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Climate Change and the Environment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:42 pm on 8th February 2005.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes 12:42 pm, 8th February 2005

I absolutely agree. The hon. Gentleman is Chair of the Select Committee on Environmental Audit, and does a splendid job. Moreover, I watched him grill the Prime Minister very effectively this morning in the Liaison Committee.

All Governments—our own can do this through the Department for International Development and other Departments—need to look at how international development aid is spent. We need to know that the money we give in aid, for good reasons, is not making an environmental problem worse. In the end, developing countries need a secure environment even more than the UK does. It is an own goal to encourage fossil-fuel energy generation, as happens in some places.

It seems very likely that there will be an increase in global temperature of 2°C by the 2050s. The consequence for the developing world will be that an additional 250 million to 300 million people will be at risk of contracting malaria. Also, 12 million more people will be exposed to hunger as crop production falls, and 20 million more could suffer from coastal flooding. Clearly, that must be tackled. I suggest to Mr. Lomborg that merely giving aid and doing nothing else is like pouring water into a colander: it will not solve the problem.

Does tackling climate change have a negative economic impact? The Secretary of State will know that one reason given by the US for not engaging in the Kyoto process was the alleged damage to the US economy. Frankly, I think that that damage is somewhat overstated. To be fair to the Government, and their Tory predecessors, this country over the past 15 years has demonstrated an ability to disconnect economic growth from carbon emissions. That is a very important lesson to take out and sell to the Americans and to others who are sceptical about the proposition.