HC Deb 15 May 1989 vol 153 cc7-8
6. Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what was the level of emissions of Co2 by the Central Electricity Generating Board's power stations in 1970 and 1987; and what was the amount of electricity supplied in the same years.

Mr. Michael Spicer

CEGB emissions of carbon dioxide in 1970 and 1987 were 184 million tonnes and 182 million tonnes respectively. Over the same period electricity supplies by the CEGB rose by 23 per cent.; The amount of Co2 emitted by the CEGB per unit of electricity production has fallen over the period by 20 per cent.

Mr. Amess

Can my hon. Friend confirm that the CEGB has no plans to increase emissions of carbon dioxide by 25 per cent., as rumoured in some quarters?

Mr. Spicer

Yes, Sir. I can give that assurance. A number of predictions have been made about future Co2 emissions, but they depend upon what assumptions are made about demand or the future make-up of electricity generation. For instance, a continuing switch from coal to gas or an increase in nuclear power will reduce Co2 levels considerably.

Mr. Anderson

Surely the best way of reducing Co2 is by conservation, by alternative energy means and by ensuring that we can green our cities and plant trees on derelict land to fix the Co22 in the biomass.

Mr. Spicer

As we discussed earlier, undoubtedly one way to reduce CO2 emissions is to engage in conservation measures. We certainly intend that that should be the case. Our main policy to combat CO2 emissions however, has been to encourage a variety of non-CO2 emitting fuels, such as nuclear and renewables and reduced CO2 emitting fuels such as gas and clean coal technologies. Since the Opposition oppose most of those measures, especially nuclear power, it is fair to ask them what they propose to do about it.

Mr. Rost

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, can my hon. Friend confirm the rumour that the Government are, after all, to introduce amendments in the other place to the Electricity Bill to strengthen the obligations to improve energy efficiency and to provide incentives for the production of electricity combined with the marketing of the heat?

Mr. Spicer

My hon. Friend has been pressing the case for combined heat and power for many years and with increasing effect. He will know that a number of measures associated with the Bill greatly improve the chances of CHP and will particularly ensure that it has a fair and even playing field in comparison with other forms of electricity. That is the only assurance—it is a good one—that I can give my hon. Friend about the terms of the Bill.

Mr. Morgan

Some 10 days ago a seminar was held at 10 Downing street on the greenhouse effect. Can the Minister or the Secretary of State confirm that if the Government chose to use the argument that the only way to hold back the greenhouse effect is to switch to nuclear power, 24 nuclear power stations would have to be built by the year 2020—something the British planning process could not possibly provide? Do they agree that it is shocking that when the alternative proposal, supported by most scientific and technical opinion—that energy conservation is a far better way to hold back the greenhouse effect—needs to be pressed on the Prime Minister Jimmy Goldsmith, a friendly neighbourhood billionaire, must be called in and asked to use his influence with the Prime Minister, rather than the Secretary of State?

Mr. Spicer

The hon. Gentleman answered his own question about the planning constraints involved in the construction of 24 nuclear power stations. We envisage that there will be four new PWRs and that each one, with a capacity of 1.2 GW, will reduce CO2 emissions by about 6 million tonnes per year, or about 3 per cent. of the total emissions. That is pretty good.

Dr. Michael Clark

Is my hon. Friend aware that there seems to be a notion about that if a Labour Government come to power, coal will be burnt extensively without any adverse effect on the atmosphere? Will he confirm that 1 million tonnes of coal burnt will produce 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, whether a Conservative or Labour Government are in power, and that chemistry is impartial in terms of politics?

Mr. Spicer

My hon. Friend's logic is impeccable as, I am sure, are his figures. Certainly, the logical implication of the Labour party's policy is that, for the foreseeable future, it intends to base the entirety of our energy on coal technology. That will have a grave impact on CO2, emissions.

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