Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160 - 161)



Dr Jones

  160. What efforts are being put in to manage the regional impacts of climate change and are local government bodies and regional agencies getting the right advice? What is the relationship between your own department and other government agencies in local government?
  (Mr Meacher) We did set up the United Kingdom Climate Impacts Programme and that has produced a number of regional scenarios of climate change in the case of the North West, the South East and the East Midlands and in terms of the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales, and the other regions are, I understand, either being planned now or are underway. I have launched a couple of these along with the authors and I think they are very good. They are detailed, they are specific, and I think they do have clear recommendations of the changes that are necessary as well as the unexpected and unpredicted changes which up to now I think most people have not contemplated. The United Kingdom Climate Impact Programme 1998 climate change scenarios were sent by DETR to all local authorities. We have said that we will be helping local authorities develop strategies to adapt to climate change as well as, of course, to assist them in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The emphasis is now on this balance between trying to prevent further greenhouse gas emissions, to try and restrict this up to now inexorable growth, although we can only do that internationally. We are already sufficiently far down the track that we have to put a lot of emphasis and policy-making into trying to adapt. The floods are the best example and the action in terms of the flood plains. The Government over the current year is putting £400 million into planning to prevent disasters resulting from floods. Many people think that that is not enough. Adaptation is increasingly the central item immediately on the Government's agenda but we must not lose sight, of course, of the long-term aim internationally together with other countries, of reducing greenhouse gases globally.

  161. Thank you very much indeed, Minister, for a most interesting 75 minutes. We have enjoyed putting the questions to you and receiving your answers and we hope it has not been too unpleasant an experience for you. You seem to have survived it extremely well. We are very grateful, too, to Dr Fisk and Mr Warrilow for coming along and supporting you. We look forward to a letter from Mr Warrilow in due course. We hope, Minister, that you will find our report interesting, not just the summary of it but the whole report in due course (if it is allowed to get to you!) because it will be our view on how the whole of the scientific advisory system is operating in government. You have helped us with one chapter of it, albeit a significant chapter, and we hope the Report will be of some help. Once again, we thank all three of you for being with us this afternoon.
  (Mr Meacher) May I say on my side that we take the reports of all the select committees very seriously and I know that from the effort that goes into it and the care with which I look at the main recommendations, but I think this particular Committee has already established a very significant reputation certainly with what you said in regard to GMOs and I am expecting the same high standards and also an earnest and urgent response from the Government.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.

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