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Climate Change and the Environment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:26 pm on 8th February 2005.

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Photo of Desmond Turner Desmond Turner Labour, Brighton, Kemptown 2:26 pm, 8th February 2005

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, with which I agree. We cannot say, "We've had all the fun with fossil fuels but we're going to stop using them now and you mustn't use them. You're going to have to stay poor and undeveloped." That will not wash. As part of our international aid programme, we should put funds into developing and distributing simple, low-cost and low-carbon technologies that are usable in the developing world. I am happy that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office initiated such a programme, which is now an international programme, about two years ago. It is under way but it needs to be developed a great deal more. Our country is fortunate in having technologies that can be applied in that work.

I am happy that the Government are reviewing their climate change policies. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would not claim that our policies were currently absolutely right. They need to be overhauled, partly because they were developed when it was a battle to convince people that climate change was real. Now the battle is tackling it and we need a step change in the effectiveness of our policies. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Agri-environment can tell us more about the review. I hope that more hon. Members will contribute to the review in a cross-party and collaborative manner. I would even embrace ideas from the hon. Member for South Suffolk.

The Government must review their policies and reach some consensus. They should also examine the coherence of policies. It is not ideal for DEFRA to have responsibilities for climate change, while responsibility for energy, which is one of the key elements in tackling climate change, is split between DEFRA and the Department of Trade and Industry, the keeper of the key fiscal instruments—the Treasury—is a separate Department, and the Department for Transport is also involved. At least four major Departments need to work together cohesively to make a future strategy stick. That might mean a change of culture. I do not mean that in a political sense because politicians can speak to each other happily, but we all know that civil servants have a less good record of cross-departmental collaboration. I therefore suggest to my hon. Friend that we also need to consider our civil service structures for underpinning, delivering and developing climate change policy, because we could do much more on that.