I will never be in favour of nuclear power and it is well known that I am not. However, it is without doubt an alternative source of energy that can dramatically reduce carbon emissions. It is not as good as wind or wave energy, but it can reduce carbon emissions dramatically. In the event that we have to reduce carbon emissions, then we have to look at the alternatives, unfortunately. It is all right for me to say it, as I have always been opposed to nuclear energy, but there are many people up and down this country who are now saying we should think about it. Maybe we should think about it. However, nobody has yet found a way to dispose of the waste from the nuclear sector. It is impossible. I know there will be experts out there who say, "That guy does not know what he is talking about." In fact, I do. I have read up very carefully over the years on the evolution of the nuclear sector. While there are those who will say they have found the ultimate answer in nuclear energy, they have not. We must look at the other options.
Taken in isolation, no one country can address the issue we are talking about now. It cannot be done by one country. The suggestion that each and every country should do it becomes an economic weapon. If we did that, then we would cease all industry and close down the agriculture sector in this country. While there is no doubt that we would achieve reductions in carbon emissions, there would be no economy. There would be nothing to do all day long but just float around. There are people who would say that we would have tourism. We have tourism already, and we can still have it, but we need a comprehensive, holistic economy in the future. If we are to move in the same way as other countries - from having a very basic economy to full employment on an ongoing basis, with a bigger population - then we need to look very carefully at all of the options available to us. I take into account the points raised by both of the last two speakers opposite, because a balance has to be brought into this. If we do not get that balance, we are in trouble.
Other speakers referred to regulation. I compliment the Minister and the Minister of State on bringing the legislation before the House, because there is no doubt it is necessary. By the same token, we should not allow ourselves to feel we have an obligation to make all the sacrifices for the rest of the world. We need to make sacrifices to balance our own carbon emissions, keeping the future in mind. I believe we can do that, but we have to find and develop non-fossil fuels. We all know the argument. There are lots of people up and down the country who are like me in that they do not want nuclear power. There are lots of people who do not want wind energy because they say it is bad for the environment, which it is not, although that is neither here nor there. There are lots of people who say we should wait for wave energy, and maybe we should. The problem is, however, that wave energy is a long way away at present and we do not have sufficient generation capacity to meet the requirements as we proceed into the future. Therefore, we have to make preparations for the future. Let us consider the number of jobs we have created in recent years and the number we need to create for the future. We need to have a reliable energy source that is not going to create further emissions. Otherwise, our economic future will be curtailed.
Somebody recently said that we need to have balance in regard to the environment. It was said that our scenery is important and that we should protect it and maintain it as best we can into the future, which is correct. Unfortunately, we also have to eat and have economic activity. I would not want this country to become the one place in Europe that made all the sacrifices and did all the things that were right in order to ensure that somebody else felt good. It is hugely important that we keep this in mind.
We know we can achieve most of the targets that are likely to be set for us if we set about it on time and do not allow demand to exceed capacity so that we eventually end up with blackouts. It is not so many years since we had blackouts and the threat of them around Christmas time. That can very quickly come back again. Those who say we have sufficient capacity at present, regardless of what happens, are wrong. Unfortunately, that is the way it is.
I want to discuss how balance can be achieved in the agricultural sector. We should also mention that everything that grows absorbs carbon, particularly trees. The ordinary, simple, humble Sitka spruce is able to absorb four times as much as an oak tree in its lifetime. The western red cedar is next in line, with an ability to absorb three and a half times as much carbon as a hardwood tree.
All trees make a contribution. All trees when cut or burned, whatever the case may be, emit what they absorbed in the first place and no more.
A significant amount can be achieved with forestry. The agricultural sector will need to be involved with it and is conscious of it. We need to ensure that we illustrate, to the greatest extent possible, the degree to which forestry and tweaking the system can ensure that we maintain a sequestration of carbon that is sufficient to meet our requirements into the future.
Industry and agriculture are the two areas with which we have difficulties. It all depends on what energy we use to fuel those industries. If we do it right, we can continue on almost as we were. Our production will not be hampered. Somebody said we are the greatest offenders in the world. That is not true. Other European countries have lower requirements in terms of agriculture and make less of an impact in terms of carbon emissions because of their way of life. Some countries have virtually no carbon emissions. Other countries and continents have a major negative impact on carbon because of the way they consume energy.
We cannot discuss heavy goods. We can develop what we have in the agriculture sector to the best of our ability. Drainage and irrigation were mentioned. We should address those areas in the ordinary course of events, because if we do not, we will eventually have to live in trees as the whole island will be flooded. It does not work that way. One must clean and irrigate at all times. Otherwise, nothing happens. For the life of me I cannot understand why some people seem to revel in the idea that we should take to the boats and prepare accordingly.
The most significant factor in the equation is the development of non-fossil fuels. Wind energy is one such possibility. I do not want to see an urban-rural divide on the issue. We are all in this together. The island is not that big. It is possible to develop the industry to meet, as best we can, all that is required. The same is true of wave energy. My relationship with wind energy goes back a bit longer than most. I read about it many years ago in the 1960s and 1970s when the very first wind turbines in Iowa and Wyoming were built. They were not built with the baffles that are necessary in the event of increasing wind power. Storms came once every five years, but when one came it took a turbine with it and dragged it out by the roots. It took off in the same way as the propeller of an aircraft draws itself into the wind. It was well able to do that.
I accept that we are required to comply with international guidelines. We cannot do so on our own, but we can do so effectively in conjunction with the rest of the European Union. That is what we have to aim for. It is up to the European Union and the rest of the global community to arrive at the decisions that will be sustainable and achievable, while at the same time meeting the targets as we proceed. If that is not done, nothing will happen.
Deputy Fitzmaurice raised an interesting question as to whether we should believe the scientists. We now have to believe them. I saw the whole countryside flooded in the 1950s. Thousands of acres were affected and nobody mentioned climate change or global warning because they did not know about them at the time. Interesting events took place over the previous 20 years, such as two world wars, which could have had a bearing on climate.
During that time we were not focused in the same way. However, we now have the evidence and if we do not take account of it, future generations might well pass judgment on us in a way that we would not like. We have to be responsible. We should work within our capacity to achieve the targets that are laid down. We should not sacrifice ourselves or allow ourselves to be sacrificed by anybody on the basis that we should be the only contributors to a reduction in carbon emissions, and we should be the people to pay.
I heard this argument before, in particular in respect of the reduction of the sugar regime in Europe. It was put to us in a committee that if we changed our habits here, decided no longer to grow sugar beet and reduced sugar production throughout Europe, it would be beneficial to poor farmers in Africa. That idea was wrong. It had no impact whatsoever. Instead, it was of major benefit to multinational corporations which decided they wanted to take over the business of growing sugar in Africa and elsewhere.
There are many economic issues we need to bear in mind. We need to accept our responsibilities. I am sorry my time is up because this is a subject about which I love to speak. I do not know whether the Acting Chairman likes to hear me speak about it.