Leaked UN document lays emissions reduction pledges bare

Tom Sharman's picture
Tom Sharman Climate Justice Coordinator

It is likely that any Copenhagen deal will be struck within the next 24 hours if it is to happen at all.

World leaders are due to take personal control of the negotiations from 3pm on Friday to attempt to come up with some sort of political declaration on how the world will tackle climate change over the next decade.A leaked UN document which puts together all the emissions pledges on the table shows that the world is on course for global warming of 3 degrees, rather than the 1.5 degrees needed to guarantee the survival of all nations.

Unless President Obama, who is likely to be the last major leader to arrive in the Danish capital, improves the US offers on mitigation and finance, we will not have a deal that avoids catastrophic climate change.

Most of the NGOs following the talks will be watching the endgame on television screens along with the rest of the world: all but 50 civil society observers have been locked out of the Bella Center where the climate change conference is taking place.

This affront to democracy has done nothing but enrage many of us who have followed these talks since they began in Bali in 2007.

The idea that peaceful observers constitute a security threat is not something dreamed up by the Danish police (many other countries take a similar line) but they have executed a particularly heavy-handed lockdown operation.

NGOs have played a critical role in keeping the climate process ‘honest’ and ensuring that the rights of those who are hit hardest by global warming are not completely trampled over.

Their exclusion bodes ill for the final outcome.

A billion tiny changes

Meredith Alexander's picture
Meredith Alexander Head of Trade and Corporates

Feeding the 5,000 was a huge success. Undeterred by snow and cold, we fed thousands with yummy food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

ActionAid was there asking people to sign our petition. I also gave a short speech. In case you missed it, here it is again (with some photos of the event):

A billion people will go to bed hungry tonight. A child dies every 10 seconds simply because they don’t have enough food. These are huge challenges but they can be solved with some tiny changes.

It’s surprising just how small these solutions are. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has calculated that the average person needs just 250 more calories a day to lift them out of hunger. That’s two thick slices of bread or a small bowl of rice. That doesn’t sound like an impossible task?And it isn’t. Humanity actually produces enough food to feed ourselves. We grow enough for every man, woman and child to eat what they need. The problem isn’t how much food we have, but what we do with it.

Feeding the 5,000

In a world where one out of every six people lives with chronic hunger, it is a tragedy and a scandal that so much of our food ends up in the bin. The energy and resources that went into producing that food could have been put to much better use.

If we all made small changes to the way we shop and eat, we could free up these resources. Hopefully, today’s event will inspire people to think about little things, like making a list before going to the supermarket, that will collectively make a big difference.

Food waste must also be tackled in developing countries. Up to half of all the food grown in these places is lost after the harvest. This waste is completely preventable. Handing out metal bins to store grain in Afghanistan brought losses down to less than 2%.

As I said, many of the solutions to world hunger are truly tiny.

In India, for example, ActionAid works with fisherfolk who need just a small investment to be able to feed their families. Totamma is a mother of two children who isn’t able to put enough food on the table. A 500 litre tub costing just 30 pounds would allow her to safely store fish so they could be sold to people a few days after they are caught. This small change would hugely increase her income. As a result the family would be able to eat three meals a day.

Farmers, fisherfolk, rural workers. These people know how precious food is. They know how safeguard it and reduce waste. But so often their food goes to waste for want of small, simple and inexpensive technology.

Feeding the 5,000

To help farmers in poor countries feed themselves, their families and their communities, the world needs to invest more in agriculture - containers to store grain safely, better quality seeds and simple farm tools all make a big difference. That’s why ActionAid is calling countries rich and poor to give them a helping hand.

Please help us create a HungerFREE world.

Photos: Mark Chilvers/ActionAid.

Africa demands climate delivery from rich world

Tom Sharman's picture
Tom Sharman Climate Justice Coordinator

There were dramatic scenes here at the Bella Center today where the Copenhagen climate change conference is taking place.

The Africa Group signalled their frustration with the rich world’s repeated failure to supply new emissions targets for the second period of the Kyoto Protocol.

When the Danish Chair of the talks, Connie Hedegaard, proposed informal discussions this morning on every issue besides rich country emissions targets, the Africa Group’s frustrations boiled over. They were immediately backed up by the G77 group of 132 developing countries who all refused to take part in the informal discussions.

The Kyoto Protocol is the only existing international climate change agreement and is  often wrongly reported as due to expire in 2012, when it is actually only the first commitment period for rich countries that comes to an end in 3 years’ time.

All of the developing countries want it to continue with a second commitment period for rich countries from 2013-17. Most rich countries, including the EU and the US, want to see it replaced with a single over-arching agreement that requires action from the US and China in particular.

But the Copenhagen round of negotiations launched a twin track approach back in 2007.

One track was designed to secure a second period of emission reductions from rich countries under the Kyoto Protocol.

The second track was designed to include the US in an international framework and provide developing countries with finance and technology to combat climate change.

Developing countries fear that a brand new agreement would take years to ratify (Kyoto took 11 years to be implemented) and would probably be weaker than Kyoto.

The foundation of any just deal in Copenhagen is a second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol. If rich countries cannot deliver that then they cannot claim to be tackling climate change.

The Hunger Season

Jenny Ricks's picture
Jenny Ricks Head of Campaigns

I went to a special screening of The Hunger Season last night in London. The film tells the story of Justice Methula in Swaziland, struggling to survive in the face of droughts and diminishing aid. It connects him to the governments rich and poor, UN agencies and donors whose decisions have an impact on his life, and starts to unravel the question of why we are failing to tackle hunger.

After the screening, I fielded some questions from the audience with the Director Beadie Finzi. People wanted to know more about the politics of ending hunger – how much money is needed, how is it spent and on who? Are governments accountable for their efforts? What is the role of the private sector? These are all the right questions to be asking.

Beadie is passionate that people use her film as a tool for change – to engage people in these issues and inspire action. In the US, they are launching an initiative called ‘Movie & a Meal’. The idea is that people host a film night – a group of people come together and watch the film. But, they forego their usual evening meal, and instead eat cooked maize in solidarity with the billion people going hungry. Groups can then use the opportunity to ask people to take action – be it donate, take a campaign action or support whatever is going on in their area.

This has got me thinking about plans for our HungerFREE campaign next year. In the second half of the year, there are two big opportunities to keep up the pressure on governments to deliver on their promises to halve hunger by 2015 – the G8 and G20 summits in Canada in July, followed by a review of the Millennium Development Goals in New York in September. We need to provoke more public outrage on this issue to force it back into the spotlight.

So, the question to you is – what do you think of the ‘Movie & a Meal’ idea? Do you think there’s a version of it that would work here in the UK? Ideas welcome…..

How far would you go to reduce food waste?

Meredith Alexander's picture
Meredith Alexander Head of Trade and Corporates

Tristram Stuart travelled from Yorkshire all the way across Asia. That might be a bit too far for most of us, but how about coming to Trafalgar Square?

Food waste is a serious issue in a world where a billion people go to bed hungry every day. But ActionAid is teaming up with Tristram to do something fun about it. Together with partners like FareShare we will be feeding 5,000 people with food that would otherwise go to waste.

All you have to do is turn up. Bring some friends if you want. And then eat a free lunch. The whole point of the event is to show everyone just how much delicious food is wasted in the UK - carrots that aren’t the right shape, bananas that are too short, bread that isn’t going to be sold in time. Just by eating lunch you will be making a political point that waste can be reduced.

What? Feeding the 5,000

Where? Trafalgar Square, London

When? Lunchtime, 16 December

Let us know you're coming: email 

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.