HC Deb 26 July 1989 vol 157 cc1008-9
3. Mr. Wallace

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information his Department has on the relative sources of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere in the United Kingdom.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mrs. Virginia Bottomley)

Statistics on carbon dioxide emissions for the years 1977 to 1987 from domestic, industrial, transport and other sources were published in the Department's digest of environmental protection and water statistics, no. 11, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Mr. Wallace

I thank the hon. Lady for that helpful reply. It is clear that a substantial proportion of these emissions—up to 16 per cent.—come from road traffic use. Given the Government's projections of increased road traffic, there will be an increase in carbon dioxide emissions from cars until the year 2005. The Minister's answer showed that the causes include energy, transport, industrial and domestic sources, all of which are the responsibilities of different Ministries. What powers are available to her Department to co-ordinate all those sources and to ensure that there is one co-ordinated policy to deal with carbon dioxide emissions? Does she agree that the problem should not be tackled by being dispersed among several Ministries?

Mrs. Bottomley

Having heard the hon. Gentleman's question, I hope that he will pay a warm tribute to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for her seminar at Downing street on climatic change, which was precisely an attempt to draw together the various Government Departments concerned with carbon dioxide emissions. Fifty-seven per cent. of carbon dioxide emissions come from power stations, 14 per cent. from domestic properties and 16 per cent. from road transport.

Mr. Squire

As my hon. Friend mentioned the recent conference, can she confirm that the advice from the Harwell scientists to that conference is that 50 per cent. of the solution to our problems will come from energy efficiency, and some 15 per cent. from nuclear power? Is she satisfied that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) is fully prepared to go along with the outcome and the means of dealing with the problem, rather than merely raising it?

Mrs. Bottomley

I fully endorse what my hon. Friend has said. Energy efficiency has an important part to play, as do land use and the economic pricing of fuel. It is clear that there is a role for nuclear energy—which produces neither acid rain nor carbon dioxide, leading to the greenhouse effect.

Mr. Morley

Will the Minister join me in congratulating the Forestry Commission and the Countryside Commission on their initiative in urban fringe forestry? Is she aware that the pilot schemes are substantially limited by the amount of financial resources available? Does she agree that the extension of those forests will do a great deal to absorb carbon dioxide, improving our environment and providing recreation facilities? Will she give the House an assurance that more resources will be made available to extend that very worthy project?

Mrs. Bottomley

I congratulate the Forestry Commission and the Countryside Commission on that important initiative. More than that, I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment on his initiative in tackling the problem of the rain forests and forestry on an international basis. Although forestry in Britain may have a part to play, deforestation in the Third world is a far more significant factor in climate change.

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