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Climate Change

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the impact of climate change and the destruction of the rainforest on sustainable development in the Amazon basin. (92959)

Research funded by the Government at the Hadley Centre suggests that climate change could lead to a drier climate in the Amazon basin. A less disturbed forest will better adapt to these conditions, a more fragmented one will be more vulnerable to fire and therefore less resilient. Most climate models agree that complete removal of the Amazonian forest would lead to a drying of the climate, because local rainfall depends on recycling of water via the forest. Removal of the Amazonian forest could also affect local climates in neighbouring regions through changes in atmospheric circulation. The effect on agriculture could be profound and research by Brazil's national meteorological service suggests that the rainfall in the La Plata basin (where much of Brazil's hydroelectric power is generated) depends on moisture transported via the atmosphere from Amazonia. In addition to these potential impacts on agricultural production and power generation, loss of forest as a result of climate change would result in significant reduction in biodiversity and access to forest products which contribute to local livelihoods. Conflicts related to access to natural resources would be exacerbated.