Labour’s Manifesto on International Development

Extract from Labour’s manifesto

The global poverty emergency: our moral duty, our common interest

Labour’s international leadership on development has helped transform the lives of millions across the world. Yet too many people still live in extreme poverty, die from treatable diseases, or are denied the chance to go to school.

We will lead an international campaign to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track. We remain committed to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid from 2013, and we will enshrine this commitment in law early in the next Parliament. Our aid will target the poorest and most excluded – spent transparently and evaluated independently. We will fight corruption, investing more to track, freeze, and recover assets stolen from developing countries. Further action will be taken to strengthen developing countries’ tax systems, reduce tax evasion, improve reporting, and crack down on tax havens. To increase accountability, we will allocate at least five per cent of all funding developing country budgets for the purpose of strengthening the role of Parliaments and civil society.

Our leadership on debt cancellation has freed 28 countries from the shackles of debt. We will continue to drive this agenda, building on legislation to clampdown on vulture funds.

Access to health, education, food, water and sanitation are basic human rights. We will spend £8.5 billion over eight years to help more children go to school; maintain our pledge to spend £6 billion on health between 2008 and 2015 and £1 billion through the Global Fund to support the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria; fight for universal access to prevention, treatment and care for HIV/AIDS by 2010; and deliver at least 30 million additional anti-malarial bed-nets over the next three years.

We will provide £1 billion for water and sanitation by 2013, driving this issue up the international agenda, and over £1 billion on food security and agriculture. We will push for the establishment of a Global Council on Child Hunger. We will help save the lives of six million mothers and babies by 2015 and, because international focus on the needs of women and girls is vital, we will double core funding to the new UN Women’s agency. While the Tories would favour private schemes, we will work closely with NGOs and developing countries to eliminate user fees and promote healthcare and education free at the point of access. We will encourage other countries to ratify the ILO conventions on labour standards, as we have done.

Trade can lift millions out of poverty. We will work with the private sector, trade unions and co-operatives to promote sustainable development, quadruple our funding for fair and ethical trade, and press for a fair World Trade Organisation deal, with no enforced liberalisation for poor countries, and increased duty-free and quota-free access.

Prime Minister criticises climate change skeptics as group to fund developing countries launched

Gordon Brown has criticised climate change sceptics as going “against the grain” of all the scientific evidence, as he launched a new group to raise the money promised by developed countries at Copenhagen.

The United Nations High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing will be co-chaired by the Prime Minister and Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Its purpose is to work towards one of the substantive promises from the Copenhagen talks: to raise $100 billion by 2020 for developing countries to use in the fight against climate change.

This aid is vital in the struggle against the effects of anthropogenic climate change, due to the disproportionate hardship that it will cause to the world’s poorest countries. These are well-documented and would cause great suffering in developing countries, the effects of which would rapidly spread across national borders.

According to the Prime Minister, the High Level Group will grapple with:

“the task that I believe is the most important we face – combating climate change by ensuring that the poorest countries have the finance necessary to do so… The task before us, while daunting, is a very important one to the future of the environment of the world.”

This aid must not be taken from other international development funding, the Prime Minister said and he is completely right. While international development and the fight against climate change are inextricably linked and must be tackled together, there are also distinct causes to both which require different action. Taking money from the aid budget to fight against climate change will leave the developing world ill equipped for both.

The UK, and especially the UK Government has led the way here. It is vital that that continues. Gordon Brown has made it clear that, under Labour, it will.

By Tim Nicholls

Review of Copenhagen

(First posted on Labour List)

As Douglas Alexander wrote on this site a couple of months ago, climate change is the defining test of our era. 300 million people are already affected, and if nothing is done to avert it the impact is predicted to be catastrophic for billions of people.

The test then, from a development perspective, was whether the Copenhagen talks would deliver a deal that committed the world to staying below the 2°C mark needed to avert disaster, and whether enough money would be committed to help developing countries already affected to adapt. That test was not met.

Yes, it is an important first step that all countries have accepted the science and committed to keeping the globe below 2°C – but as many have already pointed out, it is not legally binding. China is getting a lot of the blame for this, and whilst some of the criticisms are justified, it cannot excuse the lack of ambition shown by President Obama. China may have recently pulled ahead of the US on total emissions, and India’s may be rising, but as John Prescott points out, an American emits almost 4 times as much carbon as a Chinese person. Both China & India have hundreds of millions of people still living in poverty and need space to grow to lift them out of it. Like many of us, I gotta a crush on Obama, and I want to believe those who say this summit has come too soon for him (with his climate bill yet to go through Congress). But the world can’t wait. American Democrats need to get their act together fast.

On aid for adaptation the news was certainly better, with our Prime Minister showing great leadership on the world stage again. The Copenhagen Accord will provide 30 billion dollars over the next three years to kick start emission reduction measures and help the poorest countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. It also committed developed countries to provide 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, a figure first put forward by Gordon Brown in June of this year.

The concern, however, is whether the rest of the developed countries will keep to that promise. The money pledged is an aspiration and not a commitment, and whilst this Labour Government has kept the promises it made in the Make Poverty History campaign of 2005, the rest of the G8 have not. Whilst we have said that no more than 10% of our existing aid budget will be spent on climate change adaptation, the rest of the countries have made no such commitment. Furthermore, not all of the money will be public, which as Oxfam point out, mean there is no guarantee it will be spent in the right way. And as most NGOs point out, 100 billion dollars is not even half the money that will be needed.

As almost everyone has acknowledged, on both 2°C and aid for adaptation, there is a considerable way to go before the politics matches the science. After years of wrangling, this deal is better than no deal at all, but only if we starting building on it fast.

Before finishing, I think it is important to state that for all the disappointment at Copenhagen, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband – who went for days without sleep – deserve our utmost respect for Britain’s role in these talks. Some have acknowledged that, with Oxfam’s Campaigns & Policy Director Phil Bloomer saying “Lets give credit when credit is due:  Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband have worked tirelessly this week”. Franny Armstrong of the 10:10 Campaign said the same in more colourful language: “He (Ed) has been working f**king hard…The UK’s got a really really great reputation, and everyone is saying they couldn’t have done any more”.

That praise needs to get back to their supporters. Just as with the Make Poverty History campaign in 2005, Britain’s leadership has been the result of a constructive relationship, between a Labour Government showing leadership and a noisy civil society pushing us to act. It is in civil society’s interest that they acknowledge that as they need to show their supporters that their actions made a difference. Clearly, it is also in our interest – we stand to gain electorally as if supporters, inspired by the leadership a Labour Government has shown – come (back) into and vote and mobilise for the Labour Party.

by David Taylor, Labour Campaign for International Development

Initial Reaction to Copenhagen

Disappointment all around after the end of the Copenhagen climate change talks. More reaction to follow, but credit has to be given for the tireless work by Gordon Brown & Ed Miliband at these talks, if only Obama and others followed their lead.

We have no option but to carry on, and push on and on for a legally binding deal that will keep the world from warming more than 2oC. And we must make sure the aid money agreed for adaptation is new money, not just diverted from existing aid budgets.

Here are a few links you might find useful to reflect on Copenhagen on Saturday morning:

More reaction to follow on Monday, when we will be appearing on Labour List thanks to our friends at SERA. Now off to campaign on the doorstep with Young Labour as part of our Big Campaign Day – join the Facebook group to get involved!

by David Taylor, Labour Campaign for International Development

Douglas Alexander on Copenhagen – Progress Article

Article by Douglas Alexander on Copenhagen for Progress.

For the world’s poor an agreement in Copenhagen is not a window of opportunity but a window of necessity

Last weekend tens of thousands of progressives took to the streets in London, Glasgow and Belfast and this weekend the Global Day of Action showed again the strength of public feeling.

Today, I am in Copenhagen to meet with representatives from the developing world and European Development Ministers to give political momentum to the climate change talks. More than 180 countries are represented at the talks and the stakes, especially for the world’s poor, could not be higher.

Global poverty and dangerous climate change are issues of progressive concern that are fundamentally intertwined. Climate change is a defining political test of our era and getting the right global deal on carbon could be more vital to tackling global poverty than even the Gleneagles summit of 2005.

The question is not just ‘deal or no deal?’ – it is what kind of deal we can get. Our aim is a comprehensive and global agreement that is converted quickly to an internationally legally binding treaty. We want an agreement to put the world on a path to no more than two degrees of global warming.

That means at least halving global emissions by 2050 and securing the necessary financing to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries to adapt to those climatic changes that are now inevitable.

Drought in parts of Africa could reduce harvests by 50% by 2020. Glaciers could shrink by up to 60% and the rivers they feed could dry up, affecting the drinking water of around a sixth of the world’s population. Increases in global sea levels could cause severe flooding, with 94 million people across Asia facing the threat of losing their homes.

But climate change is not some future possibility for many of the world’s poorest people, it is a present reality. The Global Humanitarian Forum estimated recently that more than 300 million people are already seriously affected by climate change.

I have seen for myself the impact that climate change is having in the developing world. In Kenya I met a man who told me that the seasons he remembered as a child have gone. He told me that in the summer there is drought and in the winter there are floods. 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.

It is a tragic reality that the people who have done least to contribute to climate change – the global poor – are being hardest hit. By 2035, the Himalayan glaciers, which provide water for up to 750 million people across Asia could disappear. By 2050, some 25 million more children may be malnourished. By 2080, an extra 400 million people could be exposed to malaria.

Progressives came together in 2005 to make poverty history but climate change now threatens to make poverty the future. That is why we have not only a self-interest, but also a moral responsibility to the developing world to work for a fair deal.

While the historical responsibilities of the west in relation to climate change are unarguable, it is in the emerging economies that we will see the greatest rise in emissions over the coming decades. So a climate deal must include both developed and developing countries.

Of central importance in getting developing countries to the table will be agreeing a consensus around the financial support that the developed world will provide for poor countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change – and take low-carbon development paths. I believe that we can lead the way here as we did in 2005, ahead of the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

The Tories refuse to match the commitments Labour have made. I believe that it is not only right for developed countries to provide significant finance but it will be essential to securing a deal at Copenhagen. Given that climate change will affect all of us, it is in our own interests to help developing countries ‘leapfrog’ dirty technologies and find a low carbon path to growth.

Climate change is a defining challenge for our generation. It is not a future threat but a current crisis. Taking robust action flows naturally from our core progressive beliefs. It demands a progressive response because it is the world’s poorest people who are least responsible for the problem and it is they who have both been affected first, and will ultimately be affected worst. For many of the poorest people in the world, this final week of negotiations in Copenhagen is not a window of opportunity but a window of necessity.

by Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development

Join the Global Poverty Promise campaign to make 0.7% aid spending UK law.

Population v Climate Change

River in Delhi

Flats back on to a litter-choked river in New Delhi. Photo: David Taylor

Interesting article by Duncan Green, Oxfam’s Head of Policy, in the New Statesman this week.

“People cause climate change, therefore cut the number of people. Right? Not really. A closer look shows that the conventional view is wrong, or at least a gross over-simplification.”

“The population debate matters, especially in these two Copenhagen weeks, because it risks becoming a massive distraction. We need to focus on curbing consumption and emissions, not babies and women’s rights. Otherwise we risk blaming the victims and letting the climate villains off the hook.”

In short, Duncan argues that:

a) Population growth is slowing anyway and will peak in 2050.

b) Carbon footprints are what matter – it’s the few of us in rich countries consuming too much that is the problem, not the billions of poor people emitted very little

c) Population growth should be addressed through women’s rights, access to education and family planning services (contraception and safe abortion facilities).

Duncan as ever talks a lot of sense and he is right in warning that population must not be a distraction from the cut in emissions that need to be agreed this week in Copenhagen.

However, a concern would be around India & China’s growing middle classes, who are acquiring Western-style consumption patterns as they aspire to and reach standards of living similar to us. Of course, in development terms, we want to see a country develop, people lifted out of poverty and their working and middle classes grow. But at the moment, the carbon footprint of a person in India or China is small in comparison with a citizen of the US or EU. What happens when India & China attains billions of middle classes with similar consumption patterns to us? Does that not make limiting population vital to our efforts to stop climate change?

The answer is probably more about curbing consumption and emissions than it is about limiting population. We need to lead by example and show it is possible to have a high standard of living without excessive consumption and cut our own emissions, whilst also helping India, China and other developing countries make their own transition to a low carbon economy (through technology transfer etc).

That said, if the Chinese and Indian governments addressed population growth through an approach that strengthened women’s rights, access to education & family planning based, would that not benefit everyone in India and China, and help the planet?

What do you think?

by David Taylor, Labour Campaign for International Development

Fabians expose Tories “We were against the Copenhagen development deal before we were for it” say Tories

The Tories International Development spokesperson slags off new Brown’s new Copenhagen pledge, only for Greg Clark, Climate Change Shadow minister, to back it 8 minutes later.

Thanks to The Fabian Society General Secretary, Sunder Katwala, on Next Left, for highlighting this:

“Tory DFID spokesman Andrew Mitchell has attacked the EU’s pledge on Copenhagen development assistance fund as ‘fiscal incontinence‘, speaking to the climate-sceptic ConservativeHome website.

While, within eight minutes, Tory environment spokesman Greg Clark seems to have backed it as “important and necessary“.”

Read the full post here.

Update – Thanks to Sunder for writing about us on the Next Left blog!