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International Development Questions

20th March 2019

Harriett Baldwin responds to questions from MPs to the Department for International Development.

Global Warming

Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab)

3. If she will make reducing global warming a strategic priority of her Department. [909916]

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab)

4. If she will make reducing global warming a strategic priority of her Department. [909917]

Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)

15. If she will make reducing global warming a strategic priority of her Department. [909928]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Harriett Baldwin)

Climate change is a major threat to achieving the sustainable development goals, and tackling it is a strategic priority for the Government and for my Department. The Government ​are delivering £5.8 billion in international climate finance to help developing countries to reduce emissions and to manage the impact of climate change.

Christian Matheson

Last Friday, thousands of children took to the streets, including in my own constituency, because they know that we have only 12 years left to make a difference on climate change. So why is the Department still spending money through its prosperity fund on expanding the oil and gas sectors in several countries where that fund is active?

Harriett Baldwin

I welcome the opportunity that the interest young people are showing in climate change gives us to highlight the important work that we are doing. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we do not provide any bilateral assistance for coal-fired power generation, and that CDC, our private sector investment arm, has made no new net investments in coal-fired power since 2012.

Dr Blackman-Woods

Will the Minister update the House on what DFID is doing to follow through on the agreement made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2018 to support urgent action to address climate change and to increase resilience to prevent 100 million more people from being pushed into poverty by 2030?

Harriett Baldwin

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to highlight the importance of commitments that were made last year at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. There is an extensive programme of work to follow through on those commitments, not least the £5.8 billion of international climate finance that we have announced so far, which has already helped 47 million people to increase their resilience to climate change. We will be leading that strand at the United Nations summit in September.

Jeff Smith

The Minister said that there is no net investment from DFID and the CDC. I would be interested to know what she means by that, because we surely need a greater priority on disinvestment in oil and gas extraction. Is she not worried, as I am, about the possibility of stranded assets as a result of investments we have made in the global south?

Harriett Baldwin

We have an important role to play in working with our international bilateral partners to encourage the use of clean growth and clean energy. For example, the week before last, we held an event here in support of sustainable development goal 7 to which we invited African Energy Ministers from developing countries to meet some of the people we have in the UK with expertise on renewable energy.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)

Solar energy is a relatively clean way to generate electricity. What steps are we taking in Africa to help not only people who are off-grid but those who are on-grid, too?

Harriett Baldwin

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that solar energy, particularly in sunny places, is a very good idea. Indeed, there is some very windy coastline where offshore wind energy would also be very helpful. In addition to the event that we held for African Energy ​Ministers the week before last, we have come up with some remarkable inventions using some of our overseas development assistance—for example, a solar-powered fridge.

Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con)

Will the Minister outline the steps the Department is taking to improve biodiversity and habitat enhancement, particularly through the recent investment in the Darwin initiative?

Harriett Baldwin

My hon. Friend will be glad to know that I work closely with my counterparts at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to join up the work we are doing to tackle biodiversity, specifically the contribution we have made to the global environment fund.

Robert Courts (Witney) (Con)

Mangrove forests are one of the most effective habitats at storing carbon dioxide that might otherwise be released. What are the Government doing to help reduce mangrove forest loss?

Harriett Baldwin

We have rebranded them blue forests. We think they are incredibly important, and not only as a way to store carbon; recently it was proven that they also improve resilience to cyclones. They are an important part of the work and have been championed vigorously by the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey).

Chris Law (Dundee West) (SNP)

Last Friday, on the same day that 1.4 million children went on climate strike across the world, more than 1,000 people were killed in Mozambique and Zimbabwe during Cyclone Idai. Does the Minister agree that young people and those living in the developing world are the least responsible yet will bear the brunt of the climate crisis? If so, does she agree that the UK Government must make climate justice a key part of their climate change strategy?

Harriett Baldwin

That is exactly why the UK is proud to be stepping up our work on international climate finance. We have committed £5.8 billion to work with some of the poorer countries in the world, including those affected by this cyclone in Mozambique. There will be an urgent question later, when I will be able to elaborate on the work that the UK has done to help with the situation there.

Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab/Co-op)

Our thoughts are with all those affected by the devastation of Cyclone Idai across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and I would like to share with the House the thoughts of—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

Order. There are a lot of noisy private conversations taking place. It is rather discourteous to the hon. Lady, who is highlighting very grave matters.

Preet Kaur Gill

Our thoughts are with all those affected by the devastation of Cyclone Idai across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and I would like to share with the House the thoughts of Anabela Lemos, a woman at the forefront of the climate justice movement in Mozambique. She says:​

“The people of Mozambique need emergency response and support right now to survive this crisis. But this is also a harsh reminder that the climate crisis is upon us and developed countries need to urgently reduce their emissions and stop funding fossil fuels.”

I welcome the relief package for the region issued by DFID, but it is a tragic irony of climate change that those least responsible are the ones who pay the highest price. A key component of the—

Mr Speaker

Order. This simply is not on. I do not wish to be unkind to the hon. Lady, but I need one sentence with a question mark at the end of it. My apologies for interrupting, but this is far too long.

Preet Kaur Gill

Will the Minister confirm whether the Government have plans to offer any additional climate finance to support vulnerable communities and countries to cope with the consequences of climate change?

Harriett Baldwin

I can confirm that we are already committed to spending £5.8 billion over this spending period, which will involve us being able to increase our finance over the next spending review period. There will be an urgent question later, when we can talk about the specific situation in Mozambique. The report from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact recently said that UK international climate finance is showing a very convincing approach, with some good emerging results in terms of influencing others. We aim to continue with that work.


Topical Questions

Scott Mann (North Cornwall) (Con)

T8. What is the Department doing to support the people of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi after the recent cyclone? [909936]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Harriett Baldwin)

My hon. Friend will be aware that yesterday we were able to announce a further £6 million of emergency funding, working with our partners, such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme and others on the ground, and we were also able to pre-position aid. I know that you, Mr Speaker, have kindly allowed an urgent question on this subject following Prime Minister’s questions.


Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con)

The UK has been one of the biggest donors to the Education Cannot Wait fund since it was set up in 2016. What plans does the Minister have to replenish the ECW, and to maintain UK leadership for children in crises?

Harriett Baldwin

I thank my hon. Friend for his steadfast championing of this cause, to which we have been one of the leading contributors. I can announce today that we will be scaling up our support, but I cannot yet announce by exactly how much.


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