Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 3:46 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Dan Carden Dan Carden Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 3:46 pm, 10th July 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right and the Government need to report back to Parliament on that.

I want to say a few words about climate finance. The signatories to the Paris agreement have committed to finding at least $100 billion just for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, but even that number is extremely conservative; UN Environment estimates that the real number for mitigation and adaptation alone could in fact be as high as £500 billion by 2050. So why does the UK not have a serious climate finance strategy? In its most recent report in May the International Development Committee called again for one to be given to Parliament, and I urge the Minister today to set out exactly when that will happen.

I turn now to how the UK can tackle the root causes of climate emergency, rather than just manage the decline of our planet. It must not be the role of the British Government and the British taxpayer to throw money at clearing up the mess left behind by the world’s biggest polluters simply so that they can carry on polluting. The truth is that our global economic model is fundamentally broken; it is a system that is driving us towards disaster in the quest to accumulate ever more wealth and extract ever more profit. Unless there is a UK Government who are serious about transitioning away from our current economic model, however ambitious our international action is it will only tackle the symptoms of climate change, never its root causes.

It is a tragedy that those least responsible for the climate crisis will be the first to suffer its consequences. It is not the world’s billionaires who are suffering the worst effects of planetary breakdown, and we should be under no illusions: they are making plans not to fix our economic model, but to escape, survive and ride out the catastrophe.

I want to bring to the House’s attention the writings of the technology writer Douglas Rushkoff, who last year recounted how he was brought in as an expert adviser to a room of billionaires to talk about climate change. He was flabbergasted when, instead of asking him about how to prevent the climate catastrophe or what role they could play, they asked him about how they could insulate themselves from the danger, including, amazingly, the use of disciplinary collars to maintain the loyalty of their private security forces to protect them when society finally broke down and when wages and money no longer held sway. That is quite remarkable.

The time for tinkering around the edges is over. To avert climate catastrophe we must radically restructure our economy here in the UK and globally so that it works for the many, not the few. We should consider this: if global growth continues at 3% each year the global economy will have doubled in size by 2043, and so too will material consumption unless we can de-link it from economic growth. For too long we have ignored the plain fact that we cannot sustain permanent growth on a planet of finite resources. That is exactly why we need the kind of systemic change that our shadow Chancellor has spoken about, and it is why we must use and harness every policy lever available to us and ensure that the state and the private sector invest in the infrastructure to bring about the next green industrial revolution. And that is why we must work with the City to reform and why we must use our influence on the global stage to promote a more democratic global economy.