Select Committee on International Development Third Report


1. Irreversible changes are occurring in our climate as concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rise (paragraph entitled Summary).
2. Human activity is accelerating climate change and the scale of the action needed to tackle it is unprecedented (paragraph 0.(a)()·).
3. We believe that the precautionary principle must underpin any approach to climate change and the consensus provided by the IPCC should provide the basis for action (paragraph 8).
4. We believe that progress has to be made in bringing environmental and developmental view points together. Taking only an environmental approach will not achieve real sustainability. Economic and sustainable use of natural resources that seeks to maximise social welfare and recognises the need to make trade-offs, will do more to eradicate poverty and ensure long-term sustainability than environmental conservation alone (paragraph 9).
5. Developing countries have a different view of climate change to developed countries. They see it not as a problem of pollution or of how to sustain economic growth but as a problem of human welfare that threatens survival itself (paragraph 10).
6. Given their relative contribution, the burden of finding a solution to the problems posed by climate change should fall mainly on developed countries (paragraph 12).
7. The timescale is urgent and the UK and other donors have to take a lead in building capacity so that policy makers and politicians in developing countries can understand climate change in the context of the local issues facing their country, and translate that understanding into effective policies and mechanisms (paragraph 14).
8. The impacts of climate change will not be evenly spread across the globe and are likely to fall disproportionately on the poor (paragraph 18).
9. Climate change has the potential to increase further the inequality between developed and developing countries (paragraph 18).
10. Rising temperatures and changes in precipitation will place hundreds of millions of people additionally at risk from either hunger, water shortage, coastal flooding or malaria (paragraph 18).
11. Drought preparedness and contingency planning are essential in building capacity to cope with climatic risks. We recommend that all development proposals associated with water resources should consider the potential effects of climate change on the ability of the proposed scheme to deliver its objectives. The impact of the project on the vulnerability of all stakeholders, including those who could be indirectly affected, should be examined. Taking a precautionary approach would mean that projects should represent no-regrets solutions that seek to optimise current systems while building in flexibility to cope with the uncertainties posed by climate change (paragraph ?).
12. We agree with Robert Nicholls, one of our expert witnesses, that DFID could help to promote sustainable development of coastal areas by:
·encouraging efforts to improve understanding of vulnerability;
·promoting more evaluation of the implications of climate change in coastal areas, particularly in vulnerable regions; and,
·enhancing coastal management capacity so that it can deal with the full range of issues, including climate change (paragraph 27).
13. We recommend that DFID support renewed efforts to mitigate climatic disasters, including international standards for early warning, response and recovery. International climate adaptation funds should adopt disaster mitigation as a high priority (paragraph 32).
14. We believe that further research on climate change impacts is needed but that work on adaptation should not wait until such research is complete, given that many of the options will have a positive impact regardless of climate considerations and are worth doing anyway (paragraph 34).
15. Developing countries have limited financial, human, technological, institutional and natural resources, making them less able to respond to the effects of climate change (paragraph 36).
16. DFID should sponsor vulnerability assessments in developing countries and use the information to help target work on adaption where vulnerability is greatest, rather than focusing work on adaptation only on the poorest. In most cases it will be the poorest who are the most vulnerable.
 (Paragraph 37).
17. Official Development Assistance (ODA) needs to be targeted to deliver sustainable development that enhances adaptive capacity; this might include agricultural research, early warning systems for food security, and technology transfer (paragraph 44).
18. For some countries spontaneous adaptation will not be an option. The people of the Maldives and other small island states may have no alternative but to migrate (paragraph 44).
19. We are concerned that too much focus on the short-term responses to extreme events could undermine progress towards longer-term development goals. We believe a longer-term view of relief and DMP must be taken by donors and recipient countries alike (paragraph 45).
20. The need for national and international policies to deal with 'environmental' refugees will become greater as more people are temporarily or permanently displaced from their homes by more frequent and more intense climate disasters or by progressive climate change, such as rising sea levels or desertification. DFID should be pushing for a policy on 'environmental' refugees. Any policy response must recognise that this issue cuts across several Whitehall Departments. DFID must ensure that this issue is raised with and understood by the Home Office and the Foreign Office (paragraph 47).
21. We agree with Neil Adger, Tyndall Centre, that "The first thing that DFID needs to do is make sure that their policies and investments overseas do not actually undermine the capacity to adapt." (Paragraph 52).
22. We are convinced that promoting risk management is better than trying to reduce climate hazards through over-reliance on large-scale, inflexible engineering driven structural works, which often turn out to be commercially unviable, technically impractical and impact adversely on the environment.
 (Paragraph 52).
23. Risk management is an ideal tool to help address issues where the probability of consequences has to be balanced against the vulnerability of stakeholders (paragraph 55).
24. But the use of risk management must be underpinned by the precautionary principle and public participation in the process (paragraph 55).
25. We accept that fossil fuel use will continue to rise in developing countries as efforts are made to bridge the energy gap. However, each time the use of fossil fuels is considered as a source of energy, developing countries and donors should assess if a viable renewable alternative would ultimately be more sustainable or if there is a low-emission alternative. We believe that the Clean Development Mechanism has a crucial role to play in helping to make this transition and DFID should be promoting it within developing countries (paragraph 62).
26. Donors should promote sustainable use of biomass energy (firewood and other organic matter used to produce energy) to ensure that access to energy is possible in as environmentally friendly and affordable a way as possible. There should be a focus on local production in developing solutions especially in the development of simple measures such as improved stoves, briquetting of sawdust and other indigenous solutions (paragraph 64).
27. We believe that fixed transaction costs will continue to make small scale CDM projects in developing countries economically unviable. Unless these costs can be reduced or some other provision made for small scale projects the majority of developing countries will see little benefit from CDM. The UK Government should be pressing for these matters to be addressed by the CDM as quickly as possible (paragraph 70).
28. We support DFID's call for an increase in funding available to the GEF provided that first, any additional resources are new resources and other development activities were not jeopardised, and secondly, DFID worked to ensure that a clear allocation was made within GEF for funding work on adaptation beyond capacity building and preparation of NAPAs (paragraph 77).
29. The GEF should be strongly encouraged to develop means to fund precautionary adaptation projects that reduce the impact of present climatic variations on the most vulnerable populations (paragraph 78).
30. Developed countries have contributed more to climate change while developing countries suffer the most from its consequences. Equity and social justice lie, therefore, at the heart of the climate change debate (paragraph 79).
31. Climate change does not attract the same levels of international attention as other policy issues (paragraph 80).
32. We find the huge imbalance in the negotiation capacity between developed and developing countries alarming. The best way to bring about fairness and equity will be to ensure developing countries can shape and implement agreements effectively. Institutional capacities will have to be strengthened and negotiating capacity developed. DFID could make an important contribution towards helping developing countries play a more significant part in international negotiations, as it does for trade negotiations (paragraph 80).
33. Relief operations should seek to leave a country better able to cope, having improved local capacity and institutions rather than simply patching up problems and moving on (paragraph 90).
34. DFID, along with most other donors, has paid too little attention to global climate change. DFID's evidence made it clear that to them climate change was just one of the many environmental issues threatening development. We disagree. By grouping climate change with environmental degradation or mismanagement of natural resources the long-term nature of climate risks will be overlooked as DFID's policies react to short-term concerns (paragraph 96).
35. DFID's policies should reflect the interdependency between sustainable development and climate change (paragraph 99).
36. We believe the UK government should be pushing the IPCC to pay greater attention to adaptation, the linkages between climate change and sustainable development, and the identification of 'no-regrets' and 'win-win' responses. Developing countries should also be encouraged by the UK Government to apply pressure within the IPCC on the same issues (paragraph 100).
37. DFID should support efforts to orient the IPCC toward climate risk management, including present climatic variability and disasters, as part of ongoing development planning. DFID could also examine the scope for jointly funding a Technical Support Unit with a leading developing country to examine development and equity issues, promoting research to develop innovative projects on climate change adaptation in developing countries, and supporting policy dialogues in developing countries (paragraph 100).
38. At present there is a lack of policy coherence and integration nationally as well as internationally. All government actions need to support measures taken to address climate change. Cooperation cannot just be across government departments and between international agencies, it must also link environment and development goals (paragraph 104).
39. Work undertaken to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases should not be undermined by other policies, such as support given to fossil fuel projects where suitable renewable alternatives exist. We urge ECGD to help focus investments in developing countries on sustainable solutions through the application of its sustainable development guidelines (paragraph 104).
40. DFID could influence the focus on adaptation and work to develop a greater understanding of the importance of adaptation among donors (paragraph 105).
41. We recommend that DFID encourage other donors, bilateral and multilateral, to develop evaluation criteria and performance indicators for climate change. Donors, including DFID, should begin carrying out climate impact assessments that review both the potential impact of climate change on a project and the impact of any project on climate. DFID could play a leading role by developing such criteria and then spreading best practice. The outcomes from the research DFID has commissioned should be used to help develop the criteria and indicators (paragraph 107).
42. Given the dependence of many countries on donors and the fact that countries will often respond to what they perceive are donor priorities, it is important that DFID and other donors show that climate change is an issue that deserves serious consideration within the context of their national and local priorities (paragraph 108).
43. DFID should assess which actors and institutions are best placed to work on climate change using criteria of equity, efficiency and effectiveness (paragraph 110).
44. DFID should assess the comparative advantage of donors and encourage those with particular expertise on climate change issues to take a lead (paragraph 110).
45. Donors must make the development of scientific and institutional capacity to deal with climate risk one of their top priorities (paragraph 114).
46. We agree that adaptation should be DFID's main priority in terms of action on climate change. DFID should consider developing a specific policy on adaptation. This could promote adaptation, and ensure that adverse effects are moderated and benefits realised while maladaptation is avoided (paragraph 115).
47. We remain concerned that DFID sees climate change as a subset of environmental issues rather than the most urgent (paragraph 116).
48. We welcome the research work that DFID and other UK government departments have commissioned, particularly on how the prospects for reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals are likely to be affected by climate change. We look forward to seeing the results and watching how DFID will use them to inform and influence policy (paragraph 117).
49. Developing countries need help to adapt to climate change (paragraph 118).
50. All DFID country and regional offices should obtain relevant National Communications as a starting point for discussing actions on climate change (paragraph 118).
51. Developing countries must integrate actions on climate change into their national strategies. Ministries of Finance must be involved in this process, as the costs associated with the longer-term impacts of climate change have to be considered now (paragraph 122).
52. The National Communication, NAPA, PRSP, NSSD, and other similar policies and reports should be a consistent, coherent set of documents, committed to the same sustainable development path and recognising the interdependency of issues like poverty reduction, the environment, climate change and sustainable development (paragraph 127).
53. DFID and other donors may have to support some capacity and institution-building activity to ensure that the machinery of governments in developing countries can deliver coherent and integrated policies. We do not underestimate the challenge this presents; there are many examples of incoherent policies in developed countries. DFID should sponsor some research to determine the need for capacity and institution building in developing countries (paragraph 127).

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