Climate related displacement is threatening development. We must act now to prevent future harm

Development has many enemies. Corruption, poor governance and general disinterest all inhibit progress. Displacement, however, is often the biggest enemy of all.

When communities are displaced, they abandon their homes, schools and livelihoods and are forced to embrace an uncertain future. It is as though time races backward and then stands awfully still.

When man-made atrocities, such as war, are to blame for displacement, the consequences are chilling, in part because of a belief that these shocks could have been prevented. They remain, at least in principle, within the scope of human control.

How horrific then to learn that for all the direct disasters humans are enacting upon one another, we are actually only responsible for a fraction of global displacement.

According to a recent report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and the Norwegian Refugee Council, natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, were responsible for 98% of all displacement in 2012. That’s 32.4 million people who were forcibly uprooted due to weather or climate-related events. (Access the report through: http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004BE3B1/(httpInfoFiles)/99E6ED11BB84BB27C1257B6A0035FDC4/$file/global-estimates-2012-may2013.pdf)

As news cameras and the public’s eye focused on the bloody events in Syria – where by the end of the last year almost two million people were said to have been displaced – in India 6.9 million were forced to flee their homes because of violent monsoon floods. A further 6.1 million were displaced in Nigeria for the same reason, while 8.2 million were newly displaced in Africa as a whole. Asia was the hardest hit region, with 22.2 million people forced to leave their homes.

As is so often the case, those least able to adapt and prepare for displacement-causing disasters were the hardest hit, although rich countries did not fully escape nature’s wrath. In America, 900,000 people were heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy, which tore through the east coast last October.

Extreme weather has haunted humanity since the dawn of time, and it is a stretch to blame much of this displacement on global warming, but there is growing evidence that extreme weather trends are accelerating due to the knock-on-effects of climate change.

In short, even under the most optimistic of global warming scenarios, weather-related displacement will continue and is likely to become more severe. If it does, it threatens to displace many more millions and to undo much of the progress made in developing countries.

The risk of displacement and the threat to development are just some of the reasons why the UK and the world must get tough on global warming – and must do so now.

David Cameron came to power promising to head the “greenest government ever” and to become a global leader in climate change, but like so many of his other promises, these pledge are running hollow. For one, climate change will not be a priority at the G8 summit this year, despite being an excellent opportunity to show global leadership on the issue.

Labour not only has a strong record on global warming, but is looking to put serious green energy policies in place if elected in 2015. It was under Gordon Brown’s leadership that the historic 2008 Climate Change Bill was passed, which made the UK the first country to put legally binding emission reduction targets into law. More recently the Labour Party has responded to critics who say that economic growth and green policies cannot go hand in hand by launching a major review which sets to clearly outline how Britain can bolster the green economy.  (To read more: http://www.eua.org.uk/labour-to-launch-green-economic-policy-review)

We have a responsibility to ensure that the UK does not fall back on its green promises, whereby adding yet another barrier to global development.

 Simona Sikimic is a member of LCID

Christian Aid calls on Mitchell to do more on climate change

Courtesy of Christian Aid

There is a very interesting piece over on Left Foot Forward on Christian Aid’s new campaign which calls on the World Bank to do more to tackle climate change.

You can lend your voice to Christian Aid’s and email Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, and ask him to use his position within the World Bank to support developing nations in the fight against climate change.

One notable part of the story on Left Foot Forward says:

Step forward, then, Mr Mitchell, who as the UK’s board representative can now have a significant say in how the bank’s financial institutions are run and how the money is spent. (The UK holds 3.75% of the vote, equal to France, while larger voting shares are held by the US, Japan, China and Germany).

Mr Mitchell must seize the chance to press the bank to put its billions into carbon-safe, clean ways of generating energy, such as solar and small-scale hydroelectric, and biomass projects which can deliver clean energy directly to poor people.

For to preserve any credibility as a force for good, the bank must be seen to be in the vanguard of supporting sustainable and renewable energy sources which would help avert climate chaos while meeting the energy needs of poorer communities to help lift them out of poverty.

You can read the full article over on Left Foot Forward. Here at LCID, we have written frequently on climate change as a challenge to developing nations and we welcome Christian Aid’s focus on the agenda.

 

Huhne can easily stay in Cancun: Call Ming or Charles!

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne today risked embarrassing the UK delegation at the UNFCCC talks in Cancun by threatening to return home to vote for a large rise in student tuition fees. The UK has taken a lead role in negotiating the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

Huhne has attempted to blame Labour Leader Ed Miliband for failing to pair him up with a Labour MP voting against the hike in fees. However, he seems to have conveniently forgotten to ask rebels within his own party. At least 10 Liberal Democrat MPs are expected to vote against the bill tomorrow, including former leaders Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell. He could also pick up the phone to Conservative party rebels and request to pair with one of them.

There is even a potential Liberal Democrat rebel MP in Cancun with the UK delegation – Martin Horwood MP told the BBC earlier this month he would likely vote against. Instead of pairing with Horwood, Huhne is cynically attempting to boost the Government position by asking Labour MPs to cancel out his support.

He has sought to spin his way out the Liberal Democrat’s internal fiasco by blaming the Leader of the Opposition.

David Taylor, Chair of the Labour Campaign for International Development said:

“This decision comes down to Huhne’s political priorities: Would he rather help broker a key global deal on climate change or hike fees on students? He could have called on one of his rebel Lib Dem colleagues to pair with him, or are relations so bad within Lib Dem ranks that he’d rather turn to Labour?

“The choice is his alone – and certainly not Ed Miliband’s.”

Harriet’s first speech outlines some critical areas for international development

Harriet Harman speaking at ActionAid

This article was originally posted on Left Foot Forward.

This morning, shadow international development secretary Harriet Harman gave a speech at ActionAid headquarters in London. Marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Ms Harman outlined six key priorities for the future of international development:

1. Realising the 0.7 per cent GNP pledge for aid;

2. Strengthening women’s rights around the world;

3. Support for remittances (money sent by people in developed countries to their family members in their country of origin);

4. Trade, tax and global growth;

5. The role of development in conflict prevention; and

6. Meeting the needs of developing countries in the fight against climate change.

It was that first point that Ms Harman concentrated on to make a direct call to the government:

“We cannot have succeeded in the struggle to have a new UN women’s agency only to discover that its governing board is men. That would be to contradict everything that it stands for.

“And the executive board should reach out beyond women in the UN missions and women in governments and include women in civil society organisations.”

In order to achieve this and to ensure the UK’s position as a world leader in women’s rights, Ms Harman decried the fact that among the Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office ministerial teams, there was not a single woman.

She said:

“We [Labour] are calling on the Government to make a ministerial appointment of a woman to carry on the work that Glenys Kinnock was doing when we were in government – a role you campaigned for. She led the UK’s work on tackling violence against women overseas and she did a great job.

“The first time such an appointment had been made in the UK. That was important leadership and the government must continue it.”

Well, the government must have been half listening as Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone has, just today, had ‘International Violence Against Women Champion’ added to her brief. Potentially stopping well short of what Ms Harman called for, there is little indication as yet as to what authority Ms Featherstone will have, nor what resources she will have at hand to make a difference to the lives of women across the world.

On remittances, Ms Harman drew on the experiences of many in her constituency, including a report she compiled in 2007:

“I call them the ‘hidden heroes of international development’. People living in my constituency who come from Sierra Leone, Nigeria or Ghana who are living here and working hard bringing up their families. Sometimes doing more than one job, like office cleaning.

“As well as paying their taxes and providing for their family, they also send money back to their home country… But I think we can and should do much more to support remittances.”

It was clear from the passion in her speech that Ms Harman looks determined to make a difference in her new role. Before the election, there was cross-party consensus on the enshrining of the 0.7 per cent law; it was now Labour’s role, she said, to press the coalition to ensure that this Bill is put before Parliament. In a time where the government seems to turn with the tide, Labour:

“… doesn’t want to risk this being the next promise abandoned.”

Left Foot Forward has previously written about a worrying lack of ambition, ideas or leadership emanating from the coalition on international development. With these six points, Harriet Harman has once again demonstrated that Labour is providing leadership on this issue – the focus on trade, tax and global growth is therefore particularly welcome, and LCID looks forward to hearing more on the shadow team’s proposals.

You can read ActionAid’s news from International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women here.

By Tim Nicholls

Congratulations to Ed Miliband

LCID congratulates Ed Miliband MP on becoming the new leader of the Labour Party.

We look forward to working with the former Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change to ensure global poverty stays high on the parties agenda in the coming years.

During the Leadership campaign we asked Ed about his views on global poverty. You can watch his answers here.

All the leadership videos, here, in one place…

Over the past few days, we’ve released videos of each of the Labour leadership candidates answering your questions.

Here are the videos again, in one article. Don’t forget to comment at the bottom of the page and tell us what you think of their answers. Could they be better? Do you think the candidates have it right? Let us know.

If you want to put more questions to the candidates in person, sign up for our hustings in Bristol.

To vote in the Leadership election, don’t forget to join the Labour Party for a £1 before 08 September!

Ed Miliband

David Miliband

Andy Burnham

Ed Balls

Diane Abbott

We apologise for the sound quality in the interview with Diane Abbott – a full transcript can be found here.

Watch: LCID Interviews Ed Miliband

Today is the last day in our series of Labour Leadership videos. Each of the candidates has answered your questions on camera.

Today hear from Ed Miliband, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change.

What do you think about his answers? What else would you ask the Labour Leadership candidates?

If you’ve still got a burning question, come to our Labour in the World Leadership Hustings in Bristol on 09 September – for full details and to RSVP click here.