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

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

Climate Change Adaptation Fund proposed by Brown, Britain to contribute £500M

Brown and Sarkozy

Credit: Yves Herman/Pool/EPA

A global ‘Tobin’ tax on financial transactions should be used to pay for the long battle against global warming, Gordon Brown announced in a joint statement with Nicolas Sarkozy today. The UK would be the biggest contributor, giving £500m pounds a year.

The statement came alongside a European Union commitment of €2.4bn a year from January to immediately help the world’s poor countries cope with climate change.

Read Gordon Brown’s joint statement with Sarkozy in full.

Read The Guardian report.

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.

Interesting article on Labour List on climate change & Angola

This article on Labour List examines what we can learn from Angola’s efforts to rebuild its society, following decades of civil war, in helping us in the UK change our society and economy so that we can avert climate catastrophe.

“Imagine if local communities could set the priorities, visions and goals for how they might reduce climate change along with the government. Sound idealistic? Well, such an arrangement has been established not in the field of climate change but in development. We are not talking about the UK. We are talking about the African state of Angola, emerging from over three decades of civil war.”

The article is written by Anthony Painter is author of Barack Obama: Movement for Change.

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: