Andrew Bowie today called for a cross-parliament review into how governments respond to “more regular but more extreme” weather events.
During a Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into Storm Arwen, the Conservative MP asked UK energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng whether a joined-up approach could improve Britain’s “resilience required as a country” to adapt to climate change.
The MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine referenced widespread disruption to energy and telecommunications networks across the UK following the storm in late November.
He highlighted the extreme weather events which contributed to the rail tragedy at Carmont near Stonehaven in August 2019, and the departmental responses to each event.
Mr Kwarteng replied that the carbon net zero approach to mitigating the effects of climate change have already “forced us as a government to think much more across the silos of Whitehall.”
Mr Bowie said during the secretary of state’s evidence:
“We're talking about resilience and the need to adapt how we react to the changing climate and the more extreme weather patterns that we're seeing.
“Do you think there's a case to be made for a cross-government multi-departmental review into resilience to deal with the situation?
“Because already today we've talked about, obviously, your own department's role in dealing with things to do with energy supply, talked about DCMS and the telecommunications network.
“When inclement weather led to the tragic incident on the railway in my constituency, just outside Stonehaven last year, obviously it was the Department of Transport that was looking at how they reacted to it.
“Do you think that there should be just a pan-governmental review as to whether we have the resilience required as a country to deal with these more regular but more extreme weather events that have such damaging consequences?”
Mr Kwarteng responded:
“All I can say to that, and it's a kind of top line answer to your question, is that the net zero challenge … It was only in the summer of 2019.
“But as a consequence of that, we've been much more working across government.
“So one of the first recommendations of the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) was to have a cabinet sub-committee to look as net zero.
“We implemented that, that kicked off at the beginning of 2020. I've attended all the meetings of that subcommittee.
“We've got also the climate action implementation committee, that's again a cross-Whitehall subcommittee.
“So Net Zero has forced us as a government to think much more across the silos of Whitehall. And of course, when we talk about net zero, we talk about energy resilience.”
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