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Volume 670: debated on Wednesday 29 January 2020

2. What steps his Department is taking to protect (a) forestry and (b) biodiversity in developing countries. (900463)

4. What steps his Department is taking to protect (a) forestry and (b) biodiversity in developing countries. (900466)

5. What steps his Department is taking to protect (a) forestry and (b) biodiversity in developing countries. (900467)

8. What steps his Department is taking to protect (a) forestry and (b) biodiversity in developing countries. (900470)

DFID is at the forefront of global efforts to tackle illegal logging, promote sustainable trade in timber, and eliminate deforestation from supply chains. Those programmes, and other assistance from the UK, are helping to preserve the world’s most valuable habitats and address biodiversity loss.

It was great to see many families —particularly children—from Addingham, in my constituency, plant more than 600 trees last weekend, thus setting an example to us all. How do the Government plan to inspire the next generation of leaders, such as the children from my constituency, to ensure that we can continue to use our influence on the global platform to help reduce carbon emissions, improve biodiversity, and plant more trees?

I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to his constituents from Addingham, and pay tribute to him for representing them in the House so well. The Government will ensure that young people have a strong voice at COP26 in November, so that their views on the climate and nature are heard on the global stage. DFID is committed to involving young people in our work, promoting active and engaged citizenship through our policy and programmes.

The people in North West Norfolk supported our manifesto commitments to tackle climate change and help countries receiving development aid to become more self-sufficient. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that the aid budget, through CDC, is invested in forestry projects in Africa and elsewhere, both to protect the environment and to help reduce poverty?

I am delighted to tell my hon. Friend that the Secretary of State and I visited CDC on Monday. CDC has a number of investments in sustainable forestry across Africa and is actively exploring opportunities to do more. For example, it is supporting Miro Forestry, a sustainable timber business operating in Sierra Leone and Ghana. CDC’s investment is helping Miro to support the natural environment by replanting severely degraded land, thereby protecting the indigenous forest. To date, the investment has supported the planting of roughly 5.4 million trees.

It is shameful that the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed to provide pasture for cattle grazing. This is devastating for that important global natural resource, and it is also undercutting British beef production. Does the Minister agree that efforts to prevent deforestation are essential for global biodiversity as well as for supporting British beef farmers such as those in my constituency?

The Department for International Development is supporting programmes on reforestation and promoting sustainable beef production. The UK’s Partnerships for Forests programme works in South America to support sustainable businesses that grow crops and rear cattle without causing deforestation. This includes support for a responsible beef partnership, which works to eliminate purchases of beef from producers engaged in illegal deforestation.

As a dual national, I accept that Australia is not a developing country, but the ongoing bush fires have seen forestry and bushland destroyed to the tune of almost 25 million acres, an area almost five times the size of Wales. We have also seen the destruction of more than 1 billion animals. What support has been offered to Australia to help to rebuild not only the bushland and forests but the biodiversity that has been destroyed?

Our hearts go out to everyone in Australia who has been affected by these devastating fires. The fires are a tragedy that remind us all of the catastrophe that climate change is inflicting on forests and biodiversity. The UK stands ready to provide our Australian friends with the support they need, including our full range of humanitarian capabilities if required.

Just over a week ago, the Prime Minister made a showpiece promise to end all UK aid spending on coal. That is all well and good, but there has not been any such spending since 2012. This is more evidence that the Government are more interested in talking big on climate change globally than in taking action. It is time for the Government to get serious. Will the Minister commit today to stopping spending taxpayers’ money on gas, oil and fracking, which are helping to destroy our planet and biodiversity, and instead commit to using aid to tackle the vast amounts of poverty and inequality across the globe?

I would encourage the hon. Gentleman to read the announcement in the Prime Minister’s speech more carefully. The announcement includes not only our bilateral aid assistance but investment, export credit and trade promotion support. The Government have shown significant leadership in tackling climate change, not least through our announcement to double our international climate finance commitment to developing countries, and we will host COP26 later this year.

Is the Minister aware that an all-party group has invited leaders of the indigenous communities of the Amazon to visit the House of Commons on 5 February? I invite all Members to meet those people and listen to their concerns about the deforestation of the Amazon.

The hon. Gentleman is right to suggest that we need to work with indigenous communities around the world. Many people in the developing world owe their livelihoods and incomes to local forests, and we therefore need to work with the communities in everything we do.

Developing countries around the world are facing a loss of trees and animals at a catastrophic rate as the climate emergency worsens. When will the Secretary of State follow the bold leadership of the Scottish Government and the recommendations of the International Development Committee and explicitly adopt the concept of climate justice, in order to help climate spending and ensure that the most vulnerable receive the help that they need to protect their biodiversity?

The UK is a global leader. Not only are we the fastest remover of our own carbon emissions in the G7; we are also making ground-breaking commitments such as the Prime Minister’s commitment at the UN General Assembly to double our international climate finance spending. I think that we have a proud record to tell, but we are going to work even harder to ensure that COP26 in Glasgow in November is a huge success.

International agribusiness in Colombia regularly steals land from campesino and indigenous peoples to cut down trees and plant acre after acre of palm oil crops, which is unsustainable for the future and bad for the environment. What are the Government saying to the Colombian Government to bring the peace process back on track so that indigenous people can have their land back?

DFID supports the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, a public-private initiative with 90 member organisations that is focused on realising private sector commitments to eliminate deforestation in the supply chains for palm oil, beef, soya and paper. This is one of our many initiatives to address the consequences of palm oil production.