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Pledges are the new resolutions

This New Year, forget resolutions, pledges are where it’s at - as US President-elect Barack Obama knows only too well. 

From 20 January, when Obama becomes the world’s most powerful man, the world will be looking to him to fulfil his manifesto pledge to make the US a leader on tackling climate change. 

Christian Aid is calling on the British public to take their own pledge to go green and make their voices heard by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders including Obama.  

The charity wants them to speak out on behalf of millions of poor people in developing countries who are suffering the devastating effects of climate change

People like grandmother and coffee cropper Audelia Ramos, whose village in Honduras is under threat of hurricaines and flooding and mother Hadja Sala Diallo, who spends all day collecting water because of the encroaching desert in Senegal.

As the New Year encourages people to re-evaluate their lifestyle, Christian Aid is challenging the public to help them reach a target of 250,000 pledges taken to help women like Audelia and Hadja. Taking the Copenhagen pledge includes a commitment to:

  • Reduce your personal carbon footprint through recycling, reusing and reducing consumption

  • Write to the Prime Minister and speak to your local MP and let them know you expect  the UK Government and other world leaders like Obama to work for a new  international climate change agreement that is fair to poorer countries

  • Encourage friends and family to sign up to the pledge 

It’s easy to take the pledge and e-mail Gordon Brown by adding your name at: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/copenhagen

2009 is a crucial year for making real progress on climate change.  World leaders are due to meet in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a deal on climate change. Christian Aid is calling for industrialised countries across the world to pledge to reduce their CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, to prevent climate catastrophe.  Without this commitment, it will be impossible to keep the global temperature rise below 2˚C.  As a result, 30 million more people could go hungry, 18 per cent of Bangladesh will be underwater and up to 3 billion people could face acute water shortages.

Rhian Beynon, Campaigns Manager for Christian Aid, said: ‘Let’s keep switching off the lights and cutting our flights, but let’s also make our voices heard by those in power. With a new US president who’s made climate pledges and a new international deal up for negotiation in December, it’s time to let Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders know that people across Britain want them to make a difference to the poor in countries like Senegal and Honduras.’

Ms Beynon added: ‘Campaigning with Christian Aid works. Last year our supporters successfully campaigned with us sending decision-makers and businesses some 70,000 letters, e-mails and action cards to get changes made to the pioneering UK Climate Change Bill, which now includes mandatory CO2 reporting for all FTSE-listed companies and a more ambitious CO2 reduction target.  Our supporters highlighted the need for strong legislation and the government listened.’


For further press information contact Karen Hedges on 020 7523 2404/07590710943 or email khedges@christian-aid.org or call Rhian Beynon on 07910 248417.

Notes to editors:

  • Read more about Hadja and Audelia and how an international climate deal in Copenhagen could help them by ordering our free booklet Climate Crunch from campaigns@christian-aid.org

  • One third of the world’s poor live on less than $US2 a day and do not use modern energy like electricity or gas but are suffering the worst impacts of the climate. For example people in Senegal earn an annual average of $US1,792 and emit less than half a tonne of carbon per person per year but must live with increasing desertification in the north of the country. Honduras, where the average income is $US3,430 and carbon emission is 1.1 tonnes per person was subject to more hurricanes and flooding in 2008.

  • Christian Aid believes wealthier countries have the responsibility and capacity to tackle global warming. For example, the UK average income is $33,328 and emissions per person are 9.8 tonnes.  In the US annual income is $41,890 and carbon emissions 20.6 tonnes per person.

  • Christian Aid supporters help fund local partners around the world to help poor people withstand climate change. Examples of our projects include helping people build energy efficient stoves to reduce reliance on scare timber; emergency response training and floor barrier building to prepare for hurricaines and flooding and safe storage of rainwater to help people cope with salinisation of ground water caused by rising sea levels.

  • Source for figures above : UNDP Human Development Report 2007/08