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.”

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.

Leadership candidates back the Robin Hood Tax

The Labour Campaign for International Development has supported the Robin Hood Tax campaign for a financial transactions tax from the start. We asked all five leadership candidates their opinion on the Robin Hood Tax when we interviewed them recently.

You can watch their answers below, and see all five interviews in full here. To keep up on the latest on from us here at LCID, join our email list by clicking on the icon blow. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

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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.

A comparison of Labour & Conservative positions on international development

With only months to go until the next election, international development has not been high on the political agenda. The Copenhagen summit and the issues raised there relating to international development have brought some much needed attention to the area. But this must be built upon and in particular the threat of a Tory government must be clearly outlined. Since 1997 the Labour government has put international development at the centre of its political focus, particularly with the creation of the Department for International Development (DFID), and has achieved considerable results: lifting 3 million people out of poverty every year, getting around 40 million more children into school around the world, as well as notable advances in combating diseases, with Polio on the verge of eradication.

Andrew Mitchell, Shadow International Development Secretary, has talked of any future Conservative government leaving international groups and programmes if they do not work. The Tory position on the EU testifies to this desire to isolate not only themselves but also Britain from the global stage. The Copenhagen summit illustrated not the weakness of international organisations but how little can be achieved without them. Britain alone, isolated from Europe and seeking a critical relationship with something so central to world affairs as the UN Development Programme will not be able to shape policy priorities on a global level.

Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown were at the centre of the Copenhagen summit, not just because of the Government’s promises on global warming, but largely through the reputation we have built on international development and the high regard DFID is held in around the world.  This can also be seen in the Government’s role in the design of the UN Millennium Development Goals, the G8 summit at Gleneagles and solidifying promises made during the Make Poverty History campaign. This position is something a Tory government with its isolated approach, centred around private initiative, would put at risk and in so doing would endanger the very lives it claims to be concerned about.

The Government does accept the role of the private sector but, importantly, only when it makes sense and is responsible. They do not, unlike the Tories, champion private initiative as a silver bullet to all the world’s problems. Where waste has happened it will be eradicated as Labour will continue to make every pound count to make a real difference.

Andrew Mitchell’s statements on Labour waste stand in stark contrast to the reality of Labour’s commitment to treble the amount of money spent on tracking down assets taken from developing countries and plans to increase transparency. We also, unlike Mr Mitchell, understand that private enterprise is not a solution to problems regarding waste and corruption. The Government will continue to combat issues, such as the inequality of importance given to developing countries at the World Bank, by shaping policy from the heart of the international community,  not by standing on the sidelines contributing, alone, well below our potential.

Climate change is an issue of utmost importance and urgency for the Labour party, who understand very clearly the terrible impact it is having on the poorest peoples in the world. Labour will continue to help these people, not only fight poverty but to help them adapt to climate change and stimulate their growth into green economic sectors. The Government is committed to taking life-saving action in areas where this can be hugely challenging in order to combat inequality and poverty. This is something the Tories, with plans for X-Factor style online votes to decide where aid should go, clearly do not appreciate and do not take seriously enough: something that John Hiliary, the executive of War on Want recognised when he described this proposal as ‘popular gimmickry’. (The Independent, 13 July 2009)

The Labour party, through DFID, recognises the difference that can be made to people through creating local schools and hospitals and training teachers and health care staff, opposed to a Tory vision of aid vouchers to offer ‘choice’ of provider to the poor. An Oxfam spokesman discredited this Conservative pledge aptly in pointing out that, in many poor countries there are no services available, full stop. There is a chronic shortage of teachers, nurses, doctors, infrastructure and materials. What is needed is aid money invested in helping poor countries build and maintain free public health and education systems.”

The Tories fundamentally misunderstand the intertwined problems of global warming and of international development. Diverting crucial funds from international development to climate change will have negative effects for both of these and stands in stark contrast to Labour’s promises to increase its commitments to the world in both of these areas.  The danger of a Tory government which seeks to cut aid spending and divert crucial funds from international development will be to put at risk people’s lives in the most need.

The Government’s policies have saved lives and its promises to increase this commitment will make an incredible difference around the world. This is compared with a Tory party supporting the idea of aid vouchers to subsidise and thereby encourage poor people around the world to enter into private education. As Kevin Watkins, Director of UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report on education, stated, “This is using vulnerable people to advance an ideologically loaded, market-based vision for education, which would exclude millions of kids from school. It completely overlooks the achievements of publicly financed, publicly provided education in countries such as Ethiopia and Tanzania.” (Observer 6/7/09)

Whether it is in the promise to quadruple commitment to fair and ethical trade, to support 50 million people via social assistance or to invest further in transport links in order to ‘join up’ Africa, DFID and the Labour Government are at the cutting edge of international development policy-making. The Government’s plans to not merely state its achievements but to commit further and deeper moving forward is a sign of the party’s central focus on international development. The short-sighted, ill-thought through Tory policies in this area based around cuts and gimmickry will cost lives and put at risk the platform this Government has created for the UK in shaping the agenda on international development.

by Daniel Sleat, Campaigns Intern for Andrew Judge, Labour PPC for Wimbledon

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

Join The Wave this Saturday + Ed’s Pledge

  • What: The Wave Climate March
  • When: 11.30 – 16.00, this Saturday 05 December
  • Where: Grosvenor Square, London (meet by the Labour & Unison Banners)

On Saturday 5 December 2009, ahead of the crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life will flow through the streets of London to demonstrate their support for a safe climate future for all. Part of a global series of public actions, The Wave will call on world leaders to take urgent action to secure a fair international deal to stop global warming exceeding the danger threshold of 2 degrees C.

We can be proud of what our Labour Government is doing to push for a deal that is ambitious, effective and above all fair – putting forward extra aid to help poor countries adapt to the impact of climate change.

Gordon Brown last week proposed a ‘Copenhagen Launch Fund’ to help poorer countries adapt of $10 billion, towards which the UK would contribute £800 million. This is exactly the sort of leadership that is needed in these crucial talks, and I hope that the rest of the EU and the US agree to it.

So please come along to The Wave this Saturday, and sign up to Ed’s Pledge, to show our support for Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband’s work to get an ambitious, effective and just deal at Copenhagen.

Walking to Copenhagen

Push on his walk to Copenhagen

Push, Oxfam's Climate Change Campaigner, (left) with friend Abbas

Push, Oxfam’s Global Climate Change Campaigner, is walking from his home in Oxford to the Copenhagen for the crunch UN climate change talks happening in two weeks time.

On Sunday I joined Push on one day of his walk, an 11mile stretch from Hertford to Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire. Push has always been an inspritation to those around him, and has in my mind one of the best jobs in the world – helping to mobilise people at the grassroots around the world to take action against poverty.

In 2005, he and his team supported local organisations to mobilise millions of farmers and workers in the global South as part of the Make Trade Fair campaign around the World Trade talks, and Oxfam has been hard at work with others to do the same this year ahead of the climate change talks in Copenhagen.

It’s crucial that in these global talks the voices of the world’s poorest people are heard – they are the least responsible for climate change and yet are being hit hardest the worst. Oxfam and others in the Tck Tck Tck campaign are doing great work in mobilising people across the world to speak up for themselves and be heard.

In the UK, I’m proud of what our Labour Government is doing to push for a deal that is ambitious, effective and above all fair – putting forward extra aid to help poor countries adapt to the impact of climate change. I hope Ed Miliband and the UK delegation do all they can to bring the US & the rest of the EU on board to get the deal we need out of Copenhagen.

I’d really recommend following Push’s walk on his blog – goPushgo.com – it’s an inspiring journey. Here is a link to his article in The Guardian.

Other great ways to support a just deal on climate change: