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Climate Change

Volume 584: debated on Thursday 17 July 2014

10. How much her Department has spent on adaptation to climate change; and if she will make a statement. (904929)

DEFRA spent £8.3 million in 2013-14 under its core adapting to climate change programme. This included £4.1 million to the Met Office Hadley centre for the provision of world-leading climate science, and £1.6 million to the Environment Agency’s climate ready support service to help organisations across England adapt to a changing climate. Adaptation is mainstreamed across Government. Other Departments and other DEFRA programmes also fund activities that build resilience to climate change.

But with the previous Secretary of State having raided the adaptation budget by 40% in the space of just one year, it is actions, not words, that count. Will the Minister take this opportunity to depart from the sceptical views of his former boss, recognise that climate change is a serious threat to our national security and reinstate flood prevention as a key departmental priority?

The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that actions speak louder than words, which is why this Government are spending £3.2 billion on flood prevention and coastal erosion risk management, compared with £2.7 billion in the previous Parliament.

Over the current spending period it is anticipated that £10.7 billion will be spent on subsidies to low-carbon electricity generation, while only £2.2 billion will be spent on flood defences. Does the Minister agree that adaptation measures designed to protect people’s homes would be a much more effective investment than spending money on unilateral mitigation measures which cost jobs, put up electricity prices and give no defence to people in the short run?

I disagree with the hon. Gentleman that it is an either/or situation. Of course we need to invest in adaptation, which is what we are doing, as I set out in relation to flood prevention, but we also need to take action on mitigation, and I am proud of this Government’s progress on our commitments on carbon.