Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
TUESDAY 29 JANUARY 2002
80. Hold on. If you say, "Of course
we want to get it done but the people of Bangladesh (or India
or China) have much less in the way of emissions per person than
anywhere else and therefore we should be more equitable on this",
if their emissions go up the impact will be disastrous for us
all, including those whose emissions are not very large. What
I really want to say is that I understand where you are coming
from but is this not slightly an irrelevance?
(Dr Müller) First of all the facts are that China,
which is the second largest emitter after the US, actually managed
to reverse its emission trend in 1996 and is now eight per cent
below its 1996 emissions, the only country in the world apart
(Dr Müller) Market. They liberalised coal mines
and all these sorts of things. There is an article which I can
gladly give you which explains it all very well but it has happened.
The second thing is that this argument that they will nullify
our efforts in a sense
82. That was not my argument. I said we
will all suffer.
(Dr Müller) This has been put forward. The point
is then that our efforts are just not good enough. If you look
at responsibility and if you think that action has to be in proportion
to one's responsibility, if their responsibility is still much
less than ours then we just have to do more.
83. I suspect you might not disagree with
this, but I would suggest to you that we have made our mistakes
(and are still making them) in the developed world, for want of
a better term, and some would say mistakes were made a hundred
years ago and more, but we now have advancing technology where
we could assist the developing world not to make the same mistakes
we made, and in particular I am thinking of renewable energy.
(Dr Müller) Yes, absolutely.
84. My question for you is, if we agree
on that, should not a lot more of our development be going towards
assisting the development of renewable energy which would benefit
all those people in the developing countries?
(Dr Müller) The point is that this has very little
to do with the assigned amounts. We can do that anyway. I quite
85. I think the assigned amounts seem to
be slightly a red herring.
(Dr Müller) Not really, no. Senegal has about
30 kilograms of carbon per head, the US has five tonnes. There
is not a lot you can reduce with a CDM project in Senegal. These
surplus permits which they will get would enable them to invest
the money they get from selling them back to us in these technologies
and do things which they otherwise could not do. They cannot sell
CDM permits because they have no CDM capacity but with these surplus
permits they can get these things going. That is why per capita
allocation is not going to be very expensive for us either. We
did calculations but it is a matter of not doing it via charity
but via allocation of assets.
86. So it is not a cop-out from the developed
(Dr Müller) No, I do not think so. We will still
have to do a lot.
87. I do disagree with my colleague because
I agree with Dr Huq's views on this allocation of emission targets
on a per capita basis for a country like India or Bangladesh.
They have got practical difficulties of planning and small business
and small industry. The country is not yet fully equipped with
the kinds of rules and regulations they need. It is difficult
for a developing country, and a fast developing country like India,
when the biggest culprit at the moment is America which is not
prepared to accept any international agreements at all. I think
there is scope for countries like India and Bangladesh not to
accept these international targets which the highly industrialised
countries want to impose on them.
(Dr Huq) If I could add one point to that, the position
of most of the developing countries, certainly my own, is that
we are not opposed to action. Developing countries need to take
action as well. You are quite right, we need to take a much more
clean development path for the future, particularly in the energy
sector, than the industrialised countries have done, and we are
all prepared to do that. In the negotiations it is just that it
is a question of who goes first. The Annex 1 countries have to
go first and they have made certain commitments which we want
to see them stick to and then with regard to future commitments
developing countries will certainly come on board. This question
of allocation is something that has to be worked out and there
is a matter of principle involved in this as well. Who does the
atmosphere belong to?
88. Migration has been seen as an important
coping strategy. Is migration a viable coping strategy and what
do you see as the risks of increased environmental refugees and
further conflict as a consequence of that?
(Dr Huq) My response to that would be the following.
I think that environmental migration is already a major source
of whatever migration we are seeing both within countries as well
as internationally. There are large population movements from
rural to urban. Much of that can be ascribed to environmental
degradation in many countries and across borders as well. Climate
change will simply exacerbate that, particularly in countries
like Bangladesh where a one metre sea level rise, for instance,
would wipe out a fifth of the country and more than a fifth of
the population. Where are they going to go? There simply is not
space in the country for them to go. Already a lot of Bangladeshis
migrate to India. There is a lot of illegal immigration across
the border into India which causes problems between our two countries.
This will only be exacerbated. At an international level this
needs to be recognised and some sort of regime for more equitable
and better organised migration of people should be made available
to countries such as these. In the case of climate change it is
different from other environmental degradation in that it can
be ascribed to actions that are taking place in other parts of
the world. As you say, the United States is the biggest emitter
and if certain things are happening because of climate change
then there is a degree of responsibility for these people now
which may not have been the case in the past when cyclones and
so on were regarded as acts of God.
89. We have got a cluster of things. We
have got environment plans, we have got national strategies for
sustainable development, we have got poverty reduction strategies.
We have got strategies coming out of our ears. Are they sufficiently
well co-ordinated and what should be done to ensure they are fully
and properly co-ordinated?
(Dr Huq) Unfortunately they are not, and I think that
there is a growing realisation that they are not and they need
to be. I would say that there are two levels of this question.
One is that there is a proliferation of the multilateral environmental
agreements. There is climate change, there is biodiversity, there
is desertification and so on which produce their own international
bureaucracy and requirements and countries have to respond by
developing a biodiversity plans or a climate change plans and
so on. These need to be better integrated at a global level but
then at a country level again this tends to separate out the little
capacity that there is into responding to international requirements
rather than addressing national needs and trying to integrate
them at a national level. I certainly feel that the approach of
integrating climate action plans or the adaptation plans that
are now being discussed, international sustainable development
strategies, or whatever shape they might be,some countries
call them Agenda 21, some countries call them national plansbut
whatever a country has in place as its national strategic thinking
it needs to incorporate these climate change strategies as well
as the adaptation plans. It is much more important than just doing
another stand-alone plan which will be left on the shelf or brought
to international meetings but not have any relevance for the country.
90. Dr Müller, we have read your work
and your proposals about a global compromise set of quotas whereby
each country gets an allocation somewhere between their present
use and a per capita entitlement. How could developing countries
play a more significant part in international agreements and negotiations
on climate change? What are the most significant barriers to them
(Dr Müller) It is a very good question.
I will give you an example. There are I would say not more than
15 people from developing countries who I meet regularly at every
single conference. Saleemul is one; there are a couple of others.
They represent the developing world policy analysis community.
One always meets the same people. One good friend of mine from
Senegal once said that he could actually live on a first-class
airline ticket the whole of the year but he could not afford a
research assistant. He gets money to go to all these conferences
and be the token developing country representative but at home
for someone to help him to do the work he cannot get money. This
is a very concrete, very simple example of what in particular
DFID could do to help these NGOs, these analysts, these groupings,
to do their work. There is now a Dutch consortium which is sponsoring
a programme where a researcher from Senegal and one from Bangladesh
are going to come for six weeks to Oxford and we are going to
do work together. These sorts of things are extremely important
because ultimately the policy and policy analysis has to be home
grown. We all know that we trust other people but we trust our
own people the most. This capacity to analyse these things is
largely not existent. Another thing which I did find is that I
engaged in a little project about the perception of climate change
in different regions and there is a very strong divide north/south
on what climate change is all about. In the north, quite correctly,
it is seen to be a pollution problem. Like we had with industrial
pollution, it is a matter of emissions and all that, quite rightly
so. We are richer and less vulnerable, so vulnerability does not
come into the picture that much for us, but we have to cope with
the emissions. If you read the DFID memorandum they say, quite
rightly, that sustainable development is no longer a matter of
just environmental protection but they identify climate change
as an environment matter. For developing countries climate change
is a matter of disaster management and a matter of survival. It
is not a matter of pollution prevention primarily. I am talking
about the main focus. In our study we looked at all the ministerial
statements at Marrakech, which no-one ever reads, and it was very
interesting reading to see that again we have a complete north/south
divide. The map was almost like the Commonwealth, where impacts
are mentioned and where they are not. In the north there is no
mention of them. Europe is a little bit of a mixed bag. They did
mention developing country impacts in their ministerial statements
which we have to remember are three minutes so you have to be
rather concise. The point is that we have to get away from thinking
that climate change is purely a matter of a mitigation regime.
I was very pleased to see that the witnesses here, apart from
me, were all involved in adaptation and impacts. That is very
rare. The international regime up to now has almost exclusively
been about mitigation. We need to turn away and tell development
agencies that they are involved in this. This is a main theme.
Climate change needs to be mainstream in development policy, not
the other way round. It is not environmental protection; it is
human impacts which count in the developing world.
91. I was rather alarmed by Dr Müller's
description of these 15 first-class season ticket holders who
were carrying out research in the developing world which does
tend to indicate that they are doing it somewhat in a vacuum.
The question I have, and perhaps you would comment, is whether
or not these people have the ear of their own governments, of
the agencies in their own regions, if they cannot even get enough
money for a research assistant.
(Dr Müller) I think Saleemul will ultimately
be better placed to answer this. I know for example that some
African countries have recently abolished their environment ministry.
The one important point is that one reason why impacts have been
neglected in the international regime is because there was no
sufficient voice there, not just in the NGO community. Take delegations
at Bonn, COPS 5 I think. The US was there with 120 official delegates.
India, which is one of the biggest countries, had seven. Some
countries have one. If you remember that these negotiations can
go on for three days without interruptions, you can imagine what
this one guy from Senegal was doing. He was basically just sleeping.
This is capacity building at ground level, why things which are
important to developing countries are not brought on to the table.
(Dr Huq) At a country level, and I have been involved
in trying to do this in Bangladesh for some time, quite a few
of the developing countries have over time been able to build
a certain level of capacity doing work on climate changevulnerability
analysis, impact analysis, a lot of the time in collaboration
with institutes abroad such as in the UK. There is a certain level
of capacity that has grown I think which can be built on, and
I would suggest that that is something that DFID might want to
look at in terms of building from an existing level of capacity.
With respect to the question of getting the Government's attention,
I must admit that that has been relatively rare. Except for the
island countries like the Maldives, who have really taken up this
issue at a very high level within their governments, most of the
other developing countriesand I cite Bangladesh as an example
which is obviously one of the most vulnerableit is very
difficult to get high level policy makers and politicians to accept
climate change as a particularly pressing problem in the light
of all the other problems that they have. They see it very much
as longer term, It will happen in a hundred years. What can we
do about it? It is difficult for them to grasp the immediacy of
what they can do in the short term. I think that is something
again where DFID might help those within the country who are trying
to do this. There are people even within government, within the
environment agencies, who are aware of this problem but who are
not heard at the higher levels of policy making.
92. What you are suggesting is that they
are paying lip service to it.
(Dr Huq) They do the best they can with whatever resources
they do have, but they have very limited resources.
93. You said that too much development aid
tends to be mitigating what is happening as a result of climate
change. This is really my question because we of course are involved
with the development aid policy of this country. Going back to
what I was saying before, do you think we should re-focus on development
aid, not away from the concentration on poverty, which I think
we would all accept, but on to the longer term effects that by
concentrating, for instance, on renewable energy the benefits
that that would have both to the immediate population which was
served by the energy and able to bring itself out of poverty,
but also into what the people who are most vulnerable to climate
change, such as the fifth of the population of Bangladesh who
would be displaced by a metre rise in sea level? Do you think
our environmental aid is focused too much on Band Aids?
(Dr Müller) Probably. The one thing I have to
say is that I am not an expert on the UK development policy but
I give you an example where no-one knows what to do precisely
with these refugees or displaced people as they are called. We
have no clue of how to share this responsibility with anyone,
let alone share it equitably. We have to start producing much
more imaginative policies in that respect. I see your point about
renewable energies. Energy is important for everyone; that is
just standard of living. Renewable energies are all the better
because they do not pollute, but the one thing which we have to
look at is climate change as a disaster. I am not too sure how
a meteorite catastrophe in the UK would be handled but I am sure
there are lots of agencies involved, including the Army and all
that. If we look at our own preparedness and plans this is the
sort of thing, adapted to developing countries, which we have
to look atdisaster management. It is not just a matter
of getting a proper energy system going and not polluting because
there we are again getting into the pollution prevention game.
There are lots of studies about that, the penetration of renewables
and how it will help, but where there is very little is about
how we react to the disasters, the climate impacts.
(Dr Huq) One of the things we need to distinguish
between when we are talking about sustainable development and
the question that you raised of tackling poverty first, is that
that is obviously the primary target but it tends to be seen in
terms of the shorter term. What climate change enables one to
do, and I have found this very useful in arguing with people in
development, is that it re-focuses attention on the "sustainable"
part of the sustainable development if you like. Too many people
in development see the short term development part of the picture,
which is overwhelming and obviously can draw all your resources,
without looking at the sustainability angle at all. If you look
at it through a climate change lens, because it is a long term
problem, it is not going to happen in the immediate future, it
enables you to take a longer term perspective on all the different
aspects of development, including the energy path that we are
going to take, including disaster management, including population
growth, so all the longer term problems can be incorporated into
taking a climate change perspective on development which brings
it back to the sustainable development paradigm rather than the
immediate development paradigm which many people are locked into,
both national governments and aid agencies.
94. I have the same point as Andrew. It
is a very simple issue as far as DFID is concerned. It now has
a legal duty to develop all its concerns to lowering poverty;
that is what it is about, and we are supposed to judge it as to
whether it is doing that. In addition to all the problems that
poor people have got, they have also got this thing called climate
change. What is DFID to do about that? We have been to Bangladesh
and seen the amazing ability of the Bangladeshi farmers and the
adaptability to get drowned and then get up and get going again,
but what are you going to do about Dhaka?
(Dr Huq) Dhaka is a big problem.
Tony Worthington: A lot of people live
(Dr Huq) A lot of people live in Dhaka and it is getting
a lot more vulnerable with time. The solution to the urbanisation
problem in Bangladesh in particular has to be to try and draw
resources out of Dhaka to other urban centres. Unless we are able
to do that we just cannot support the rapid growth of Dhaka that
is going on right now and another dozen urban conurbations around
the country. The good thing about Bangladesh is that it is geographically
small and communications are relatively easy so people can move
around. If there were resources being put into other urban centres
in terms of industry and other infrastructure then I think that
people, instead of migrating to Dhaka, would migrate to other
cities as well. Migration to cities is in my view unstoppable.
The push and pull factors are so strong that preventing it is
almost impossible. The good story is that on the population growth
front Bangladesh has actually made quite substantial achievements
in bringing down the rate of population growth even though it
is a very poor country.
95. But if you were saying to DFID, "Look:
we recognise what you have done in Bangladesh, but for the future
your emphasis should change to this", what would that be?
(Dr Huq) I do not think it would be too great a change
in emphasis. What I would say, as I said earlier, is that the
issue of climate change is something that happens at a global
level. It is something that the country and the development practitioners
in the country are not really cognisant of enough. They do not
really know what they may be doing which may exacerbate the problem,
as we heard earlier from Dr Neil Adger. That needs to be brought
in. Bringing in that dimension of climate change as a global problem
that will affect Bangladesh, and everybody knows that Bangladesh
is one of the most vulnerable countries, beyond that fact of how
that will play out and what we need to do about it is something
that has not sunk into the development practitioners and policy
makers in the country and even within DFID. I have had a tough
time arguing to DFID that they should be taking this seriously.
96. But you are not saying to them what
they should do.
(Dr Huq) Two things need to be done. One is that all
the development agencies need to re-examine their own development
aid in the long term, to look at its long term impacts. Just to
give you an example in the past, they have been funding roads
all over the country. These roads have not always been done in
the best environmentally planned manner. We are hydrologically
a very flat country. In many places they have screwed up the hydrology
of the place by not having enough bridges and culverts in them,
which has exacerbated the flood problem. Similarly, other long
term infrastructure investments may have detrimental effects without
taking the long term consequences into account. The issue of looking
at climate change impacts and particularly the adaptation options
in planning are like insurance. It is like doing an environmental
impact assessment which is the norm in any big project. You just
add on a climate impact assessment to that. It is not changing
things drastically. It is just re-thinking them in the light of
these potential problems that are likely to occur to a larger
extent in Bangladesh perhaps more than in many other countries.
97. Do you think there is sufficiently well
co-ordinated UK Government policy on climate change with DEFRA
taking the lead generally on climate change negotiations but with
DFID really seeking to help promote effective negotiations by
developing countries on adaptation and poverty reduction? Do you
have any observations to make about the way in which the UK Government
approaches climate change policy?
(Dr Huq) From what I have seen I think that the UK
Government is probably one of the better governments in terms
of having good co-ordination amongst the agencies, amongst the
people that I have met at the negotiations. Having said that,
however, I have had difficulty in getting DFID to take on board
the issue of climate change as a development problemand
not just DFID but development agencies in general with whom I
talk regularly, such as the World Bank and various other bilaterals.
It is difficult for people involved in development in the short
term, looking at crises, to see what the relevance is of climate
changewhat is it they can do? I do not have ready answers
for that. All I am saying to them is that it is something that
they should be taking seriously and thinking through and seeing
whether it is of importance to them and, if so, how and what do
they need to do about it. That is something that DFID really needs
to take on. It has not done so yet sufficiently in my opinion.
Chairman: Thank you very much for two
very interesting papers and also for giving evidence today. It
is much appreciated. I have to say that I think I have been unlucky.
Whenever I have been to Dhaka there always seems to be hartal
between various groups and politicians and all their supporters.
I do not think I have ever been in Dhaka without there being a
(Dr Huq) It is good for pollution because
there are no crowds on the streets!
32 Science Vol 294, 2001. Back