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The Conservatives – the greenest government ever?

2 October 2011

A warning to the Conservatives that they must not abandon their pledge to be the ‘greenest government ever’ was delivered on the eve of the party conference in Manchester by more than a thousand supporters of the charities Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund.

The warning came amid suggestions the Government will announce at the conference plans to raise the speed limit to 80mph, and news broke that a £860m subsidised renewable heating scheme is to be postponed.

Following a service in Manchester Cathedral on Saturday evening, the charities’ supporters marched to the conference centre to urge the
Conservative party to do everything in its power to make sure climate talks later this year deliver for the poorest people in the world.

Eighteen months on from David Cameron’s ‘green’ pledge, the charities want to see the Prime Minister playing a proactive role in delivering climate policy that helps vulnerable communities in poorer countries that are already bearing the brunt of climate change.

Tearfund President, Elaine Storkey led the ecumenical service in the Cathedral where speakers included leading South African theologian
Professor Tinyiko Malueke and Christian Aid’s Director Loretta Minghella. The congregation then walked in procession to the G-Mex centre where the Conservative party conference starts today, and on to Albert Square where a candlelit vigil and a minute’s silence were held in solidarity with those already suffering the impacts of climate change.

The charities stressed that developing countries desperately need world leaders to take stronger global action on the issue, and urged the UK to take a lead later this year at the G20 meeting in France, and UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa.

Developed nations pledged in 2009 that a fund would be up and running by 2013 that should deliver $100bn of climate finance per year by 2020 to help poorer countries cope with the impact of climate change. But the charities fear that the economic crisis may result in rich nations not fulfilling this pledge.

Tearfund’s Director of Advocacy Paul Cook said: ‘Poor people urgently need finance to adapt to climate change and develop in a low carbon way. The current economical and political troubles dominating the western world must not allow previous pledges on international climate policy to be kicked into the long grass.’

Climate finance is key to making the UN climate conference in South Africa a success, the charities say, but currently there is no agreement on where money for the new Green Climate Fund, agreed at UN climate talks last year, will come from. The issue will be discussed at the G20.

Christian Aid’s Director Loretta Minghella said: ‘Recent developments such as suggestions the government is to raise the speed limit suggest it may be going backwards on climate rather than forwards.

‘Any backsliding is unacceptable. We need the government to galvanise international support for the extension of the Kyoto Protocol, without which there would be no enforceable rules on carbon emissions, and we would risk climate anarchy.’

CAFOD’s Director Chris Bain said: ‘In 2010 David Cameron promised that his government would be the greenest government ever. We’re calling on him to hold true to that promise for the world’s poorest people by leading international efforts to deliver the support they were

The charities acknowledge that the UK has, in the past, positioned itself as a world leader on climate finance issues, but that in the
midst of the economic crisis, such leadership is notable by its absence.

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For further press information or interviews please contact:

• Holly Poulter at Tearfund on 07961 332 683 or the Media team on 0208 943 7792
• Andrew Hogg at Christian Aid on 07872 350534 or Melanie Marks on 07877 997721
• Maria Elena at CAFOD on 07796 270 895 or Clare Lyons on 07814 135 871

Editors Notes:

The Kyoto Protocol is an international law aimed at fighting global warming. 37 countries have agreed to it. Agreed in 1997 at UN talks in
Kyoto and put into force in 2005, the rules run until 2012.

CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development which works with communities in over 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, working to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with all people regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality.

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. For more information visit www.christianaid.org.uk

Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency building a global network of churches to help eradicate poverty. www.tearfund.org