final image being the family dog being drowned—and of claims about having “10 days to save the world”. Crude insults from the Prime Minister do not help.
The noble Lords, Lord Krebs and Lord May, and their eminent colleagues on the CCC have a choice. They can take the policy framework as given, the policy responses as given, the costs as given, and the science as given, and then proceed to churn out more and more sophisticated projections, or—as I hope—they can apply the formidable intellectual firepower they command and start to find answers to many of the unsolved questions.
My Lords, this is an important time to be discussing the first report of the climate change committee. It is a great pleasure to follow the very cogent analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull.
This report was produced with commendable speed. I declare my interests as a professor of climate modelling at University College, a director of an environmental company and an active member of two NGOs. Over the past 10 years the temperatures over the land areas of the world have been rising steadily; indeed, over China—as it reports—they have risen by 1 degree in 10 years, a remarkable rate, so the 4 degrees expected in China by 2100 may well be exceeded. The UK, thanks to ministerial intervention—the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, was present at that time—publishes temperatures over the land areas of the world, unlike most countries and the IPCC, which present data over the land and the sea.
The constant global average temperatures over the land and sea for the past 10 years are due to one of the periodic, but huge, fluctuations in the oceans’ temperatures when cool water is brought to their surface, and this cooling affects the global climate. We are probably now moving again into the El Niño phase when the surface waters warm and the climate changes. When this happened in 1998, some leading United States climate scientists, who should have known better, erroneously hailed the sharp rise in global temperatures at that time as a signal of global warming, and that has caused some of the subsequent confusion. Indeed, the IPCC 2001 report could have been clearer on that point. Parliamentary aficionados with long memories may remember that in 1971 Prime Minister Heath blamed inflation on the rising price of cattle feed due to the El Niño phenomenon, so even economists should believe in this phenomenon.
At a recent conference, Met Office climate scientists stated confidently that the long-term rise of global warming would be seen in annual temperatures as we moved forward. I share with other noble Lords the belief that vigorous debate on this is very important. John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty that opinions and practices, particularly those central to government policies, should be questioned and debated.
The urgency of dealing with climate change still needs to be debated. However, my criticism—no other speaker has made this criticism in the debate—is that, even in this fortnight of the Copenhagen conference, people are right to be somewhat sceptical about the real commitment of Governments and leaders in this and many other countries. Why is the heating in buildings still set so high? By contrast, in Japan in the summer people now turn down the air conditioning. As noble Lords know, the Japanese Prime Minister no longer wears a tie. They call this “cool biz” in the summer. In the winter, people in the Mitsubishi offices wear jerseys, and they call that “warm biz”. However, these symbolic changes are absent elsewhere.
I return to the report. Its central recommendation is for the UK to press ahead with non-fossil energy sources—wind and nuclear. However, I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Reay, that gas is a very important part of our energy, and has a lower carbon impact than coal. Not everyone may know that Denmark has a significantly higher carbon use per head than the UK because it uses coal for 80 per cent of its energy—only 20 per cent is wind—and there are, I believe, seven pigs per person in Denmark, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will know. This leads to a very substantial carbon impact. I believe that the House of Lords kitchens use Danish pork. There has been a debate on that matter.
The important point about wind is that we should certainly focus on wind energy offshore. Again, I support the views of the noble Lord, Lord Reay, on that matter. However, as a fluid dynamicist and meteorologist, one notes that the highest winds are often very close to the coast on a lee shore, as sailors well know, so there are aesthetic and planning problems. There is still a lot of science and engineering to overcome in the design and operation of wind farms. However, the reliability is significantly increasing, so the slightly pessimistic estimates on that of the noble Lord, Lord Reay, may well be vitiated shortly. However, the major worry about wind—others have commented on this—is that with climate change there will be substantially more periods in the summer with very low winds, and these will extend over large parts of north-west Europe. But the wider the area covered by wind machines, the likelier it is that at least some parts will be in a windy environment in these extreme conditions, so we need wind energy but we also need back-up systems of nuclear power stations. In France in 2003—I say this to show the danger here—and in Germany many of the nuclear power stations had serious difficulties in operating as the rivers heated up and their water levels fell.
The Government, with the support of the Conservative Party, and, as I hear—this is confidential—the support of 45 per cent of the Liberal Democrats, are now strongly promoting nuclear, although I am surprised at how long it has taken for this consensus to emerge. When going round the country, talking to groups, I have certainly noticed that wherever there is a nuclear power station, there is considerable enthusiasm for having another one—for example, in Middlesbrough, which has been afflicted by the loss of its steelworks. I hope that Middlesbrough will push ahead with new nuclear.
There are two ways in which the new energy policy and the work of the Committee on Climate Change could be improved. First, it should be by considering the integration of mitigation and adaptation policies, as the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, and my noble friend Lord Giddens mentioned. I hope that I am wrong in my impression that economists find integration a difficult concept. Many environmental economists have made this point. The noble Lord, Lord Stern, will speak after me, and he may deny this canard. However, the fact that we have the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, on both committees will enable us to keep this integration.
For example, in the Netherlands wind machines are placed on the dykes, which are constructed to avoid flooding and sea-level rise. If you put a windmill on a dyke, its cost is reduced because 40 per cent of a wind machine is the foundation. That requires, even in Holland, two government departments to get together. It was quite a struggle for them to do it, but they have done it. If you fly into Rotterdam you can see all the windmills on the dykes. That does not happen in the UK, although it may happen on the Severn barrage.
This assumes that the UK knows where it wants its coastal defences to be. There is no clarity on that, except as regards the preservation of London. That also affects the planning of future nuclear power stations along our coasts, which are clearly the places where they should be. Again, an integrationist policy may be needed in which nuclear power stations’ massive foundations could usefully be part of coastal defences.
There is another aspect to nuclear power stations. They provide warm water. It is well known that in Essex—the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will know this—they help the oyster farms in Bradwell, and a member of the Conservative Front Bench involved in the fishing industry makes use of the warm water from Gravelines nuclear power station for breeding fish.
The most significant contribution to integrated policies would be to establish district heating in housing near power stations. That was the initiative of Woking borough, which, as many noble Lords will know, is the exemplar in the UK. It reduced energy by about 50 per cent and carbon by 70 per cent over 10 years in all the buildings and structures owned by the council, and district heating through combined heat and power was one of its methods. This only goes to show that intervention can be local as well as national, and I endorse the remarks of other noble Lords on the importance of a directed approach. The other important point is that the scheme was local. Globe and other NGOs mentioned this afternoon are working with many local groups to enlarge target-setting measurements, not only of temperature and pollution but to demonstrate to communities that working for climate change also helps their environment. It was one of the tragedies of the recent document by the Prime Minister on the future of Britain that he mentioned climate change but not the environment. The two are intimately connected.
The Government should be integrating their actions and policies on climate change mitigation as regards sustainable economic growth. Perhaps the Government should even consider delaying some of their installation plans for wind and nuclear, until the UK has the manufacturing capacity to carry out much of the work in the UK. At present, if there is a massive drive in this direction, it looks like it will all come from imports. The UK does not have a steel plant to make the forgings for the nuclear power stations, nor the manufacturing plants to construct the tall towers of wind machines, although I understand that we will have a new plant for the fabrication of blades. However, as I learnt recently, Sheffield and Wales continue to have world-class steel technologists and the know-how.
The last time that there was a surge of building power plants in the UK was in the 1960s, as the noble Lord, Lord Reay, said, when I worked for the CEGB, and I was a trade unionist there. All the plants were built in the UK and exported. This is a critical moment for the UK, where we have enormous investment potential; but where do we have the industry to do that? There is no doubt what Mr Sarkozy would do, but will Mr Brown and my noble friend Lord Mandelson? Unless we do this, the message to students and engineers will not be as positive as it should be.
We need an imaginative leap, as well as this revolution, in the presentation of the urgency of this issue. I was going to ask how many people in the Danish big building will be wearing jerseys this week. We must somehow connect with people, but we must also think strategically and politically in leading forward to new economics and lifestyles. The revolution mentioned by my noble friend Lord Giddens is exactly in the right direction.
My Lords, I warmly welcome the report of the Committee on Climate Change and I thank noble Lords who have made kind comments about the Stern review. The climate change committee is doing its job. It is charting a path and is holding the Government to account. It is doing that, as can be seen in its recent progress report, with a clarity and quality of analysis that we should warmly welcome. It is an excellent model for other countries, as is the cross-party support for the work of the committee. This is mostly about private investment. That is a long-running story, and private investors need to have the confidence that the rules will not suddenly change and that there is a broad shared understanding. That is an important part of what we have seen in the UK.
The report, as a first progress report, sets a strategy and lays out key indictors. It has done that clearly, but it has also sent a clear message to us all that we need a very strong acceleration. It is called a step change in the report. We have been reducing our emissions by less than 1 per cent per annum. We have to increase that figure strongly to 2 per cent or 3 per cent. As the Minister said, that is consistent with the low-carbon strategy that the Government set out in July 2009, but the climate change committee has sent a strong and important message that we have to move very fast if we are to have any chance of achieving the most sensible targets that have been set.
The good news is that we can see how to do it. We can see the technologies and how rapidly they are developing. It is hard to give a talk on this subject without having with your pockets filled with the business cards of people who are making new discoveries. Even if only 20 per cent of those are sane and 80 per cent are whacky, we still have a rate of technical progress that is enormously encouraging.
We can see the economic policies, too. Regulation and standards will be part of the story. But in large measure this is about correcting a market failure associated with not paying for the damage that you do when you emit greenhouse gases. This is about making markets work well; it is about policies that correct markets, work with them and promote the right kind of private investment.
What will it cost? We estimated in the Stern review that to achieve concentrations of less than 550 parts per million of CO2 equivalent, it would cost about 1 per cent of GDP. I now argue, and have been arguing, that we should stay below 500 ppm, and that is why it may cost us a little more—perhaps 2 per cent of GDP. That is equivalent to a one-off 2 per cent increase in prices. You shift over, do things differently, it is a bit more expensive, and that is why it is a one-off cost in increased prices across the economy as a whole. That is significant, but surely it is something that we can absorb. As we learn over time, those costs will reduce, and we are learning rapidly. Those are the estimates that I have been working with. In response to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull—my friend and former colleague in the Civil Service—if he looks at other estimates such as those of International Energy Agency, McKinsey or the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, he will find that most estimates are lower. However, we should not see these as costs and burdens, but as investments of great creativity and enormous importance.
The main focus of my remarks is on COP15—the Conference of the Parties No. 15 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which has already begun in Copenhagen. I believe that, given what is at stake, it is the most important international gathering since the Second World War. I should declare an interest in the sense that I will be at Copenhagen for the second week, working very closely with the European Commission. I am an adviser to President Barroso, as a member of his so-called high level committee on energy and climate change. I shall also be working very closely with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who is speaking on behalf of the African Union, and principally with the Danish authorities in trying to put a good agreement together. I also declare an interest in that I sometimes speak and advise on this subject, including to HSBC and IDEAglobal, but I have no shares in these or any other companies, and I am not a director of any company, be it connected with climate change or anything else.
What about Copenhagen? What are the stakes that we are playing for? We have heard from the distinguished scientists here today. If we do nothing and allow emissions to accumulate, they will reach around 750 parts per million CO2 equivalent by the end of this century. The level is already at around 435 and we are adding two and a half per year. Therefore the figure is going up and, with business as usual, we will add at least 300 parts per million over the course of the century and will reach 750 parts per million. That implies roughly a 50:50 chance, although of course we do not know these things for certain—this is about risk management and probabilities. However, we would have roughly a 50:50 chance of being either side of 5 degrees centigrade—a level that this planet has not been at for about 30 million years.
In pre-industrial terms, which are the benchmark here, the planet has not been at 3 degrees centigrade above the norm for about 3 million years. We, as humans, even on a very generous definition of homo sapiens, have been around for about 200,000, and we have never seen anything like that. The temperature reached 5 degrees centigrade lower quite recently—in the last ice age, about 10,000 or 12,000 years ago. The ice sheets came down to a latitude roughly where Watford is and people lived closer to the equator. These kinds of temperature increases rewrite the physical geography and therefore the human geography of the world and thus dictate where people can live. A rise of 5 degrees centigrade upwards would have the same effect. It would reconfigure the coast, the rivers and the track of hurricanes. Hundreds of millions—perhaps billions—of people would have to move, and that would lead to severe global conflict. Those are the stakes for which we are playing.
What about the other route? What if we go for low-carbon growth? We can see some of that and will discover lots more of it along the way. I believe that the transition over the next two or three decades will be the most exciting period in economic history. It will seem bigger than the introduction of the railways or electricity; I agree with my colleague at the LSE, my noble friend Lord Giddens, about that. What does low-carbon growth look like? It is more energy-secure and is cleaner, quieter, safer and more biodiverse. Surely the choice is crystal clear. The noble Earl, Lord Selborne, made very clear the appropriate risk analysis in this area. If we go ahead and ignore the warnings of the science, it will be very difficult to back out of the position that we find ourselves in because of the longevity of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2. If the risks turn out to be lower than we currently think them to be and we go down the more sensible route, we will have a more energy-efficient society, we will have an economy and new technologies, and we will be more biodiverse. On any commonsensical analysis of risk, surely the path to follow is clear.
What should we be looking for in Copenhagen? We should be looking for strong results on emissions reductions and on finance. On emissions reductions, we should be looking for a path that gives us roughly a 50:50 chance of being either side of 2 degrees centigrade. Above 2 degrees centigrade, the risks, as the scientists have taught us, get bigger and bigger. So what do we have to do? The answer concerns initiatives. We are currently at a level of around 47 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year, and these numbers matter. The figure would have been about 50 billion had it not been for the slowdown in the world. We need to get that figure down to about 44 billion tonnes in 2020, well below 35 billion tonnes in 2030 and well below 20 billion tonnes in 2050. That target for 2050, or a good bit lower than that, is what my noble friend Lord Krebs described as around 2 tonnes per capita, compared with the 10 or 11 tonnes per capita that is currently the case in the UK. That is the measure of the required radical change.
The good news here is that, if you add up the pledges that people have made over the past few weeks and months, you will see that we are not far away from that target. We could get a good result in emissions reductions in Copenhagen if everyone moved to the upper end of their ranges and if we found just 2 billion or 3 billion tonnes more. We could reach the emissions reduction target, but more worrying is where we are on finance. This is a profoundly inequitable phenomenon. The rich countries are responsible for the bulk of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere but the poor countries will get hit earliest and hardest, although we will all be very badly hit unless we control emissions in a responsible and sensible way. However, the situation is deeply inequitable. We must support the developing world in the action that it takes. I have argued, and continue to argue, that that support should be at least $50 billion per annum by 2015 and at least $100 billion per annum by 2020. The target of $50 billion per annum by 2015 equates to 0.1 per cent of rich-country GDP. How can we tell the people of the world, and how can we argue to ourselves, that climate change is the most important challenge that we face and not find 0.1 per cent—one in a thousand—of rich- country GDP to provide assistance to the developing world?
The priorities should be adaptation in vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa, strong support for the battle against deforestation, and strong support for the development and deployment of new technologies in the developing world. I believe that we can find new sources of finance but we must make sure that they are additional to development aid. We do not want any funny accounting which takes out of one pocket and gives to another. We can do all those things, particularly if we find new sources of finance, which might be auction revenues, carbon taxes, taxes on international aviation and maritime taxes. We can look at using the special drawing rights that have just been created in the International Monetary Fund and we can look at Tobin taxes. We can, and should, investigate a whole range of new instruments to make sure that the money that the rich world offers for 2015 and 2020 is truly additional.
I welcome the start-up funds, which are now under intense discussion and will be discussed in the European Council at the end of this week. I trust that tomorrow in the Pre-Budget Report we will see strong additional start-up finance in the next two or three years that will enable us to provide strong support for the developing world. We will be looking to tomorrow’s Pre-Budget Report to take the UK on to a path which could, in about 2015, mean $3 billion or £2 billion of support per annum, roughly in proportion to its share of rich-country GDP.
I believe that we can get a strong result in Copenhagen. I believe that the support of the British Government, acting directly and through the EU, will be very important. I welcome and support the fact that the Prime Minister is urging the EU to go to its 30 per cent target. Finally, I believe that the Committee on Climate Change has shown that country by country, community by community, we can make the changes that will make a difference here and that, in doing so, we will find a creative and attractive path to low-carbon growth.
My Lords, I mentioned to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that my name was intended to be on the list, but owing to a misunderstanding it was left off. As it happens, I have set out my analysis of this question in this week’s House Magazine, so I can be relatively brief.
The debate has been interesting in that it has been rather polarised—highly polarised in some respects. No harm in that—I would say that it is rather healthy. That is how we often make progress. I find myself, very scientifically, exactly half-way between the two polar opposites. I am afraid that I cannot join my noble friend Lord Giddens in paying homage to the noble Lord, Lord Stern. I think that his report was overpraised. It did not solve the Rubik’s cube on the economic side; I am nearer to the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, on that. A good deal of the report was wishful thinking, but I repeat that I am not a member of either of the two main camps. I support the EU position in Copenhagen. Surely the China, India and USA offers are largely referring to reductions in their carbon co-efficients of growth—now called carbon intensity of growth. I do not think that they are talking about absolute reductions at this stage, as the noble Lord, Lord Stern, implies.
One thing that should be coming through our debate much more strongly—this is a point that I made strongly in our debates on the Climate Change Bill, when the role on the Front Bench was taken by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker—is that if there are to be painful trade-offs, which there will be, growth and employment must be at centre stage much more than they have been. I am dubious about the Stern economics, if I am allowed to call them that, because there is a low discount rate to make the arithmetic work in 2050, but we are taking a normal market discount rate for infrastructure projects in the here and now and trying to do it. There are huge contradictions that we may have to live with in how much subsidy we have to pay for carbon capture and storage. If it needs €100 a tonne to make it work, which I think is true—it is only €20 at the moment—the job is being subsidised by 80 per cent. There are many other investments that we are subsidising by 80 per cent. That is funny economics, if that is how we are going to reconcile the arithmetic.
My second point is that we are not in a two-part world—north and south—but in a three-part world. The OECD is no longer the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. Non-OECD has already overtaken it and by 2030, non-OECD at 26 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases will be double that of the OECD. The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, asked us to imagine everyone in the world producing two tonnes. Well, dream on. Some people might call that a nice communist principle with everybody having the same, but that is not the real world. We have to have price and tax rises to choke off demand for carbon intensive forms of production; we have to subsidise these new technologies and agree a financial—
I did not think that I was technically in the gap because my name should have been on the list. It was not my fault that it was not there. Anyway, I shall shortly draw my remarks to a close, but I want to make one more point.
The rising world population should be brought into the debate. I can say to the right reverend Prelate that I know that the Vatican is against discussion of family planning, but if the world population keeps doubling, ipso facto that doubles the amount of carbon being produced. Whether it is in a coral atoll or anywhere else in the world, we should bring the issue of population prominently and centrally into the debate.
This has been an authoritative debate, and I thought that one or two speeches were particularly good. The noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, mentioned the consumption measurements that we discussed a little in the reply to the Queen’s Speech. I look forward to him supporting my Private Member’s Bill, which is exactly on that subject, if it ever reaches a Second Reading, which I hope it might. Maybe we could postpone the election beyond March, and it might make it.
The noble Lord quoted Dieter Helm, who we always seem to quote when we have a debate on energy. There should be a rule that if someone gets quoted so many times, he gets the right to become a Member of this House so he can say what he thinks himself, rather than be quoted all the time. I suspect that many of us quoted the noble Lord, Lord Stern, several thousand times before he became a Member of this House, and now that he is here we are all rather more careful of the quotes that we attribute to him. It is so much better to hear him say what he thinks himself rather than hear various interpretations around the House.
I was interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, had to say. I am very good—we all are—at looking at sustainability indices in the European Union and proving that Britain comes bottom. But with the pig-per-person index from Denmark, perhaps we will come to the top of the league, with Denmark, which is normally the good guy, at the bottom. Maybe that example can be a key performance indicator for the Minister in future.
I thank the Minister and the Government for making sure that this debate took place, because it is important. What better place to debate it, as one-third of the membership of the committee comes from your Lordships’ House? I was particularly delighted that two members could contribute today. I was concerned about the noble Lord, Lord Turner, taking up the appointment at the Financial Services Authority so soon after his Committee on Climate Change role. I thought that that would change, but I am pleased that it is not the case. That is excellent.
All sides of the House during the passage of the Bill were concerned that the resources of the Committee on Climate Change and its authority should be increased. The reports so far have shown that. In many ways we wanted the committee to be not just a bean counter or an auditor of climate change; it could have been under the draft Bill, but it became much more a way of enforcing and ensuring that the facts came through. It was in some ways a nagging spouse to government—a nanny to the state in many ways, and certainly a friend of Parliament in bringing the Government to account on this important area. The report achieves that very well.
I looked back at one of the previous reports on the first carbon budgets, which came out almost a year ago, I think. I started to go through it, but as it is about 480 pages I gave up after about page 5. I then turned to the executive summary, which was 17 pages long, gave up on that and went on to the A5 12-page version, which listed the key messages. That listed—this returns us to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Giddens—the things that we have to do to solve climate change for the UK. They were dead straightforward. One was to make sure that we made buildings efficient. The second was that we decarbonised transport. The third was that we decarbonised power supply. The next was that we decarbonised another area—I forget which. The last was that we decarbonised industry—concrete producers, and so on. If we did all that, it would cost us between 1 and 2 per cent of GDP.
That was very easy to deliver—or so it sounded. It did not mention that there would need to be any change in lifestyle. That comes back to the issue: what does the decarbonised economy look like? Can we actually get away with it for free, or for 1 or 2 per cent of GDP—a cost, but without fundamental lifestyle changes? That is one area in which we in the political classes do not like to delve too much, because at that point it becomes even more difficult in elections and trying to take public opinion with us. At the moment, we have to stay at the level of saying that we can achieve it without fundamental lifestyle changes. I am an optimist on that: I think that maybe we can deliver that, but the jury is still out. That may be part of the work that the Committee on Climate Change will have to do in future.
This is the first annual report. The committee does not even have the official carbon production footprint figures for 2008, so it cannot consider them. Its major work is looking more generally at the issues and what the lead indicators might be. We look forward to seeing those next time. It points out strongly the slow progress that has been made to date, which has already been mentioned by several noble Lords. It also mentions that not only has progress been slow, but that most of that progress has been in non-CO2 gases. It is CO2 itself where the big challenge will be from now on. That will be the difficult area, whereas the non-CO2 gases—the nitrous gases, the CFCs, et cetera—are the ones that we have already addressed.
The report states that there are two key areas. One concerns power supply and the other concerns homes and efficiency. The key messages to me from this report, which have been mentioned by many noble Lords, are about the real risk that during this recession we take our eye off the ball. It lays down two challenges to the Government on which I would be interested to hear from the Minister. The first is that the Government will not take the existing targets as given, but will stretch them and make them more difficult—I will be interested to hear whether the Government will listen to that message. The second is that any gains or savings made above budget in the first period should not be able to be banked in the second period. I would be interested to know whether the Government share that view.
This has been mentioned, but the report also says that the carbon price by 2020 will probably be only about €20, rather than the €50 that it should be—although I notice on my weekly update by e-mail that the carbon price has risen to €15 from €13 in the past week. I do not know whether that is a good sign going up from Copenhagen.
The other point is investment, which partly comes down to carbon price but also involves the credit crunch, which the Minister mentioned in his opening remarks. The report states very clearly—this is analysis that I have not seen before in any detail—that unless we change the way that pricing structures work, business risk requires that the investment will go towards conventional, understood, low-risk carbon technologies, not renewables or even, probably, nuclear means. There has to be a way in which we give greater certainty, through tax, feed-in tariffs or carbon price, to ensure that those investment decisions are right.
On transport, the thing that perhaps took me aback most in the report’s statistics was that it was expecting a quarter of a million electric vehicles by 2015—five years away—when we do not even have an electric car infrastructure that I could use if I purchased one such car now, although I do not think that many are available. By 2020, that is supposed to rise to 1.7 million. I do not understand how that is going to be delivered. It is a major lifestyle change in our motoring habits, and I do not understand how it will work.
On neighbourhoods, the report makes it very clear that what we are doing at the moment on energy-saving is not working. There was a lovely phrase, damning by a certain amount of praise, about the CERT programme being particularly successful in distributing low-energy light bulbs—it pretty well said that that was all that it had achieved. Whether or not that is true, if there is anything on which we need a step change, it is the message of street-by-street, neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood investment in replacing the 12 million non-condensing boilers, and insulating the 10 million roof spaces and 7.5 million cavity-wall dwellings. That is one of the big challenges that the report lays down. I am not saying that the finances or the accounting of that is easy, but that must be one area where a major change takes place.
The other message—and the last one that I want to mention from the report—concerns carbon capture and storage. Again, from these Benches, I strongly recommend that the Government move into energy performance rules for power stations. Although we are heavily committed to the CCS programme, it is extremely slow in moving forward and in companies willing to come forward to take the financial risks. Yet our coal-based economy, which will still be an important feature of energy generation, is an issue that we need to address.
The climate change committee has today also brought out the air traffic report which my noble friend Lord Redesdale mentioned. It is staggering. It is really just a matter of arithmetic and the Government’s own targets that if aviation emission levels remain the same in 2050 as they were in 2005, they will comprise 25 per cent of the total. I wonder whether that is the right balance for the economy, but perhaps that debate is for another time.
I am delighted that a Member of this House, the noble Lord, Lord Stern, will be at the centre of the Copenhagen negotiations alongside President Barroso and others. It is a very good thing to hear. However, we should not underestimate what needs to happen at Copenhagen. Some 119 nations are there, whereas Kyoto involved only 47. At Kyoto they were looking for reductions in the developing world of 5 to 7 per cent, whereas we are now looking for reductions of 50 per cent globally in a period which is not much longer and with global emissions peaking in 2020. That is a huge agenda.
Britain has its part to play in this, and with Europe it is part of the integrated European climate change negotiations. That is difficult to deliver. Unlike some of my colleagues, I think that it is right to approach this by negotiating on 20 or 30 per cent. I think that negotiations are the right way forward. However, it is a tremendous challenge. The climate change committee should be thanked for this report, which lays out the issues well. I particularly look forward to next year’s report when we have a few more data. The challenge is there. Exactly as has been said, Copenhagen is probably the most important international conference since Bretton Woods and Yalta at the end of the Second World War.
My Lords, I crave your indulgence as this is my first speech from our Front Bench. I feel slightly like a student giving a dissertation; will I or will I not pass under such scrutiny from the eminent gentlemen in this room? It has been a privilege to listen to the debate and to the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Stern, which was of course brilliant, and to witness again the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, whose tennis I have already witnessed. In the past three weeks, I have heard two very illuminating speeches on this subject. I also congratulate the noble Lords, Lord Krebs and Lord May, who, as authors of this report, have produced a fine document which we value on these Benches. I also thank my noble friends on this side of the House for their contributions. I look forward to hearing the Minister, whom I have admired for his great skill, with which he has dodged bullets and sometimes defended the indefensible. He will have to do so again now. However, I thank him for allowing us to debate this.
My own modest interest is that, as a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, I have sponsored a carbon footprint research programme, and I am chairman of the Harnham Water Meadows Trust, which is on the doorstep of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury. However, I shall confine myself to the report.
With the backdrop of Copenhagen, this report is an indictment of the Government’s claim to be a global leader. It states unambiguously:
“Emissions reductions in recent years have been very modest”.
The Government have for 13 years wasted many opportunities, and the Committee on Climate Change is still trying to persuade them to act on matters of importance on which there should be no disagreement. Yet the Government seem to be doing very little about it.
The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, says that the Government are better on process than on action. Under Labour, we have seen an 11 per cent increase in emissions from transport and a 12 per cent increase in coal generation over the past year alone. Indeed, under Labour our reliance on fossil fuels has actually grown. As the noble Lord, Lord Stern, said, from next year, if Copenhagen is successful, our emissions must be cut by 3 per cent per annum. The Government have come nowhere near that figure so far. We are currently languishing, as the report tells us, at 1.74 per cent, below the 2 per cent target. As the noble Lord, Lord May, said, the Government have fallen behind the run rate.
It is therefore no surprise that the Government cannot keep their own house in order. Government buildings became 18 per cent less efficient between 2006-07 and 2007-08. What steps are the Government taking to improve the embarrassing performance of their departments? The Government have also failed to meet their manifesto emissions target, and their renewable energy target and have failed to set a microgeneration target. What radical change of policy are the Government planning to set them on course to attain those targets?
I fully endorse the committee’s warnings that the Government must not take any cuts in emissions that result from the recession as a sign of success in their policies. I hope that the Minister will agree with the committee’s conclusion that the rosy figures for last year indicate a cyclical trend rather than underlying improvements and that the Government will not try to claim credit for reductions that are entirely down to the recession.
This is an excellent report. My right honourable friend David Cameron has led the way in forming concrete policies to address climate change and cut emissions; many of those policies are endorsed in the report. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, our role is leadership, which, as the report states, has not been forthcoming from this Government. That is a pledge from our party. The report highlights just how damaging to the long-term outlook of this country this dependence on carbon-heavy energy resources is. The Government have taken a long time in implementing even pilot studies around carbon capture and storage. The necessary legislation is only just now before Parliament. The report also makes it clear that we cannot rely on the price of carbon remaining high enough to drive CCS development. Our policy of ensuring that every new power station meets a carbon emissions performance standard is critical if we are to avoid short-term fluctuations in pricing mechanisms, setting back our long-term drive to cut emissions.
We also find it difficult to understand why the Liberal Democrats walk out of tune with this report and continue to oppose any nuclear power stations, despite their low-carbon advantages. It has taken a very long time to extract the necessary planning, which we quite understand, but it has now arrived and I hope that the Government will move forward rapidly in this area.
If we have a modest disagreement with the report—and it is modest—it is that it suggests that there may be scope for up-front financing. We think that there is scope for such financing, and we would immediately introduce a “green deal”, giving every household up-front funding worth £6,500 for efficiency work, which would be paid back out of future savings. How do the Government intend to meet their carbon credits without up-front pricing support for work such as solid wall or loft insulation? Our green deal is a practical solution to that, and I hope that it will be embraced by the Government.
We also fully support the report’s concern for energy-efficient appliances, but we ask the committee to give consideration to the fact that the average boiler lasts only 10 years, whereas the committee is talking about replacing them in the next 12 years. We hear rumours, which we find encouraging, that the Government intend to give a little support to people to upgrade their boilers. If that is true, we would be very grateful to hear from the Minister.
The report makes very interesting reading on the steps necessary to reduce emissions from cars. For example, it identifies the need for a reliable network of public charging points, as referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Giddens. What are the Government going to do to roll out that network and keep up with their international competition? The difficulties facing the scheme are a timely reminder that everything possible must be done at an international level as well as at a more local one. We watch with interest to see whether Copenhagen makes significant progress, or whether it will just be a talking shop.
This report shows, and many here agree, just how much has yet to be done to ensure that the UK plays its proper part in developing and implementing a low-carbon economy. The Government have, I am afraid, grandstanded and spun a tale and have failed to deliver either consumer incentives or long-term strategic goals for investors. They must now show, as the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, said, some form of leadership. This report calls for a step change. What will that step change be?
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to respond to this very interesting debate. I should like to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Marland, on his debut at the Dispatch Box, but I do not share his rather bleak assessment of progress being made. In the light of various comments made recently on climate change by members of his party in the other place, the veneer of greenness is slipping a little from his party. It was a nice try for him to ask me to anticipate the PBR, but I shall have to resist that temptation.
Many comments have been directed at the climate change committee. It is very valuable to have this debate in anticipation of the Government’s formal response in the new year. But I am sure that this might encourage the committee to think about how it can have further dialogue with parliamentarians in the months ahead. I am also sure that this has been extremely useful. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, on lifestyle changes. I guess we all hope that this can be done without difficult changes in lifestyles, but none of us is quite convinced of that. I would welcome the committee giving further advice. All of us will have experience of public bodies proposing changes. In Birmingham, the introduction of city centre car parking charges is an interesting example of the tension between action required and public support. In the end, we will not achieve lifestyle changes without public support. Advice in that area would be gratefully received.
I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, that it was right that the UEA decided on an independent review. We are all looking forward to the outcome of that. It is right to repeat what I said at Question Time today. We think that the global temperature analysis is robust. The work of UEA is supported by two separate independent analyses in the US. The evidence for climate change also comes from many other facets and observations, but it is right to see the outcome of that review.
The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, wondered whether we would live to see the outcome of our own damage to the planet. He said that if we did not, certainly our children and grandchildren would. The noble Lord, Lord Stern, really made the point about how can we take that chance, which was very much a call to arms. The noble Lords, Lord Krebs and Lord May, said that a step change is needed, which was the conclusion of the Committee on Climate Change. The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, posed a question as to whether the market and individual choice alone would deliver the step change. I believe that that would be so up to a point. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stern, that we have a responsibility to make the market work. But of course the Government have a strategic leadership role and a duty to intervene. One of the most visible signs of that is recent legislation. The Energy Act, the Climate Change Act and the Planning Act are examples of strong government intervention. The incentives that have been brought into place in relation to the development of renewable energy is another example.
In terms of driving forward the policies, it is interesting that very few noble Lords mentioned carbon budgets. They are likely to be the most powerful driver of policy change going forward, whether in relation to energy performance in government buildings or through targets. I thought that the party of the noble Lord, Lord Marland, was opposed to targets and so I would be interested to hear his comments on that. Carbon budgets are very important in forcing policy changes. I think back to my former department, Defra. The point was made earlier about the agricultural sector’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Essentially, carbon budgets will force the pace of Defra having to work with the agricultural sector to do all that can be done to reduce emissions. It will of course be the same for my own and other government departments as well. I believe that carbon budgets will be a powerful determinant of change.
We will learn lessons from other countries. The feed-in tariffs for microgeneration that are due to come forward in April are a good example of where we have learnt from the experience of others. But I would say that this country has shown leadership. I mention the Climate Change Act 2008 itself, the offer that we encouraged Europe to put on the table at Copenhagen, the fact that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister was the first global leader to signal that he would be going to the summit, and that in offshore wind power we are the leading nation, a point to which I shall return later. I mention also wave and tidal, the introduction of smart meters, and our leading role in carbon capture and storage. I must admit that I am a little tired of hearing about the leadership position of the Germans. When you go to Germany, it is interesting to note that many Germans are deeply concerned about their energy policy and wish that they could have followed our decision in relation to new nuclear build. We need to be careful not to underestimate this country too much.
My noble friend Lord Giddens talked about the tremendous change in global attitudes and of the formidable challenges we face in this country. He is also absolutely right to say that the history of planning in this country in relation to energy has been nothing short of a disaster. But the changes that have been made in the Planning Act 2008 and the development of national policy statements, which is the subject of parliamentary scrutiny at the moment, will lead to a sea change. On CCS technology, we have an opportunity to play a leading role and I am confident that we can do this. We have the competition, we are working on the financial package and we have consulted on the levy to be taken forward, so we can do a lot in this area. My noble friend also talked about the need for a national plan and for it to be taken to the people, as well as for an active industrial policy. I agree with him that the Government and the state have a more important role to play in the future. I could give a number of examples of where we are playing that role at the moment.
The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, made the important point that 2050 is the critical target date. I want to reiterate that we are working hard on the period 2030-50 and we hope to publish the results of that work next year, which I am sure will be the subject of a debate. However, he is right to stress the importance of this work.
The noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, went back to a point that we debated as the Climate Change Bill went through—what he described as the laying down of an unworkable duty on the Secretary of State in relation to the 80 per cent target by 2050. Again, I come back to him with carbon budgets. Because government departments have to take responsibility for emissions in their own sectors, I think that this is the way to drive forward change and why it is right that the Secretary of State accepts that responsibility.
I am not going to comment much on carbon price, although I understand the issue. It is our hope that the tightening of the cap, which has already been agreed, and the influence of Copenhagen, which we hope will bring Europe back to the table to discuss a tougher target for 2020, will have the necessary impact on carbon price. It is our preference to go down that route, but of course I understand how important this is for those who need to invest large sums of money over the next few years.
I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Clark on his outstanding work as chair of the Forestry Commission, an appointment which I think comes to an end in 24 hours’ time. He made very important points about the contribution that forestation and reforestation can make and about the decision to embark on nuclear new build. I want to reassure my noble friend, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and other noble Lords that we see huge potential in the reinvigoration of the nuclear sector in this country.
My understanding of the current intention is that the companies which signal an interest in developing new nuclear would build up to about 16 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity. The national policy statement names 10 sites as being potentially suitable for new nuclear development by 2025. It states that, looking at the mix of energy going forward over the next 20 years, it is envisaged that about 24 gigawatts of low-carbon non-renewable energy will be required, and there is nothing to prevent the nuclear sector from putting in applications that would meet that figure. I hope that will give a positive and powerful signal.
I am hopeful, my Lords. Clearly we need to go through the process of scrutiny of the national policy statements and, following that scrutiny, adopt any changes. However, already two reactor designs are going through the generic design assessment process by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to identify regulatory issues at an early stage. I hope that when the time comes the companies involved will be ready to go as quickly as possible. The noble Lord will know that one company intends that its first nuclear plant will be up and running by Christmas 2017. That is the kind of timetable that we want to fit to.
My noble friend Lord Hunt of Chesterton reminded us of the importance of engaging young people and ensuring that we have the skilled people ready to take advantage of the nuclear and other energy sectors. I agree that that is very important.
On the issue of costs and funding, the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, warned me of the great risk of quoting Stern in front of Stern. I know and understand that there are concerns about the cost to the UK of measures to reduce our emissions. However, our analysis is consistent with the review of the noble Lord, Lord Stern, and what he has said today. The important point is that, as the Stern review stated, it is the high cost of inaction which persuades us that it is right to expend resource at the moment. As the noble Lord, Lord Stern, said, we should see this investment as part of an exciting transformation which will provide secure, cleaner, more efficient and safer energy. I say to my noble friend Lord Hunt of Chesterton that, yes, there is great potential in the nuclear supply chain, and we are keen to work with industry to ensure that this country makes the most of it.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury gave an impressive description of the role of the Church of England in relation to climate change, both through encouragement and practical action. It was good to hear of the work that the Church is doing in its own schools. I should like to leave it to him to respond to my noble friend Lord Lea on population issues, which I suspect we will be debating in the months ahead.
I should say to the noble Lord, Lord May, that the right reverend Prelate’s remarks emphasised the point that the noble Lord made about voluntary organisations. I was at the Halesowen scout hut on Saturday with the Deputy Speaker of the other place, Mrs Sylvia Heal, where 40 or 50 people turned out for a two-hour discussion on climate change. It was a fascinating debate which showed that people are ready to engage if we give them the opportunity.
I note what the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said on banking. We strongly support the principle of banking where it encourages early action to reduce emissions. Rewarding it by allowing it to be counted against future targets is a discretionary provision under the Climate Change Act and a decision on whether the provision should be used can be made at the end of each budget period.
Some important points were made on transport. I know that there is concern that we have not been able to make enough progress, but we have agreed to provide an incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles by 2011. We are also providing £30 million to help lead cities and regions put in place electric vehicle-charging infrastructure. I well understood the point about the need for infrastructure.
The noble Lord, Lord Reay, raised electric-generating capacity, as have other noble Lords in the past. Yes, major investment is required. I remind noble Lords that we have more than 20 gigawatts of electric generation in construction, consented or seeking consent. Yes, there are issues about nuclear, timing, CCS and reliance on wind. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Reay, and my noble friend Lord Hunt that we think that wind has an important role to play in the next decade. We are confident that we can ensure that we have the required capacity. It will be possible to generate significant amounts of electricity from wind for most of the time, which will reduce fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions. I understand the point made about the grid. It is important that we have an enduring grid access regime and it is our intent that that will happen. We are placing particular focus on ensuring that grid access is not a barrier for the up-to-40 gigawatts of offshore wind power that we will need.
On whether we can take advantage of renewable energy in terms of technology and manufacturing, I am confident that we will hear some positive announcements about manufacturing capacity in this country. I remain confident that there is great potential also for tidal and wave power. I noted the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, about Severn tidal power. We are going through the process of evaluation of the shortlisted schemes. We will probably be in a better position to come to a conclusion next summer. I understood what the noble Lord said, although I am not sure that the EU is in a position to agree to the derogation that he wishes for, but it is clear that compensatory action will figure largely in any evaluation of Severn tidal.
The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, made an important point about boilers. I am well aware of his views on the potential for anaerobic digestion and am glad to continue discussions on it. He mentioned the renewable heat incentive and the work that we are doing in relation to renewable heat. We are aiming to develop details of the scheme, on which I hope we will be able to consult shortly.
On aviation, I think that, given the time, I should say just that the committee’s work has been published today. It will warrant considerable reading and, no doubt, debate in the not-too-distant future. We need also to discuss shipping, because it tends to be ignored in many debates. We should not ignore emissions from the shipping industry. It would be good to see more leadership from the industry in that regard.
I agree with all the comments made about the importance of energy efficiency in the home and businesses. I understand the concept of whole-house energy efficiency schemes. We are looking at how they can be financed. I understand why noble Lords are attracted to a home-by-home, street-by-street approach. I often think back to my days as a councillor in Birmingham in the 1970s when we developed the concept of enveloping, which involved the complete refurbishing of older inner-city houses. It rescued much of our housing stock and proved to be outstandingly successful.
The noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, raised adaptation. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, is chair of the adaptation sub-committee. Having had a little hand in that, we have every confidence in it. Adaptation is vital. Some climate change will happen, and we need to prepare for it. The Government can ask public service organisations to report on how they address the risk from climate change and what their adaptation strategies will be. The Government have been working very hard on this. The culmination will be a report that will be laid before Parliament. All departments are to produce adaptation plans by spring 2010. The point is clear: given the inevitability of some climate change, it is vital that public bodies start planning now for 20, 30 and 40 years ahead. I do not think there is any question about the integrity of the Hadley projections; they provide a fantastic source of information on the probabilities of the kind of climate we will face. From that, we can work through what needs to happen in relation to roads, buildings and defences and where we should be building things. It is important work.
The noble Earl, Lord Selborne, made some important remarks, and I shall make sure that they are considered in our response. His point about biogas energy efficiency was well made.
We are delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Stern, is acting as an adviser to the EU and that he will shortly be going to Copenhagen. We wish him and all the negotiators every success. It is important that we have a strong and fair agreement, that finance is dealt with and, above all, that the UK can show leadership in helping the world community come to a hard, fair and meaningful outcome. Much is riding on the discussions in Copenhagen. It would be foolish to be overoptimistic. There are formidable challenges ahead before agreement is reached, but there are some grounds for optimism. I am convinced that out of it we can achieve the kind of step-change in this country and in the world that the Committee on Climate Change has so wisely suggested we need.
This in an interesting process as we are having a debate before the Government have had an opportunity to make their formal response. On that basis, this has been a good opportunity for us to air some of the issues. I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this splendid debate. We have not agreed on all the issues, but this has been a thorough debate. I hope that the Committee on Climate Change and its members who are here will feel that their report is being treated with great seriousness. We look forward to continued debate on this important area for government, Parliament and the community as a whole.
Transport for London (Supplemental Toll Provisions) Bill [HL]
Reported from Committee
The Chairman of Committees informed the House that, in accordance with Standing Order 150B (Revival of Bills), the Bill had been deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments together with the declaration of the agent. The Bill was presented and read a first time. It was then deemed to have been read a second time and reported from the Unopposed Bill Committee.
City of Westminster Bill [HL]
Committeed to a Select Committee
The Chairman of Committees informed the House that, in accordance with Standing Order 150B (Revival of Bills), the Bill had been deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments together with the declaration of the agent. The Bill was presented and read a first time. It was then deemed to have been read a second time and committed to a Select Committee.
House adjourned at 8.54 pm.