It’s funny how the emphasis of a news story changes. What started as flood prevention measures, fairly basic river dredging and the shoring up of coastal defenses has morphed into a story about Britain’s failure to adapt to climate change.
It took a full week of solid news coverage, the environmental and defense ministers to be harangued on national TV by upset residents, and the fact that it is now fairly clear that this government has ignored the advice of it’s own climate change committee, but we’re now finally calling this issue by its’ proper name.
As expected, the hypocrisy of statements at home compared to actions abroad shines outright. Having finally woken up to the danger, David Cameron claimed that “Money is no object“, referring to ending the now long running misery of flooded home and damaged livelihoods. Again, we expect this money to be chanelled direct through government agencies, rather than through the private sector. Abroad however, money is very clearly an object, one that is in woefully short supply. A recent UN report titled “The Adaptation Gap” has put the current cost per year of adaptation at between $7-15 billion dollars in Africa alone, far more than has been been pledged internationally, let alone actually raised.
Of course, the British Government’s immediate responsibility to its own people comes first. But it has also accepted by its participation at numerous UN climate talks that as a developed country, and the worlds 10th largest CO2 emitter, it is partly responsible for a changing climate and the damage caused from it – It is called the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, and it makes it very clear that the historically largest emitters of CO2 must pay their fair share towards the costs.
The world’s poorest deserve immediate adaptation measures as well. Our government, and those of other developed counties should make money “no object” for the ending of their misery too.