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Climate Change

Volume 601: debated on Wednesday 28 October 2015

1. What progress her Department has made on its work on the effects of climate change in developing countries. (901837)

We are doing climate-smart development. Through the international climate fund, the UK has helped over 15 million people cope with the effects of climate change and given 2.6 million people access to clean energy. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister recently announced that over the next five years the UK’s climate funding will increase by at least 50%.

In 2015 we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make progress on both international development and climate change. In countries such as Bangladesh and in regions of Africa, the connection between climate change and child marriage is stark. Desperate families faced with failing crops, flooding and extreme weather impacting on their livelihoods and homes are deciding to see their daughters married earlier and earlier, in the hope that they will at least have a roof over their heads and food to eat. Too often that gamble is leaving girls at risk—

I hope that we will look to resolve climate change in order to deal with international development.

The hon. Lady is right to point out that climate change has a number of different impacts that go well beyond the environment. She will know that last year we held the Girl summit, because it is all about increasing momentum to tackle child marriage worldwide. The UK now has a flagship programme in place to do just that.

Some 660 million Africans currently have no access to power. Will my right hon. Friend explain what she is doing to ensure that global goal 7 is met, while at the same time being careful and cautious about climate change?

My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that last week the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), announced a brand-new programme that the UK will be heading called Energy Africa, which is supported by Kofi Annan. It will mean that we can get energy to the people who are least likely to be able to afford it, but— this is critical—we are doing that in a renewable way, which we think will have a huge impact in the coming years.

Is the right hon. Lady in any way concerned about the signals that the Department of Energy and Climate Chance might be sending out through its lack of support for renewable energy and the change in that regime, and what lessons other countries might draw from that?

There are two aspects to tackling climate change. The first, of course, is mitigation, and many developed countries such as the UK have significant plans in place to transition to low carbon economies. The second is adaptation, which is the challenge for many developing countries. It is about how they can ensure that they not only adapt to climate change, which often hits them first, but grow sustainably and develop nevertheless.

I congratulate the Department on the excellent work it has done with the Nepali Government over many years on the community forestry programme, which has seen forestation increase in Nepal. Are there lessons to learn from that programme for other areas in which the Department operates?

Yes, I think that the key is to work with the grain of human nature and put in place programmes that allow livelihoods to be more successful and profitable, and that can go hand in hand with protecting and preserving the environment. The programme to which my hon. Friend refers is one of a number that the Department has put in place to ensure that reforestation happens.