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Climate manifesto a 'big step forward'

Christian Aid today welcomed the Government’s manifesto for the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December, calling it a ‘big step forward.’

The international development agency said Prime Minister Gordon Brown must now exercise true leadership in persuading the international community – particularly the EU - of the need for tough new measures to counter global warming.

‘The UK Government’s Copenhagen manifesto shows a growing recognition of the measures that need to be taken’, said Christian Aid’s senior climate policy expert Dr Alison Doig.

‘The EU and a number of other developed countries have shown little resolve so far about playing a fair part in cutting emissions. Nor have they committed to supporting poorer countries adapt to the impact of climate change, and develop in a low-carbon manner.

‘It is imperative that Gordon Brown now injects both ambition and dynamism into breaking the EU deadlock on the issue. With less than 200 days to go to Copenhagen, statesmanship and visionary political leadership are needed.’

In his speech at the launch of the manifesto, the Prime Minister acknowledged that people in developing countries are already suffering devastating impacts of climate change, and that urgent action was needed.

The manifesto, launched by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), contains a number of positive elements, proposing measures that go further than most EU countries are prepared at present to countenance.

However, Dr Doig cautioned that ‘the overall level of ambition of the UK position – in terms of emissions cuts and financing to developing countries – is still not high enough to deliver the climate package that poor people in developing countries deserve.’

The government is now acknowledging that the scale of financing required by developing countries in the fight against climate change is significant – DECC say £60 billion will be needed per year by 2020.

Significant steps forward included the proposal that public money used to help developing countries fight climate change should be in addition to Official Development Assistance (ODA), a key demand of Christian Aid and other development and environmental agencies.

The manifesto also said the money going to the developing world should come from a  ‘predictable, reliable and substantial’ international fund for helping countries cope with the impact of climate change and develop in a low carbon manner. Establishing such a fund has been seen as another key requirement by Christian Aid and other campaign groups.

However, a key drawback to the manifesto is that it signposted a continued reliance on offsets to meet targets. It estimated that half of the £60bn needed per year to help the developing world fight climate change would come from the carbon market.

At a recent meeting of the EU, finance ministers adopted an approach in which rich countries could meet their own emissions cuts through purchasing offsets. The money would then be ‘double counted’ as part of the purchasing country’s contribution to global climate finance for developing countries. Christian Aid and other groups say the payments should not be regarded as one and the same.

In addition, the target proposed in the manifesto - in line with the EU position- for just a 20 per cent cut in carbon emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, increasing to 30 per cent if there is a global deal, remain too low to keep global temperature rises below 2oC – the point beyond which scientists predict climate catastrophe.

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For more press information, pictures or case studies, please contact Andrew Hogg, News Editor/Campaigns Editor ( 00 44 (0) 207 523 2058 / 00 44 (0)7872 350534

Notes to Editors:

  • Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve. 

  • Christian Aid is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition - the UK's largest  group of people dedicated to action on climate change.  Eleven million strong, we are the committed supporters, campaigners, hearts, minds and voices of more than 100 organisations. 

  • Together with faith-based development agencies in a number of other European  countries, Christian Aid has launched a new climate justice campaign called  Countdown to Copenhagen. www.countdowntocopenhagen.com