HC Deb 05 May 1993 vol 224 cc109-10W
Mr. Bellingham

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the issues discussed and decisions taken at the joint Energy and Environment Council held on 23 April.

Mr. Eggar

My hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside and I represented the United Kingdom at a joint session of the Energy and Environment Councils on 23 April to review progress in relation to the Community strategy on climate change. Discussion focused on the proposal for a Community carbon/energy tax and the concept of burden-sharing in achieving the carbon dioxide stabilisation objective. We noted that the Economic and Financial Council had concluded last December that a great deal more work was needed before it could take any decisions on whether a tax was needed and, if so, what form it should take. This work was under way and, in the meantime, it was premature to seek to commit member states to the principle of a Community-wide carbon/energy tax. The United Kingdom was not yet convinced that such a tax was either a necessary or appropriate response to the problem of global warming. A number of other member states who were willing to accept the principle of a Community tax made clear that they could do so only on the basis that they would be exempted from applying the tax as part of the proposed burden-sharing arrangement. No decisions were taken or agreement reached, on the proposed tax or on the structure of burden-sharing.

The Council also discussed a Commission report on Community assistance to eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to improve the safety of nuclear reactors, in which the United Kingdom and others called for improved implementation of Community programmes.

The Commission announced that it would shortly submit proposals for a new Council regulation on ozone-depleting substances.