Environmental folly: Cutting the domestic climate change budget is a mistake

The odds strongly favour more extreme weather, even if the Environment Secretary chooses to remain oblivious

Share
Related Topics

These are desperate times for parts of the South-west of England, where monsoon-like rains have left villages stranded by floodwater for the best part of a month. Nor has Somerset been the only part of the country to experience the full force of what to many seems an increasingly volatile and spiteful climate. After the largest tidal surge in 60 years hit the east coast last week, parts of East Anglia may have to be abandoned to the sea for good.

As the weather does its worst, David Cameron’s government – the same one that once boasted of its green credentials – seems bent on ignoring the implications of climate change. New figures show that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under Owen Paterson will spend only £17m on “domestic climate change initiatives” this financial year, a fall of more than 40 per cent on the previous year. Spending on this vital issue will now account for only 0.7 per cent of total departmental spending.

This is a strange saving to make, given that a significant part of this budget has gone on research into the impact of extreme weather – an eminently justifiable investment after Britain’s wettest year ever in 2012 and after what parts of the country experienced recently.

It is true that we cannot predict exactly how rising global temperatures will affect Britain. The earlier consensus was that we would have hotter, drier summers, but the evidence of recent years suggests that we are heading into a warmer, wetter climate. Either way, the odds strongly favour more extreme weather, even if the Environment Secretary, the one man who ought to be most cognisant of the dangers lying ahead, chooses to remain oblivious. Last October, Mr Paterson told Parliament that if the world was indeed getting warmer, we should welcome the fact, as farmers would be able to grow more food. Such asininity is hard to credit in a government minister.

Mr Cameron appointed Mr Paterson in 2012 largely to appease Tory right-wingers, not because he had any known expertise on the environment. As the waters of Somerset rise, he is ever more obviously out of his depth.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
 

The two most important parts of Obama’s legacy could be on the brink of collapse, and this time there's no back-up plan

David Usborne
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn