50,000 of you shouted and the government answered

Eva Watkinson's picture
Eva Watkinson Campaigns Engagement Manager

50,000 people took to the streets last week to demand action on climate change, and the government responded!

Read the letter direct to you from Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, read our statement on what the government must do and follow the link at the end to send him your message on climate change.

Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, Secretary of State for International Development

On Saturday ActionAid supporters joined thousands of others in London, Glasgow and Belfast to make their voices heard as part of The Wave demonstrations. From the flash dancers to families - thank you! Your commitment and your concern is vital as the Copenhagen talks get underway.

European Development Ministers, including myself, are attending Copenhagen next week to specifically discuss the impact of climate change on the world's poorest people. I wanted to let you know why I will be going and what will be on my mind.

Along with the Prime Minister, my colleague Ed Miliband, and the rest of the government - we are hearing the clear voice of people around this country, and around the world, who want us to fight for an ambitious deal that works for the world's poorest people.

When I go to that meeting, I will be thinking of what I have seen for myself of the impact that climate change is having in the developing world. In Bangladesh I met families who have had their homes swept away by the rising waters. In Ethiopia, I met women who had been forced by drought to walk further each day to collect water until they were walking 5 hours simply to drink from a watering hole shared by people and animals alike.

These experiences have convinced me that one of the most critical issues for our discussions should be the additional financial support that the developed world must provide for poor countries. Climate change threatens to make poverty the future for millions. I believe that getting the right global deal on carbon and climate finance, could be more vital to tackling global poverty than even the Gleneagles summit of 2005.

That is why I will be going to Copenhagen, and why we as a government are working together for an ambitious, effective and fair deal.


PS I want to hear from you directly before I go to the summit - let me know your thoughts and advice by clicking here and sending me a message. Let me know what you think I should be saying to other European Ministers.

Why the UK government is not bad but could aim higher in Copenhagen

Tom Sharman's picture
Tom Sharman Climate Justice Coordinator

Let’s be clear: if Copenhagen fails to end in a just deal that tackles climate change it won’t be for lack of trying on the part of the UK government.

Gordon Brown has done more than most other rich world leaders to secure a deal that has at least a semblance of justice to it.

But that doesn’t mean the UK government is perfect or that it can’t do more to push for a deal that keeps global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees and ensures that those on the climate frontline get the technology and money they need to adapt to climate impacts.

First, rich countries need to cut their emissions by at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020. The EU is currently at 20%, the UK at 34%. So the UK needs to first push the EU to adopt a 30% target by the end of this week and then advocate for moving to 40% as soon as possible.

Second, rich countries need to provide developing countries with at least US$200 billion a year so that they can both cut their emissions and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. That money has to be in addition to the 0.7 aid target which the UK is due to reach in 2013. To date, all of the UK’s climate money for developing countries is drawn from the aid pot, although they have committed to change this after a new global deal is agreed.

Third, the institution that spends the money is as important as the money itself. Most existing institutions, with the exception of the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund, give very little say to those countries and peoples most vulnerable to climate change. The World Bank, for example, gives the US more than twenty times the votes of Bangladesh, let alone any say in its governance to smallholder farmers, indigenous people, women or children.

Yet the World Bank is the UK’s institution of choice to handle the climate billions which we all hope will materialise in the years to come. Time for a rethink?

The UK Government may be good but it could be better.

Text messages

Tom Sharman's picture
Tom Sharman Climate Justice Coordinator

Now that the row over the so-called 'Danish text' – a leaked draft Copenhagen Agreement – has subsided, it’s worth looking in a bit more detail at what kind of deal is being cooked up and who it benefits.

If you take a climate justice approach - a desire to marry environment integrity to social justice - as we do, then ownership and control are as important as targets and numbers.

Those most vulnerable to climate change, be they countries or groups of people, currently have very little say in the international institutions that are supposed to ‘save’ them.

The US has more than twenty times the voting power of Bangladesh in the World Bank and vulnerable peoples, such as women, children, indigenous peoples, and small scale farmers have no direct input whatsoever into that institution. Yet it remains a firm favourite amongst most of the rich countries who like its one dollar, one vote principle.

The one global climate fund that does show some sign of meeting the climate justice test – the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund - is starved of the money it needs to even begin starting to do its job.

So it’s good to see that two of the world’s most respected former leaders, Mary Robinson and Gro Harlem Brundtland, have teamed up with European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom to call for a radical overhaul of the ‘business as usual’ approach.

Not only do they call for those on the front line of global warming to have ‘immediate access to climate funds’ but also that they “play a key role in the governance of institutions that disburse climate finance”.

Climate justice demands it.

ActionAid wins campaigning award!

Lotty Reynolds's picture
Lotty Reynolds Campaigner

Wow, we’ve been awarded the (slightly geeky) European Public Affairs Award for best NGO!

The award was based on two of our campaigns:

The Vedanta campaign to stop a British-listed mining company from building a mine on the sacred Niyamgiri hills, home to thousands of tribal people.

ActionAid’s 6 Degrees Project, which aims to bring people from developed countries together with women in poorer nations. We are only ‘6 degrees’ – or 6 introductions - away from everyone else in the world.

Like all our work, both campaigns worked to give a voice to those affected by the challenges of poverty and discrimination, which was achieved by working in close coalition with our colleagues in other countries and communities on the ground. 

And it’s thanks to your support that we were able to have an impact. Whether you signed an action card, joined in online or took one of the many other routes to register your involvement, the action you take plays a crucial role in keeping the pressure on decision makers.

For more ways to make a difference, have a look at our action page and again a HUGE thank you for your help!

Zero meals per gallon

Emma Hughes's picture
Emma Hughes Campaigns officer

The amount of corn it takes to fill a 4X4 with biofuel would feed a child for a year – that's 45 meals per gallon.

This staggering stat sums up why ActionAid is campaigning against industrial biofuels as part of HungerFREE. Using biofuels literally means putting poor people's food into rich people's cars – in a world where 1 billion are hungry this is lunacy.

ActionAid has estimated that current biofuel policies will push 600 million extra people into hunger by 2020, making them some of the main barriers to realising the right to food for all.

And if the impact on hunger wasn't catastrophic enough, there is also strong scientific evidence that industrial biofuels will be worse for the climate than the fossil fuels they are designed to replace. This is because of the large amount of fertilizer used in industrial production of biofuels and also the increased demand they create for land, which leads to the destruction of carbon-rich habitats.

We're going to be targeting the drivers behind the biofuel boom. The UK government is currently proposing to use industrial biofuels to meet their commitment to 10 per cent renewable transport by 2020 – turning what should be a tool of climate mitigation into an implement of disaster.

In January we'll be telling the UK government not to lock us into using industrial biofuels in our petrol.

Join us as we demand zero meal per gallon.

Climate Crunch Time

Eva Watkinson's picture
Eva Watkinson Campaigns Engagement Manager

On 5 December, over 50,000 of you took to the streets to demand action on climate change. This was the biggest ever UK mobilisation on climate change. Thank you and well done! It was a fantastic day and sent a clear message to Gordon Brown and the ministers heading off to the most important climate change summit ever.

This week and next leaders from all over the world are meeting to agree how we are going to tackle climate change. Who is going to reduce their emissions, by how much, and the levels of funding developing countries will receive to cope with the effects.

The WaveThere has already been a bit of a furore over leaked documents that seemed to be proposing a deal where the cash would flow through the World Bank, rather than a UNFCCC fund. 

“The World Bank has a very poor record dealing with development and environmental sustainability,” said Harjeet Singh, ActionAid’s climate change advisor, at the Copenhagen Summit. “It’s ironic it’s being suggested as the way forward.”

 “The World Bank is not a democratic institution and in the past, has often favoured rich countries. Where does that leave the least developed countries?”

It seems it will be a busy few days in the campaign for climate justice. Watch this space for more updates and ways to make your voice heard.


Photo: Amy Scaife/ActionAid.