Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Caroline Flint: I am going to make some progress because it is a short debate.

    That gap is bad for jobs and for tackling climate change and it does not bode well. Leadership needs to be shown in the months ahead.

    By this time next year we could have a binding agreement from 196 countries that puts us on a path to a sustainable future, but it will require us to show real leadership. It used to be said we would never get a deal without the world’s biggest emitters stepping up. Well, America and China have already taken one step with a deal that could see China’s emissions peak in 2030 and would see the US reduce its emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

    The current bid from the EU for “at least” a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 does not go far enough. We are already signed up to a tougher target of 60% by 2030 at home, because of the Climate Change Act and the fact that we met our first carbon budget. We should be doing everything possible to toughen the EU position. The “at least” in the EU submission makes it possible to do that. The EU has already met its 2020 target five years early. I think we should be more ambitious. In his statement today, the Prime Minister said we needed to be ambitious, so can I ask the Secretary of State, what does ambition in the EU look like?

    We also have to recognise the link between the sustainable development goals being negotiated in September and the Paris conference, because we will not make progress in reducing poverty unless we succeed in limiting the effects of climate change, which we know devastates communities and affects food security, transport and jobs. It leads to the displacement of people with no home or hope, and to the costs that follow in disaster relief. I am proud that under the last Labour Government, the Department for International Development led the world in helping countries adapt to climate change, such as Bangladesh, where 300,000 people were helped in raising their homes above sea level.


    Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): Is the right hon. Lady going to address the issue of cost? She criticised me and four others for voting against the Climate Change Act, but I did so because the impact assessment showed that the potential costs were twice the maximum benefits. According to the Government, the costs will now reach something like £400 a household by 2020. Will she address that issue?


    Caroline Flint: The problem is that although the right hon. Gentleman is right that there is a cost to change, there is a bigger cost to doing nothing at all. The investment that we make will not only help us make energy cheaper and homes warmer but create job and investment opportunities. He might like to stay in the 19th century, but I would like to take us forward to a better—[Interruption.] I am sorry, but that is what it is—“Let’s stay with what has gone on in the past, even though we know that it is not fit for purpose for the future.” There is everything to gain from having a cleaner-energy future. However, I am glad in some respects that he continues to be a minority voice in the House on the issue.