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Climate Change (Africa)

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

7. What steps his Department is taking to assist African countries to mitigate the effects of climate change on them. (303271)

We provide assistance through our country programmes, as well as through multilateral partners, to help African countries deal with the increased threats from water shortages, natural disasters, reduced agricultural production and changing patterns of disease.

Africa did not cause the climate change problem and is not exacerbating it now, but it will suffer more than most continents from its consequences. Will the Minister have discussions with his colleagues to ensure that Africa’s problems, and its need to mitigate and adapt, are taken fully into account at Copenhagen, and that Africa is given the help it needs and deserves?

I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with the hon. Gentleman. Africa certainly was not responsible for causing climate change. He is absolutely right to highlight the importance of the Copenhagen talks and the need for the international community to provide additional finance to the end that he mentions. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be attending the talks to help highlight, with other development Ministers, the need for the international community to do exactly what the hon. Gentleman has suggested: to provide more support to countries across the world who are in need of such additional finance.

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the need for international co-operation, particularly in respect of mitigation funds. As he knows, east Africa and other places are already suffering from the lack of rains for the past three or four years. What steps can he and his colleagues in the Government take to ensure that our international partners fund to the right level the commitments they have already made? I ask that because we know that in previous deals the money has not been on the table despite the promises. Can the Minister assure us that that funding will now be in place, and that it will be ensured that countries are tied in to giving the money that they have already promised?

As my hon. Friend is aware, that is an essential part of the deal that we want to achieve at Copenhagen and beyond. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has pressed the international community to agree a package of support to 2020, rising to $100 billion of both private and public finance to help developing countries adapt to, and mitigate, the impacts of climate change. The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, who is now going to the climate change talks, will continue to press our position on this issue.