This amendment relates to the key question of targets so that we can chart whether we are making concrete and tangible progress towards reducing CO2 emissions or whether our mitigation plans for reducing emissions are just aspirational general policy objectives and not really measurable in terms of real improvements and reductions. This goes to the heart of the matter we debated on Committee Stage and are debating again now, namely, the Government’s resistance to the introduction of specific measurable targets which could establish whether we are making real progress over the plan’s period.
As I said before the sos, although it was not the Government’s decision, it is an interesting coincidence that some of the more specific amendments relating to targets were ruled out of order on the grounds they would be a charge on the Exchequer. This really gets to the heart of the matter because we are going to have to put money into meeting targets and dealing with climate change. This is why the Government does not want to commit to these targets and why it did not want the afforestation targets I proposed in the forestry Bill. Generally, the Government does not like targets because they are measurable and specific. It likes very general targets that can be pushed way out into the future so it cannot be held accountable as to whether tangible progress has been made towards meeting general aspirational targets, and as we know with so many of the Government’s aspirational targets announced a few years out. For example, in response to one of the topical issues of the moment, the Government said it was going to get rid of homelessness by 2016. Here we are approaching 2016 but we are going in the opposite direction in dealing with the problem. It sounded very good when it was initially proposed. That is the problem with general far-out targets. They sound good now but often will not materialise unless there is a clear tangible roadmap towards the achievement of those targets and where we can measure our progress on a yearly basis.
That is why many of us on this side of the House are pushing for more specific binding targets. It is telling that the Government is resisting these amendments and proposals. Members on this side are merely acting as conduits for those environmental groups campaigning on the whole area of climate change. Those groups are adamant that we must have these types of targets. If we do not, then we are not serious about dealing with climate change. Given its response to those calls for specific targets, it is clear the Government is not serious and this is just window-dressing, as is so often the case with legislation it puts through to deal with matters of critical importance.