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Pledge with Obama to save the planet

On 20 January Barack Obama will become the world’s most powerful man and will promise to fulfil probably his most important manifesto pledge - to make the US a leader on tackling climate change. 

International development agency Christian Aid is urging the British public to stand alongside President-elect Obama and mark this historic event by taking their own pledge to help save the planet at www.christianaid.org.uk/copenhagen

The charity wants 250,000 people to sign up to the pledge and make their voices heard by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders, including President-elect Obama, ahead of the Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009.

Rhian Beynon, campaigns manager for Christian Aid, said:  ‘2009 is a crucial year for making real progress on climate change. 

‘World leaders will meet in Copenhagen at the end of this year to negotiate an international climate change deal which must be fair to the poor. We are calling for industrialised countries to pledge to reduce their CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and the US has to make this commitment for the deal to work. 

‘Without this commitment it’s impossible to keep the global temperature rise below 2˚C and prevent climate catastrophe.  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.’

Christian Aid works with poor communities in 50 developing countries, many of whom are already suffering the devastating effects of climate change.

The Copenhagen pledge

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 
Ms Beynon continues: ‘Let’s keep switching off lights and cutting 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, it’s time to let Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and other world leaders, know that the British public want them to make a difference to the people least responsible for climate change.’

‘Campaigning with Christian Aid works. Last year our supporters sent decision-makers and businesses some 70,000 letters, e-mails and action cards to get changes made to the pioneering UK Climate Change Act, 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

During his campaign Barack Obama has pledged to reduce climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and been quoted as saying:   ‘Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.  My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.’