Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
THURSDAY 18 APRIL 2002
SHORT MP, MR
160. That is an optimistic view but to continue
to be the pessimist, achieving some of the goals will be likely
to accelerate the problems of climate change, for instance achieving
the trade goals, or maybe achieving other Millennium Development
Goals. Have you equally made an impact assessment of whether the
achievement of some of the goals will accelerate climate change?
(Clare Short) I think
that is profoundly wrong. If you look at economies like ours with
the kind of level of economic development and technological capacity
we have, we have the capacity to treat our environment with more
and more respect, not pollute it, reduce emissions, have forms
of energy that do not create climate change. It is when you are
more developed that you can afford to adapt your technologies
and make the changes to protect environmental consequences. Very
poor countries just do not have the capacity. The massive burden
of disease in the world is human beings relying on wood for cooking
and we have terrible respiratory diseases and lots of people get
ill and children die because of that. They have no option, there
is no electricity near them, let alone renewables. They have got
to grow their economies and they need better trading opportunities
to grow their economies to be able to afford to have some access
to energy and then go for the China route of going for less polluting
energy and so on and so forth. It is absolutely wrong to suggest
that more trading opportunities for poor countries leads to more
pollution, that is just false. That route lies a divided, polluted
world in deep, deep trouble. Humanity is urbanising. Look at us
in this urban country. I talked about where we were before the
Industrial Revolution. Human beings all over this planet are choosing
to go and live in squalor and poverty in some of those slums that
we see. When you see those slums you have to know how hard their
life must have been in the rural area to go and live there. The
rural always looks beautiful, green, and there are the rivers,
but people migrate to the city just to get some fraction of a
chance, a few breadcrumbs of a chance, of a better life. Humanity
is making these choices. It is more than 50 per cent now and we
are going to 65 per cent so we have to share our technology, access
to clean water, sanitation systems and so on in order that we
can have responsible sustainable development and back the choices
that human beings are making. I cannot stand the green agenda
that says poor people cannot have better trading opportunities
and that Africa cannot process its products and that poor people
are not allowed to urbanise and aspire to have the things we have.
That is profoundly reactionary. Some people innocently come to
it, and then there is Mr Monbiot
161. To move beyond Mr Monbiot on that, do you
see a difference, Secretary of State, between the green agenda
in the north and the green agenda in the south? One of the things
which struck me forcibly in Ghana was that as soon as we left
Accra and started heading north we saw a line of lorries each
loaded to the top with tropical logs heading south to Accra, lorry
after lorry after lorry after lorry. One of the projects we met,
which your Department supports, was a project to grow seedlings
for depleted forests. How do you bring the environmentalists in
the south together with the development experts in the south together
with the climate scientists in the south to get them developing
an agenda which is good for poverty relief and good environmentally?
(Clare Short) There are some differences and there
are some things that are the same for the greens in the north
and in the south. The responsibility to deal with the emissions
that are causing global warming lies in the north and the south
is the recipient of the consequences, that is clear. Developing
our economies sustainably is a duty in all our countries, but
the stress on rapid economic grow in order to reduce poverty and
transferring access to modern technology to do it as cleanly as
possible is complementary but slightly different because the starting
point is different. The urgency to get growth to reduce poverty
is much greater in the poorest countries. Let me say on lorries
and logs, there is nothing wrong with using forests as long as
you are doing it sustainably. This country used to be covered
in forests. We destroyed our forests. Of course forests are being
destroyed in other parts of the world. Sustainable forestry is
about those people living in the forests having some control over
the future of the forest and being able to get some money from
responsibly using the fruits of the forest, and that will include
logging and selling wood, but not so fast that the forest cannot
replenish itself. We have got lots of wooden things and wood is
lovely and as long as we are using our forests in a sustainable
way the countries that still have forest will export logs. That
is fine. The Department has been doing some work on how you bring
all the expertise together. Adrian?
(Mr Davis) Can I say that increasing public awareness
of the environmental issues in the south is very important because
demand from the people is one of the factors that will start to
get governments aware of the need for an integrated environment,
not just in climate change but integrated environmental strategies.
We have been doing that in Kenya in particular. There is an environmental
governance programme in Kenya which is not centred on the government
but is centred on civil society to get them to demand that, for
example, logging or corruption which leads to environmental degradation
is taken more seriously by the government. Also, if you build
that kind of bedrock, it gets away from the relatively short-term
political horizon of governments to get them to take into account
these longer-term environmental issues. I visited Bolivia where
there is a Ministry of Sustainable Development and there is a
Minister of Environment. She has been in the position for ten
years and Bolivia has lots of laws and lots of regulation but
they are not very well enforced. When I asked her what was the
one thing that would enable her to do her job better she said,
"Increasing public awareness of environmental issues and
then I can put my message within the government and within the
country more generally."
(Clare Short) Hold on, the stuff about bringing people
together that you are working on. A lot of the people who live
in the forests or who are reliant on natural resources know very
well what is going on and they probably value and care for nature
and natural resources more than anyone. That is their life and
has been for generation after generation. All over the world where
we work in forestry there is massive corruptionin Indonesia
with the military, Malaysian companies, in the Cameroons there
is corruption destroying loads of forests, in Nepal it is the
same. Yes, you have got to use the strength of public opinion
to demand the reform that stops the corruption that allows the
resources to be managed in a way that enables the poor people
to have a better life. Poor people tend to respect and care about
the environment but are powerless to stop the way it is all being
stripped away from them. 62 per cent of humanity is now under
democratic systems, more than we have ever had in human history.
Often they are very dominated by elites. Poor people do not feel
they can use their democratic power. They do not have the knowledge
and the confidence there is lots of bribery and corruption and
hand outs. So it is strengthening the voice that demands responsible
management rather than teaching the poor to care about nature.
They probably care about it more than any of us.
Mr Robathan: I would like to add I agree
that what we saw in Ghana was very definitely over-exploitation
and, indeed, your Department is doing excellent work to try and
assist the Forest Service in Ghana in trying to stop illegal exploitation.
It was fuelled by corruption, it was accompanied by intimidation,
so we were told (I have to say we did not see that) and indeed
the forced displacement of people who had lived on the forest.
We went to a forest reserve where there were no long-standing
trees, it was all shrub, the whole thing had been cut down. I
am reinforcing what you said.
162. I was thinking of the conundrum that we
saw in Ghana which was that the excellent bridges and roads we
were helping to build in Western Ghana which were giving access
to schools and access to hospitals were also being used by the
logging trucks which they had not been built to take and people
were concerned as to how the bridges were going to take the very
high weights that were going across them. It is important to combine
the development goals of education and health alongside the trade
goals and manage them together. My question was not directly about
that. It is really in terms of coming back to the broader aspects
of the national action plans for adaptation. We are all concerned
that this is not moving ahead fast enough in terms of building
policy coherence and mainstream climate change considerations
in developing countries, but to what extent have these national
action plans been reflected in terms of country level programmes
that DFID is doing? How do you ensure that managers within each
country take account of concerns about climate change. Ghana at
the moment is administered from London and is going to be local
shortly but India is local. How do you ensure that the country
level programmes take account of the concerns about climate change?
(Clare Short) We have moved on this. One of the international
development targets that came out of the 1990s UN conferences
was that every country should have a national strategy for sustainable
development in place by?
(Mr Davis) This year.
(Clare Short) And under implementation by 2005. We
set up a unit in the Department and we are working away at it.
What we started getting across the world was everyone had their
national strategy for sustainable development on the shelf or
in the ministry of sustainable development or environment and
the main core of the economy was in the finance ministry and concentrated
on the urgency to get economic development. This was to please
the UN or the donors. For the Millennium Development Goals, the
work we are doing now is taking the poverty reduction strategy,
this revolution that has been on the back of debt relief in the
way the banks work with developing countries so that the-macro-economic
strategy, how you use aid, debt relief, revenues from tax and
social spending are all taken together and openly in a country.
They are growing urgently all over the world to get debt relief
and they need to be lengthened and deepened and they need to take
in sustainability. As a country thinks about where it is getting
its economic growth, how far it is urbanising, what is happening
to its forests, etc, etc, it needs to be integrated in its view
of how it is developing itself. We are trying to move, and that
is the right thing to do, and it is easy to talk about this. Countries
are trying to integrate their trade strategy, and these are countries
with frail administrative capacity, as you know, but this is the
right way to go. On climate change, again, for developing countries,
at this stage they are not contributing to climate change, they
are going to be the recipients of more instability, disease and
problems with their agriculture as a consequence of that. They
need to take that knowledge into their planning for the future
of their country and how they are going to deal with the crises
and deal with the disease burden and modify their agriculture.
163. Are we leading the way in terms of ensuring
that the DFID country planning, if you like, is actually ensuring
that the environmental issues are in there? Are we making sure
that those who are producing the DFID country plans are building
(Clare Short) We are abolishing DFID country plans.
When I came in to the Department in 1997, the Department had always
had them but we publish them. Then we work very hard to get this
poverty reduction strategy where it works and where the country
leads and gets the support of the fund for parts of its operation.
We and others cluster around the country's own plans for its own
development. We focus a lot on building the capacity of the country.
You have got enormously weak finance ministries, central banks,
education ministries, civil service not paid therefore taking
petty bribes and so on, very high inflation, terrible interest
rates so no business can flourish, you know you get all of those
conditions. Now, taking off a country's poverty reduction strategy,
we negotiate with the country how we will contribute to building
up their capacity in strength. Yes, thenand Adrian should
come in againwe try and strengthen a country's capacity
to think about sustainability and their environmental resources
alongside how they are growing their economy and how they are
improving their public services, the provision of health care
and so on.
(Mr Davis) I think we said at the first session, we
are working broadly at trying to integrate the environment and
environmental issues into the PRSP, of which climate change is
a subset and probably not actually the most urgent. We are not
doing it by ourselves, as the Secretary of State said, we are
doing it with a coalition of partners. All of the donors in a
country are trying to group around the PRSP so we are working
very closely with the World Bank, with other bilaterals. There
are competing demands. There is weak capacity. Certainly it is
a really important part of our agenda.
(Clare Short) Do you want to come in, Richard?
(Mr Manning) What we are seeing, I suppose, is a great
deal of variability at country level, I think. You have probably
already had the example of Uganda where there has been an extremely
good exercise to integrate the environmental dimension into their
planning. On the other hand, we had a briefing session for our
senior staff about a month ago from our colleagues in DEFRA and
the Hadley Centre about climate change so that we are sensitising
our own people better. I was quite interested when my colleague
who deals with Asia said that he had been to, I think, half a
dozen consultative group meetings on major Asian countries over
the previous 18 months and at none of which had climate change
been mentioned. That included places like Bangladesh and Nepal
where you think they ought seriously to think about it. It is
very variable and I think there is an important piece of work
to do to get these into the central parts of government. That
is why we are putting the emphasis on trying to integrate this
into the PRSP rather than having a study on the side. Bangladesh
is an example actually where we are working scientist to scientist
and institution to institution to try and broaden the awareness.
But, on the basis of what my colleague said, this may yet not
have percolated to the Ministry of Finance where it does need
to percolate because Bangladesh quite clearly will pay a huge
number of costs over the next century as a result of this and
that needs to start being factored in now.
164. Can I talk about disasters and the mitigation
of the impact of disasters. It must be so difficult to cope with
the short term whilst also trying to improve the long term. Can
you give us examples of where in your short term response you
have been able to mitigate against a future disaster or lessen
the impact of it? The obvious example to meand I am sure
other colleaguesis Bangladesh which you have mentioned
earlier and the way in which they coped with a disaster which
killed hundreds which meant that when the same climate difficulties
occurred the next time there was hardly any loss of life and they
were ready to go on. Can you think of other examples like that
where you prepared for the future?
(Clare Short) People talk about whether there are
increased disasters and how far it is already a result of climate
change. It is difficult to know, of course, because we are getting
such growth of population that people are living on more and more
marginal land and so on. The climate change matters enormously
but given you have the disasters right now in front of you, we
have got to deal with them not just speculate. People see disasters
when they hit the media and then there is always the call for
international support, quite rightly, but in fact your chances
of surviving flooding or mudslides are dependent on the first
24 hours when there is most loss of life. The international community
never gets there in that time. What you have got to do is build
up the capacity of countries to cope immediately. We have been
working with the Red Crossyou know they have organisations
throughout the world of localsto bolster the knowledge
and capacity within each country around the world, especially
countries which are vulnerable to disaster so there is more and
more capacity at home and then with appropriate ministries and
so on. Following the Gujarati earthquake we did some follow on
work with the Indian Government who have been quite good at disasters
but we found some weaknesses in their systems so, where next,
India will be able to respond more quickly. We have been working
also with OCHA which is the UN agency that is meant to be capable
of making the assessment and moving very rapidly and having stocks
and supplies around the world which can move in very quickly.
The next thing you get is when there is a disaster and it hits
the headlines, bits are flying in from all over the world and
they get chaos and disorganisation and you need the UN to move
in very early to see what the needs are, send for the right things
and get some co-ordination so the right things apply. The Red
Cross is doing this enormous effort across the world to strengthen
the capacity of disaster prone countries to act very quickly.
We have been working very strongly with OCHA and then in countries
where we areas in Bangladesh and so on and Mozambique following
the floodsto strengthen country's own systems. At the moment
the world thinks of disasters in developing countries as a call
on international assistance but really that is a failure.
Tony Worthington: That is right.
(Clare Short) Wherever possible we build the national
capacity. I repeat: there are earthquakes in Japan, there are
floods and hurricanes in the United States of America but they
have systems and capacity and methods of building where loss of
life is virtually unimaginable or very, very rare. Whereas floods,
which really should not cause any loss of life, like, was it Colombia,
where was it where there were terrible mudslides and very big
loss of life
(Clare Short)you remember, a few years ago,
houses were built in inappropriate places, there was no emergency
system to pull people out very quickly. Bangladesh is the example,
terribly flood prone. It used to lose a lot of life and it has
just built up its systems, it cannot stop the floods. It is built
on a river delta and people live on lands that move around because
there is such a shortage of land. Now the whole country is fantastically
good at responding to a disaster and can manage itself and protect
human life and we have to build that capacity across the world
as well as, of course, helping countries to take the remedial
action to try and prevent the disasters. With global warming there
is probably a lot which is going to come to them as a consequence
of behaviour in the north in polluting the planet and they are
just going to have to be better at dealing with disasters and
protecting human life and thinking about where to promote development
and safer places to build and so on.
(Mr Davis) It is interesting, I was talking about
environmental integration into PRSPs, the World Bank has done
an analysis of this and one of the countries that has integrated
the best in their full PRSP is Mozambique because they realise
it is really important.
166. You mentioned a lot of the work which has
already been done in other countries to collect data on the impact
of climate change and move things forward. Is DFID working to
boost the work that has already been done in a large number of
developing countries to collect the data that is required to analyse
the impact and to start informing the planning process of what
is needed to be done in the future so the gathering of the data
will be there in some countries. In fact most of the data will
be in most developed countries like Japan and the United States.
What is DFID doing to collect or to increase the data that is
there in developing countries?
(Clare Short) What we try to do in everything, as
our own development efforts in the United Kingdom and my own Department's
efforts mature, is say, "Here we are, we are doing it and
build international systems that do it. We have provided funding
for the Hadley Centre to prepare a portable, regional climate
change model that can be available to countries so that they can
look at the likely consequences for themselves and start planning
for how they will cope. We have commissioned this very major piece
of research that we hope will be a resource for developing countries
more broadly. We are trying to work to strengthen the appetite/knowledge
of developing countries and our focus is all the time on mitigating
effects and helping countries to adapt to cope. You would expect
out of this discussion a stronger and stronger voice coming out
of developing countries demanding that the world takes firmer
action to deal with emissions.
(Mr Davis) Collecting statistics is an important area
for DFID and developing countries in a whole range of areas because
of the importance attached to monitoring, etc. One of the problems
with traditional environmental indicators is that they do not
address the issue the Secretary of State talked about of sustainability.
The number of trees are diminishing, what does that mean? One
of the things that we are trying to encourage developing countries
to look at is the indicators that link poverty and environment,
so that instead of looking at the number of trees when you look
at that, you look at the time it takes women to collect fuel wood
and whether that is increasing over time, those kind of links.
Again statistics on climate change are a subset of that and perhaps
it is more important to link the environment and poverty together.
(Clare Short) You know how international development
is full of statistics and there are books showing how many children
there are lots of those figures are very old, very unreliable
and if we are to drive the Millennium Development Goals we need
better statistics more regularly so you can see which countries
are making progress and which are not and policies can learn from
success and so on. We are trying with the World Bank the OECD
and the UN system to get an improved system of statistics collecting
that is not so onerous that developing countries cannot bear the
burden. If you look at what the UN system recommends, most developing
countries just cannot do that so you have got to both build the
capacity and have a limited set of collectable. We have been working
on this since Paris 21 a couple of years ago. It needs a bigger
push. We are going to have an extra effort so there are more year-on-year
statistics of how countries are doing so their own governments
can learn and their people can learn and we can learn from where
there is a success and where there is a failure. The world is
behind on that.
(Mr Manning) On climate change statistics in particular
we need to remember that there is a huge international effort
on this through the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
There is a lot of use for remote sensing. There is a whole industry
which is collecting this data. It is true to say that in some
respects the data is better in the north than in the south but
we should look particularly at the international process to really
good guidance on what is happening in the world as a whole. I
do feel that huge progress has been made in the last ten years
or so and the latest report is a very important step forward in
building the scientific consensus behind what is happening.
167. How does the Department prioritise its
actions if, for instance, the poorest of the poor are not the
most vulnerable to climate change? How is the balance between
vulnerability to climate change and poverty focused? How are they
(Clare Short) We are part of the whole international
development system so we are trying as a Department to both make
our own interventions in countries as effective as they can be
in building the country's capacity to grow its economy, reduce
poverty, have better public services, improve livelihoods and
do it sustainably in countries where we work, but also we are
trying to strengthen the international system because we cannot
work everywhere but the international system can work everywhere.
We are quite big players in the UN system, in the World Bank and
in the regional development banks trying to take the best development
practice right across the international system and then more and
more to get us and others collaborating so that we are not all
running separate projects here and there and that we cluster behind
countries' own reform agendas and share out the work. Instead
of having nice little projects that we can put our flags over
and put pictures of in our annual reports and where we put in
aid and the experts and when it ends the thing crumbles, we should
be building up the capacity of the countries to do it for themselves,
and that includes sustainability, awareness of the consequences
of climate change, which is the big shift in the mind set on development
we are trying to help drive across the international system.
(Mr Manning) Perhaps it is just worth adding to that,
our first base assessment is precisely the poorest people who
are likely to be the most vulnerable to climate change. Obviously
you can pick the groups here and there who might be specifically
vulnerable and are poor but in general it is people who have very
few assets. It will be the people we met in Northern Nigeria,
the people living in parts of Bangladesh vulnerable to flooding,
it will not be the middle class in Bangladesh who will suffer
from climate change, it will be poor people living on these shifting
islands. We do not see the climate change agenda as in any way
irrelevant to our poverty agenda, the two things over time are
very closely linked.
(Clare Short) It is the poor old poor who get the
brunt all the time, so stick with them and give them a better
168. Secretary of State, although we might disagree
about nineteenth century politics and struggles, I think that
I support largely what you have been saying today about your agenda.
I do see the validity of what you have been saying about the northern
dominated green agenda. But, to be honest, as Richard Manning
has just said, I do not think that good environmental policies
and development policies are in any way mutually exclusive.
(Clare Short) No.
169. I hope we can move beyond the rather absurd
stand of some people on the green side. Particularly what I want
to pick up on is sustainable energy. I know I have heard your
response to Gareth Thomas on renewable energy in the House a couple
of months ago but it seems to me that one of the opportunitiesif
I can put it that wayat least in terms of renewables, is
that developing countries do not need to make the same mistakes
as we have made in the developed world. If we were to start with
an energy system now, we would not start with the National Grid
as we have it now. I think technology has advanced at such a rapid
rate that for instance solar energy and similar energies will
bring tremendous benefits to developing countries. If I can just
give an example. I went to see BMW's hydrogen car today and in
five years we will be able to buy a car, internal combustion engine
car from BMW which runs on liquid hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen is
made with sea water, the developing countries have a lot of solar
power that they can crack the hydrogen with. This is an example.
Another example is basic stoves; you talk about people's respiratory
problems, if you have a basic stove in your hut , you reduce the
amount of firewood used by half or a third and reduce respiratory
problems. What I would like to ask you is what action is your
Department taking, if any, to help develop sustainable and renewable
energy infrastructures in developing countries?
(Clare Short) Just briefly on your first point, I
agree absolutely that there is a completely complementary agenda.
The absolutely guaranteed reduction of poverty and the sustainable
management of the world have to go together and it is the only
safe sustainable future that we have wherever we live in the world.
I am quite sharp with the northern green agenda just because,
well, I am like that anyway and because I was in Seattle, I have
Mr Robathan: I agree.
(Clare Short) I know there are lots of really well
meaning but misled people and I think the challenge needs to be
made. As I said at the beginning, the shift is I believe taking
place. I think one of the prizes for Johannesburg is to bring
this together and to get the predominant mindset of the world
to see that it is complementary, and I hope that is what we are
going to achieve in Johannesburg. Now, of course, I completely
agree that developing countries should take on the technology
that might have been developed and not go through all the stages
of pollution and so on that we have been through but sometimes
again people get romantic and say "Oh, yes, they will not
have electricity and substations and generation like us, let us
go straight to solar, they have a lot of sun in developing countries"
but renewables are more expensive. We have systems in this country
to encourage the use of renewables that have to be subsidised
because as yet they are still more expensive: wind and solar and
so on. What I was saying in answer to the Parliamentary Question
was let us not burden developing countries with having to develop
the new technology, let us give them support to have the best
possible that is available but we can afford to take forward solar.
It is not true that every OECD country is not sunny which someone
was trying to argue with me the other day. So, of course, renewables
are crucial and they are crucial to the future of humanity. It
is a sort of romance, they mean completely well, "Oh, let
us not have any of that in developing countries, let us go for
state of the art renewables" but they are more expensive.
The poorest of the world cannot afford to carry the burden of
developing those technologies to the point where they become cheaper.
I am sure that will happen with solar. It is our duty to humanity
to carry forward the research and the development of the technology
in our countries so that it can be spread across the world. We
should not see the developing countries as a tabula rasa where
we want to do everything and therefore look for the best possible
renewables because they are too dear as yet. We have got a paper
about to come out on energy. Six per cent of rural Africans do
not have any access to electricity at all. It is starting from
where we really are and how you can improve the lives of people
by sharing technology. Do you know when that paper is coming out?
(Mr Manning) In the next few days.
(Clare Short) I think it will be a good piece of work.
There is not an ultimate clash in this but there are lots of people
who say, "Let's forget all about that and start with solar,"
but it just so happens that solar is more expensive. And we do
170. There is only a paper's width between us,
perhaps on emphasis. When we were in Vietnam last year we saw
micro-hydro plants operating on tiny streams that were not much
more than ditches and that brought people who had no access to
electricity light at night. I am encouraging you more down that
road because I think the difference that can make is enormous
for the very poorest.
(Clare Short) Thank you but you know what a high quality
Department I have with all these fabulous people who have devoted
their lives to these matters. All over the world where those technologies
are appropriate we are promoting them and helping to develop them,
but these people who spend a lifetime trying to help get better
energy sources for poor people also say, "Be cautious, do
not think there is an easy, simple technological fix her,"
and we will share the paper with you.
171. Secretary of State, thank you very much.
We are grateful to you and your officials and I think we have
learned quite a lot this afternoon. Thank you for that. I think
the Environmental Select Committee or someone described you as
a "one-woman campaign". I do not think you are a one-woman
campaign, in fact, I am sure you are not. Hopefully over the next
few months some of us here and elsewhere can start to explain
the importance of some of these development issues.
(Clare Short) That was Jonathan Porritt. He is a person
I have not met but for whom I had some respect. I am deliberately
saying sharply to the Environment Committee please, adjust your
mind-set, take into account the poor of the world and where they
live. There is no sustainable future without them having a better
future. That means in Seattle and various other meetings I have
been in a clashing position but I think it is a growing position.
I know I am not on my own. It is where we have got to get the
world to. If the outcome of Johannesburg is that systematic poverty
reduction and sustainable development are seen to go together
we will have moved the mind-set of everyone.
Chairman: I do not want to re-open discussion
but in a sense it is a debate that we have to have here during
summer. If it dominates Johannesburg it is going to be very frustrating
so it is something that needs to be done beforehand. Thank you
very much. We look forward to seeing you next Thursday when there
is a debate on the floor of the House on international development.
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