Climate change: The UK will “pay the price in British lives” if the Government fails to spend money helping poor countries deal with climate change, according to Greg Barker, the Environment Minister.
Reacting to criticism of the Government’s plan to spend almost £2bn helping poor countries switch to green energy, Mr Barker said the money could have economic and environmental benefits for Britain.
However the scheme will cost around £70 per household in the UK.
The climate aid, announced at the latest round of climate change talks in Doha, Qatar is going towards building wind turbines in Africa and making cattle ranchers in Colombia plant trees.
Mr Barker explained that two thirds of emissions will come from the developing world in the future, so it is key to help those countries switch to renewables like wind and solar, to stop climate change that could impact us all through extreme weather.
Ultimately, he said the money could stop political upheaval. For example, helping to ensure sustainable water and food supplies could stop land disputes that lead to war where Britain is forced to intervene.
“There will always be people who do not agree with foreign aid and that is a difference of opinion. But the Prime Minister has been very clear. It represents a sensible investment for British people. If you turn your back on the developing world we will see more failed states, we will see countries struggling and failing to deal with the impact of dangerous climate change.
“And ultimately, we pay the price in British lives. Climate change isn’t the only reason for instability in the future [in countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia], but it’s going to be a very aggravating factor, if we don’t play our art in stemming it.”
A number of Tory MPs have hit out against the Government’s plans to spend a total of £2.9bn on ‘climate change aid’ by 2015.
However, Mr Barker insisted it is a key part of achieving a deal in Doha on fighting climate change.
Poor countries want $100bn per year by 2020 as part of any climate change deal before they will sign up to any agreement that forced them to cut emissions.
The aim of the talks this year is to work towards a deal in 2015 that will start cutting emissions from 2020.
Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary, agreed it was in the interest of UK taxpayers to spend money on ensuring a global deal.
“It is in everyone’s interest in the UK that we progress these climate change talks. We are already seeing the damage it does not just in the UK but across the world. The impact of and costs of dangerous climate change will be far, far greater and we are already seeing those costs now.”