§ Mr. Stunell
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made in(a) preparation for negotiating limits to fossil fuel use internationally and (b) setting limits to fossil fuel use in the United Kingdom of (i) the availability of fossil fuel reserves (1) worldwide and (2) in the United Kingdom and (ii) the cumulative impact of emissions from fossil fuel burning on the rate and extent of climate degradation. 
§ Mr. Meacher
I know of no negotiations on setting limits to fossil fuel use, either internationally or in the UK. There are negotiations about targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which will inevitably affect306W countries' use of fossil fuels, which is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions, the main man-made greenhouse gas.
Assessments published by the Department of Trade and Industry indicate that estimates of the UK's remaining proven, probable and possible oil reserves have been broadly unchanged since the 1980s, and estimated gas reserves have increased slightly over the same period, despite large increases in production.
In numerical terms UK reserves of oil and gas are currently estimated to be around 1,750 million tonnes and 1,750 billion cubic metres (about 1,450 million tonnes of oil equivalent), respectively. Work undertaken in 1998 for DTI by International Mining Consultants Ltd. estimates the reserves, resources and mineral potential at UK mines to be about 620 million tonnes of coal (about 370 million tonnes of oil equivalent). This estimate is on a more restricted basis than the oil and gas estimates because it takes no account of coal reserves other than those at mines that were operating at the time of the report. An alternative estimate contained in the BP Amoco Statistical Review of World Energy puts UK coal reserves at 1,500 million tonnes of coal.
According to the BP Amoco Statistical Review of World Energy, world reserves of oil, gas and coal are about 140 billion tonnes, 130 billion tonnes, 650 billion tonnes respectively, all converted to oil equivalent. These refer to quantities estimated with reasonable certainty to be present and recoverable under existing economic and operating conditions; the ultimately recoverable amounts could be much larger.
The UK is likely to start importing gas at some point between 2003 and 2010. Through access to world energy markets, the Government's assessment is that fossil fuel resource availability by itself will not constrain consumption for the foreseeable future and is correspondingly unlikely to be a factor in the international negotiations.
The most recent report from the Met Office's Hadley Centre estimated that, under the 'business as usual' scenario, the global temperature will be 2°C warmer than now by the 2050s. This temperature rise would be delayed by 50 years with stabilisation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 750 parts per million and by over 100 years with stabilisation at 550 parts per million. About 70 per cent. of the climate change impact will be due to fossil fuel burning between now and 2100.