I think that there are three dimensions to the issue of helping developing countries who are already suffering the impacts of climate change. The first is a moral dimension. Clearly, we are partly responsible, along with other rich countries, for creating the problem. We clearly have some moral responsibility not to just look on and watch people’s lives collapse around them without trying to do something about it. The second dimension to the problem is an economic one. We need a lot of countries to sell things to if “Global Britain” is going to be successful in any way, and if we don’t help countries to stay stable, and their economies to recover, then we will find that we are “cutting our nose off to spite our face”. Because if those economies won’t be there, then the markets for our good won’t be there. Thirdly, there is a political dimension to this issue. If those countries fail, if we don’t help them deal with the loss and damage coming from climate change and those countries fail, then we increase the problem of migration. People in large numbers will migrate away from those countries. So, there are lots of good reasons for us to be thinking about what we, along with other nations, need to do to help, because it is in our interests as well as in their interests.
There is no easy way to calculate this, which is why we are having these negotiations at COP. To try to figure out what sort of amount needs to be agreed, how much of it do we need to do to meet those requirements, and what is the burden of sharing around the world. We are partly responsible because we have in the past, and we continue in the present to use a large number of fossil fuels which is contributing to the problem, and a lot of the countries that are suffering the most from the current impacts of climate change, let alone the future impacts, are countries that have not contributed very much to making that problem. That is why there is indeed a moral dimension to it, as well as the much more practical economic and political considerations. We as a country can afford to pay our part in a global effort to do something to help developing countries who are already dealing with the impacts of climate change for all of these reasons: moral, economic, and political.
These are excerpts from an interview for LBC Radio. The full interview can be listened to here: