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Climate Change: Developing Countries

Volume 687: debated on Monday 4 December 2006

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What percentage of projects funded by the Department for International Development address climate change concerns in developing countries.

My Lords, the Government are committed to helping developing countries address climate change, as described in the 2006 DfID White Paper. Climate change concerns are by nature cross-sectoral and vary from country to country. We have no single statistic that reflects how our support addresses these concerns. However, we have committed more than £100 million over five years from 2005 specifically to improve climate research, to support low-carbon development and to integrate adaptation into development activities.

My Lords, I thank the Lord President of the Council for that Answer. The displacement of people by climate-related migration has been identified as a factor in violent incidents between previously peaceful neighbouring tribes or groups in Africa, and many of the world’s poorest people are the most vulnerable to increasingly frequent natural disasters brought about by climate change. What steps are Her Majesty’s Government taking to help developing nations to set up prediction and response units that are mainstreamed, inter-sectoral and national planning processes, as suggested by Sir Gordon Conway?

My Lords, the noble Baroness is right about the increase in conflict across the world as the result of arguments over resources, in particular water. We are committed to allocating 10 per cent of the funding provided in response to each natural disaster to prepare for and mitigate the impact of future disasters, including those related to climate change. The noble Baroness will know that, in addition, an element of the work we do on agriculture, infrastructure development and so forth, looks at sustainability, environmental and climate-change activity.

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that one of the problems is that developing countries themselves can create greenhouse gas emissions, and indeed in some cases demand the right to do so? What can DfID do to help deter that?

My Lords, we can do a number of things. We can help in research and by demonstrating that tackling climate change does not necessarily mean that economic growth and competitiveness will lessen. In addition, we are mainstreaming climate into development activities in climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water, health, infrastructure and energy to help developing countries adopt low carbon energy.

My Lords, does not the Minister agree that concern with development aid expressed on all sides of the House is based on a sense that those who are worse off should be helped by those who are better off? Is she aware that the projections of economic growth set out in the Stern review, on which projections of carbon dioxide emissions and therefore warming are based, imply that in 100 years’ time people in the developed world will be between three and six times better off than they are today—even after the highest conjectured damage from climate change? Further, under the highest conjectured damage from climate change suggested in the Stern review, people in the developing world will be between 11 and 60 times better off. Does she not feel that to ask people of this generation throughout the world to make significant sacrifices in order possibly to assist people who will be substantially better off than they are is not self-evidently sensible or even equitable?

My Lords, I do not agree because this is an issue of global concern and one for future generations; it concerns the future of our children and grandchildren. We have to tackle this issue now. The Stern review makes the economics of climate change, and the economics of doing nothing, absolutely clear.

My Lords, do the Government have any proposals to advise or assist the developing nations so that they will not repeat the mistakes made by the developed world? For instance, the United States is responsible for 19.8 tonnes per capita of global CO2 emissions every year, which compares with an annual 0.6 tonnes per capita of global emissions produced by Uganda. There is a massive amount of advice and assistance that would be useful to them. I am going to suggest that we are our brother’s keeper in this because climate change does not respect borders.

My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that we have a number of projects which will help in this respect. We are working to increase support for low-carbon development through the energy investment frameworks of the multilateral development banks. We are the lead donor supporting the ClimDev Africa programme to help Africa improve climate change information. We have committed £24 million for research into addressing climate change in development in Africa, and in addition we have committed a total of £20 million to United Nations special funds to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

My Lords, if I may put my Christian Aid hat on for a moment, does the noble Baroness accept that the message from the developing world is that the issue lies in the developed world, not in the developing world? This is therefore an issue for the whole of our society and for every post in the Cabinet, not just for DfID. Does she further accept that there are therefore issues for us in terms of our lifestyle, and that Advent might be a good point in the season of the year to begin that task?

My Lords, as to the right reverend Prelate’s last point, I am sure that he will guide us on that. I absolutely agree that this issue needs to be managed across Whitehall. That is why there is a cross-Whitehall working group which supports the work of all Ministers. Yes, the message from the developing world is that this is an issue for the developed world, but our view is that it is for all of us. We have to look at our responsibilities and at what we are doing, both individually and as a country, and we have to support efforts in the developing world to ensure that it has a sustainable economic growth which takes account of climate change and environmental sustainability.

My Lords, will the noble Baroness press officials in her department not to lecture developing countries on climate change? Such countries are nearest to the coal face and have to deal with it every day. We should support them in their initiatives.

My Lords, we see this as a partnership. It is not for us to lecture; it is for us to work together on these issues for the sake of future generations.