Climate Change Adaptation

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Labour, Blaydon

What plans she has to implement the recommendations on climate change adaptation in the May 2019 Committee on Climate Change report on net zero carbon emissions.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government recognise the need for urgent action on climate change—on both mitigation and adaptation. For example, we are investing £2.6 billion over six years on flood defences. Some sectors are already adapting to the changing climate. When I visited the Fruit Focus event in Kent, I learned that the climate is now better suited for apricot production and for vineyards. The good news is that this will mean more high-quality English sparkling wine to toast the health and success of our new Prime Minister.

Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Labour, Blaydon

Do I detect an end-of-term feel about the Minister’s comments?

What analysis has the Minister undertaken of the impact on homes, infrastructure and communities as a result of climate change over the next 10 to 20 years? Will he share that analysis with the House, so that Members are able to assess the impact on our constituencies?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank the hon. Lady for that question. The Committee on Climate Change assessed 33 sectors, and we welcome its report. We are committed to taking robust action to improve resilience to climate change. We will formally respond to the Committee’s detailed recommendations in October, in line with the timetable set out in the Climate Change Act 2008, and that will include the way climate change affects communities.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Conservative, Newbury

Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that tackling and adapting to climate change has the virtue not only of being the right policy—making sure that we continue to be a world leader in this regard—but of being popular?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

As we switch the way we support our farmers from the basic payment system to paying public money for public goods, getting action on climate change will be just one of those public goods that we can deliver outside the European Union.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

The Minister might be toasting the new Prime Minister, but I do wonder how much hot air is being generated and what contribution that will make to the net emissions target. The Scottish Government have committed to net zero by 2045, rather than the UK Government’s 2050 target. Is the UK not willing to match that level of ambition?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

When it comes to hot air, pots and kettles spring to mind.

I look forward to working with the Scottish Administration to achieve the target. This is not a party political issue. Every single part of this House wants to take action on climate change, and it is vital that we do so to deliver a cleaner and greener planet in the future.

Photo of Colin Clark Colin Clark Conservative, Gordon

This is perfect weather for barbecues and enjoying Scottish beef. Does the Minister agree that the beef industry is doing its bit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burping cows?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, but it is interesting to note that, unlike carbon dioxide, which takes 100 years to dissipate, methane dissipates in about 12 years. That means that if we can reduce the current rate of methane production—never mind net zero—we will actually reduce the amount of methane in the atmosphere, which will be an important way of contributing to our net zero targets.