§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Lord Renton of Mount Harry
rose to move, That this House takes note of the report of the European Union Committee on The EU and Climate Change (30th Report, Session 2003–04, HL Paper 179).
The noble Lord said: My Lords, there are many things that one does out of duty, even in the House of Lords, that do not give one very much pleasure. But chairing Sub-Committee D, which produced the report that we are debating tonight, did nothing but give me absolute pleasure. I had marvellous colleagues with whom to work, most of whom knew a great deal more about the subject before we started than I did. We had a very good Clerk in Nicolas Besly, and I thank him and our specialist adviser. Fiona Mullins.
I think that frankly we all learnt a great deal more about the subject as we moved along. We ended up a great deal more expert and rather more pessimistic, but it was a very interesting and well timed exercise. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, who I see sitting on the Benches opposite. He was willing to be a co-opted member of the committee and, with his great scientific knowledge, was of huge help to us. Indeed, just the other day he 1294 sent me the Houston Chronicle of 6 February, which includes an article by him with the good title "Fiddling While the Earth Melts".
I said that I thought our timing was very good because obviously the controversy continues. Only on Wednesday last in London, the chairman of ExxonMobil, Mr Raymond, with no apologia at all, said very firmly that the combination of economic growth and population increases alone would mean a rise in primary energy demand of 50 per cent by 2030. That equals 100 million barrels a day of oil equivalent, or 10 times the current output of Saudi Arabia. Two days later, Dr Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a worldwide expert, said that the marine temperature had risen by an average of 0.5 degrees centigrade over the past 40 years. He added:The debate is not have we got a clear global warming signal—the debate is what are we going to do about it".Our committee took the view from the start that climate change was happening and that it was very largely man-made. We took that as given. We accepted that CO2 emissions were rapidly rising but we reckoned that, despite the presence of those like the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, it was not for us to make a judgment of by how much temperatures were rising or how many more parts per million of CO2 were now in the atmosphere. We simply took it that there was a substantial man-made problem.
As I mentioned just now, the view of the committee became progressively more pessimistic as we took evidence from February until June last year. Our view overall as an EU committee had to be that we could not take the whole global view, much as we were tempted to do so at times; we had to continue to ask what the EU was doing about climate change and what more could or should we in the European Union be doing. I think that our headmistress report on the EU at this relatively early stage would be: good start; promising ideas; ahead of the field; should co-ordinate European research into clean technologies; but can and must do even better if we are to survive into the 22nd century.
I shall deal with just a few of the major points in our report and I turn, first, to the question of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. With regard to that, we had no doubt that the EU deserves our praise for forward-thinking and leadership. It is a central element in the EU's programme. At present, it applies only to industrial sectors. It currently applies only to carbon dioxide, but other gases may be included from 2008. The scheme covers all the biggest point source CO2 emitters, and those account for approximately 46 per cent of EU emissions. It makes companies and not member states responsible for reductions. There is no UK register yet. The only country that has a register is Denmark. and that means that at present all the deals are in forward contracts rather than spot contracts. It is a bold scheme—the first multinational scheme of its type—covering 23 of the 28 countries which Kyoto caps.
One of our witnesses from the bank that has set itself up specially to deal in carbon trading/climate change capital called the scheme as good an example as one could have of backing rhetoric with real decisive action. 1295 I think that it is a striking example of effective action being taken at the Community level when 25 separate countries' programmes could not have the same effect. It must be extended globally to include other major developing countries. However, it depends on national allocation plans as the basis. Here, there is a surprising development so far as concerns the UK. Having submitted the national allocation plan some months ago, the Secretary of State at Defra withdrew it and has resubmitted it with a 3 per cent increase. That is now being considered by the Commission. Frankly, I think it is very disappointing that we, having been one of the first to make a submission, should have withdrawn it and come back with an increase which, not unexpectedly, has been very badly received both by the Commission and by other countries.
We emphasised the wish to have stronger co-operation with third countries to promote enhanced technology transfer. That, in brief, is covered by the linking directive at paragraph 38 of our report, and it is also dealt with in Box 2 on page 16. This is a complicated matter and it is only just beginning. But the point behind it is that it allows credits representing emission reductions in, let us say, the developing world to be set against debits in the developed world. If, for example, a German power company persuaded China to build a new electric power station with very low CO2 emissions, that would give the German company credits on its contract which could be offset against carbon dioxide emissions in its German manufacture. It is very complicated and ambitious. A lot of working it out lies ahead, but it emphasises that, potentially, we are looking at an emissions trading scheme that should be global in effect and which would, one hopes, embrace the large developing countries such as China, Brazil and India.
Transport is dealt with on pages 28 to 42 of our report. We emphasise that transport contributes about 25 per cent of United Kingdom CO2 emissions and that road transport contributes about 85 per cent of that. Therefore, it is self-evident that we say that more should be done to develop low emission vehicles.
Aviation accounts for about 11 per cent of the UK's total climate impact and that will rise sharply. A mistake was made in some of the figures that BAA gave us and in many copies of the report, the reference is that aviation accounts for 4.6 per cent. That is a mistake and has been corrected in the copy of our report that is on the web. As we all know, the UK Government, like those of other members states, are pursuing the growth in air travel capacity very hard. I live close to Gatwick and I am well aware of the plans greatly to increase the throughput of Gatwick in the years ahead.
There is a paradox: at the same time that the Government are building more airports and encouraging more cheap air traffic, they are saying that they intend to make the question of climate change and the reduction of the carbon emissions one of their key debating points this year when they are in the G8 and head of the EU.
1296 Aviation emissions is the fastest growing source of emission and will be a major contributor to future climate change. It is interesting that it is judged that the impact of aviation emissions is 2.7 times that of carbon dioxide alone. Unsurprisingly, we came down very strongly on a recommendation that emissions from intra-EU flights should be brought into the European Union ETS as soon as possible. That appears to be a measure that is supported by the Government.
Alternative energy sources are covered in pages 43 and 44 of our report. Our research into them was, it must be said, not deep. We encouraged the EU to look into research into nuclear fusion and encouraged accelerated research into alternative energy sources away from carbon fuels. We did not look deeply at the question of nuclear power, but my own view, and not necessarily that of the committee, is that we will have to revisit the question of building new nuclear reactors in this country. France produces 75 to 80 per cent of her electricity from nuclear power. It seems to me that it is going to be very difficult to meet our targets for CO2 reductions without doing that.
Finally, we considered how to get the public involved in this—this is a matter always in the mind of the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, who I am delighted to see in her seat today. How do we engage the public in worries about CO2 emissions and what is likely to happen to them, their children or their grandchildren? The historian in me sometimes looks back to the very obvious example of climate change, which is Genesis Chapters VI and VII and the floods that covered the mountaintops. As noble Lords will remember:The dove found no rest for the sole of her foot"—a delightful expression. I wonder what message Jonah received that he managed to get two of every animal and bird into the Ark with him before the flood started.
§ Lord Renton of Mount Harry
Noah! My Lords, I am sorry: Noah managed to do that. What was his secret? Goodness, we need it now. This is the big unresolved question. How do we—politicians, scientists, editors and the media—put over to the public the potential dangers ahead and advise them about what they can do to minimise the damage and to use human inventiveness, the inventiveness of mankind, to overcome it? That is the unanswered question that lies ahead of us.
Moved, That this House takes note of the report of the European Union Committee on The EU and Climate Change (30th Report, Session 2003–04, HL Paper 179).—(Lord Renton of Mount Harry.)
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Baroness Dean of Thornton-Ie-Fylde
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, and his colleagues on the committee for their report and for giving us the opportunity to discuss it this evening. I look forward to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Haworth. I am also delighted to see in her place my noble friend Lady Young of Old Scone, 1297 whose colleagues at the Environment Agency do far more than ever gets recognised. They do an important job in the area that we are debating this evening.
This is an excellent report. It is in the best traditions of this House. The committee gathered the facts and interviewed many experts. Having gathered the facts, the committee analysed them and reached judgments, which are put across in a readable way. Maybe a tabloid edition of the report might be one way of getting the public more involved. I found the report to be one of the most readable documents on climate change that I have seen in a long time. Maybe the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, had something to do with that.
I shall address the issue that the noble Lord spent a few moments on: the EU emissions trading scheme that appears on page 27 of the report. It deals with phase 1, which came in this year. Aviation is covered in that section of the report. The noble Lord spent a few moments talking about the growth of aviation and the growth in emissions that will come from it. This committee has been very wise in the way it has approached it. There are too many people who think that the way to deal with it is to shut aviation down, stop it growing and put punitive taxes on it. That would be severely damaging to the country economically. The way to deal with it is to have a very strict adherence to the European emissions trading scheme, which I welcome and which I hope will become global. For it to work, it is essential for it to become global. We can do what we can in Europe and lead by example, but it has to extend globally. It is also an effective way.
I gather that British Airways is the only airline that joined the scheme at the beginning. I congratulate the Government on the work that they have done in this area. BA says that between 1990 and 2010 it will cut fuel emissions by something like 30 per cent and save about 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Those are very positive steps, which we need to extend considerably.
The Government have made a very welcome statement that in their period of presidency of the EU they will put aviation and the European emissions trading scheme within their agenda. It is a very positive move; I think it is a very brave one.
Part of the problem we have to deal with is very clearly set out on table 22—or is it page 22?—of the report which lists all the nations covered. The European emissions trading scheme has to cover the whole of aviation throughout Europe. Nations have to be included in it; they have to be part of it; and they have to meet the targets which we need to set.
I end this short contribution by saying that at the moment about £1 billion is raised through airport tax, which is paid by people who use aviation. I believe that we are a bit different from Europe—we are an island. Over a third of all our exports by value go by air. So, we have to be careful what we do that will affect our economy. The way to deal with it comes back to this 1298 point about emissions trading. It goes to the heart of the issue and actually forces the industries involved to address the issue.
The report is an extremely constructive contribution to the debate. We are struggling to have a difficult debate, which too many people would prefer was not there and would wish to ignore. But, I must say that something as concise as this is a contribution to the debate. I am delighted that the Government have indicated that they are going to pick up the parts of the report on the emissions trading scheme.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Lord Lewis of Newnham
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, for his excellent and very effective chairmanship of Sub-Committee D. It was a pleasure to be a member of such a committee and I agree that the report, which was primarily due to his efforts, has turned out to be very successful.
Perhaps I may also say that I very much look forward to hearing the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, give his maiden speech.
I should like to comment on two areas that have not been covered or brought into the emissions trading scheme within the UK, which are principally concerned with the electrical industries. These are transport and buildings. John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI, has pointed out that UK industry cut carbon emissions by 6 per cent between 1990 and 2003. During that period house emissions rose by more than 10 per cent and emissions from transport rose by 4.6 per cent.
Transport emissions have virtually doubled since 1970 to 2002. That is the greatest increase from any source of emissions. Transport emissions clearly include aviation, which has been discussed by previous speakers.
In the transport sector there have been encouraging signs of addressing the problem, but these have been mainly for new motor cars with the introduction of a fuel economy labelling scheme and attempts to reduce the carbon emissions by engine design by 25 per cent of the 1995 figure by 2008. In addition, there has been the development—and very much welcomed idea—of the hybrid technology car and the use of biofuels as a carbon-neutral energy source.
However, considering the magnitude of the problem—with over 20 million cars in the UK and approximately 1 million of these being new cars—each year a major programme needs to be mounted to even begin to face the problem. A difficult feature is that much of the pollution occurs from older cars, which often have long half-lives and so present a long-term problem, which at the moment does not appear to be being addressed.
In the case of diesel engines, which often have a life of about 1 million miles, we are looking at the technology of over 25 years ago. Whereas the present engine is relatively benign, the older ones are major pollution problems. 1299 The situation with aviation is even more difficult, as the international nature of much of the business makes it difficult for a single country to legislate for any form of fuel tax. I agree completely with the noble Baroness that taxation is not the answer to this particular problem. That was recognised very early on in the Chicago convention in 1944. Any consideration of emissions from aircraft was ignored. That was also considered but excluded in the Kyoto protocol. Nevertheless, as we discussed, this is a very significant global polluter. In addition to carbon dioxide emissions, water, which is relatively benign on the ground, becomes a major problem when one is dealing with things in the stratosphere, as this then provides a cloud formation which increases global warming considerably.
This topic has been raised on many occasions in this House and in the other place. I was very pleased indeed to see in the Government's response to the report that they have agreed to take this on board during their present presidency of the European Union. I think that this is a very commendable act on their part.
Finally, may I turn briefly to the energy loss from buildings? The Building Research Establishment has recently pointed out the important potential that the present and proposed new building regulations coming from the EU have in providing energy-efficient buildings. They claim that the use of energy in buildings accounts for half of the carbon dioxide emissions in this country. Considering the large housing programme that the Government have under consideration, the incentive to reduce the energy consumption in homes must be great.
The BRE has also reported, in the testing of new houses by air permeability tests, that almost one third of new houses failed to achieve the level required. In many instances there was criticism of the effectiveness of the inspection of the properties and the competence of the building profession. Although it is the local authority that is responsible for the implementation of regulation, the building inspectors themselves have warned that the workload—particularly with the new regulations—will provide them with great staffing problems. It is absolutely paramount that something is done in order to help them in this very difficult situation.
In addition, of course, there remain the problems of the older houses, and older houses represent a significant proportion. They are one third of the total building stock of houses built before 1940. For houses of this nature, techniques have been developed and are being developed, and it is important that we consider these as a significant factor in our energy reduction.
The committee generally accepted the EU approach to the problem of global warming and indeed, as has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, commended them on the leadership role they have played. With the acceptance of the Kyoto protocol, the EU has, to my mind, provided a good lead in implementing a regime that will allow for control of emissions throughout the Union and will doubtless provide a model that can be employed by other 1300 countries. However, we are at the beginning of this story and I feel that there are many problems which still await solution.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Lord Haworth
My Lords, I rise to make this short contribution to the debate on climate change with some trepidation. When the Minister, the noble Lord. Lord Whitty, was General Secretary of the Labour Party, he was my boss. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, the Government Deputy Chief Whip, was my predecessor in my previous post. He relieved me somewhat by leaving at the start of the debate, giving me what I hope was a cheery nod.
I have come here after working for the Labour Party for nearly 30 years, down the corridor in the other place and, for the past 12, as Secretary of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
I should also like to thank, as is traditional, those staff and officers of the House who have kindly helped me find my way around this end of the building and have been welcoming.
Whenever I can, I like to be in the mountains. Perhaps I should mention, in my maiden speech, that I believe that I am the first Member of your Lordships' House ever to have climbed all the Scottish Munros. For me, mountaineering and hill-walking are the best ways of recharging the batteries and refreshing the soul. This may help to explain why I chose Fisherfield in Ross and Cromarty as the territorial designation in my title.
Fisherfield Forest, which contains six of the most remote Munros, is one of the last great wildernesses in Britain and is maintained and cherished as such by Mr Paul van Vlissingen, who owns it. I sincerely thank him for raising no objection to my impertinence in wishing to have this in my title.
In many years of walking in the mountains—not just in Britain but in the Himalayas, the Pyrenees and the Alps—the enormity of glacial melting has become increasingly evident to me. Of course there are no glaciers in Britain, but we did have a small amount of permanent snow throughout the last century, high in Garbh Choire Mor of Braeriach. Two or three years ago, it finally melted—completely. In the Alps and the Pyrenees, the glaciers are in rapid retreat and, in some cases, have disappeared altogether. The guide books are well out of date within 10 years.
However, the most dramatic example for me came in 2002, when I went to Kabardino-Balkaria in the Caucasus to climb Mount Elbrus. Our party spent a couple of days acclimatising by walking up the Bezingi Glacier, which is the longest in Europe. On the lower glacier at least we were following in the footsteps of the 1958 British Caucasus Expedition, led by Sir John Hunt, later Lord Hunt, a Member of this House. The Bezingi Glacier is described in the Hunt expedition account as,flowing for four miles from a high pass on the border with Georgia, before making a right-angle turn towards the north and continuing for another six miles".1301 It was indeed 10 miles long in 1958. Three years ago, it measured about nine-and-a-half miles, a retreat of 800 yards in 44 years. The local evidence was that the pace of its retreat was speeding up.
A month after our return from the region, there was a catastrophic event in nearby North Ossetia when the Kolka glacier collapsed, killing 140 people. The subsequent technical investigation showed that the Kolka incident was both unprecedented in its scale and of considerable wider significance. There is no doubt that the glaciers are melting and that they are doing so at an alarming and accelerating rate.
I welcome the report. It is a mine of information and a model of lucidity. It deserves to be more widely read. I welcome the Government's commitment to putting climate change at the top of the agenda of the G8. I applaud our target of producing 10 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and the aspiration to double that by 2020.
I should have liked to say more about of renewables, especially wind farms, but the shortage of time suggests that I should leave that for another occasion, because I want to say something about the importance of nuclear power. Paragraphs 139 and 140 of the report are relevant here. They state the obvious succinctly:nuclear power generates no carbon dioxide emissions … though there are serious arguments about the disposal of waste".As the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, pointed out, the report notes that French nuclear power stations generate about 75 per cent of their electricity needs, as opposed to our 20 per cent. It concludes with this sentence:The question of further investment in nuclear power should attract more attention in the EU, as worries about climate change increase".I agree. Indeed it should.
In 2020, even if the 20 per cent renewables aspiration can be achieved, which many doubt, where will the other 80 per cent come from? Our existing nuclear stations will be increasingly decommissioned. We cannot have another dash for gas; and surely we will not be building great new coal or oil-fired stations.
Taking the crucial decision to restart the nuclear programme is, I believe, the issue that faces the Government—any government. I hope that this Government will face it bravely and soon.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ The Duke of Montrose
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to rise to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, of Fisherfield, on his maiden speech in your Lordships' House, especially because, as a Lancastrian, he has had the breadth of mind to claim a connection with Scotland in his title, which is situated in Ross and Cromarty.
He has a history of long and distinguished service to the Labour Party, of which he gave your Lordships some description, and he also has a reputation for his enthusiasm for mountaineering. Not so long ago, my family owned a Munro—not a very big one, but it has 1302 always been a popular walk. If I say that it is a landmark celebrated by Robbie Burns, perhaps the noble Lord will know the one that I mean. The debate this evening has proved a good moment for the noble Lord to express his convictions in several fields that he lists as being his main interests and we look forward very much to hearing him many more times in the House.
I join other noble Lords in congratulating my noble friend Lord Renton and the whole of his committee on an extremely comprehensive report that will serve as a good framework for any discussion on how we progress our contribution to the consideration of climate change. My interest, to which I own up, is largely as a farmer and landowner.
The report is especially useful as it highlights the difference between the Kyoto treaty targets, the European Community proposals and the Government's aspirations. The fact that the Kyoto treaty has finally been ratified obviously means that the targets under the first two, for which any shortfall would trigger sanctions, have a much greater chance of being achieved.
I note from Hansard of 22 February that in his Answer to a Written Question from the noble Lord, Lord Judd, the Minister seems confident in our ability comfortably to achieve the 2012 target on greenhouse gas emissions although his phraseology is not quite so confident when it comes to the domestic target for CO2.
Our discussion today of the report is unfortunately somewhat hampered by the fact that it has taken so long to come before the House. This is a rapidly progressing field and a great deal has happened since the committee submitted its findings to print. Events have taken place in the past couple of weeks which have taken matters forward considerably. The report sensibly recommended the precautionary approach based on the publications of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001. As my noble friend Lord Renton mentioned, that has certainly been vindicated by the reports last week of a presentation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science by Dr Tim Barnett. Noble Lords who saw those reports will have noted that to date most predictions have been based on observations of air temperature whereas the Scripps Institution of Oceanography report required the interpretation of over 7 million observations of water temperature in the oceans around the world. The fact that it identified an average rise of 0.5 degrees centigrade represents a far greater accumulation of thermal energy than would have been expected from simply measuring increases in air temperature. Those findings are about to be published in a peer-review journal. Among the conclusions offered—and this in some ways ties in with what the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, spoke about—was that climate warming will alter the snow levels in the American mountains and precipitate a water crisis in the western United States within 20 years. That, along with the other studies on the melting of polar ice caps, is bound to offer an opportunity for the United States to reconsider its stance on Kyoto. As the Prime Minister is making such a focus on climate change 1303 while chairman of the G8, can the Minister give any indication of what approaches the Government are likely to make to the US in that regard?
The nuts and bolts of all these proposals represent an area where there will be many complications. The situation has not been helped by the fact, as pointed out by my noble friend Lord Renton, that the Government have fallen out with the EU on our right to revise the national allocation plan which we submitted last April. It is perhaps not such a good sign that, according to the Times last week, 17 of the 27 EU members have not yet had their plans agreed with Brussels. Part of the quarrel seems to focus around national governments wishing to be too generous to their own industries. Can the Minister tell the House what the reduction target is under phase 1 of the EU environmental trading scheme and whether at present, given the submissions by the countries, it is likely to he reached?
It is interesting to note that some trading in anticipated carbon permits appears already to have taken place in the forward market in European allowances. Trade in the actual allowances is still not possible for our UK industries. It would be good to think that they were not put at a disadvantage by any delay in a way which might affect their underlying economic position. It will be a help to most of those affected by the scheme that the Government published their provisional carbon dioxide emission allowances last week and have stated that any shortfall in the final settlement will affect only the power sector. We are told that the operators have a three-week consultation period to point out any estimated errors. Is the Minister able to say when the allocation of permits will take place; or will the Government feel that final allocation should be delayed until the dispute with Brussels is resolved?
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Lord Livsey of Talgarth
My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, on his maiden speech. As a Welshman I admire anybody who climbs a mountain and glories in it. I found his speech focused and much to the point. I should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, for his chairmanship of Sub-Committee D of which I am a member and for the drive and focus he gave it to ensure that we got through on time having covered almost every aspect connected with climate change under consideration.
I have only five minutes, which is a short time in which to discuss climate change. The main aspects of the report are the evidence, the cause and the recommendations for action.
Some people—especially in the United States—are in denial about whether there is global warming. The best evidence to the committee came from the Government's chief scientist, Sir David King, who said of climate change that it was,the biggest issue for us to face this century".1304 He quoted the American writer, Spencer Weart, who said that about 1,000 expert scientists had demonstrated the nature of the problem and the cause and that,Our response to the threat of global warming will affect our personal wellbeing and the evolution of man, society and all life on our planet".Sir David King went on to say that that was not an exaggeration and that it was a major global problem.
Sir David talked about CO2 emissions. For the past 12,000 years, they had been 270 parts per million; now, they stand at 372 parts per million, the highest that the globe has had for the past 420,000 years. He came out with numerous statistics of that kind. No one should think that further proof of global warming is required. If temperatures go up by between 1 and 2 degrees, as is forecast, between 2030 and 2050, we will see a significant increase in the risk of hunger throughout the globe. An extra 1.5 billion people will be at risk of water shortage. There are many such matters.
Over the past 10 years, I have personally observed abnormal events and pollution. On the east coast of the United States, there is a dense fog of pollution up to 10,000 feet. You can see it out the window of the aircraft. In the mid-west, I experienced unseasonally violent storms that held up air traffic for eight hours. That was not in the normal stormy season. In New Zealand, I saw glaciers that had melted and retreated by two miles since the 1950s and heavy rainfall switching from the west coast to the east coast in the summer. In the UK, in my former constituency, floods predicted to happen once in 50 years have occurred three times on the River Wye in the past 10 years. The houses flooded are now uninsurable. In France, in 2003, I experienced temperatures of 45 degrees centigrade in Bordeaux.
I experienced all those things personally. The cause is easily defined, as we know: it is the burning of fossil fuels and the production of CO2, followed by other causes, such as methane. The committee examined some of the mitigating factors in climate change and some of the solutions, including innovation, research and technical development; voluntary action by the public sector, the private sector and individuals to tackle the problem; monitoring of the changes that are taking place and making decisions about them: education and communications; and EU targets and their achievement.
There are many renewables, as we know. The Government have not paid enough attention to renewable sources other than wind, such as tidal lagoons, biofuels and, in particular, combined heat and power. We had evidence on CHP from Allan Jones, the energy services manager at the most environmentally friendly local authority—Woking Borough Council. He was asked what produced the greatest volume of energy from renewable resources. Without hesitation, he said that it was combined heat and power. Thermal energy is produced as well as electrical energy. Seventy per cent of non-transport needs are for thermal energy.
The report contains a lot of information of that kind. In summing up, I would say that we must change our habits. We need not go over the top, as others have 1305 said. We need a managed transition to maintain a reasonable level of prosperity, while at the same time, taking down emissions to a level that will not damage our own ecology and environment, or that of Europe and the globe.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Lord Bridges
My Lords, the issue is large and difficult, and the basic details of the proposed scheme to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is carefully analysed in the committee's report. We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, and his colleagues for producing such a clear and comprehensive document.
I shall follow a slightly different line of argument because I want to suggest that it is also important not to lose sight of the broader dimensions of the problem when seen in terms of international politics.
A global problem calls for a global solution, which means that all the main players should participate. The Kyoto Protocol is based on that assumption. The difficulty is that the largest industrial economy in the West—the United States—is opposed to joining. That is hardly surprising since the United States is the largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, which is a consequence of the way in which the American economy has developed.
Rich in natural resources, America has spent them in a profligate manner—notably in the successful development of the motor industry in which America has led the way, creating jobs and wealth for the nation as a whole. The American car—a large, heavy and powerful vehicle—has produced jobs and wealth for the Americans. Those of us who have been lucky enough to live in the United States may have succumbed for a while to the attractions of the American car, which enables you to travel from coast to coast, relaxed in air-conditioned comfort.
The US Administration take the view that participation in Kyoto would be unacceptable to American citizens, and I do not find that at all surprising. But I am somewhat concerned by the possible consequences, since it appears that EU support for Kyoto may also attract the endorsement of eastern Europe, including Russia, while failing to win the approval of the United States.
It is not fanciful, therefore, to foresee a global issue of some importance in world politics. If western and eastern Europe agree with Kyoto while China and the United States remain outside, one may ask whether the differences will remain confined to the single issue of energy and pollution. I rather doubt it.
I draw attention to the Chinese attitude in particular. The recent rapid growth in the Chinese economy has altered the balance in the consumption of energy and key minerals. Chinese economic expansion will surely be matched by a growth in carbon dioxide emissions. China may find it difficult to combine her rate of growth with the discipline of Kyoto. Thus, we might see Russia and western Europe in one camp and China and the United States in the other. There is, of 1306 course, no certainty in such matters, but it might happen. If it did, the consequences for global politics could be far-reaching and probably unhelpful.
My plea is that our handling of international policies on climate change should be undertaken with great care, and with an eye on the long-term consequences. We shall, after all, be in the chair of the EU at the critical period of negotiation later this year. Participation in Kyoto by the United States is essential for the stability of global politics if we wish to continue the pattern of relationships that we have known since the Second World War.
The partnership between the United States and Europe is in many ways a natural one. We both draw our strength from the tradition of popular democracy. Other partnerships do not have such a lasting natural base and might not survive the particular problem that gave them birth. It could well lead to a less stable structure in international relations.
It is clear that the presidency that we shall have later this year will come at a critical time. We will have an obligation to lead the European Union on the basis of the agreement that we will have reached in the Council of Ministers. But our overriding interest is in global agreement, not a crusade. If we were to indulge ourselves in that direction, it is likely that the American opposition to Kyoto would harden further. I hope therefore that the Government will, as I would expect, adopt a more measured policy and avoid a potentially damaging division of international opinion into two new opposing groups.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Baroness Billingham
My Lords, thanks are indeed due to the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry. for the good-natured way in which he guided a very lively committee through this report: the end product bears his stamp and authority. Perhaps I may also welcome the excellent contribution from my noble friend Lord Haworth. His is indeed a powerful voice that I hope we will hear on many occasions.
The timing of the debate to coincide with the implementation of the Kyoto agreement is to he welcomed. As a member of Sub-Committee D, I must remind your Lordships that our report was constrained by the framework of the European Union directives and deliberations. I make that point because during the process of the inquiry from February 2004, the issue of climate change moved from being a scientific debate to being highly political. The temptation to incorporate that debate into our report was extremely difficult to resist.
In the time allowed it is possible to give only a brief outline of the report, but that in no way reflects the detailed and painstaking evidence in the report. Having looked at the directives, we emphasised the need to raise public awareness of the true nature of climate change, how it affects all our lives and how it can and must be mitigated. We analysed steps taken by the EU and the Government to help that process. 1307 Our report was enhanced by expert in-House contributions within the committee and also by the calibre and breadth of the witnesses who gave evidence, all of whom were key players in this field. The first chapter sets out in detail definitions and explanations of greenhouse gasses and the principal sources of those pollutants.
With evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicating global temperatures set to rise by between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees centigrade over the next century, we set out the implications of such a change. As has already been referred to, Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, drew our attention to evidence from the Hadley and Tyndall centres where the UK is recognised as a world leader in climate science. His view,that climate change is the biggest issue facing us this century",gave a powerful motivation for our inquiry.
Many witnesses made proposals for mitigating climate change. Margaret Beckett put the difference of approach between the EU and America most succinctly. The former adopts a precautionary approach, putting in place measures to reduce emissions now, while the USA takes the view that innovation and technology will solve the problem when the case is conclusively made. Looking at the Kyoto protocol, applauding the EU for leadership and explaining measures to be taken and funding by the UK Government for a number of significant initiatives were welcomed by us.
A major part of our report is the detailed explanation of the key EU climate change policy, the emissions trading scheme. In brief, currently, that applies only to industrial sectors with member states allocating a tariff of carbon dioxide emission to particular installations. It is quite simply a market mechanism, an example of "cap and trade".
Many of our witnesses welcomed the trading scheme, expressing the view that it could and should form the blueprint for an international trading agreement. The detail of the scheme is complex, but laid out in our report with clarity. I commend that chapter to everyone wishing to understand the detail and the nuances of the scheme.
One of the key factors contributing to climate change is, of course, fuel. Thus, transport formed a crucial part of our inquiry. Brutal factors, such as the 20 per cent increase in emission from cars since 1990, across the whole of Europe, are laid out in the report. Hybrid cars offer considerable hope for future mitigation of climate change. Indeed, the chairman of Shell UK himself said in evidence to us that the case for hybrid cars was so compelling that he was considering buying one and urged other leaders in industry and politics to do the same.
Aviation has yet to he tackled by the EU, as has already been said, although plans are well under way to address this significant polluter. Cross-border aviation is currently under scrutiny and our committee urged the EU to act as a facilitator for international debate to solve an international problem.
1308 Time does not allow for reporting of the pioneering work done by Woking Borough Council. Suffice to say that the committee was deeply impressed by the actions and outcome of sound environmental measures to reduce pollution and, at the same time, create a genuinely sustainable community.
An important part of our report dealt with the lack of public awareness of the true nature of climate change. We welcomed the UK Government's action in this area, and the Prime Minister's intervention in putting climate change at the top of his agenda for both the G8 and the period of the UK presidency of the European Union was greatly welcomed.
I hope to have conveyed the energy and drive of the committee while drawing up the report. All concerned were clear in their commitment, taking the view that no more urgent issue is with us today.
In conclusion, I must admit to more than a pang of guilt. I wrote the speech beside a pool in West Palm Beach—a speech solely concerned with energy conservation. Yet on one side of the house ran Ocean Boulevard, chock full of every gas-guzzling car imaginable, with a few Harley-Davidsons thrown in for good measure. On the other side were the beach and the Atlantic Ocean, both quite beautiful, if only marred by innumerable motorboats of every size, Lear jets and helicopters buzzing overhead and 747s beginning their descent to Miami airport.
Beyond the beach, some 500 yards away, the aquamarine of the sea suddenly becomes deepest blue—the Gulf Stream itself, bringing us its warmth. yet even that precious thing is under threat as a result of global warming. What better reminder of the stark choices which face the European Union and indeed the world? It was the hope of the committee that this report on climate change would play a part in raising the awareness of the general public and indeed of this House and I very much hope and believe it has succeeded.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Lord Taverne
My Lords, I have no very clear view about climate change. Indeed, I am somewhat worried that many people seem to be so sure. The issue is one of great complexity. There are so many factors that interact and have to be judged over such a long timescale that it makes predictions hazardous. About 75 per cent of experts—most, although not all, as some claim—agree that man-made greenhouse gases are a significant factor in global warning and everyone agrees that global warming is taking place. I feel that I must accept that majority view about the contribution of man-made factors, but how much warming will there be, how soon will it happen, what effect will it have and what should we do about it?
On the one hand, there are Sir David King's persuasive warnings both in his evidence to the committee and in his Zuckerman lecture; then there are reports of the melting of the glaciers—to which the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, referred in his eloquent maiden speech—and the polar ice, the recent findings of the heating of the oceans and the potential changes to the Gulf Stream. All of those suggest that we may 1309 be facing imminent catastrophe—by imminent, I mean some time in the next 50 to 100 years. Yet, let me list some doubts. The first, the hockey stick model often cited by the IPCC, which shows centuries of no rise in warming with a sudden increase as we started the massive use of fossil fuels has been effectively discredited by Hans Von Storch and others and also by Macintyre and McKitrick who demonstrated that the model was so designed that whatever data is fed into it ends up with a hockey stick curve.
Next, the IPCC's future scenarios are based on economic forecasts. These have been convincingly shown by David Henderson and Ian Castles, two eminent economists, to be flawed. It is likely that they exaggerate future emissions of greenhouse gases. The cavalier dismissal of this careful critique by the panel's president shows him to be a partisan advocate and not an objective chairman. He also likened Lomborg to Hitler. He does not inspire confidence.
An early draft of the IPCC's report stated cautiously that:Studies … suggest that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a substantial contributor to the observed warming, especially over the last 30 years. However, the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing".The final summary report said something slightly different—more definite:In the light of new evidence and taking into account remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely"—that means, by their definition, a 66 per cent to 90 per cent chance—to be due to greenhouse gas concentrations".The document seems to have been sexed up.
Recently, Dr Landsea, the panel's leading hurricane expert, resigned in protest, because the IPCC attributed recent hurricanes to global warming. One year's events were taken as evidence, but, interestingly, barometric fluctuations in Stockholm have shown no systematic change in the frequency and severity of storms since Napoleon's time.
There is evidence that ocean levels in the Maldives are steady and have not risen significantly in the past 1,000 years. There is photographic evidence showing high-water marks in the past higher than those at present.
Next, do we know what percentage of warming is due to solar activity? Some experts say 30 per cent, some say 70 per cent to 80 per cent. What of clouds and aerosols, which can have a cooling effect?
I mention these uncertainties, not because I am a climate change denier, but because we should not be dogmatic. There is a sort of political taboo about the issue. If you express doubts, you must be in the pay of the oil industry or a Bush supporter. There is a slight whiff of eco-McCarthyism about.
I support measures to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, of which the most important would be, first, investment in nuclear energy and then carbon 1310 sequestration. I do not see it as a mortal sin to question the Kyoto Protocol, which will reduce warming by one-fiftieth of a degree Celsius by 2050, at considerable economic cost. I doubt if its targets will be reached, and there are no sanctions if they are not. I suspect that there will be less costly and more effective ways of dealing with whatever prospects lie ahead than the Kyoto straitjacket.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Lord Faulkner of Worcester
My Lords, I am delighted to join all other speakers in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, on the way he introduced the debate. I would like to add my own congratulations to the committee on producing such an excellent report. It contains a clear and positive analysis and endorsement of the climate change control policies that are being developed and adopted by the 25 EU member states. It is a wholly welcome contribution to the debate.
The report is also very clear that, while the science of climate control is unambiguously accepted at EU level, current policy options, such as the EU emissions trading scheme, are the first small, but very necessary, steps on a difficult journey.
I was particularly pleased to see that the committee made a special effort to analyse and comment on the huge growth forecast in UK air transport climate change emissions over the next 30 years. I welcome the statement in paragraph 126, on page 42:It is clear that a great deal more action needs to be taken urgently to limit the effects of aviation on climate change".In this context, I should declare an interest as chair of the All-Party Group on Sustainable Aviation.
The committee was right to recommend that air transport should be included in the developing European emissions trading scheme. It was interesting, on reading the report, to find that airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic and airport operators such as BAA called for their industry sector to adopt the "polluter pays" principle. So while it makes a refreshing change to see an industry apparently keen and willing to join a scheme involving both rationing and paying more for its vital raw resource, the sector's enthusiasm for emissions trading schemes is perhaps not that surprising. If air transport were included in the European scheme by 2008—itself a very ambitious timetable—it has been estimated by the Aviation Environment Federation, which gave evidence to the committee, that for British Airways the added cost to a single journey could be as little as 33p, or 66p on a return ticket. While such small incremental cost increases might be the way in which to start such schemes, over time a much higher price for CO2 will be needed to drive both supply and demand side changes, perhaps in excess of £90 per tonne.
This is an incredibly complicated area, as the report shows, and the committee is particularly to be congratulated on making relatively simple a concept that is so very complicated. But European policy makers seem to understand that ratcheting down sector allowances and lowering economy-wide CO2 1311 targets, will also be necessary to hit the kind of 60 per cent reductions in CO2 emissions that are the UK's target for the middle years of this century.
I welcome the fact that the Government have a menu of market-driven approaches to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, including the possibility of a fuel tax, en route emissions charges and emissions trading, and have won the right to implement that package of measures at least within Europe. But to make a real difference and show that we take climate change reduction responsibilities more seriously, it will be necessary to persuade the International Civil Aviation Organisation that the current worldwide fuel tax exemption must be removed.
Environmental taxation can bring huge benefits; not only does it generate revenue which government can spend on things that they believe to be important, but it can also make a real contribution to tackling the effects of climate change by limiting the future growth of air passenger demand. That might not mean flying less than we do today, but it would mean that some of the more extravagant forecasts of growth in air passenger numbers would be lower than the industry currently forecasts—and it undoubtedly means paying more for our air travel.
There is no doubt that all sectors of our economy must play their part in reducing greenhouse gases as we move towards a low-carbon future. At the moment Defra and the Environment Agency have a campaign called "Doing your bit", which exhorts us all to cut energy use and fight climate change by putting lids on our saucepans whenever we cook, among other suggestions, thus aiding energy efficiency and reducing emissions. All of us may need in future to put a lid on the frequency with which we fly if we are serious about doing our bit to combat climate change.
I commend the committee on producing a significant analytical report that makes a powerful contribution to the climate change debate. We must all do our bit to get global warming under control, starting now.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Lord Greaves
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Renton, and his committee on an interesting and readable report. I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, to the House to join the small number of mountaineers here. If the trend goes on, we may even get a trip up some time.
I want to take a fairly broad-brush view across the geosciences, although I am conscious that what I am going to try to say in five minutes is what I would have regaled my old A-level students with over a couple of 45-minute periods. I will rush and be broad brush, and I probably will not achieve it anyhow.
The conventional wisdom of all the geophysical sciences comes from two famous geologists from the 18th and 19th centuries, James Hutton and Sir Charles Lyell. They founded the doctrine of uniformitarianism—which, in itself, will have taken me about half a minute to say—based on Hutton's famous slogan:The present is the key to the past".1312 Current geological processes, occurring at the same rates observed today, and in the same manner, account for all of the Earth's geological features.
The doctrine of gradualism came to replace the biblical doctrine of diluvianism—that it all occurred during the flood when Noah sailed his Ark. Since the noble Lord, Lord Renton, invited us all to remember that time—although even your Lordships' House does not go back quite so far—I have a vision of the noble Lord sailing his new ark up Lewes high street the next time his local town floods, when I think we should all come and join in. That doctrine effectively prevailed for the best part of 150 years, and most other geophysical sciences joined in it. Within biology, there was Charles Darwin's concept of evolution—the idea that lots of little things happening over a long period of time resulted in where we are, and that we can observe those processes happening now. In the science of land forms, or geomorphology, noble Lords who did A-level geography probably remember the "cycle of erosion". I t was probably taught to all as being a fact, but it is really a highly flawed model. I think people now understand that about the work of William Morris Davis.
The alternative to gradualism was thought to be catastrophism—the idea that many of the Earth's features formed as a result of past cataclysmic activity. These are what we now call "natural disasters"—and the fact that we do so is interesting, since that is a human way of looking at them. It is revealing that, as human beings, we say these are disasters—whereas, in practice, the geological, climatological, geomorphological and evolutionary records are actually full of catastrophes, cataclysms and so on. The biblical flood almost certainly occurred; there is much evidence of a major flood between 3000–2000 BC, and lots of geological evidence of major floods in the past. That is something to which we should pay great attention, since we are talking about climatic change that might result iii the melting of lots of land ice.
The complacency which has come from these scientific views has infected everybody, but this extreme gradualism is now being questioned. lt is clear that catastrophic or cataclysmic events have played a normal part in geological, geomorphological, climatic, oceanographic and evolutionary history over the years. The important thing for us as human beings is that for the last few thousand years it has been a period of remarkable stability and calm. Civilisation as we know it has been built upon that stability—with systems of agriculture and the development of stable, sedentary communities who were not just wandering around chasing animals. The material culture. as anthropologists call it, associated with those societies—advanced social systems, civic society, democracy and all its associated freedoms that we as individuals regard as so important—depends upon a degree of stability within the natural environment in which we live. If that stability comes to an end and we enter a period of cataclysmic change, we are obviously put at risk. 1313 At the moment we have crises which are not of climatic or natural origin—such as the alleged threat from terrorists, where we are being told that some of our basic liberties have to be curtailed because of that threat. Just imagine the situation if the climate of our globe and all its associated systems gets completely out of control, and we have to cope with that. There is a real danger here that catastrophes are going to occur—as they have over geological and geomorphological time. After all, most of this country was covered in ice only 100,000 years ago. The last ice only left the British Isles 10,000 years ago. There have been huge, catastrophic changes in the past. We cannot assume that those changes are not going to occur again. Whether they are occurring because of anthropogenic causes, whether we are the cause of it by churning all this carbon dioxide, methane and so on into the atmosphere, or whether they are occurring for other reasons, or whether it is a mixture of the two in a sense does not matter, because we must learn to cope with it and to live with it. If the worst fears come about—the melting of the west Antarctic ice mass or sufficient melting in Greenland to cock up totally the Gulf Stream—there will be huge changes to come to terms with.
The sceptics on climatic change seem to come in two groups. There are those represented by people such as Dr David Bellamy, who seem to be in denial. Some people are in denial. Then there are those such as professor Bjorn Lomborg, who has had a lot of publicity recently, who are saying, "Yes, it may well be happening; it could happen and perhaps it is definitely happening; but we cannot do anything about it. Therefore we should put all our investment into countering the effects of it". The revolution that is occurring in the geosciences needs to transfer itself to a revolution of thought within the public polity generally—within debate and the decisions that governments make and the way in which we all look at these things. We have to do both. We cannot assume that we are capable of stopping this climatic change, although we must try to stop it. We must do the kind of things that Dr Lomborg is suggesting, as well as trying to stop it. We should not allow the debate to become oppositional. We must say, "Yes, there will be a lot of changes, and there may be catastrophic, cataclysmic changes. We must find a way of coming to terms with them without destroying the very civilisation of which we are part".
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Baroness Young of Old Scone
My Lords, I am pleased to be able to be here to talk about this welcome, solid and practical report from the committee. I commend the noble Lord. Lord Renton of Mount Harry, and his committee members on producing it.
I should declare an interest as the chief executive of the Environment Agency. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, for an opportunity that I did not think I would have when I came here tonight. That was the opportunity to hear the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, confess to owning only a small Munro. I shall treasure that concept.
1314 I also add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, on his excellent maiden speech. I found his account of his personal experience of glaciers melting quite moving. I must admit that, perhaps not in the spirit of responding to maiden speeches, I disagree with him on his call for the resumption of the nuclear programme. In my capacity as being responsible for the management of nuclear waste, I am only too aware that many issues in nuclear waste management are still to be resolved. The most compelling argument for not prematurely re-opening the nuclear programme is that it would simply knock the feet out from any hope of investment in renewable technologies in the future.
It is clear that this report tackled some live issues. That is particularly so because even in the period since it was produced there have been a number of substantial developments. The recent 2005 stabilisation conference at the Hadley Centre made it even more important that we tackle climate change with urgency. The basic message from that conference was that if we see climate change or temperate increases of between one and three degrees, we have a considerably increased risk of damage. If we see anything above three degrees, we will experience large-scale, irreversible system disruption like turning off the Gulf Stream or the destabilisation of the Antarctic ice sheets. Those would be serious and irreversible. We are talking about temperature ranges well within the climate change projections for the next century having those sorts of impacts. It is a serious matter.
There has also always been a considerable debate about the costs of stabilising temperature. The stabilisation conference clearly demonstrated that the costs of actions to stabilise temperature are usually over-estimated, and the costs of not acting are often under-estimated. The stabilisation conference showed that stabilisation is manageable with a portfolio of actions that reduces or manages emissions, provided that it is also aimed at reducing the costs of the actions. The big problem with the whole threat of climate change is not the economic issues associated with climate change reduction measures, but the political, social and behavioural barriers to implementing mitigation actions. The UK is in a unique position to grapple with some of those issues through its leadership in the presidencies of the G8 and the EU. I commend the Prime Minister's commitment to make climate change a central part of the presidencies.
Globally, there may be a real opportunity to take a different route in international relationships on climate change. There is considerable potential for a partnership between the European Union and China. At the moment, China is planning to introduce treble figures of coal-fired power stations over the next 25 years. An EU-China partnership would seek development of cleaner technologies, light renewables, and energy-efficiency technologies in high standards for vehicles and fuels. It could be a very potent trade and development partnership, bringing together the two big markets of emerging China and the European Union. If that did happen—if our presidency of the G8 could bring that about—the US would have to take notice, and we might find a way to bring the US into a 1315 much more productive relationship on climate change, through an economic route rather than trying to persuade it through science or moral arguments.
Many speakers have already talked about some of the challenges of the presidency of the European Union. The European Emissions Trading Scheme is one of the big opportunities. We need to make sure that, at the second stage, we see tighter caps for the scheme to ensure substantial CO2 reductions and the development of new technologies. We certainly have to bring aviation into the emissions trading scheme.
Alas, the Prime Minister in the UK can show leadership in the European Union and globally only if there is a solid basis of performance back here at home. Perhaps we could tempt the Minister into telling us how the Government plan to come back from the rather embarrassing debacle of the attempt to raise the national allocation plan under the emissions trading scheme. That threatened to damage the leadership of the presidencies. We simply have to buckle down and accept the national emissions programme. It is a poor pass if industry cannot use its ingenuity and innovation to find ways to rise to that challenge, as it will undoubtedly have to rise to a further challenge if we are to move beyond the 2012 targets to the 60 per cent reduction signalled for 2050.
Back home, we need to see: progress on packages of measures to reverse the 62 per cent increase in carbon dioxide from the growth in vehicle use; more support for domestic energy efficiency, including faster movement on the likes of building regulations and the sustainable buildings code; and increased support for business in its energy-efficiency efforts. It is perfectly possible to see a further 20 per cent in energy efficiency from business over the next few years if we get the right sorts of policy in place. There is a major global opportunity this very year for the UK and Europe, but it needs demonstrable effort and solid performance here at home.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Lord Hunt of Chesterton
My Lords, I add my congratulations to those of other noble Lords to the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, on his geophysical maiden speech; they seem to come about every five years in this House.
It was a pleasurable and worthwhile experience to work on the European Union Committee's Sub-Committee D and question the conscientious and informative witnesses. I understand that even the most august of them were a bit nervous about the experience. As our forceful but diplomatic chairman the noble Lord, Lord Renton, underlined in his opening speech, the report emphasises the seriousness of the real threat to human health, food, safety and economics from the current climate change developments.
The scientific evidence referred to in the report was reconfirmed in the recent conferences held at Exeter and Houston. One important point was that the trends that we see in global warming are likely to continue for the next 20 or 30 years, even if action is taken. But if we want to enable our grandchildren and future generations to live on an Earth with a more moderate temperature, action must begin now.
1316 I believe we should be pleased that the UK and the EU see eye to eye on these matters and that the EU is taking the threats so seriously. Last week, I was in the United States. The headline of a student newspaper at Cornell University celebrated the Kyoto victory. Pace the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, that is why the Kyoto Protocol is a great signal, even if its net effects are quite small.
However, the seriousness of the changes is still being challenged, quite rationally, in many quarters. In addition, the changes are still not widely enough understood. Last week the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story on the doubts being raised by the noble Lord, Lord Taverne. I do not necessarily disagree with what he said but I should emphasise to the House that the IPCC, when asked about these questions, responded in a responsible way that any doubts raised will he considered seriously by the IPCC process, as they have been in the past. Obviously I regret it if doubts arc being raised in the process.
There is a continuing need to monitor and issue data on a regular basis. I believe that science is best understood when data are provided on a regular basis, as with the daily weather forecast and as used to be the case with the daily doctor, and it needs to be done often. It also needs to be done in the necessary locality. I believe that we lack information about the climate in every city and in every harbour and every port area. We should be seeing such information. The EU has been very effective with its system of blue beaches, but it should be doing the same for climate change all across Europe, and we should be able to understand the trends. It is only when you understand trends that you can make your own decisions. Different decisions will be taken by different industries. Yesterday I attended a meeting with the insurance industry. It wanted to have specific data which are not easily available to it.
Very damaging consequences for the future of food supply were mentioned in the report. No other noble Lord has referred to that but it is a very serious matter. Climate change and aerosols in the atmosphere have reduced food supply in some areas of China by 15 per cent. Reports by the United States suggest similar reductions in the corn belt. That has enormous implications for food, and I point out that the committee reporting on these issues was a food and agriculture committee.
Key points are made about technology in the report. I do not believe that the Government's response to paragraph 148, which concerned green technology, addressed the important point, reinforced by my noble friend Lady Young, about the so-called portfolio or wedge approach. In other words, many different elements are needed in addressing the question of reducing carbon emissions and finding alternative energies. As one can find from presentations by many unbiased sources, a wide range of conventional, nuclear and renewable is needed. Indeed, programmes across Europe are stimulating all those areas and some of them—perhaps not enough—are dealing with the question of nuclear waste. 1317 There have been remarkable examples of reductions by individual industries, communities and inventors. Indeed, some of them are even reaching the government target of a 60 per cent reduction. So I always find it difficult to understand why the Government are so hesitant to endorse and praise those who have been outstandingly successful. A notable feature of our deliberations was that the Secretary of State at Defra was unaware of some of these remarkable developments. She had been completely unbriefed about them. Surely they should be seen as best practice, and we emphasise that point in our report.
We also pointed out that we saw wide differences between some of the major companies. But some of the big oil companies expect to reduce their production of oil by 50 per cent by 2050, changing to photovoltaics and hydrogen. The report emphasises the fact that many major industries are welcoming carbon trading. In fact, yesterday evening there was a presentation of new technologies at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Many of them were supported by the IMechE. It was interesting that the big power companies there were very interested in carbon trading. One big power company is already trading millions of pounds a year in that process.
Another important feature—in paragraph 105 of the report—is the linking directive. While we were preparing the report, I was fortunate to visit the Ukraine and Sri Lanka. They are both countries that will benefit from carbon trading because they have low emissions. It is very important that this mechanism is emphasised and used by government. The Government welcome it in their response. It is important that the funds that may be channelled to such countries are used correctly for energy developments. One fears that, if it is not carefully monitored, it could be abused and the whole process could suffer.
Finally, as other noble Lords have mentioned, there is the question of the evidence from Mr Jones of Woking. It is interesting that some of those examples are moving ahead in the climate change agency of the GLA. There will be a Foreign Office seminar of the UK and Germany to ensure that the best methods across Europe are being shared.
Is there any evidence that EU programmes are becoming more user-friendly? The criticism that we heard in the evidence was that it was difficult for communities to get EU funding for these important technological developments. Again, the Secretary of State was unaware of this concern. 1 hope that the Minister will be able to respond.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
My Lords, I have found the debate this evening absolutely fascinating. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Haworth. on his vivid picture of the reality on the ground of some of the effects of climate change. I remember how struck I was four years ago in the High Atlas—I am ashamed to say, not as a mountaineer—to find that the snow, even in January, was limited to a few streaks of white on the peaks. It 1318 brought home to me the changes since the time when those mountains were described as being deeply snow-covered for several thousand feet in winter.
This report has been most timely. With perhaps one exception this evening—my noble friend Lord Taverne, who brings a very useful sceptical challenge to our debate—we have agreed that the gravity of climate change must cause us to take urgent action, as individuals, as a nation and as a region. Even if we were to take the thesis of my noble friend Lord Taverne as being true, I do not believe that it would negate any of the efforts that may be made to find alternative fuels to those that are used. Our traditional profligate use of fossil fuels, and that of other nations, is no longer sustainable.
Two different examples were brought home to me by an exhibition I went to in Exeter, where the recent climate change conference was held. The exhibition was held last week and was separate from the conference. It was about different technologies and, in particular. those available to us for our homes now. One of the exhibits was a solar parabolic cooker, which captures the sun's rays and enables people in very hot countries, particularly sub-Saharan countries, to cook without collecting wood from their diminished forests. That was one example of a very different approach. There were also several examples of the very different approaches we need to take in Britain: solar water heating, photovoltaic cells and technologies of that kind. All the examples provide a win-win situation, whether in sub-Saharan Africa, enabling deforestation to stop and replanting, with all its benefits, to happen, or in this country, to lead people out of fuel poverty.
I think that paragraph 42 of the report correctly identities the role that the European Union is playing. It states:We commend the EU for showing leadership in drawing up such a comprehensive and relevant set of measures".I am very pleased the report has made that point because people even in your Lordships' wise House occasionally question the value and purpose of the EU. Here is a very good example of the crucial role it plays.
The EU sets out a very ambitious policy agenda, and, very importantly, it enables domestic governments, if you like, to enable the EU—excuse the pun—to take the heat. It is difficult for domestic governments—we see this with our own Government—to push for the measures needed. This Government have recently caved in somewhat on the targets they set themselves. I hope they return to those targets. If the EU takes action to return to those targets, that is good, but it is also incumbent upon us to make sure that the EU is seen as doing a necessary job. While it may be willing sometimes to play the scapegoat for the greater good, we must defend the reasons it has to do so.
The noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, very eloquently made the points about why these targets should be stuck to. I do not intend to repeat what she said. 1319 I should like to turn to a couple of issues which I believe this admirable report did not touch on perhaps heavily enough. The first is the effect of the different greenhouse gases. Of course their effects are different. Box 1 of the report helpfully refers to the different gases, mentioning nitrous oxide. But the report does not seem to pick up the crucial points made in the evidence the committee heard—that the effect of nitrous oxide is 310 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. The main source of this gas is from fertiliser use by the non-livestock sector of agriculture.
Within the EU climate change proposals there should be an explicit reference to a strategy for dealing with this. It would be helpful if the report was able to suggest that. There would be various options of using less fertiliser, turning more to organic agriculture and so on, but I think it needs mentioning.
There is a reference to a policy framework to be developed for fluorinated gases, which I welcome. They are another group of gases particularly critical in their effect.
Several noble Lords mentioned transport. Another issue the EU might want to reflect on is how much investment it is putting into its road building programme which encourages long-distance travel by road, and critically freight transport, at the expense of any other solution.
Many noble Lords have mentioned the issues of aviation. That is a critical area that must be tackled. Several of the points this evening were extremely eloquently made.
At an international level, the report stresses that the UK will be in an exceptional position this year as president of the EU and the G8. It makes the point that ambitious and realistic goals must be set. For the post-Kyoto 2012 period, it is not a moment too soon to start setting some groundwork for what those targets should be.
There is also an important role to be played in supporting the actions of governments in countries such as Brazil, where President Lula da Silva has recently taken action to declare a very extensive area—9.3 million acres—of the Amazon as a conservation area. I say that in sadness because it seemed to be a reaction to the recent death of Dorothy Stang—and of course previously Chico Mendez. Both of them knowingly put themselves at risk of murder—a price they did indeed pay—to get action on the forests for the people who live there and, indeed, for the whole world. I believe that we must recognise the sorts of efforts that need to be made in places like Brazil and to commend President da Silva for taking the action that he has.
Last February, the Minister wrote to me in response to a question about what Defra was doing in developing countries. He mentioned research projects in China and India on adaptation to climate change that Defra is funding. I would be very interested if he could tell me—now that those projects are, I believe, completed—what some of the conclusions might be.
1320 Many noble Lords have mentioned the role of individuals and the fact that we must, as individuals, take responsibility. I think that it was the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who mentioned the Government's "Do Your Bit" campaign. In terms of the Government doing their bit to raise individuals' awareness, I feel that is what they are doing—just a bit. They really need to do a great deal more in terms of raising public awareness of what can be done.
The Minister will not be taken by surprise, because this was an argument we had over the Energy Bill and I have mentioned it in your Lordships' House subsequently. Energy Advice Centres, which enable the public to know what they could be doing themselves, are, with one or two exceptions, simply backroom offices when they ought to be welcoming shop fronts on the high street.
In reply to my intervention in the debate on climate change on 9 February 2004, the Minister said,One of the most important roles is to change consumption of energy in our homes and buildings".—[0fficial Report, 9/2/04; col. 1003.]That was a point made this evening by the noble Lord, Lord Lewis. It is absolutely right. However, a year has passed and I do not feel that in that year Her Majesty's Government have made anything like sufficient effort to change the attitude, actions and buying habits of the public.
I turn finally to the question of nuclear power, which continues to be a very lively debate in this House. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone. There are huge problems yet to be solved regarding the issues of waste. Further, the timescale needed for the building of new nuclear stations, let alone having them come on-stream, is very long. There are many other, very possible, renewable technologies which at present are lacking sufficient Government energy and backing—and here I would quote tidal power as an example. I come back to the very wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, that there must be a range of solutions. The Government are very hesitant to embrace all of the possible developments that there are.
I believe that we should go forward in hope. This report gives us a great deal more to build on in terms of debate in this House. It is a very encouraging contribution to the whole question of climate change and how we may tackle it.
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ Lord Dixon-Smith
My Lords, like every speaker, I join in thanking my noble friend Lord Renton of Mount Harry for presenting this report. More particularly, I join in thanking the members of the committee for the immense hard work and study which must have gone into taking the evidence, trying to summarise it and putting it all into a presentable form.
I welcome Lord Haworth. I was fascinated by his speech, never having been a mountaineer—but even I can notice the climate changing in lowland Essex. It is dramatically different now in the middle of winter from what I knew when I was a boy. 1321 It would be impossible in the time available to try to sum up this debate, and I do not intend to attempt that impossible task. What I do intend to do is to mine one or two bits of information, in particular out of the book of evidence which comes with the report and which is actually far more revealing, intriguing, interesting, and in many ways useful, than the body of the report itself.
There is no doubt—and we can be grateful for this, since there is clearly a mounting problem—that Europe and the United Kingdom in a sense are leading the field globally. A more serious issue is whether we are ahead of the game. I am prompted to ask that question having looked at the evidence of the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Madingley, who is head of BP. He came up with an interesting and attractive formula which he described as his 50–50–50 formula for the year 2050. As the head of a major oil conglomeration he postulated that having considered all the options, in 2050 it seemed likely that we should be able to get to 50 per cent of our energy carbon dioxide-emissions free. He would include carbon dioxide sequestration within that 50 per cent. But by 2050 he thought that probably the best we could achieve would still involve 50 per cent of the world's energy coming directly from carbon fields and still emitting carbon dioxide.
That would represent a remarkable change and a great improvement on the present situation. It represents real progress. However, if one assumes that the global economy will continue to grow at an average rate of 2.5 per cent and that the growth in the economy is a proxy for the increase in the use of energy—and one is pretty well dependent on the other—after 30 years the use of energy doubles. After 45 years, by 2050. the use of energy would have trebled from today's rate. If one then turns that into carbon dioxide emissions and goes back to the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Madingley, in 2050 we shall still be emitting 50 per cent more carbon dioxide than at present, even if we have achieved his 50 per cent reduction. That is why there is a serious question: although we may be leading the field, are we ahead of the game? That is simply an observation which will not require a response from the Minister: it simply states where we are.
I wish to pick up another point from the evidence which I found fascinating. The noble Lords, Lord Livsey of Talgarth and Lord Hunt of Chesterton, touched on it. I refer to the first group to give evidence from the town of Woking. It is remarkable how often one finds good, competent and original work occurring in British local government. With the lifetime of experience of the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, and others in this Chamber, we should not be surprised at that but this aspect is something quite special. They are trying to change the way in which Woking works as regards energy requirements.
Two or three matters arise from that. Perhaps the Minister will answer the question that the Secretary of State was unable to answer when she was giving evidence. Clearly she had not been advised on what Woking was doing. Have the Government any 1322 thoughts about relaxing the regulatory constrictions which hold back Woking's development? Two specific areas caused problems. Because of the system, it is generating a lot of its own electricity. It is limited on the number of customers it can supply on a private wire and believes that that is an unreasonable constraint. It is also limited in the amount of power it is able to export to the grid. One of the things that has to happen to the grid is that it must become a two-way system. It will increasingly have to take electricity in at the consumer level, as well as feeding it out at consumer level. It is interesting that Woking has run into that practical barrier. I found it infinitely depressing to find that, in getting backing for its projects, the council found central government capital controls a constraint. That is normal in local government, so I will not pay particular attention to it. The council had to get a partner from Denmark to make the system work and set up a public/private company.
The other interesting statistic that has profound implications—I think that the noble Lord, Lord Livsey of Talgarth, made the point—is the fact that 70 per cent of domestic energy requirements are thermal. There is lot of work with combined heat and power, but the business of heat recovery is fundamental to energy efficiency. It is not just a matter of condensing boilers and heat recovery in our households; a great amount of waste heat goes out from power stations and major industrial installations. There is no way of tapping it and feeding it into the communities whose main demand is for heat. That is something that needs to be thought about in the context of planning and decisions on how we organise our society.
Reality suggests that power stations should be built in the suburbs, not 50 miles out of a town. They should be built where the energy can be recovered and used. The same applies to incineration plants, and one can turn them into combined heat and power units. However, the facility must be there to feed heat into the domestic market. That is something that we have signally failed to do.
It is a good report. It deals with the wider European issues, particularly emissions trading, which is a welcome system. I do not think that we have done our case any credit by seeking to expand the initial applications that we propose to give industry. That said, the reductions have to be put in place. The targets are statutory and enforceable, and the penalties are considerable.
I am not sure how the penalties work, and I wonder whether the Minister could spend a little time explaining how they work. I see in the report that the penalty is [...]40 per tonne of carbon dioxide by which the target is exceeded until 2007 and [...]100 per tonne until 2012. Those are considerable sums, considering the major plants included in the scheme. Do the fines and penalties apply at plant level? Do they apply to a plant that has missed its target even if the nation concerned has met its target because others have exceeded theirs? 1323 Presumably, the penalties will be paid net of trading. It is notable that the Dutch are already in the market, buying emissions trading certificates while they are cheap. At the moment, there is no real market. One might congratulate the Dutch on their initiative, but that seems to circumvent the purposes for which the scheme was set up. They may be able to sell the certificates that they have bought at a considerable profit later on. That remains to be seen, but that is a form of government intervention that I would not wish to see. I would welcome a hit more explanation from the Minister of how it will work, if he has time.
That is quite enough. I look forward to a full reply from the Minister.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Lord Whitty
My Lords, my thanks to everyone who has taken part in this debate, and especially to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, and his committee, for producing such an effective report on which everyone has positively commented, and added to. It is a good example of how effectively our sub-committees can address important problems and engage a wide range of people in the process.
A lot of very interesting points were made, and I pay particular compliment to my noble friend Lord Hawarth who gave a graphic description of the reality of the effects of climate change in a very lonely place, and in a few words. The same effect is happening across the planet, but it is in situations like that which brings it home to most people.
As usual, he chose an iconoclastic approach by not being entirely uncontroversial in his speech in mentioning the issue of nuclear power. I may disagree with him slightly, although possibly not quite as much as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller. I have no doubt that we shall debate nuclear power on another occasion, so I do not intend to go into that in too much detail today.
The noble Lord, Lord Renton, made it clear in his report that he accepts there is a real problem with climate change and that much of it is induced by anthropogenic activity. By and large that is accepted by the vast majority of world scientists and everybody who spoke in the debate, apart from the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, who provided a welcome and healthy note of dissent from the Liberal Democrat Benches, including from his own colleagues.
I would never in any scientific assessment say that we are absolutely sure that we are right. It is right that such doubts should be expressed. Nevertheless, in view of the evidence and scientific opinion in general, an attitude that is taken by certain governments and organisations of denial or complacency is a much higher and potentially devastating risk than the risk of exaggeration by some scientists and others who espouse the climate change cause.
It is that issue that the committee grappled with, and which we must grapple with as a government and a society. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, said that things have moved on since the report was completed, and some further evidence both at the Exeter 1324 conference and from Oxford University suggests that the position might be worse, especially in relation to the level of carbon in the atmosphere.
On the other hand, we saw the very welcome bringing into legal effect of the Kyoto Protocol. While it is true that it will deliver global emissions cuts of only about 2 per cent by 2012, which is a minuscule step in achieving the objectives that we shall need to achieve by the middle of this century, it is a faltering, but nevertheless very impressive step that 141 countries have now ratified the treaty and we have the beginnings of a globally agreed strategy and mechanisms to tackle climate change.
It is regrettable that some other countries are not on board, but even that can be rectified in subsequent developments on the international scale, which I shall come to in a moment.
The committee focused on the European climate change programme, and rightly commends the EU's work in this area. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, also referred to the support of the Kyoto mechanism and the linking directive, which enables credits from the Kyoto projects to he used in the EU emissions trading scheme itself. Although the overall implementation projects will not come into play under the UN rules until 2008, we are already registering projects under the clean development mechanisms. I note the views of the report on that.
Many people have complimented and supported the Government for making climate change a central priority for our presidency of the EU. We will clearly build on some effective work by the EU. I agree entirely that this demonstrates the importance of acting at EU level, which is now in the world leadership in this process. We, as the presidency in the latter half of this year, and the presidency of the GS for this year, will he in a leadership role.
That is coincidental to the legal coming into effect of the Kyoto agreement, but it also gives an opportunity to focus on what happens beyond Kyoto. Negotiations on the future framework will begin at the first conference of the parties, which Canada has announced it will host in Montreal in November. The UK presidency will play an important role negotiating for the EU at that point.
The committee noted a number of points and gaps where the policy is not yet fully developed, or even identified, to bring certain pressures of growth of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions into a system of control. In particular, it focused on transport. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, my noble friend Lady Billingham, and the noble Lord, Lord Lewis, referred to the importance of getting a grip on the transport situation.
Clearly, as regards road transport, the technology is almost there to make a shift in the replacement fleets. It is not just a question of moving, in the short term, possibly to an increased use of biofuels and hybrid cars and, in the longer term, to hydrogen-based vehicles, it is also a question of use and management on surface transport. 1325 The same applies to aviation even more substantially because it is by far the fastest-growing sector in terms of carbon emissions. For international competitive reasons, it was excluded from the Kyoto Protocol. It is important that aviation is brought within the mechanisms that we are developing. That is why the Government, while not rejecting fiscal measures in relation to aviation, think that the most effective way to bring aviation into the system would be for it to join the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. We are strongly of the opinion that we ought, with all its difficulties, bring it into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in its second phase in 2008.
Buildings were also emphasised as an area needing more activity. Clearly, in their construction, operation and what is done within them, buildings create about 50 per cent of the UK's carbon emissions. The Government have engaged in a number of measures in the UK to improve energy efficiency in households, including taxation measures such as reduced VAT, support for micro-CHP and developments in building regulations. We need to do more to ensure that new build and, in particular, new large developments are built to the highest sustainable building standards. We also need to improve on the refurbishment of all existing buildings, particularly the very old buildings to which the noble Lord, Lord Lewis, referred. The energy efficiency action programme that the Government announced is addressing that. The fuel poverty programme, while addressing fuel poverty, will also improve the installation of a lot of old buildings. So work is being done, but much more needs to be done in that respect.
Clearly, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is a very important development, which builds, in part, on the experience that the UK had in its UK emissions scheme. Some of its techniques have been passed on to the member states in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
There has been much focus here and in the press on the UK's own cap and its national allocation plan. I should like to make two or three points about that. First, the UK's revised position on that is probably one of the most robust targets of any of the member states. Although I do no want to be too cynical about it, it is probably true that if the commission and others had seen those figures first, they would have jumped up in the air with glee that the UK could be so ambitious in the targets that it set.
The reason why the UK found it necessary to change those figures is not as is usually reported because of industry pressure, but because the underlying statistics were updated and showed that we were at a higher level of carbon burning in earlier years than we had previously estimated. That means that we will have to look at the figures again to see what is achievable within the timescale of the allocation plan.
As has been said, when the facts change I change my position, what do you do? In fact, compared with the underlying reality, the new figures are a tougher target than the original ones. A bigger cut is required in the 1326 business as usual figures than in the original ones. We are still in discussion with the Commission as to how we will deal with that and we have made clear that if the Commission insists on the original figures, regrettably some of the cut will have to come in relation to the generators. But we believe that the new UK position is viable and could make a significant contribution to the achievement of the ambitions of the European scheme—certainly, at least as big a contribution as other countries are likely to make.
I do not therefore think that the Government have much to apologise for on that front. Indeed, it is another aspect of our leadership role and of our pitching our ambitions way beyond the Kyoto target to our own 20 per cent domestic target, which is difficult and we are not yet on the trajectory to meet it. However, it remains our ambition and we recognise that further measures will be needed in order for us to achieve that target.
If we look a little outside Europe. because some noble Lords referred to the situation outside Europe, it is important that Europe uses its influence to bring other nations in—as we did very effectively with the EU pressure on Russia and support for Russia, which allowed us to get Russia to ratify the protocol and therefore trigger the legal effects of that. We are also operating in other areas including China and India and those countries that will require some support from Europe, particularly from the UK, both in terms of individual projects—to which the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, referred, and I will let her have an update of where we are on those—and in terms of new technology.
We referred earlier today in response to a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, to carbon capture and carbon storage. If the vast increase in coal-fired power stations in China is to take place, it ought to take place with the cleanest possible coal technology. That involves not only clean coal at the front end but also carbon capture and storage at the back end. That will make a huge difference to what is currently seen as a catastrophic increase in the Chinese contribution to carbon emissions.
That technology transfer is very important at that level. It is also very important at smaller levels, going down to what the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, referred to—parabolic cookers which use virtually no energy and smaller scale community, individual and small-business-based forms of cheap and low carbon energy in Africa and the rest of the developing world.
The Chinese were certainly not hostile to this issue. It is wrong to say that the Chinese are not party to Kyoto: they are signatories. However, the targets in Kyoto all relate to developing countries. We must recognise, as high consumers of carbon and producers of greenhouse gases, it is our responsibility to give a lead. Unless we can deliver that, the Chinas, Indias, Brazils and South Africas will not come on board. They are all interested in this area and are keen to benefit from our technology and experience of market systems such as the trading scheme. 1327 Of course, the big omission from this is the United States. I am sure that almost everyone in this Chamber regrets that the United States has not participated positively in this matter—such expressions have been made in this debate and in the report. However, all is not lost in the United States. The 10 north-eastern states are currently considering setting up their own emissions trading scheme, which may become compatible with the European scheme. The majority of those states have Republican governors. Of course, in California, where there is a well-known Republican governor, there is a great drive for setting targets for car emissions and for the development of the hydrogen economy.
Corporations within America are also taking a lead, which is not always reported in the European papers. DuPont for example has saved itself over $2 billion and also greatly increased its energy efficiency in the past few years. Other large-scale energy users in the United States are doing the same. Both at the corporate and the political level in America, which regrettably has not yet seriously influenced the Washington administration, there are dramatic moves towards addressing this problem as well.
Of course the underlying American position is that technology will eventually solve these problems. Yes, it will, but only if we give the space and the framework for technology to develop.
We need to support the technology directly and to create the climate where that technology is seen as the future market and the future return both for the owners of businesses and for a better society. It is all forms of technology, many of which have been referred to here. That includes immediately available technologies, such as biomass and many forms of CHP, solar energy, wind power—which is not always popular in this House. though I suspect it might be more popular with the subset of the House here tonight.
That also includes consideration of the future of nuclear power. I would certainly support continuing to invest in the research and development that is needed if we were to see the need for nuclear power. That technology—and a diverse range of technology—is absolutely essential if we are to drive for a low-carbon economy. That includes massive ways of investing in large-scale generation of electricity on a low-carbon basis, through tidal and wind power. That also includes relatively small-scale operations, such as community heating, as in the borough of Woking, which has been cited as a good example by the noble Lord. Lord Dixon-Smith, and others. Indeed, the inhibitions that the development of Woking-type systems have are being addressed by the Government in discussion with Ofgem and the regulators.
There are a whole range of things that need to be done and need to be brought together. None of them will be delivered as fast as is necessary unless we also convince public opinion. Here I greatly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Renton, in introducing this debate, and with the reference of the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone—we need to change public opinion.
1328 Part of that is the responsibility of government. The Government have announced a new £12 million package of funding in order to address this system. We have already seen recently on television both the Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust using the mass media to try and raise consciousness and change behaviour. Past efforts at this have raised awareness, but hardly changed behaviour. We need to perform the trick of changing that higher awareness to changes in individual—personal, household and commercial—behaviour.
If we do that, we can begin to offset the effects of carbon emissions and of climate change on our planet and on our way of life. But we need that support from the general public, not only here and not only in America, but also in China, India and Brazil. To answer the point of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, yes, we are, here in the UK and in the EU, leading the field on this issue, but we are not vet ahead of the game.
§ The Duke of Montrose
My Lords, before the Minister sits down, do the Government have a view on what the timescale for these carbon emission permits will be?
§ Lord Whitty
My Lords, that is a complicated question. Do you mean under the European Emissions Trading Scheme?
§ Lord Whitty
Yes, my Lords. We were aiming that that would take place this year, but of course the discussion about the allocation ceiling—for us arid for certain other member states—puts that back a bit. It would probably be sensible if I set out the totality of the immediate position on that, including what I have said about the cap itself, and write to the noble Duke and, indeed, other noble Lords.
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ Lord Renton of Mount Harry
My Lords, obviously the Minister's reply has opened many interesting doors, all of which we might wish to walk through at some time, but it is not going to be tonight. I thank all those who have taken part in this debate, on all sides of the House and on all the Front Benches, for their extremely interesting and wide-ranging contributions.
I particularly enjoyed the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Haworth. He said that, in his personal experience of mountaineering, he could see the glaciers melting around him, which was a vivid reminder to him of climate change. I also enjoyed those remarks because my father-in-law, a native of Ayrshire, also climbed all the Scottish Munros, and my wife climbed a lot of them with him. We were not married then, but she told me that she found that the best moment at which to have a good discussion with her father was when they were getting near the top of a Scottish Munro. He was singularly eloquent and thoughtful at that moment. 1329 I know that my colleagues in Sub-Committee D who have been here tonight and who spoke, including the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, and the noble Lords, Lord Lewis, Lord Hunt and Lord Livsey, will have appreciated the comments made by so many noble Lords about the conciseness of our report. We tried to put over complicated problems relatively simply, and we thank noble Lords very much for that.
1330 However, I know that the climate in this House can change very quickly, and I do not want it to go from enjoyment to exhaustion. So I shall end there, with a reminder of the last words of the noble Lord. Lord Lewis, that this is a problem that will not go away. We shall certainly go back to it.
On Question, Motion agreed to.
House adjourned at six minutes past ten o'clock.