Lord James of Blackheath had a Starred Question on Monday:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assess the assurances given by the previous Administration on the completion date and costs of the renewable energy programme required to meet the European Union target of a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.The target is unattainable and one must pity any government that is stuck with it. Or one would pity it if one did not know that they would sign up to the same agreements.
My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord is referring to the European Union's obligation under the renewable energy directive to source 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, of which the UK share is to achieve 15 per cent renewable energy consumption by 2020. We are committed to meeting the UK's target for renewable energy by 2020, but we want to go further and have asked the Committee on Climate Change to provide independent advice on the level of ambition for renewables across the UK.Admittedly, that reply does not exactly tell one what the government is going to do apart from consulting and asking for reports (which will not be all that healthy for the deficit) but the tone of the response does not suggest that anybody has actually thought at all seriously about the subject.
As part of the package of challenging energy and climate change measures, the UK has also signed up to the target of a reduction in new EU greenhouse emissions of at least 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Actual costs will depend on how the market responds to incentives, on barriers to deployment and on how technology costs evolve between now and 2020. We will continue to monitor and review the uptake of financial incentives and costs.
Interestingly, the noble Minister, Lord Marland, a Conservative Party apparatchik, as well as a businessman and what used to be known as a sportsman seems to have annoyed the House with the long-windedness of his replies. He must try harder. Nevertheless, he did manage to come out with an extraordinary number. According to the agreement, as mentioned above, this country is supposed to source 20 per cent of its energy from renewables (which does not include nuclear) by 2020.
The most recent statistics for 2009 show that the level of renewable energy consumed in the UK has reached 3 per cent. This puts us on a trajectory to meet our first interim target under the renewable energy directive, which is 4 per cent by 2012.That 20 per cent may turn out to be rather hard to achieve at this rate.
Lord Pearson asked:
My Lords, are the Government wise to have committed £18 billion per annum for the next 40 years to combat climate change when the science underpinning it has collapsed? How many British people will suffer fuel poverty as a result of this discredited initiative?Unfortunately, it would appear that the government is now not in agreement with UKIP and there is more than a cigarette paper difference between them. Then again, it is not prepared to answer questions on the subject of money, fuel poverty or the dubiousness of the climate change science.
I am not sure I thank the noble Lord for his question, but his party's views are well known and, I am afraid, do not coincide with ours. We think that climate change is one of the biggest issues to confront the nation. We are putting green awareness on the front of our agenda. We are going to be the greenest Government who have existed and we intend to deliver policies to show so.They will do such things, what they are they know not, but they shall be the greening of the earth.
Lord Marland also refused to answer a question about nuclear generated electricity as it is, in his opinion, irrelevant to the question and was a little muddled in his response to Lord Lawson of Blaby, whose question was:
Is my noble friend aware that only a couple of days ago, Mr Bob Wigley, the chairman of the previous Government's Green Investment Bank Commission, stated that meeting the requirements of the absurd Climate Change Act will cost the United Kingdom £50 billion a year, every year, for the next 40 years. How-above all in this age of austerity-can this possibly be justified?In his reply Lord Marland was short on definite investment figures and long on vague promises about those green jobs.
I am very grateful to noble Lords for fighting over a question for me; it is quite rare in this job. However, I must correct my noble friend; the Green Investment Bank was an initiative set up by our own party and one must not rule out the phenomenal business opportunities that it offers for this country. We must have 2 million heat pumps by 2020. We must have bioenergy, which will create 100,000 jobs at a value of £116 million. Wind alone should create 130,000 jobs at a value of £36 billion. At a time when the country needs investment, these are heartening numbers.Since they are purely imaginary numbers they cannot really be called heartening.