HC Deb 04 June 1997 vol 295 cc384-5
Q1. Mr. Dafis

To ask the Prime Minister what are the Government's main objectives for the United Nations General Assembly special session—earth summit II—in New York in June. [547]

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair)

I shall be attending the earth summit in New York on 23 June, along with my right hon. Friends the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and others. We shall be pressing for action across a range of issues at that summit, including a commitment by this country to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. by the year 2010. That is based on 1990 levels. That is a challenging commitment and demonstrates the Government's commitment to a more green world.

Mr. Dafis

May I suggest that the commitment shown by the Government at earth summit II will be a very important test of the seriousness with which they take the sustainable development issue? May I also suggest that success at the summit depends on the developed world setting an example on sustainable consumption and its willingness to transfer resources in terms of technology and funds to the developing world? Will the Prime Minister at least give a commitment that he will ensure the reversal of the decline in development aid given to third-world countries that, very ironically, has occurred since the earth summit in 1992?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are committed as a Government to raising the levels of overseas aid, but it has to be done in a way that is compatible with the limits on public expenditure that we have set ourselves. I should say that we shall not simply be undertaking action on carbon dioxide emissions at the earth summit. We shall also be supporting the new convention on forests, which will do an immense amount to reduce the destruction of rain forests. We shall also be pressing for measures against pollution more generally and measures in respect of oceans as well.

I should say, too, that measures are already being announced by the Government in relation to domestic policy, which will have a dramatic impact on the environment in respect not just of an integrated transport strategy but of the new environmental task force, which will enlist the support of young people in cleaning up the environment in parts of the country.

Helen Jackson

Four out of every 10 primary school children in my constituency started the school year in a class of more than 30—

Madam Speaker

Order. The substantive question is about the earth summit and supplementary questions must relate to it.

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