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It's time for governments to use their financial imaginations - response to UN report on climate change

Today’s United Nations report on how to raise $100 billion a year to tackle climate change in poor countries relies too heavily on hopes that the market will help the world’s poorest people cope with global warming and get the clean energy they need, Christian Aid warned today.

However, the charity also praised suggestions by the UN High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing that governments should tax the aviation and shipping industries as one way of raising the money needed – and urged governments to back other such innovative sources of public funds.

‘So far, market responses to climate change have failed to meet the needs of the poorest people in developing countries, who are least responsible but worst affected by climate change,’ said Sol Oyuela, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change and Poverty.

‘So it’s important that governments play a key role in funding and regulating climate action. Especially today, when many governments don’t have ambitious climate policies, it is crucial that most if not all the $100 billion comes from new sources of public funding, such as taxes on planes, ships and financial transactions. It’s time for governments to use their financial imaginations.’

Christian Aid believes that this is not just a question of who’s most able to protect the most vulnerable families, who lack spending power – it is also a matter of justice. It is rich countries which are overwhelmingly responsible for climate change and it is their governments which should now take responsibility for coming up with the $100 billion.

Ms Oyuela added: ‘We know that the financial crisis has put huge pressure on public funds around the world difficult but the effects of climate change are so devastating for poor countries – we are talking about worsening  poverty, hunger, conflict and disease – that we cannot ignore their desperate need.’

In the UK, Christian Aid believes that there is no excuse for government inaction on climate finance now that the Advisory Group has published its report. If the coalition is committed to tackling climate change and global poverty, then it should take the lead with other rich countries to ensure that the $100 billion comes from innovative sources of public funds. It should also start actually raising the money.

Ms Oyuela added: ‘We would also like to see the UK government give serious backing to the Advisory Group’s suggestion for a tax on aviation and shipping. Such a tax would have a double benefit: it would put downward pressure on emissions from planes and ships while also raising some of the billions which people living in poverty urgently need.

‘Christian Aid has one other message for the UK government: every penny of the money that we contribute towards the $100 billion should be clearly additional to the funds we already spend on international development.

‘Climate funding is a matter of justice, not charity. The men, women and children who currently benefit from UK aid spending should not be forced to pay our contribution towards global climate funds, which is what will happen if ministers raid the aid budget to pay for climate change.’


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For more information and to arrange an interview with Sol Oyuela, please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446, 07545 501 749 or rbaird@christian-aid.org


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