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Government's new climate drive is welcome - but tough choices must follow warm words

Government moves to inject new momentum into global efforts to tackle the climate crisis deserve an ‘A plus’ for enthusiasm but must be matched with bold action, warns Christian Aid today.

Melanie Ward, the development agency’s Senior UK Political Adviser, said: ‘Today’s government announcements are a step towards a fair, ambitious and binding international climate deal.

‘The positive language, however, needs to be matched by the necessary political choices. These include using international finance to support clean development in poor countries, rather than more dirty coal power stations, and demanding much deeper cuts in EU emissions levels.

‘We warmly welcome the government’s recognition that the only existing climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, must be kept in order to cut emissions and build trust between rich and poor countries.

‘We are also pleased that Gordon Brown has acknowledged the importance of generating the money developing countries need to help them cope with climate change, and is co-chairing the United Nations’ High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, which is meeting in London today.’

Ms Ward’s comments came after the Department for Energy and Climate Change released its new International Climate Change Action Plan.

One important test of the government’s commitment on climate change will present itself next week, she added, when the World Bank will vote on whether to lend $3.75 billion to South Africa for the building of one of the world's biggest new coal-fired power stations.

Campaigners in South Africa say that instead of providing power to communities that at present do not have electricity, most of the electricity generated will go to large scale foreign-owned metal industries.

Bishop Geoff Davies, Executive Director of the South African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute has criticised the plans saying: ‘it would be wrong morally, economically, socially and ecologically for South Africa to be given a World Bank loan to continue its investment in coal-fired energy technology.’ 

‘The Government must put its money where its mouth is, and vote against the proposal,‘ said Ms Ward.

She added that ministers must also insist on the EU committing to cut its emissions by more than 30 per cent by 2020, whether or not other rich countries are prepared to make comparable cuts.

‘Without such cuts, the world has no hope of keeping the global temperature rise below 2oC,’ she warned. ‘Nor will the EU be able to win developing countries’ trust, which will be vital in order to achieve a new international deal on climate change.’

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For more information, pictures, videos or interview requests, please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446 or 07545 501 749 or rbaird@christian-aid.org

Notes to Editors:

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

Poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of dignity, freedom and hope, of power over their own lives. Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty – and we believe that vision can become a reality. We urge you to join us. 

Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty – and we believe that vision can become a reality. We work with the world’s poorest people in around 50 countries, regardless of race or faith. We are part of ACT Alliance, the ecumenical relief and development network.

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