Rory Stewart pledges to put climate and environment at heart of UK aid efforts
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart has pledged to put climate and the environment at the heart of efforts to improve lives around the world.
At a speech in London, Mr Stewart promised to double his department’s spending and efforts on tackling climate change and protecting the environment.
He announced that £193 million will be spent on research and innovation to reduce emissions and help communities in developing countries adapt to climate change.
Funding will help poorer countries boost their economies in a climate-friendly way, for example piloting the use of small electric vehicles such as tuk tuks and motorcycle taxis known as boda boda in Kenya and Rwanda.
Along with the Met Office, the Department for International Development (DfID) will also be supporting research and technology innovation to improve modelling of African climate systems and weather to help countries, communities and farmers plan for future extremes.
And funding will help poor farmers withstand climate shocks and benefit from “climate smart” agriculture to allow them to grow crops that are more nutritious, resistant to disease and better able to withstand floods or drought.
Mr Stewart’s speech comes after the Government pledged that all UK aid spending would be in line with efforts agreed under the global Paris Agreement to tackle climate change and its impacts.
He pointed to a recent trip to Jordan where he found that in some places there is barely enough water for people to wash, new bore holes at refugee camps are already running dry and farmers cannot return to their land and crops because of a lack of water.
He also saw a solar farm providing cheaper electricity than oil or gas alternatives.
“In one day I saw the immediate effects on people’s lives of climate change – farmers uprooted and refugees struggling – and the very real possibility of a carbon-free future, that is also good for people’s pockets.”
Mr Stewart said sustainable development was not about numbers but about values, and that DfID had a moral purpose to help communities tackle poverty and climate change and protect their local environment.
“If we can get it right we can imagine international development, climate and the environment as a single thing, not a series of weird trade-offs between pro-poor action on one hand and carbon neutral action on the other, but an integrated approach.”