Skip to main content

Climate Change

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the likely humanitarian implications of sea level rise as a result of the melting of Greenland ice. (207960)

The precise interplay between climate change, sea level rises and the effect on vulnerable people has not been fully explored, but it is clear that sea level rises will have a huge impact. The nature of that impact will vary from place to place, but might include widespread loss of life, homes and livelihoods, and mass migration in small island states such as Vanuatu or low-lying areas of countries such as Bangladesh. Furthermore, as noted by the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, developing countries often lack the financial and other resources to protect or relocate people living in low-lying zones; this can make their populations far more vulnerable than people living in similar physical locations in developed countries.

Climate change—including climate change adaptation—is one of the central themes of the Department for International Development's (DFID) new five-year research strategy. Meanwhile, the UK Government are already funding work to help communities affected by sea-level rises. For example, in Bangladesh the £50 million DFID is providing over eight years to help poor households in the Chars region had included (as of January 2008) raising 43,500 homesteads above 1998 flood levels. Also, in India DFID is part-funding a study by the US-based Institute for Social and Economic Transition, which is setting out strategies for responding to the risks associated with climate change in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.