HL Deb 23 May 1990 vol 519 cc899-901

3.18 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they favour the establishment of a world environment fund which could assist developing countries to reduce pollution of the atmosphere.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth office (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, the World Bank has proposed the establishment, on a pilot basis, of a global environment facility. This would help developing countries tackle issues which could have significant global benefits including ozone depletion and climate change. We warmly welcome the bank's initiative in outlining a possible framework of international collaboration on these issues. At the meeting of the development committee in Washington earlier this month, we supported the proposal that the bank should carry out further work to elaborate its proposals in consultation with interested parties.

Lord Campbell of Croy

I thank my noble friend for his reply. There seem to be differences of opinion among the industrialised nations on the institutional arrangements. But is it firmly agreed that assistance is necessary if the developing countries are to be persuaded to take special measures which were not in the past required of other countries?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the proposals of the World Bank have received broad support from industrialised countries, including ourselves. Naturally, this is an early stage of the proposals and more work is needed to clarify the issues before the scale of the programme can be defined. The bank plans to hold a meeting of donor governments in June for further discussions on its proposals.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the greatest challenge to humanity over the next 50 years is how the peoples of the developing world can reach a sustainable level of life without destroying the planet? Does he agree that as the industrialised countries are responsible for 80 per cent. of the pollution of our atmosphere it is the industrialised countries who owe it to themselves and to the rest of the world to help to finance the more expensive technologies which are required if the developing countries are not to follow the bad example of those of us in the developed world?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, broadly I think I can agree with the noble Lord, which is a change. Yes, obviously that is the purpose behind this proposal from the World Bank.

Lord Renton

My Lords, in regard to the figure of 80 per cent. given by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, does my noble friend recall that yesterday he said that 20 per cent. of the carbon dioxide produced was due to deforestation? That figure does not seem to fit in very well with that given by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch. Will my noble friend also bear in mind that the more people there are in any country the more difficult it is for the country to prevent further assault on the environment? Therefore, does he not agree that it would be wise for any kind of financial assistance to be accompanied by advice on family planning?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the latter part of my noble friend's question is a matter which we shall be going into in greater detail later this afternoon. The figures that I have available show that it is estimated that developing countries currently account for about one-third of the annual greenhouse gas emissions, about 25 per cent. of fossil fuel emissions and 90 per cent. of carbon emissions resulting from deforestation.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House that the World Bank's proposals will take account of the problems posed by external debt? Can the Minister also say what the main proposal was of the Bergen conference and whether Her Majesty's Government were able to support it?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the World Bank's proposals cover four main environmental issues; namely, the depletion of the ozone layer; the control of CFCs; the control of greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity in the international river and marine environment. I do not think that debt is part of that process. The Bergen conference was useful. The United Kingdom played a constructive part which was recognised by the conference as a whole.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, will the noble Lord indicate 1o the House how his answers today square with the of t-made remarks of the Prime Minister and President Bush that countries in the developing world should essentially be left to their own devices in resolving problems and avoiding the catastrophic environmental mistakes made by the industrialised countries?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I do not have in front of me the quotation to which the noble Lord refers. Before answering that question I would wish to see exactly what was said.