HC Deb 26 July 1993 vol 229 cc709-10W
Dr. Spink

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has for completing the United Kingdom's carbon dioxide programme.

Mr. Gummer

In the first half of this year we initiated a wide-ranging debate on the United Kingdom's CO2 programme. Issues discussed included the type of measures that the Government should take as part of the programme and the role of other organisations and groups outside government.

Our view has been that an effective and efficient national CO2 programme requires a partnership approach. In the light of the positive response to the consultation exercise, we have concluded that the United Kingdom can create such a partnership.

The Government's role is to provide the right fiscal, regulatory and financial framework for the programme and to help disseminate advice and information on the many actions that can be taken to achieve savings. But it is decision makers in households and businesses throughout the country who will take the actions that will lead to lower emissions. The Government are looking to business groups, trade associations and voluntary and consumer groups to act as channels of information and encouragement to these decision makers. The energy industries have an important part to play in promoting the efficient use of energy and in ensuring that energy is produced in economically and environmentally sound ways.

Several measures have already been announced. These include those announced in the March Budget to increase the price of energy in the domestic and transport sectors, the establishment of the energy saving trust to provide financial incentives to energy efficiency, and an increase in the objective for renewable energy. These measures together are expected to stimulate savings amounting to two thirds of the target.

On Wednesday last week, my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy announced his proposals for further renewable energy orders under the non-fossil fuel obligation, in pursuit of the new objective for renewable energy.

Today I am able to announce a step forward in the trial of local energy advice centres being conducted by the energy saving trust with finance from the Energy Efficiency Office. The first franchises to run these centres are now being offered to successful applicants, and the centres will be operational by October.

We have considered what additional measures should be taken to complete the programme. We have concluded that we should take further action to help business to make energy savings. We will strengthen the Energy Efficiency Office's programmes of advice and information aimed at business and will be discussing with business groups how to obtain the maximum response. We expect that significant additional savings can be achieved in this sector.

We recognise that public sector bodies should provide a lead. We will be setting further targets for the Government estate which should take energy use by central Government down to well below 80 per cent. of 1990 levels by the year 2000. The Government are looking to other public sector bodies to adopt similarly stringent targets.

We will also continue to provide information and encouragement to households to use energy efficiently. We will increase the resources devoted to this, working with the energy saving trust, to reinforce the impact of the trust.

Concern was expressed during consultations about the prospect of rising transport emissions. We believe that, taking account of the views expressed during consultation, it would be reasonable to work towards further savings from transport by the year 2000 over and above the 1.5 MtC expected to be saved as a result of the fuel duty increases announced in the March Budget. We will be discussing with interested parties how such savings can best be realised.

The Government also take the view that energy should be produced and delivered in a way that keeps CO2 emissions at the lowest cost-effective level consistent with other environmental goals. This is primarily the responsibility of the energy industries. We will be working towards the achievement of 5,000 MW of combined heat and power capacity by the year 2000, an increase of 1,000 MW on the previous target.

The framework for the United Kingdom's CO2, programme is now in place. Many organisations have indicated their willingness to participate in the programme. We will be discussing with those organisations the contribution they can make in the light of the further Government action announced today, in order for the full programme to be published at the end of the year.