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New department wants debate on UN targets

The new Department of Energy and Climate Change wants to provoke a national debate ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next year.

The conference will look to establish a binding global climate agreement to come into force after 2012 with come commentators predicting it will set in stone a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

An announcement released by the new department yesterday (October 14) set out ministerial responsibilities and said new secretary of state Ed Miliband will work with junior minister Joan Ruddock “in promoting national debate in the run up to Copenhagen.”

Mr Miliband is expected to make a statement today (Thursday October 16) on the Government's view on whether carbon cutting targets should rise. 

The announcement on department responsibilities said Mr Miliband will lead on overall strategy and key international and European Union negotiations.

He will be supported by two full time ministers Mike O’Brien MP and Lord Hunt of Kings Heath alongside Mrs Ruddock.

Mr O’Brien will lead on delivering a low carbon economy and ensuring secure and affordable energy supply. This includes renewable energy, carbon capture and storage/, nuclear strategy, energy markets, carbon budgets, resilience and emergencies and development consents and planning. He will also oversee the passage of the Energy Bill through Parliament.

Lord Hunt will represent the department in the House of Lords and work with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on issues important to both departments. He will mainly focus on energy innovation and emerging technologies, heat supply including locally distributed energy and coal liabilities including coal health payments.

Mrs Ruddock is charged with tackling fuel poverty and consumer issues, energy efficiency in the residential sector, the Carbon Reduction Commitment and changing behaviour. She will also be responsible for guiding the Climate Change Bill through Parliament.