VoteClimate: Chris Law MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Chris Law MP: Climate-Related Speeches In Parliament

Chris Law is the SNP MP for Dundee Central.

At the next election Chris Law is standing in the new Dundee Central constituency.

We have identified 19 Parliamentary Votes Related to Climate since 2015 in which Chris Law could have voted.

Chris Law is rated Medium for votes supporting action on climate. (Rating Methodology)

  • In favour of action on climate: 9
  • Against: 0
  • Did not vote: 10

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Chris Law's Speeches In Parliament Related to Climate

We've found 37 Parliamentary debates in which Chris Law has spoken about climate-related matters.

Here are the relevant sections of their speeches.

  • 9 Jan 2024: Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases

    10:14

    Malaria and neglected tropical diseases have been exacerbated by climate change, conflict and humanitarian crises. Furthermore, drug and insecticide resistance, as well as invasive mosquito species, also hamper progress. However, the challenges can be overcome with the right investment. At the heart of this debate is a significant funding gap for malaria and neglected tropical diseases, as well as the shameful role of this UK Government, with their years of death sentence cuts, stepping away when they should be stepping up.

    The fight against malaria and neglected tropical diseases is global, requiring collaboration and for each of us to take all the necessary steps to help combat them. The existential global challenge of climate change should further focus minds on malaria and NTDs. We know that many of these diseases are driven by the environment. Changing temperatures, precipitation levels and increasing extreme weather events have the potential to change the distribution, prevalence and virulence of these diseases. For example, flooding in Pakistan in 2022 resulted in more than 2 million additional cases of malaria and a 900% increase in dengue fever.

    One of the most meaningful ways in which the UK Government can be proactive in combating malaria and other tropical diseases is to acknowledge the nexus between climate change and the transmission of these diseases. Again, can the Minister outline how the UK Government intend to work with global partners to tackle malaria and NTDs as part of their work on reacting to climate change?

    [Source]

  • 29 Nov 2023: Oral Answers to Questions

    Climate change talks at COP28 begin tomorrow, and one of the most important issues to be agreed is the climate loss and damage fund. The Secretary of State will know that Scotland has led the way on that, becoming the first country in the global north to pledge financial support to address loss and damage, but he and his Conservative colleagues are intent on limiting the Scottish Government’s international engagement. Can he tell me why he wants to silence Scotland’s voice and prevent us from providing that global leadership?

    [Source]

  • 5 Sep 2023: Climate Finance: Tackling Loss and Damage

    09:30

    That this House has considered climate finance for tackling loss and damage.

    July was the hottest month in global history. In three months the world will gather in one of the hottest regions of the world for COP28. All summer we have heard about and seen the impacts that climate change is having—impacts that will only get worse—and the need for urgent action could not be clearer. Simply put, this is the biggest, most existential threat to humanity and our planet, and I put it on the record that I am utterly disappointed that not one MP from the governing Conservative party is here other than the Minister.

    The international community has come together in recent years to recognise the urgent need for financial support to combat climate change. Prominent milestones at various COPs over have established ambitious targets for climate finance. However, a fundamental problem persists. It is crucial to acknowledge that, despite the pledges and commitments, a substantial gap remains between promise and fulfilment, perhaps illustrated most starkly by the collective goal of mobilising $100 billion a year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries, agreed in Copenhagen at COP15 in 2009. This has still not yet been achieved.

    To date, climate finance to developing countries has been focused on mitigation—namely, efforts to reduce and prevent the emission of greenhouse gases and adaptation—and adjusting to and building resilience against current and future climate change impacts. However, harms and losses will still be experienced by communities and ecosystems due to climate change that cannot be effectively mitigated or adapted to.

    Loss and damage funding refers to the financial assistance provided to countries and communities dealing with the irrevocable consequences of climate change. It encompasses the destruction of infrastructure, the displacement of communities, the erosion of cultural heritage and, heartbreakingly, extensive loss of life.

    At COP27 in November 2022 we witnessed a historic turning point in our global commitment to address loss and damage. An agreement was reached to establish a dedicated fund aimed explicitly at supporting vulnerable nations and communities grappling with the irreversible effects of climate change. The agreement underscored the urgency of recognising that climate finance is not solely about reducing emissions and adapting to changing conditions. It is also about providing financial redress to those who bear the brunt of climate impacts, often with the least historical responsibility for causing the crisis.

    There is no doubt the UK has contributed significantly to the climate emergency through its historical greenhouse gas emissions. From 1750 to the present day it is the seventh highest CO 2 emitter with just over 3% of estimated historical emissions. In contrast, the entire continent of Africa has a 3% share of cumulative CO 2 emissions and Oceania only 1%—two of the regions already the most devastated by the climate catastrophe.

    I congratulate the hon. Member on securing this essential debate, because this is a global question. We know that the United Nations framework convention on climate change has recognised that responsibility must lie with developed countries, and finance must therefore come in the form of grants not loans, but I beg the Minister to consider, given that the UK Government lay so much emphasis on addressing immigration, the impact of climate change on the likely future movement of populations. We have a duty to put our money where our mouth is and address some of the causes, the drivers, of migration. That in itself is something that I would expect the Government to respond to in a most serious manner.

    I thank the right hon. Member for a really valuable intervention. She reminds me of the startling numbers that I was given in 2017, at the first COP I attended, by a climate scientist called Dirk Messner. He described how, if we continue on the trajectory that we are on now, by 2050 1 billion people will be on the move because of displacement by climate change. A current figure is that more than one third of people on the move right now are on the move as a result, directly or indirectly, of climate change. Therefore the right hon. Member makes a very valuable point.

    Not only has the UK made a massive contribution to the destructive impacts of climate change through its emissions, but it has benefited from the competitive advantage that its early adoption of fossil fuels and industrialisation brought and it continues to profit from the extraction of oil and gas from the North sea. The UK therefore has a moral obligation to recognise this historical responsibility and lead by example in addressing loss and damage. That cannot be denied or ignored. As we prepare to embark on the critical climate conference that will be COP28 in Dubai, it is paramount that the UK takes a bold and principled stance in addressing the devastating impacts of climate change, and encourage similar action from others as we collectively tackle the biggest global challenge facing the planet today.

    I congratulate my hon. Friend on managing to get this debate on such an important issue. Does he agree that this Government’s credibility on climate finance will continue to be fundamentally undermined until the UK’s official development assistance budget is restored to at least 0.7% of GNI and the cuts are no longer threatening the many projects currently supporting vulnerable communities?

    To understand the imperative for loss and damage funding, we need to examine the profound, real-life and often irreversible impacts of climate change. At various COP meetings that I have attended, I have heard harrowing testimonies from citizens of small island states whose homes are disappearing underwater because of climate change. I recently watched devastating footage from the Solomon Islands, where sea level rise rates have been nearly three times the global average. Data shows that sea levels around the islands have risen at the alarming rate of between 7 mm and 10 mm a year—well above the global average of 3 mm a year. As a result, many coastal areas have been inundated, displacing communities and leading to the loss of arable land. Indeed, whole islands have tragically vanished beneath the rising waters.

    The disappearance of islands such as Kale, Zollies and Kakatina is not only a stark statistic but a poignant testament to the reality of climate-induced loss and damage. I say this to the Minister: just imagine for a second that it was the United Kingdom that was facing disappearing—the entire nation disappearing under the waters that surround us. We would be acting very differently from how we are now. Those communities in the Solomon Islands have lost their homes, their ancestral lands and their way of life. The impact of climate change in the Solomon Islands extends beyond the numbers and statistics, reaching into the heart of the nation’s communities.

    In east Africa, agriculture, reliant on timely and predictable rainfall, is a cornerstone of the economy; the region is highly vulnerable to climate shocks such as droughts and floods. Widespread crop failures and significant loss of livestock have led to vast economic losses that destroy livelihoods and deepen poverty and inequality. One person is likely to be dying every 28 seconds because of acute hunger and famine-like conditions as a result of climate change. This has been accelerated by an unprecedented series of failed rains, causing prolonged droughts, or places being hit by destructive flash floods, devastating people’s crops and livelihoods. Emergency humanitarian aid is simply not enough; the humanitarian system is not appropriate to address the increasing impacts of climate change. A loss and damage fund is needed, and needed now.

    In Malawi, floods and droughts are on the increase. Events include Cyclone Ana, which in January 2022 affected almost 1 million people, of whom 190,000 were displaced, and Cyclone Freddy, which displaced more than half a million people, destroyed crops and livelihoods and caused almost 700 deaths. The World Bank estimates that climate change could reduce Malawi’s GDP by up to 9% by 2030, which is only seven years away. That means that, despite continued work and increasing resilience to climate-induced shocks in Malawi, the impacts of climate change continue to erode development gains, particularly for vulnerable populations.

    The SNP Scottish Government have embedded the concept of climate justice in their international development framework, launching a climate justice fund in 2012, which is due to increase by £24 million over the next three years. That was the first of its kind in the world. Crucially, it paved the way for others when it again became the first in the world to commit funding to loss and damage at COP26 in Glasgow. The whole world was there to listen and the whole world wanted to see that movement forward.

    The Scottish Government’s role in providing funding for loss and damage is characterised by deep commitment to climate justice, concrete financial contributions, active participation in global climate efforts and a dedication to innovative and collaborative solutions. Scotland’s global climate leadership credibility is reinforced by its domestic action. It is concerning that the UK’s reputation could be undermined by the current Government’s decision to grant hundreds of new oil and gas licences and, I am afraid, the Labour party’s weakness in watering down its £28 billion green prosperity plan.

    Although Scotland has contributed to important progress, it is not happening fast enough globally. The UK and other Governments around the world have a responsibility to come together and ensure that the practicalities of the loss and damage fund are agreed at COP 28, and implemented as soon as possible thereafter. At present, there has been no agreement on what the financial size of any loss and damage fund should be and how it should operate through the Transitional Committee agreed at COP 27, which has been tasked with establishing the institutional arrangements and has been working over the past year.

    Several areas of contention are still being debated and need to be resolved before the committee’s plan is considered at COP 28. One of those is whether the loss and damage fund should be housed within existing climate finance mechanisms, or operate as an independent entity. The Alliance of Small Island States has called for a

    I stumbled across that fairly mighty quote. It has been echoed by other vulnerable states and civil society that wish to see a flagship dedicated fund. Let me make this point clear. This cannot be about relabelling existing money, a point the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) made earlier. Loss and damage funding needs to be new money going to new places—the places already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change—now.

    Existing climate finance arrangements are based on a 1998 list of 155 developing countries and 43 contributors. It has been suggested that not all developing countries should be eligible for support, as not all of them are particularly vulnerable and in need of urgent loss and damage funding. It has also been argued that countries such as China, India and countries in the middle east should be expected to contribute to the fund and that there should be a narrower definition, with recipients restricted to those countries with the least capacity to cope and adapt, alongside their susceptibility to harm and to be adversely affected.

    While that does not seem overly unreasonable, many developed countries have not lived up to their climate finance obligations, and it is incumbent on them to ensure that these are met before expecting others to do so. This debate should not be used as a convenient excuse to stall progress on the establishment of the fund. Given that the UK is one of the 24 members of the Transitional Committee, it needs to be a champion for the dedicated fund, for firm commitments from developed countries and for transparent governance ahead of the committee presenting its plans at COP28. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s detailed statement of where he stands on this later in the debate.

    Climate finance agreed under the United Nations framework convention on climate change was intended to provide new and additional resources for lower-income countries to tackle the additional challenges brought by climate change. Despite that, the UK has failed to provide climate finance in addition to its ODA budget. The current commitment of £11.6 billion in international climate finance from 2021 to 2026 is welcome. I would like to be absolutely assured that that will continue, but it is under pressure due to the UK Government’s reckless decision to cut their ODA budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI at a time of escalating need—a point that has already been made.

    There is concern that the UK will seek to delay climate finance commitments due to these significant aid cuts. Will the Minister confirm that that will not be the case? I am also eager to hear from the Labour Front Bench on this. Back in July, on reports that the commitment was being dropped, the Labour party refused to comment on whether it would commit to the £11.6 billion funding pledge, so I hope to hear whether the Labour party will obediently do as it is told by the Tories and follow every fiscal decision made by them, or will it recognise the severity of the climate crisis and ensure the pledge is met.

    The UK Government must ensure that the money attributed to loss and damage is new and additional to existing climate finance commitments, and not diverted from existing ODA budgets. Climate change is a global crisis that requires a global response—one that should not come at the expense of other essential development initiatives. Current estimates place the cost of loss and damage in developing countries alone at approximately half a trillion dollars by 2030. Christian Aid has estimated that the UK’s fair contribution to this fund could be 3.5%, equivalent to between $10 billion and $20 billion. It would simply not be possible to absorb that in the current climate finance commitments or to cut other aid spending further to fund it.

    Analysis by Christian Aid has shown that £6.5 billion could be raised by a wealth tax to support loss and damage. New forms of wealth taxes that are broad based and that take into account different forms of wealth could help significantly in ensuring that money is available for loss and damage. If both the Conservative and Labour parties are serious about adequately tackling this global climate emergency, they need to take bold action, instead of being hand in hand in timidly ruling these options out.

    Will the Minister commit to ensuring that loss and damage finance is provided in the form of grants, not loans? Vulnerable nations and communities should not be burdened with debt or struggle to recover from the ravages of climate change. The UK Government’s contribution to loss and damage funding should not be merely seen as a financial transaction; it should be a declaration of values, a commitment to climate justice and a recognition of the profound responsibility we bear in the face of this global crisis. We are truly in this together, and we cannot walk away now.

    To conclude, I have made it clear that we have a moral and historical obligation, as well as an obligation in our own self-interest, to act in the face of this climate emergency. When we talk about loss and damage funding, we are talking about humanity’s response to one of the greatest challenges of our time. The urgency of this crisis demands swift and decisive action, and the financial commitments made by developed nations must reflect the severity of the situation.

    It is our duty to ensure that those commitments are translated into tangible support for those vulnerable communities most affected by climate change. Without such support, we will see the climate crisis create resource scarcity and poverty, cause disease and displacement, and lead to conflict and, as we touched on earlier, mass migration. That will affect all of us in this Chamber. It will affect our children and our children’s children’s children to come. It is in our enlightened self-interest to ensure that loss and damage funding is there as an essential lifeline for those who find themselves on the frontlines of a crisis that they did not create.

    [Source]

    10:43

    I am not quite sure where to begin, because we covered such a range of points, so let me begin with how I feel. I feel insecure, scared and concerned for the generations of today and tomorrow and for generations to come. I do not feel reassured by what I am hearing from the Minister. There are 352 Conservative MPs in this House and only the Minister is here to talk about the biggest existential threat we have to our planet and humanity. I find that astonishing. I have listened to a lot of the points made about where the UK has done some good work. Zac Goldsmith was mentioned and I would like to credit him; I was at COP27 last year when he asked me to go and talk to Pacific island states and to get an agreement on loss and damages. I deeply regret that he is no longer at the helm, because, frankly, he was really helpful and understood what has been going on.

    The Minister with responsibility for international development, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), who I had hoped would be here today, said recently to the all-party group on extreme poverty, which I chair, that he was losing sleep at night about the realities of climate change. It is disappointing that he is not here today, but the existential threat and crisis is with us now.

    I also thank the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden), who I have had the great privilege to work with over the years. As a young parliamentarian, he is the future, along with many other young people here and out there looking at what the future holds. As for the generation behind them, the first thing that I heard from Labour’s Front Bencher, the hon. Member for Leeds North East (Fabian Hamilton), is that one of his two grandchildren, the seven-year-old, is learning about climate change now. I do not remember growing up like that. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton probably did not have to grow up like that, but children are today. This issue is utterly, utterly pressing, and the time has run out.

    That this House has considered climate finance for tackling loss and damage.

    [Source]

  • 6 Jul 2023: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

    15:42

    The Scottish Government are already working on efforts to acknowledge and act on the legacy of colonialism. Their 2022 global affairs framework focuses on the need to decolonise development and reinforce the fact that projects must be partner-led rather than donor-led, as is too often the case. They pledged to appoint a decolonisation officer within an independent Scotland Department of International Development. The Scottish Government explicitly referenced their colonial past when announcing their £1 million contribution —subsequently increased to £2 million—to fund loss and damage caused by climate change. A key recipient of the fund will be the Commonwealth country of Malawi. Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon framed the contribution not as an act of charity, but as reparation for the damage driven by countries in the global north.

    [Source]

  • 6 Sep 2022: Oral Answers to Questions

    According to the UN Secretary General, people are 15 times more likely to die if they live in a climate crisis hotspot, which is what we see unfolding right now in Pakistan, with more than 6 million people in dire need of humanitarian aid and already more than 1,000 people dead. Last year, at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland became the first developed economy in the world, led by our First Minister, to pledge dedicated loss and damage funding. Ahead of COP27, will the UK Government finally commit to establishing a similar loss and damage policy in line with the 2015 Paris climate accord?

    [Source]

  • 6 Jul 2022: Strategy for International Development

    18:01

    “seems largely driven by short-term political and economic interests rather than the attempt to tackle the root causes of global crises such as inequality, conflict and climate change, which impact us all.”

    The Government’s approach is also bonkers at a time when the planet is facing multiple crises. Let me list just a few. The UK Government have cut health and medical funding during a global pandemic. They have cut food programmes during a looming global food security crisis. They have cut environmental projects in the midst of a climate crisis. And—you couldnae make this up—they have cut conflict-resolution projects at a time of renewed war. Those cuts cost lives. Analysis has shown that over 7 million children have lost access to education, 12 million babies will not receive nutritional support and over 100,000 unvaccinated children will die. Yes, that is death as a result of the UK’s callous decision to cut the aid budget—I hope I am clear. These death-sentence cuts are as miserable and rotten as the core of this Government today. It is morally and pragmatically indefensible that this UK Government continue actively to jeopardise the lives and wellbeing of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

    Over the past three years we on the SNP Benches have been resolute in our opposition to the Government’s international development policies and in our support for a fully funded aid budget targeting those in acute need. We will continue to push the UK Government into adopting an international development framework akin to the good global citizen policy proposed in the Scottish Government’s recently published “Global Affairs Framework”. We are committed to prioritising the furthest behind first, instead of politicising aid. We will amplify marginalised voices on global issues such as migration, human rights, biodiversity and the climate crisis. We have committed to listening and acting in response to often unheard voices, especially those of women and young people and those from the global south. We will always aim to be a good global citizen, no matter what challenges may emerge and irrespective of the behaviour of others. That is fundamental to everything we do internationally, and it is at the core of why we in the SNP are true internationalists and put our money where our mouth is.

    The Scottish Government, with the Scottish Parliament’s meagre devolved powers in the field of international development, have already taken wide-ranging positive action. Scotland was the world’s first nation to set up a dedicated climate justice fund, which will double to £24 million over the next four years. At COP26 we were also the world’s first nation to commit to a loss and damage fund. Rather than cut aid, the Scottish Government will increase their international development fund from £10 million to £15 million during this Parliament. Scotland is already demonstrating that it sees international development very differently from the UK Government and is stepping up to make its global contribution, rather than retreating inwards and focusing on self-interest.

    [Source]

  • 24 May 2022: FCDO Diplomatic Staff: Funding Levels

    09:56

    So we go to the very heart of the question: when we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, threatened by a potential global food supply crisis, facing a climate catastrophe and witnessing war in Europe once again and across the world, is this really the time to be considering cuts to diplomatic staff? All those challenges are international in their scope and consequence, so diplomats should have as much funding and resources available to match the UK’s ambition to be a force for good in the world alongside allies, rather than being hampered by cuts to staff and funding.

    Faced by the own goals of Brexit, departmental mergers and budget cuts, alongside the global challenges of conflict, climate change and health and food crises, it is ever more urgent that the UK has a full-scale rethink of how it conducts itself on the world stage. Cuts to FCDO diplomatic staff funding would simply be another own goal, and another indication that “global Britain”, as they call it, is nothing but a worn and ragged slogan.

    [Source]

  • 2 Mar 2022: Westminster Foundation for Democracy: Funding

    17:04

    The SNP WFD also supports the Malawi Parliamentary Women’s Caucus, pursuing gender-just politics and legislation, and works to promote the effective participation of women in Parliament. Furthermore, it has recently launched a new environmental democracy project in Pakistan, supporting the Climate Change Committee with post-legislative scrutiny. However, all this important work can be supported only if the Westminster Foundation for Democracy is adequately funded—it is as simple as that. The SNP’s WFD funding has dropped from £260,000 in 2016 to around £156,000 in 2020. There are real concerns that if funding drops any further, this work will simply no longer be viable.

    [Source]

  • 5 Jan 2022: Deforestation in the Amazon

    12:25

    Furthermore, the land grabbing and environmental licensing Bills will lead Brazil in the opposite direction of pledges made at COP26, and will make it harder—if not impossible—to battle deforestation in the coming years. There are therefore deep and widespread concerns that the Brazilian Government cannot be regarded as an actor in good faith by the international community when it comes to deforestation. The consequences of the continued abuse of the Amazon will have a direct impact on the ability of all countries to tackle climate change. As a result, this is a matter of species survival and potential mass extinction over our entire planet. That is not something that we say easily in any debate, but it is now a matter of fact, not conjecture. Shockingly, the Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon than it absorbs. Scientists recently warned that it will reach an irreversible tipping point—some estimate within five years—beyond which it will not generate enough rain to support itself. This would be an unprecedented climate catastrophe that affected all living beings on Earth.

    To briefly recap on previous debates, the Amazon rainforest is invaluable to the environment, producing as much as 20% of the world’s oxygen and acting as natural carbon capture for vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation threatens the 30 million people who live there, including up to 400 indigenous groups, and many thousands of plant and animal species. It also threatens to fundamentally hinder attempts to tackle climate change, reversing any progress made so far and contributing to rising global temperatures, with all the devastation that this will bring.

    If we are really serious about the climate emergency, we must use every tool available to us to ensure that we lead the international effort to end destructive deforestation in the Amazon and put pressure on Bolsonaro’s Government in Brazil. COP26 and the Osaka summit clarified Brazil’s obligations, and there should be diplomatic and economic consequences if Brazil chooses not to meet them. Exports of illegally cut logs must be cracked down on multilaterally. Rules of origin regulations must be looked at for any resources generated by habitat destruction. Furthermore, trade agreements should not be concluded outside a legal framework that enforces the agreements made at COP26 and elsewhere. Many EU states have threatened to dissolve the EU-Mercosur trade agreement if Brazil fails to live up to its commitments to tackle emissions and ensure protection for the Amazon rainforest, which is the key natural asset in tackling climate change.

    Of course, deforestation is a global problem. The UN says that 1 billion acres of forest have been lost worldwide since 1990. At COP26, more than 100 world leaders promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. Brazil’s Government is not the only organisation responsible for deforestation; others must do more. Agriculture is the main cause of deforestation, but other sectors, such as the fashion industry, must look at becoming more sustainable. It is not just the banks, which have been mentioned; a recent report called out popular fashion brands, such as Prada, H&M, Zara, Adidas, Nike and Fendi, for having multiple connections to an industry that props up deforestation. I hope that their chief executive officers and customers are listening to today’s debate.

    Others countries also have deforestation problems. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, which contains the Congo forest basin—the second-largest rainforest in the world—nearly half a million hectares of primary forest have been lost annually in the past five years, and the Government have announced a plan to lift the ban on new logging operations, which dates back to 2002. In Indonesia, however, there is a positive story. President Joko Widodo pledged in 2014 to crack down on deforestation by tackling the main contributor: land for palm oil plantations. In 2016, a record 929,000 hectares of forest disappeared, but there has been a steady decrease in the rate of deforestation since then, and by 2020, the loss was down to 270,000 hectares. Just a year before, in 2019, President Widodo issued a three-year moratorium on forest clearance covering about 66 million hectares of primary forest and peatland; that was extended indefinitely. It makes it all the more galling and infuriating that just weeks after the UK’s COP26 president visited Indonesia and called on it to move forward with plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office cancelled the green growth programme, which was designed to prevent deforestation in the Indonesian Papuan provinces, three years into its five-year programme. It was described as the most successful programme that had ever been seen in Indonesia.

    [Source]

  • 7 Sep 2021: Global Britain: Human Rights and Climate Change

    17:09

    Let me begin by saying one thing about which there is no doubt—we are living through and experiencing the beginning of a climate emergency. The effects of global climate change, which scientists have predicted for the past three decades and more, are happening now. July was the hottest month on record and across the world we witnessed extreme weather events: deadly wildfires spread across Europe and north America, and devastating flooding caused chaos in Germany and China. Those are but a few examples.

    If emissions continue at their current rate, global temperatures will rise more than 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. There is still time to stop that from happening, but emissions must be cut dramatically by the end of this decade and not a moment later. As we approach COP26 in November, the UK Government must lead from the front, ensuring that new and ambitious targets are agreed on to avert this unfolding climate disaster.

    “urgent action to combat climate change”.

    Without that, the devastating consequences of climate change will undo hard-won development gains. Let there be no doubt: the poor and the wealthy are not affected equally by climate change, and that is true of nations as well as individuals. The cruel reality is that despite the world’s poorest and most vulnerable contributing the least to climate change, they are most at risk from its negative effects and the least equipped to withstand and adapt to it.

    The climate crisis disproportionately affects individuals and groups who are already marginalised as a result of structural inequalities. The World Bank has predicted that climate change will push over 130 million people into poverty in the next 10 years. Additionally, the World Health Organisation predicts that climate change will cause a quarter of a million additional deaths a year through malaria, malnutrition, diarrhoea and heat stress.

    Climate change fundamentally impacts human rights—the right to life, to food, to water and sanitation, to health and to housing, among many others. It exacerbates inequalities between the poor and the wealthy, between ethnicities, between genders and between generations. Climate change is a human rights crisis.

    We know that the G20 countries are responsible for almost 80% of global annual emissions. Net zero emission targets by 2050 are, frankly, too little, too late. Wealthier countries must take the lead by decarbonising more quickly. Before, during and after COP26, a human rights-focused approach is essential to tackle the climate crisis and to secure a just transition.

    Sadly, at a time when we need international co-operation to tackle climate change, those who lead us in the UK Government espouse an empty slogan of “global Britain” that goes against just that. As warned, the decision to slash the aid budget is fundamentally undermining the UK’s efforts to show any leadership in tackling international climate change. For example, in May the COP26 President visited Indonesia and called on others to move forward with plans to reach net zero. Yet just weeks later, the same UK Government cancelled a highly effective green growth programme that was designed to prevent deforestation in Indonesia. Similarly, in Malawi the Promoting Sustainable Partnerships for Empowered Resilience, or PROSPER, project, which focuses on training farmers in climate-smart and adaptive agricultural practices, has been cancelled by this Tory Government, halfway through its implementation. That not only breaks trust with those communities but sends a message to those countries yet to determine their contribution to the Paris agreement that the host of COP26 does not take its obligations on climate change seriously. Frankly, it does not care.

    Global Britain, if it is to mean anything, should be about listening to and supporting these marginalised communities in tackling this climate emergency, and not about cutting their funding and shutting them out. Tragically, with just over 50 days until COP26, those communities will not have their voices heard, as vaccine inequity means they cannot attend, and once again decisions will be made for them, rather than with them, a further indication that so-called global Britain is, under the Tories, nothing but a poor and nasty little Britain.

    [Source]

  • 20 Jul 2021: Climate Change

    The newly unelected Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links described her Tory colleagues as “a bloody disgrace” for condemning millions of the world’s poorest people to this Government’s death sentence cuts last week. If those cuts were not stupid enough, vital projects combating climate change across the world are now being immediately cancelled as a result. Does the Minister agree with the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh that the Chancellor has cut the COP26 President

    to be more ambitious on climate change.

    [Source]

  • 13 Jul 2021: International Aid: Treasury Update

    13:22

    Those are just three examples that cover women’s reproductive rights, disease prevention and urgent humanitarian assistance, but cuts are happening across the board. Programmes to eradicate poverty, to prevent conflict or even to combat climate change—in the year that we will host COP26 in Glasgow—are all suffering a similar fate. Each budget reduced, each project scaled back and each programme cancelled results in a loss of hard-fought progress, a loss of expertise and, fundamentally, a loss of trust. This so-called temporary measure will inflict long-term damage and long-term pain and suffering, which is why the cut must be urgently reversed. The Government are pretending that there is no other option than to cut from 0.7% to 0.5%, but we know that that is not the case. In fact, it is blatantly not the case.

    It is simply a matter of political priorities, and this Chancellor and this Prime Minister have shown where their priorities lie. Let us not kid ourselves that this is being spent on health, welfare and education at home because it clearly is not. The Chancellor chose to take money away from preventing famine and malnutrition, conflict prevention, and protecting our planet and marginalised communities from the devastating effects of climate change. Instead—I am glad to see the Chancellor in his place—he chose to spend the money on enhanced cyberweapons, AI-enabled drones and, the biggest folly of all, increased stockpiles of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, after he delivered a windfall for the defence budget—in the very same month the cut from 0.7% to 0.5% was announced.

    [Source]

  • 30 Jun 2021: Official Development Assistance and the British Council

    18:20

    If I needed to drive the point home harder, let us return to Scotland, where COP26 will be hosted. I was shocked to learn that just weeks after the UK’s COP26 President, the right hon. Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma) visited Indonesia and called upon it to “move forward” with plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Foreign Office cancelled with immediate effect a green growth programme designed to prevent deforestation, three years into a five-year programme. If that is not bonkers, I do not know what is.

    In September, The Times reported that the Chancellor was looking to defer billions of pounds from foreign aid to pay for upgrades to British intelligence and defence capabilities. Without any attempt to disguise it, in the same month that the cut from 0.7% to 0.5% was announced, a windfall was delivered for the defence budget. Money that should have been spent on preventing famine, malnutrition and needless loss of life is now being spent on enhanced cyber-weapons. Money that should have been spent on conflict prevention is now being spent on AI-enabled drones. Money that should have been spent on protecting our planet and marginalised communities from the devastating effects of climate change is now being spent on increasing stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

    While the UK Government are abruptly ending deforestation prevention projects vital to global climate change efforts, the Scottish Government are doubling their world-leading climate justice fund. While the UK Government are alone in slashing their international development spend by a third at this critical juncture for the world, the Scottish Government are working with their partners worldwide and increasing their international development fund by 50%. While the Scottish Government fulfil their role as a good global citizen, this little Britain approach of the UK Government does not even blush at the evidence that millions of lives will be lost by their incoherent, unnecessary and, frankly, callous cuts.

    [Source]

  • 23 Jun 2021: Deforestation in the Amazon

    15:30

    That matters to us all. The Amazon rainforest is invaluable to our environment and fragile ecosystem, producing as much as 20% of the world’s oxygen and acting as a natural carbon capture for vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation threatens the 30 million people who live there, including up to 400 indigenous groups, and many thousands of plants and animal species. It also threatens to fundamentally hinder attempts to tackle climate change, reversing any progress made so far and contributing to rising global temperatures, with all the devastation that that will bring.

    The Scottish Government declared a climate emergency in April 2019, followed a month later by the UK Parliament. It is therefore imperative that we collectively do all that we can to combat environmental destruction of natural habitats such as the Amazon rainforest. If we are serious about the climate emergency, we must use every tool available to us to ensure that we lead the international pressure to end this destructive deforestation in the Amazon.

    At the leaders’ climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden in April, Jair Bolsonaro vowed that Brazil would become carbon neutral by 2050 and recommitted to net zero deforestation by 2030. However, as we know, that empty rhetoric does not reflect reality. In the first six months of Bolsonaro’s term, enforcement measures to protect the Amazon, such as levying fines and destroying logging equipment in protected areas, fell by 20%, and inspection requirements for timber exports have been significantly relaxed. Enforcement agencies have been underfunded and sabotaged, and the 2021 federal budget for the Ministry of Environment and agencies was cut by nearly a third compared with last year. One campaign group put it bluntly, stating:

    We learned just last week that the UK Government cannot be trusted to maintain their commitment to projects vital to our planet’s health. Just weeks after the UK’s COP26 President visited Indonesia and called on it to move forward with plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office cancelled a green growth programme designed to prevent deforestation in the Indonesian Papuan provinces three years into a five-year programme. We urgently need to know the Government’s rationale for cancelling that project, what impact assessments have been undertaken and how serious Ministers are about tackling deforestation across the globe. This is a completely scandalous decision that once again highlights the real-life impact that UK aid cuts are having and demonstrates the UK’s failing as a leader on the world stage. As with Bolsonaro, this UK Government’s rhetoric does not reflect reality.

    We need to hear how the UK Government plan to tackle deforestation in the Amazon and how they are co-operating with other Governments around the world to do so. What recent discussions have UK Government Ministers had with their counterparts in Brazil? Will they publicly condemn increasing deforestation, the deliberate underfunding of agencies tasked with protecting the environment and the continued attacks on indigenous people and their land? In any trade talks and agreements with Brazil, will protection of the Amazon be put front and centre to ensure that the UK does not share in the profits of the rainforest’s deliberate destruction? Furthermore, do the UK Government agree with several US Senators that any funding provided to the Brazilian Government should be contingent on their having a clear plan to curb deforestation, including significant and sustained progress in reducing deforestation and, importantly, ending environmental crimes and acts of intimidation and violence against forest defenders? Given the importance of the Amazon rainforest to us all and its role in lowering the global carbon emission footprint, was this even discussed at the recent G7 summit? Will the UK Government commit to this as a priority at COP26 in November?

    As Scotland will host COP26 this year in Glasgow, I will now turn my attention to domestic policy and reforestation on these islands. Due to a better, more efficient grant system and strong political will to meet targets, the SNP Government lead the way in the UK on tree planting, with Scotland planting 22 million trees last year alone, making up nearly 85% of the UK’s mainland tree planting in 2020. Around 9.5 million tonnes of CO 2 are removed from the atmosphere each year by Scotland’s forests. The first quantitative study of its kind in the UK evidenced the natural capital benefits of planting new woodlands in our green recovery, which will help to meet Scotland’s goal of net zero by 2045. Given that Scotland is unrivalled in the UK nations for tree planting and environmental protections, the other UK nations ought to follow Scotland’s lead and demonstrate to the world through their own practices just how important the protection of forests is to all of us.

    Finally, I do not want to have to make these points again in yet another Westminster Hall debate in two years’ time, and nor do I want to hear further reports of increasing rates of deforestation, logging, resource mining, tree burning for farming and cattle-raising, or—last but not least—land seizures from indigenous people. I want to speak positively about successful global efforts to protect the Amazon and the people, flora and fauna who call it home. I want to hear about the protection of forests throughout the world and to celebrate reforestation projects across these islands. However, that will happen only if each and every nation takes its responsibilities on reaching net zero and protecting the environment seriously, and if we are vocal and forceful in tackling deforestation head on, not just in the Amazon but everywhere else too. We all know that the Amazon rainforest serves as the lungs of all nations across the world. Therefore, it is imperative that we urgently address this climate emergency together. No nation should be allowed to participate in, or be a bystander to, this self-inflicted damage to the planet.

    [Source]

  • 13 Apr 2021: Global Human Security

    10:11

    The UK Government’s recent integrated review could have provided an opportunity to do that, and the forthcoming G7 summit, to be held in Cornwall, and the UN climate change conference, to be held in Glasgow, provide the UK with an opportunity to bring the issue of global human security to the forefront. At this watershed moment, prioritising global human security cannot be just something that is proclaimed and paid lip service to; it has to be the lived reality.

    As an independent country, Scotland will act as a good global citizen, committed to the internationally agreed 0.7% percent target and following the UN’s sustainable development goals to peace and prosperity for people and the planet. Indeed, Scotland is already proving itself a world leader and contributor to global human security through its international work on climate change. Climate change is the greatest security challenge we face, and it is an urgent and complex global problem that no one nation can tackle alone. It increases natural disasters and competition for basic resources.

    The destruction of habitats will lead to famine, disease, conflict and displacement, which threatens to undo decades of development gains and increased prosperity throughout the world. The poor and most vulnerable are the first to be affected by climate change and will suffer the worst, yet they have done little or nothing to cause the problem. The least developed countries and the most vulnerable people will be hit first and hardest by climate change, and many are already suffering devastating impacts. We therefore cannot be serious about global human security if it to be is undermined by the destruction caused by climate change.

    The SNP-led Scottish Government have put biodiversity and ecological strength at the very heart of their policy making and in 2012 were the first Government in the world to set up a dedicated climate justice fund. Climate justice was put front and centre in the International Development Committee’s 2018 climate change report, as a recommendation to the UK Government, and the UK Government must focus on that type of global human security challenge going forward. They should follow Scotland’s lead, rather than pursuing cuts and vanity projects.

    [Source]

  • 4 Feb 2020: Climate Justice

    15:21

    I am delighted to be continuing in my role as the Scottish National party shadow International Development Secretary. I am particularly focused on the need to tackle climate change globally and to ensure that there is climate justice. That, I believe, will be a regular topic, if not the key topic, in this Parliament, and the defining feature of the next decade. Prior to last year’s general election, I was proud to propose the opening resolution—passed by acclaim—at the SNP conference on climate justice. We recognise that, while it has been the most developed and industrialised countries that have been the biggest contributors to carbon emissions, it is the poorest communities in the world who feel the devastating impact of climate change. We must recognise this reality and our obligation to right this wrong. Countries that have become prosperous while damaging the environment have a responsibility to help developing countries adapt to the consequences of climate change.

    That is not just empty rhetoric. The SNP Scottish Government have been at the forefront of the global fight, tackling climate change and delivering climate justice, and showed bold leadership in establishing the world’s first climate justice fund in 2012. By 2021, £21 million will have been distributed through the fund, which is now supporting projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda. Some of the fund’s successes so far include establishing 217 village-level committees to support water resource management and resilience, improving agricultural practices and irrigation services for more than 11,000 people, and providing 110,000 people with training in climate change. Going forward, the climate challenge programme in Malawi will support rural communities to identify and implement their own solutions for adapting to and building resilience against the worst effects of climate change.

    Similarly, the climate justice innovation fund will support projects that are developing innovative solutions for strengthening African communities against the effects of climate change. The most recent projects to have secured funding address deforestation, food security and rural water supplies, while also empowering women, youth and other disenfranchised, vulnerable stakeholders in those communities. Through the climate justice fund, the Scottish Government are promoting the economic benefits of a just and fair transition to a low-carbon economy. The fund aims to share the benefits of equitable global development and the burdens of climate change through a people-centred, human rights approach.

    What I have outlined has been done with a fund of £21 million over nine years, which has delivered incredible results. Just think of the potential if the UK were to follow the same model, given the scale of its resources. We hope that, through our example of leading on the issue of climate justice, we can embolden others in the international community. It is therefore vital that the UK Government follow the Scottish Government’s lead. Indeed, last year’s report by the International Development Committee on UK aid for combatting climate change highlighted the usefulness of climate justice as a framework for policies and programmes and called for the UK Government to adopt the concept of climate justice explicitly, to guide its international climate finance spending. However, that has so far been misrepresented or misunderstood by Secretaries of State or other Ministers when addressing the House of Commons, or has simply fallen on deaf ears.

    The report was also clear that DFID must have adequate resources. Evidence to the Committee suggested that DFID’s capacity and expertise on climate had been reduced in recent years. That is not indicative of a Government who are tackling climate change and climate justice at the heart of their agenda. It is vital that DFID rectify that and that it should have sufficient members of staff who have climate expertise and are focused on climate programming. Furthermore, DFID must remain a strong stand-alone Department if the UK is serious about climate justice. Development spending must be focused on helping the poorest and most vulnerable, and on alleviating global poverty. If we are to embrace the concept of climate justice and help the worst-off deal with the effects of climate change, we must have a Department equipped to do that, rather than one that views development through the ideological prism of national and commercial interest.

    Trade and development are distinctly two different areas and they must not be forced together at the expense of the world’s most vulnerable people, particularly in the midst of a climate emergency. That is a growing concern for me and my party, and for NGOs at national and international level. In addition, there must be policy coherence on climate change across Government. We simply cannot have the situation that currently exists, whereby international climate finance spending to tackle climate change is undermined by support for the fossil fuel economy in developing countries by UK Export Finance, as has been mentioned several times in the debate. That will leave a legacy of dependency on fossil fuels and will disincentivise investment in renewables. Therefore, climate change should be an explicit strategic priority across all Departments. It is overdue and needs to be addressed now.

    The sacking last week of Claire O’Neill, the former Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as president for COP26 has shown what a complete shambles the UK Government are in. Their approach to international climate change policy has been patchy at best. On Radio 4 this morning Claire O’Neill said that the Prime Minister has shown

    “doesn’t really understand climate change”,

    It is therefore little wonder that the Prime Minister is doing everything in his power to stop the Scottish Government being represented at COP26 in Glasgow later this year. To put it simply, the Prime Minister does not want to be upstaged and embarrassed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who certainly does recognise the urgency and moral responsibility that we have with climate change, and who leads a Government whose work has been described by the UN climate change secretary as “exemplary”.

    Putting it frankly, if the UK Government are not willing or able to properly prepare to host what is a major international event, perhaps they should speak with the First Minister for some blunt advice. As things stand, it is impossible to conclude anything other than that the UK Government are in a shambles and are playing politics with the global climate emergency. Therefore, if the UK Government are serious about alleviating the harm that climate change will bring to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, they must follow the bold leadership of the Scottish Government and the recommendations of the International Development Committee and explicitly adopt the concept of climate justice to guide their climate spending. To do anything less is to reject our global commitments, our global partners and our global responsibility. While it is obvious to most that Brexit will undoubtedly make the UK smaller and poorer, not taking climate justice seriously will also make it both short and brutish.

    The SNP has every reason to be proud of its record in championing climate justice abroad. More than 75% of the mentions of “climate justice” in the past decade in this Parliament have come from SNP MPs. I hope to see the same interest in the subject on the UK Government Benches in this Parliament. The simple fact is that we face a climate emergency that threatens us all. It will result in a less safe world, where ecological and demographic crises are unmanageable and where the development gains that have been made will be reversed. What good is our work on delivering aid for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable if it is undermined by disasters, disease, and displacement caused by climate change? It is now time to put climate justice at the forefront of aid spending and urgently do all we can to address the crisis.

    [Source]

  • 7 Oct 2019: Amazon Deforestation

    18:08

    Extinction Rebellion has been clear that human activity is causing irreparable harm to life on this planet, and that we face a global climate emergency and mass extinction as a result. That is happening both here in the UK and across the planet, and the current situation in the Amazon is a sad illustration. The continued deforestation of the Amazon rainforest will only exacerbate the climate emergency that we face and accelerate the loss of species that we should be protecting.

    What is most troubling is the attitude of the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro. We know that he is sceptical about actions to curb climate change and that he wanted to pull Brazil out of the Paris climate change accord. He has spoken of the Amazon as a “virgin” that should be “exploited” for agriculture, mining and infrastructure projects. When Brazil’s institute for space research revealed the extent of deforestation this summer, he said that the numbers were fake, dismissed international concerns as sensationalist and sacked the head of the institute.

    Bolsonaro’s stripping back of protections and anti-environmental rhetoric have clearly encouraged those who wish the deforestation of the Amazon for their own gain. Worryingly, they appear to be becoming something of a global pattern, with Bolsonaro following in the climate change-denying, anti-environmental footsteps of President Trump. Each President scorns the need to protect the environment, undermines the Paris agreement and is willing to sacrifice precious resources, which will only embolden the next populist leader elsewhere intent on dismissing the scientific evidence in front of us, turning their back on collective responsibility and refusing to take on the environmental challenge that we all face in favour of furthering their own short-term, narrow interests regardless of the consequences.

    We must have a means to fight back against those attitudes and actions. Trade wars are in no-one’s best interest, but we must keep every option open to combat deforestation and the climate emergency. My SNP colleague in the European Parliament, Alyn Smith, has joined other MEPs across the member states in writing to the European Commission to urge it to make implementation of the Paris agreement on climate change a precondition for any country that wants to conclude a trade agreement with the European Union. Additionally, Ireland’s Taoiseach and France’s President have said that they will attempt to block the Mercosur trade agreement if Brazil continues to ignore its environmental commitments.

    Ensuring the territorial rights of indigenous peoples is an urgent imperative. What efforts are the UK Government making to ensure that those rights are protected? The protection of the Amazon cuts across foreign policy, trade policy and international development policy, so there must be coherence among the relevant Departments in how the UK tackles the ongoing problem of Amazon deforestation and of global climate change and environmental degradation more generally. As we know, policy coherence across the UK Government has been left wanting, so what steps are being taken to ensure policy coherence to tackle this hugely important problem in the short and medium term?

    [Source]

  • 2 Oct 2019: Forced Migration

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the greatest single impact of climate change could be on human migration. By 2050, it is forecast that up to 1 billion people could be on the move as a result of climate change. The Select Committee on International Development recommended that the UK use last week’s UN climate summit to address that, so will the Secretary of State tell us specifically what discussions he has had on this subject and what concrete actions his Departments will take?

    [Source]

  • 10 Jul 2019: Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

    16:19

    Achieving those goals will be vital for securing global development. Looking at all 17 of them, it is clear that protecting the environment and tackling climate change will play a fundamental role. Let me give some examples. Goal 6, to provide clean water and sanitation, goal 7, to provide affordable and clean energy, and goals 14 and 15, to protect life below water and life on land, all require environmental protection in order to succeed. The fundamental question that we in this Chamber must ask is: how will we achieve goal 1, no poverty, goal 2, zero hunger, or goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities, among many others, when those goals are being put in jeopardy by the disastrous consequences of climate change?

    Protecting the environment and tackling climate change must be a priority for all Departments of all Governments in these islands, with clear targets, policies and actions to ensure that that is delivered. As we know, Scotland has a rich and diverse natural environment, and the Scottish Government are determined to lead by example by protecting and enhancing our natural capital.

    Moreover, figures from June have shown that the Scottish Government have met their target of 11,200 hectares of new tree planting and now plan to increase the target further in 2024 to 15,000 hectares. To put that into context, that is 22 million trees. I have to say that, sadly, England has barely managed to make 10% of that, so I am looking to hear more about that later. These actions will not only protect the environment, lead to healthier lives and offer fantastic opportunities for our economy, but play a fundamental role in tackling climate change.

    Last month, I spoke in this Chamber and welcomed the UK Government’s decision to legislate for a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050, following the advice of the UK Committee on Climate Change. However, simply setting targets will not solve climate change, and I think we have heard that from across the Chamber. What we need is a clear plan setting out how to transition to a net zero economy. Today, the UK Committee on Climate Change has reported that action to cut greenhouse gas emissions is lagging far behind what is needed, and that the UK’s credibility rests on Government action over the next very short 18 months. There is no time to dither or delay. The Committee has called for a net zero policy to be embedded across all levels and Departments of Government and for the new Prime Minister to lead the UK’s zero carbon transition from day one, working closely with Northern Ireland and the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland.

    The Scottish Government’s “Climate Change Plan 2018-2032”, which sets out the actions needed to make Scotland carbon neutral by 2045, is due to be updated within six months of the Climate Change Bill receiving Royal Assent. Work is already under way to meet the enhanced target. Scotland’s energy strategy sets a target for the equivalent of 50% of energy for Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030. In order to help achieve net zero emissions, a publicly owned not-for-profit energy company will be established to deliver renewable energy to Scottish customers. This is not a party political debate about the left or the right, but a debate about how we can combat not only climate change but fuel poverty. The reason for setting up that company is that it will endeavour to ensure that the price is as close to cost price as possible. I urge the UK Government to do that for the rest of the UK, as well as to achieve their recently set targets.

    Furthermore, with transport accounting for just over one third of total energy demand, Scotland already has the most ambitious agenda in the UK for decarbonising transport. The Scottish Government have already announced the change in policy on air departure tax and committed to phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel cars by 2032—eight years ahead of the rest of the UK. The plan is to implement low emission zones in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and my wonderful city of Dundee by the end of 2020.

    I have to correct something. I keep hearing that the UK was the first country to declare a climate emergency, but in fact Scotland was. We understand that we will need to go even further. Progress to date has been achieved with little impact on most people; few of us have had to make any real radical lifestyle changes.

    I look forward to hearing about what radical plans there may be. It is imperative to take action, as climate change threatens us all and will result in a world that will be less safe, where resources will be scarce, and where ecological and demographic crises will become unmanageable. Natural disasters, civil unrest, disease, displacement and mass migration caused by climate change could push 100 million more people into poverty throughout the world, so it needs to be tackled globally as well as domestically.

    Indeed, the International Development Committee’s recent report on climate change was similarly clear that climate change must be placed at the centre of aid strategy and funding. It urged a minimum spend of £1.76 billion and a halt to funding fossil fuel projects in developing countries unless they can be fundamentally proven to support the transition to zero emissions by 2050.

    As one of the UN’s five focus goals for 2019, climate action is an urgent priority that needs to become a central focus of all aspects of DFID’s work, and its funding needs to be protected. With this in mind, I was interested to hear the comments by the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth that, regardless of who the next Prime Minister will be, there would be “absolutely no rowing back” from the UK’s legal commitment to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050. She added that she would like the next Prime Minister to persuade Donald Trump of the business case for acting on climate change. The Minister made two very important and valid points. Any reversal of the 2050 net zero target would be disastrous. I hope that she is correct in her assessment that there is no chance of that happening. I, too, hope that any future Prime Minister will convince President Trump that climate change is both very real and very much an emergency, though I am less optimistic about this given that the leading candidate for that role would not even defend the UK ambassador to the US last night.

    That is ridiculous. Of course, as I said in a debate this morning, the UK is not “some independent Scandinavian NGO”—it is one of the largest economies in the world, and it has both a legal and a moral duty to commit to 0.7% on aid spending and securing global development. If we are truly serious about taking the unique opportunity to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, combat catastrophic climate change and protect our natural environment by 2030, as set out in the sustainable development goals, it is vital to have a well-resourced, stand-alone Department committed to international development and the 0.7% aid target.

    We therefore now need detailed plans on how this Government will face up to the challenges of protecting our environment, tackling climate change and securing global development. It is up to this generation, not the next one, to find the answers to these great global challenges. Those plans need to be bold, ambitious and unafraid of criticism. SNP Members would rather see plans come forward that were radical and visionary—that allow for real debate, without which we will ultimately fail everyone in our responsibility to meet the urgent targets that have been set. There is nothing to fear in scrutinising bold proposals in this Chamber and debating whether they are fit for purpose. The real fear is prevarication, lack of planning and piecemeal policies that will fail not only the UK but our partners in the rest of the world.

    No one Government has all the answers, and it is important that Governments across these islands share best practice and learn from each other. Of course, I look forward to the time when Scotland is an independent nation, but we will always share our responsibilities as an outward-looking, internationalist nation, and share our world-leading policies on issues like climate change and making the world a better place. To do anything less will only leave the world a more divided and more dangerous place to inhabit, with a much darker future ahead.

    [Source]

  • 1 Jul 2019: Department for International Development

    19:00

    In two weeks, the UK will present its voluntary national review of the sustainable development goals to the UN at the high-level political forum on sustainable development. At a time when we should be using our aid funding and resources to ensure high-quality education around the world, reduce inequality and tackle the climate emergency, it beggars belief that the UK Government are wasting resources attempting to manage and mitigate the needless damage of Brexit. It is something we simply cannot allow to happen, so I am pleased to have added my name on behalf of the SNP in support of the amendment, tabled by the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) and the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), that would have stopped the mobilisation of departmental spending to facilitate a no-deal Brexit.

    To conclude, I cast my mind back three weeks to the debate in this House on sustainable development goals, when we were in agreement on the importance of tackling the massive challenges that we as a planet will face in the coming years—whether it be disease, displacement, food security, poverty or climate change. We are already in a position to have a significant impact on tackling these challenges, but only if DFID is adequately resourced and funded. We cannot let other Departments, Brexit or future right-wing Tory Prime Ministers derail that and we must be resolute in our defence of international development and the 0.7% commitment.

    [Source]

  • 24 Jun 2019: Climate Change

    18:30

    Like everyone in the Chamber, I found the results from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change according to which we need to limit the increase in temperature to 1.5° very sobering. Its findings should if anything spur us all into very determined action. The results of such a rise would be an increased likelihood of food scarcity, disease and poverty, which we cannot just stand by and watch. I am pleased to say that the findings have refocused minds, and I am glad to have this debate today—it is only a pity it is so short. Just last Friday, we saw another UK-wide school strike outside Parliament and across schools. That is particularly important given that we had a visit from the world’s most powerful leader, who is a climate change denier, just a few weeks previously.

    By contrast, last week, Glasgow Caledonian University hosted the world forum on climate justice, at which Nicola Sturgeon spoke about the big climate conversation —a nationwide conversation to discuss action to tackle the global climate emergency. We rightly realise that climate change is the challenge of a generation. Whether we are academics, activists or politicians, we have not only a duty to raise awareness of climate change, but an urgent obligation to take action and seek solutions.

    I therefore welcome the UK Government’s decision to legislate for a net zero target by 2050. Since the publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s report last month, the Scottish Government have been calling for this, given that the Committee was explicit in its advice that Scotland could not achieve net zero emissions by 2045 unless the UK Government did so by 2050. Will the UK Government respond to the Scottish Government’s request for an urgent meeting to discuss how reserved levers can be applied to help achieve net zero emissions in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

    This is an important moment to take stock of what has been achieved so far, to examine our future plans and to set out what needs to be done imminently now that these new targets have been set. I am proud to say that Scotland is already world leading in its approach to climate change. We are committed to setting and meeting the most ambitious targets possible. We have already halved emissions since 1990 while growing the economy and increasing employment and productivity. Scotland continues to outperform the UK in delivering long-term emissions reductions, with statutory annual targets for 2014, 2015 and 2016 all met, and progress remains consistent with meeting the current interim target for 2020. The only country in the EU15 to do better is Sweden.

    The Scottish Government declared a climate emergency last month and acted immediately on the Committee on Climate Change advice by lodging amendments to our Climate Change Bill to set a net zero target for 2045 and increase the target for 2030 to 70% and for 2040 to 90%. These are the most ambitious statutory targets in the world for these years and this immediate response has been welcomed by the committee, which said:

    “Scotland has been a leader within the UK with many of its policies to tackle climate change. By setting a strong net-zero target for 2045 it can continue that leadership on the world stage.”

    That said, simply discussing climate change, setting targets and reflecting on achievements will not solve climate change. Progress to date has been achieved with little impact on most people, and few of us have had to make any real radical lifestyle changes. As the committee pointed out, to achieve these new targets we will require

    Scotland has already made progress with efforts to ensure a just transition—I was pleased to hear the Minister mention that in his speech in relation to the UK Government’s own ambitions—and has set up a Just Transition Commission specifically to provide advice on how to transition to a low-carbon economy that is fair for everyone. I hope he will pay close attention to its progress. It will advise Scottish Ministers on how to apply the International Labour Organisation’s just transition principles to Scotland—for example, by examining the economic and social opportunities that the move to a carbon-neutral economy will bring; the impact on a sustainable and inclusive labour market; and lastly, issues that could arise in relation to cohesion, equalities and poverty.

    Furthermore, climate change will be at the heart of the next SNP programme for government and spending review. Last year, the Scottish Government published their climate change plan 2018-32, which set out how we would continue to drive down emissions over the period. This is due to be updated within six months of the Climate Change Bill receiving Royal Assent to reflect these new targets. We are announcing new and ambitious action on deposit return, on the way we farm and on renewables. For example, a new part of the Scottish strategy for achieving 100% reduction in emissions is through establishing a publicly owned, not-for-profit energy company to deliver renewable energy to Scottish customers

    Looking ahead, for the UK Government to be serious about meeting their new target, they must heed the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, which set out five scenarios for the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050, based on known technologies. These included resource and energy efficiency, and societal choices that cut demand for carbon intensive activities; extensive electrification supported by a major expansion of renewable and other low-carbon power generation; the development of a hydrogen economy to service demands for some industrial processes; and changes in how we farm and use our land.

    None the less, the recommended scenario that sticks out for me is carbon capture, usage and storage. The committee’s report states that it is a “necessity not an option”. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report on carbon capture, usage and storage concludes that the UK will not be able to meet its Paris agreement climate change targets without deploying carbon capture. In spite of all this, the Conservative UK Government shamefully reneged on their promised £1 billion of investment in carbon capture and storage technology, which was expected to create 600 jobs in Peterhead, in a deal signed by David Cameron in the months leading up to the 2014 independence referendum.

    Finally, the Committee on Climate Change outlined the obstacles that needed to be overcome to achieve net zero emissions as well as a number of priorities for the Government, such as ensuring that businesses respond, engaging the public to act, developing the infrastructure, providing the skills and ensuring a just transition. Crucially, the report recommended that the net zero challenge be embedded and integrated across all Departments, at all levels of government and in all major decisions that impact on emissions. This would be the right course of action and one that I hope is followed through on.

    Like the Scottish Government, the next Prime Minister must put tackling this climate emergency at the heart of what the Government do. It is something that each and every one of us must keep at the forefront of our minds every day. Make no mistake: climate change is a global problem and responsibility and its consequences will not respect national borders. Let us ensure that this target is delivered upon with no room for complacency and help to set the agenda for other nations to aspire to.

    [Source]

  • 11 Jun 2019: Sustainable Development Goals

    16:04

    “The national and international dimensions to poverty and inequality are interlinked. Scotland cannot act with credibility overseas, if we are blind to inequality here at home. And our ambitions for a fairer Scotland are undermined, without global action to tackle poverty, promote prosperity and to tackle climate change.”

    Crucially, many of the sustainable development goals will be rendered unachievable, and existing development gains that have been made will be reversed if we do not tackle climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of autumn 2018, the UK Committee on Climate Change report of May 2019 and the International Development Committee report of this month all reach the same conclusion: we have too little time to prevent Earth’s temperature from increasing by more than 1.4° without radical solutions and clear political leadership. By way of example, Mongolia and Tibet are already experiencing 2° above pre-industrial levels.

    The demonstration by Extinction Rebellion and strikes by young people in our schools serve to focus us on and remind us of how urgent action is needed. There is no doubt that we face a climate emergency. The world will be less safe, resources will be sparse and ecological and demographic crises will be unmanageable. What good is our work on education, inequalities, peace and justice if it is undermined by natural disasters, civil unrest, disease, displacement and mass migration caused by climate change, which pushes 100 million more people into poverty?

    That is commendable, and I am sure he will look to how the Scottish Government have approached the issue, and have become a world leader in their response to climate change. The Scottish Government have rightly called a climate emergency. Scotland has outperformed the UK as a whole and is one of Europe’s leading countries in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Our target is to cut those by 90% by 2050, compared with the UK’s target of 80%. Also, a publicly owned, not-for-profit energy company to deliver renewable energy will be established as part of the strategy to reduce emissions.

    In addition to that progress at home, the Scottish Government have distributed £21 million through the world-leading climate justice fund, which is now supporting projects in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda. Through that, more than 100,000 people have been provided with training on climate change and water rights issues; over 100,000 trees have been planted; and over 200 village-level committees have been established to support water management, to prevent or mitigate the negative impact of climate change.

    Let us be in no doubt: tackling climate change is a universal imperative. The UK Government can take lessons from the Scottish Government, and must recognise the imminent impact that climate change will have on international security and humanitarian access to fundamental resources, both at home and abroad.

    In a report that I mentioned earlier on UK aid for combating climate change, produced by the International Development Committee, we concluded that climate change must be placed at the centre of each strategy and funding. Our report urged a minimum spend of £1.76 billion annually, and a halt to funding fossil fuel projects in developing countries unless it was possible to demonstrate that they supported transition to zero emissions by 2050.

    Disappointingly, we often heard evidence suggesting that Government Departments were not taking climate change seriously, and that there was not joined-up thinking across Whitehall. When I asked the prosperity fund what proportion of its spend supported the use of fossil fuels, I was told that it could not provide that percentage. Similarly, when I asked whether any assessment had been made of the carbon footprint and potential climate impact of its spend, I was told that it did not have specific indicators on carbon footprint. That was surprising and extremely worrying. Unfortunately, that incoherence and lack of focus appears to be common across Government, with policy in one area often undermining delivery in another. Nothing exemplifies that more than the fact that fossil fuels made up 99.4%, as mentioned by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden), and renewables a mere 0.6%, of UK Export Finance’s energy support for low and middle-income countries; those are the countries most likely to be adversely affected by climate change. There is a long-term tie-in to those countries, because once fossil fuel energy supplies are established, they can go on for decades, fundamentally undermining our goal of reducing CO 2 emissions globally.

    We have a unique opportunity to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, combat catastrophic climate change and protect our natural environment by 2030. We simply cannot pick and choose which goals are important to us and which ones we can disregard. Sadly, it does not appear that the UK Government have used the opportunity of the VNR to make the SDGs better known in the UK or to take their own responsibilities more seriously. For example, in a letter on 6 June, firms and charities called for the Government to promote international development through their international trade policy. If the UK wants to do that, it should follow France’s example and call for the USA to return to the Paris agreement before it starts any trade talks.

    Instead, in the same week, we saw the UK Government roll out the red carpet to President Trump, a climate change denier, in a desperate attempt to secure a trade deal, with anything up for grabs.

    [Source]

  • 6 Jun 2019: Oral Answers to Questions

    The United Nations framework for combating climate change has three pillars: mitigation; adaptation; and loss and damage. Does the Secretary of State agree with the United Nations framework convention on climate change that loss and damage to property is a huge consequence of climate change? If so, why do the UK Government allocate official development assistance spending only to mitigation and adaptation?

    [Source]

  • 1 May 2019: Climate Change

    We all heard amid last week’s climate change protest that low to middle-income countries will be hardest hit. The UK Government continue to tell us that they are world-leading in helping those countries to tackle climate change. However, in 2017-18, fossil fuels made up not 60%, 70% or even 80% but a shocking 99.4% of UK Export Finance’s energy support to those countries, locking them into dependency on high-carbon energy. Does the Minister agree that all this talk of commitment to cutting greenhouse gases is nothing more than simply hot air?

    [Source]

  • 20 Mar 2019: Oral Answers to Questions

    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?

    [Source]

  • 26 Feb 2019: Global Education for the Most Marginalised

    15:27

    In other words, in 30 years it has more than doubled and, indeed, is more than the entire population of the UK. That trend is set only to increase with the continuing impact of climate change. Astonishingly, those people include more than 25 million refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18, and refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than their non-refugee peers. In the Central African Republic, for example, half a million children are out of school, and in Afghanistan, 3.7 million children—more than 2 million of whom are girls—are being denied an education. UNESCO has estimated that twice as many girls as boys will never start school. Can anyone in this room imagine that happening to their own children or in our society?

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  • 27 Nov 2018: Nigeria: Armed Violence (Rural Communities)

    10:25

    In June, 86 people died in just one incident in Plateau state after violent clashes broke out between farmers and cattle herders, and the violence has continued unrelentingly during the second half of the year. It is clear that this violence has evolved from spontaneous reactions to deadlier planned attacks, particularly in Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Taraba states. The conflict’s roots lie in the degradation of land due to climate change, and increasing violence in the country’s far north, which has forced herders south. As farms and settlements expand, they swallow up grazing reserves and block traditional migration routes, and farmers’ crops are damaged by the herders’ indiscriminate grazing.

    Can the Minister tell us what action DFID is taking to explore the link between water shortages and climate change and to review UK climate justice policies accordingly? In particular, I recommend that she considers the success of Scottish Government innovations in this area. Can she explain how the UK Government are encouraging and supporting the development of effective Government mechanisms and policies that are able to arbitrate fairly and earn the confidence of all the people of Nigeria in finding a resolution? Finally, what actions are being taken to grow and strengthen the UK’s capacity or the capacity of international agencies as observers, to ensure that such escalations can be reasonably identified in advance? We have heard today about the question of genocide, and it is potentially imminent. The SNP would support the introduction of a 12-point system for gauging genocide risks instead of the traffic light system currently used by the UK.

    [Source]

  • 10 Oct 2018: Kerala: Summer Floods

    The recent floods in Kerala and other natural disasters in the world tragically highlight the urgency of the global climate crisis. This week, the world’s leading climate scientists stated in a landmark UN report that we have just 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum 1.5º C, and the World Bank has already committed to ending upstream oil and gas projects by 2019. Can the Minister therefore explain what possible reasons there are for the UK to continue to fund fossil fuel use, particularly in countries that are already bearing the worst brunt of climate change?

    [Source]

  • 4 Jul 2018: Technology

    After continued pressure from these Scottish National party Benches, it was reassuring to hear after meeting the World Bank last week that it has made a firm commitment to no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019. However, the UK Government are still spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money funding fossil fuel projects in countries that are already bearing the worst brunt of climate change. Will the Minister of State today match the World Bank commitment to stop funding polluting fuels by 2019?

    [Source]

  • 21 Mar 2018: UK-EU: International Development

    16:54

    Working with others is essential for solving many of the world’s biggest problems, including achieving gender equality, tackling tax avoidance, using diplomacy to end conflict and promote peace, and, of course, tackling the devastating impact of climate change—fragile states are hit the hardest and have the fewest resources to cope with climate change impacts.

    The EU functions as a bloc within the UN framework convention on climate change, with the UK as a leading member. After Brexit, if the UK does not maintain a close relationship with the EU, our influence on global environmental and climate change policies, which affect everyone, will be significantly reduced, and the world will be a whole lot worse off for it.

    [Source]

  • 16 Mar 2018: Refugees (Family Reunion) (No.2) Bill

    11:33

    We face unprecedented times. More than 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes owing to conflict, persecution, and the effects of climate change. That is the entire population of the United Kingdom. More than 22 million of those people are refugees, and half of them children. Every Member of the House was once a child, so let us keep that at the heart of our debate today. Many of those children have been torn away from their families and are desperate to be reunited with them, but they are being kept apart thanks to bureaucratic hurdles in UK policy.

    [Source]

  • 22 Feb 2018: Refugee Children: Family Reunion in the UK

    13:55

    The global refugee crisis has displaced a record 65 million people—the entire population of the UK—from their homes; they are fleeing conflict, persecution and the effects of climate change. I am proud that Scotland has a long history of welcoming refugees from all over the world. Over the past two years, communities across Scotland have demonstrated their compassion and understanding as we welcomed more than 2,000 Syrian refugees, many of whom have settled in my constituency.

    [Source]

  • 6 Feb 2018: International Disaster Relief

    15:25

    It is important to note that 90% of recorded major disasters caused by natural hazards from 1995 to 2015 were linked to weather and climate change. Fragile states have been hit hardest, and have the fewest resources to cope with climate change impacts. Even the global strategic trends programme of the Ministry of Defence acknowledges that humanitarian assistance will increase by up to 1,600% in the next 20 years, and says that that is

    “in large part due to the effects of climate change”.

    The Government should follow the world-leading work of the Scottish Government by setting up a climate justice fund to support vulnerable countries in mitigating and adapting to the changing circumstances caused by climate change events. It would make much more sense, rather than dipping into the aid budget after such events, to acknowledge the risks and take action to reduce them before disaster strikes. There is a critical opportunity to do that now, while the political will exists, and I ask the Minister to look at that as soon as he can.

    To give an example from last year, Hurricane Irma was not adequately prepared for and there was a lack of forward thinking and a slow response from the UK Government, despite indications that the hurricane would wreak devastation. Every year hurricanes cause on average $835 million of damage in the Caribbean and almost $200 million of damage in the Pacific, so the UK Government should have seen it coming. The climate challenge must therefore be integrated into national development plans and strategies. Coping with climate variability and attempting to anticipate future climate changes are no longer an optional extra but should be a policy imperative for the Government.

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  • 29 Nov 2017: Value for Money

    There is no greater value for money in aid spending than protecting the future of our natural world for generations to come. Following the UN COP23 talks earlier this month, which I attended, it is undeniable that we are reaching the tipping point of no return on climate change, and all nations agreed that we must go “further, faster, together”. Given that the Department for International Development is a major shareholder in the World Bank, which still spends much more on oil, gas and coal than on clean energy, will the Secretary of State give me her personal commitment that she will use all her powers of persuasion with the World Bank to ensure that it invests more in clean, safe renewables than in fossil fuels?

    [Source]

  • 12 Jul 2017: Oral Answers to Questions

    What percentage of the budget will be spent on helping developing countries to tackle climate change? Will the Secretary of State follow Scotland’s example and establish a climate justice fund, or will the Government tie themselves to Donald Trump’s attitude to climate change, which Professor Stephen Hawking recently described as pushing

    [Source]

  • 18 Jul 2016: UK's Nuclear Deterrent

    21:10

    I am outlining two short and simple reasons why we need to consider the end of this programme. Houses need building, and there are many jobs in defence diversification, renewable energies and many other industries for the highly skilled people working on Trident. A million people go to food banks every year. We should hang our heads in shame at even the possible thought of sacrificing all—

    [Source]

  • 9 Mar 2016: Scotch Whisky Industry

    15:07

    At the other end of production, but no less important, is my other neighbour, the James Hutton Institute, a world-leading scientific research organisation that is working to provide solutions to global challenges in food, energy and water security. As I speak, the James Hutton Institute and Dundee University have launched a campaign to set up the international barley hub, which will be the world’s leading centre for research into barley and its potential in a future where demands are ever increasing owing to production, reduced chemical use and climate change. Without vital support there are dangers ahead for our Scotch whisky industry.

    [Source]

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