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Govt urged to abandon plans to recall Chris Huhne from climate talks

Leading development and environmental groups, including Christian Aid,  today urged the Government to abandon plans to recall Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne from the UN climate summit in Cancun, Mexico.

Huhne and climate change minister Greg Barker, who is also in Mexico, are awaiting instructions as to whether they must return to help shore up the Government vote over tuition fees in the face of a threatened backbench revolt.

In Cancun yesterday, however, Huhne was asked to play a key role in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change talks by conference organisers the Mexican government.

They have tasked him with helping bridge the negotiating gap between rich countries refusing to sign up to a further commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, and developing countries insisting that without such an extension, there can be no international climate deal.

Groups including Christian Aid, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Tearfund and WWF-UK today wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg saying the need for a new climate deal was of the utmost urgency and could not be jeopardised by domestic political considerations.

In Cancun, Sol Oyuela, a senior Christian Aid climate justice adviser, said as the letter was sent : 'The prospect of Chris Huhne being pulled out of Cancun at precisely the moment when his presence is so important to achieving a good result is terrible news.

‘The timing could not be worse. There are just a few days left for in which to achieve a badly-needed leap forward.

'The Mexican government specifically invited him to help take charge of some of the most vital but difficult elements of these talks. To recall him now would suggest that the UK has a very disappointing sense of priorities when it comes to solving global problems.'

The Kyoto Protocol is the only global legally binding cap on CO2 emissions in the world today, setting targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community. Its first commitment period ends in 2012.

Recognising that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels CO2 in the atmosphere, the Protocol places a heavier burden on them to curb emissions.

Neither of the world’s two largest carbon emitters however, China and the United States, are bound by the Protocol’s targets. The US refused to sign, while China, as a developing country, is not obliged under the Protocol to make cuts.

Last week Japan, backed by Russia and Canada, said it would not sign up to a new extension period of the Protocol, while a number of countries, particularly in South America, insist it must form the basis of any new climate deal. 

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Further information from Andrew Hogg on 0207 523 2058  or ahogg@christian-aid.org
24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950  

Notes to Editors:

1. 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 lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3.  Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk