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Climate change will destabilise world with impact on UK, warns Justine Greening

Published 06/12/2015

International Development Secretary Justine Greening launched an insurance scheme for developing nations to handle global warming-related crises
International Development Secretary Justine Greening launched an insurance scheme for developing nations to handle global warming-related crises

Climate change will make the world more unstable, with consequences that end up on the UK's doorstep, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has warned.

Speaking at UN climate talks in Paris as she launched a new insurance scheme for developing nations to cope with global warming-related disasters, Ms Greening said rising temperatures put stability, prosperity and security at risk.

The initiative by the group of G7 major economies pledges 420 million US dollars (£280 million) of public money to give some of the most vulnerable countries, in places including Africa and the Caribbean, access to insurance against climate change risks such as extreme storms and flooding.

It will extend insurance cover to an extra 180 million people as part of a G7 goal to help insure an additional 400 million people by 2020.

The UK Government has faced criticism from some quarters for committing to spending 0.7% of the country's economic output on aid, and addressing climate change in other countries when people in the UK are being affected by its consequences such as flooding.

But Ms Greening said spending on development was "absolutely in the UK's national interest" because a more developed world was more stable.

"We see the issues of conflict and instability literally ending up on our doorstep; you only have to look at the migration crisis over the summer from Syria to see today things that happen around the world impact Britain.

"It also matters from a prosperity perspective, when we're helping countries develop ... that's in our interest.

"How does climate change fit into that? It puts both at risk," she told the Press Association.

"It makes our world more unstable, unless we can tackle it, and it hinders prosperity at the same time."

The talks in Paris on securing a new global deal on tackling climate change are taking place just weeks after terror attacks in the French capital claimed by Islamic State (IS), with concerns drought in Syria contributed to the conflict which has enabled the rise of the terror group.

Asked if she thought that supporting developing countries to cope with climate change was important from a security point of view, Ms Greening said: "Absolutely".

She said countries put under strain because of climate change or susceptibility to extreme weather would find it hard to develop.

"It's like trying to build a skyscraper when the foundations you are doing it on keep on shifting.

"So it makes sense for us to look at how we can help those countries to develop in ways that mean the foundations they've got are better able to withstand what's going on."

The International Development Secretary said the insurance scheme was important because only 5% of disaster costs in developing countries were covered.

The approach would help the relieve the stretched humanitarian system, while the smart insurance mechanisms could get money more quickly to where it is needed than aid, she said.

One of the programmes it will help is the Africa Risk Capacity, which gives African countries access to insurance against disasters if they put in place good contingency planning for disasters.

Finance is a key issue in the Paris climate negotiations, with concerns from some developing countries that tens of billions of pounds of promised aid money from rich countries to help them cope with climate change has conditions attached.

Ms Greening said the money would be there for poor countries, but there had to be high-value investments and strategies for it to flow into, as well as good governance.

On the UN talks, ahead of their second and final week, she said she sensed they were making progress in the "tough" negotiations, with a real will to reach a positive, ambitious and sensible outcome.

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