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Climate Change - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:41 pm on 6th February 2020.

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Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 3:41 pm, 6th February 2020

My Lords, I am glad to follow that very challenging speech from the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. It is important to have clear answers from the Government on what is being done.

I want to put on record my unqualified admiration for my noble friend Lord Browne of Ladyton, not only for this debate, but also for his consistent commitment and work in these areas. We have been talking for a long time about the challenge and responsibility to our children and grandchildren for what is happening to the world. It has become clear that it is not just a matter of our children and grandchildren. The crisis is immediate and real, affecting people now, as we debate it in this House. The urgency of action cannot be overemphasised. However, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford reminded us, it is not only a matter of aspiration but of being certain about the means and the detail. That is why this specific debate is so important. The detail is critical in how we are going to do this.

One of the huge challenges we face is that there must be great international co-operation. There is no other way that we can achieve any slowdown in climate change. We must look to our close neighbours, and across the world. One of the challenges is that we are demanding this action and recognising the need for it at a time when millions of people across the world have not gained access to the way of life we take for granted. There are terrific issues of social justice at the heart of this.

Let us look for a moment at some of the immediate things that are happening, to emphasise this point. Escalating migration trends across the world, unsustainable agricultural production and irresponsible trade deals are all leading to instability and dangerous conflict. Recently, the FAO warned that the total number of people going hungry in the world has been rising again for three years in succession. The recent cyclone in Mozambique vividly illustrated how the poorest can suffer. Mozambique’s emissions are negligible compared with ours, but the number of climate change-related disasters—floods, storms and extreme heat—has apparently doubled in the last 25 years. In Mali, farmers, herders and fishermen have been caught up in conflict over the reduction of the River Niger’s water levels, a situation made worse by climate change and increased demand due to population growth. Plans by the Governments of the neighbouring countries to build dams will further affect the water availability in the Niger Delta. This will affect more than 1 million people.

In Uganda, many women walk for six hours a day to fetch water. As the dry season becomes longer, they will be forced to walk for longer to collect water and firewood. With millions already forced to leave their homes by climate change, the World Bank has reminded us that 143 million people in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere will be displaced in the next 30 years unless urgent action is taken. We need very convincing arguments from the Government today not just about their aspirations but about what they are doing and how they are doing it.