We’re all in the same canoe – negotiating world climate directions at COP23

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Senior Campaigner Helen Heather writes from the close of the UN Climate Talks in Bonn.

As I entered the UN Climate Talks, I immediately noticed the vibrancy and welcome (‘Bula’) of the Fijians who have presided over the negotiations. Their presence during these negotiations has been hard to miss as they have elevated the voices of small islands, the Pacific nations and all vulnerable countries urgently needing climate action.

Indeed the symbol the Fiji delegation shared with everyone here is a Drua – a Fijian ocean-going canoe – with the message “we are all in the same canoe”. [Read more…]

I’m so awed by the USA

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‘Freedom to pollute?’ A campaign stunt at UN climate talks in response to Trump’s stance on climate change

 

I’m sitting in the unofficial US pavilion at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, thinking about the alternate dismal and hopeful prospects coming out of the USA, and hope’s winning.

Whoever you talk to here, they all feel depressed by Trump’s approach. His administration are leading in exactly the wrong direction on climate for people living in poverty; their rhetoric and plans will make things worse. They’ve announced the US will leave the UN climate talks and abandon their Paris Agreement promises. [Read more…]

3 opportunities for the new Secretary of State

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The appointment of a new Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt MP to lead DFID presents an opportunity to step up the fight against poverty. Here are three things we would love to see Penny Mordaunt do during her time at DFID:  

1. Act on Aid

The UK have a proud history of delivering quality aid to those in need around the world. It is vital that the UK continues to honour this legacy by maintaining our commitment to spend 0.7% of the UK’s income on international development. It is important that the focus of this spending remains on providing life saving assistance and empowering people to raise themselves out of poverty. [Read more…]

5 things to watch out for at the Bonn climate talks

 

Government delegates from almost every country in the world have started global talks on climate change in Bonn, Germany. What do we need to see from governments this year?

1. Keep the spirit of Paris alive and stand by their promises, to safeguard people’s lives and livelihoods

Two years ago in Paris, world leaders promised to prevent irreversible climate change, urged on by faith leaders, civil society and businesses.  Now governments must turn that promise into reality.  They must keep the momentum going to ensure the Paris Agreement delivers on its full potential. [Read more…]

Story telling and policy making – which is the chicken and which is the egg? How social movements can help achieve the Paris Climate Agreement

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Many people recognise that climate change has human causes and needs human interventions, but this knowledge hasn’t impacted their own habits and behaviours. Yet we know that achieving warming of less than 2C – the target of the Paris Agreement – requires lifestyle changes by us all. We also need policies to help us make the big changes in our lives and society. So which comes first? Policies or people?  [Read more…]

The world’s biggest waste dump (hint: it’s big, blue and you like going there)

I used to be a big fan of seafood: crabs, mussels, prawns you name it, I ate it. Then when this year Ghent University in Belgium found that seafood lovers could be eating up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic a year, I reluctantly decided to cut my consumption to the odd treat (what’s a couple of hundred bits of microplastics between friends). Consumers in better off nations like ours are rightly worried about the as yet unknown health impacts of ingesting plastic, but little or no attention has been paid to the impact on communities in the developing world.

The escalating crisis of marine litter (this ranges from microbeads to plastic bottles to boats) is the latest, dystopian symptom of a linear economy which takes, makes and throws away.  It turns out ‘away’ is often the oceans. Every year we produce 300 million pieces of plastic and 5 to 12.5 million pieces of it end up in the oceans.   [Read more…]

How can we turn the African environment tragedy into an opportunity for good?

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A man helps a woman cross a log bridge after the flash flood washed away a concrete bridge at Pentagon, in Freetown August 18, 2017. Source: Reuters.

 

Hannington Muyenje, a Senior Campaigner with Tearfund, reflects on how the climate tragedy can be turned into an opportunity.

Oscar Wilde, one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s said, ‘Behind every exquisite thing that happens, there was a tragedy.’ We have all heard about the pacifying clichés like, ‘bad things can lead to good’, ‘A blessing in disguise’ or ‘beauty from ashes’.

For people in low-income settings, the tragedy of poverty has been turned into a case of double jeopardy by climate change. It is as if people in poverty are being punished twice for the same crime: that they are poor and that due to their poverty, they are unable to address the effects of climate change. This double tragedy has shattered whole economies and forced many poor people into all forms of slavery. I regarded Tearfund’s annual international gathering that took place in June – a platform that brings together experienced and passionate leaders from over 30 poor countries – as an opportunity to grapple with ways of turning this climate tragedy into economic growth prospects.  [Read more…]

An economy where both people and nature thrive

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In 2016 Tearfund and the St Paul’s Institute held a programme of roundtables exploring global development and the green economy. Barbara Ridpath, Director of the Institute, and I explore inequality and the economy, and the recommendations from the programme in our follow up paper, ‘Going Full Circle:  tackling resource reduction and inequality’.

Look around your office floor or the train you’re travelling in. Can you count eight people? That’s the number of men who own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people in the world this year. This inequality is extreme and it’s down to a broken economic system.  [Read more…]

Nothing as sensitive as death and taxes

There maybe nothing as certain as death and taxes, but equally there are few topics as sensitive. Tax and wealth are difficult subjects to gain cross-party political consensus on and, given the power of tax on supply and demand within the market, everyone has a strong opinion.

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Yesterday we saw headlines on the need for an overhaul of the UK tax system, but do we have the politicians prepared to take this on? Justin Welby proclaimedOur economic model is broken. Britain stands at a watershed moment where we need to make fundamental choices about the sort of economy we need. We are failing those who will grow up into a world where the gap between the richest and poorest parts of the country is significant and destabilising.” Welby’s remarks were made as part of the Commission on Economic Justice, led by the think tank IPPR. The Commission’s full report and recommendations will be published in 2018, but will include calls for: [Read more…]

A climate act for all our futures

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Lyson and Theresa and four of their children, Dowa District, Malawi

 

This month you have a chance to input into a public consultation on Scotland’s Climate Change Bill, whether you’re based in Scotland or not. Tearfund is a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a diverse coalition of civil society organisations in Scotland campaigning together on climate change. Read more about why we want a more ambitious climate act; one that represents climate justice for all. 

Global temperatures in July this year were the 2nd highest ever recorded . For Nepali families recovering from recent floods or farmers in Malawi fearful of another small harvest, these rising temperatures contribute towards a changing climate that is having a very real impact.

Lyson, from the Dowa District in Malawi explains: “In the past the soil here used to be very fertile. We would grow our crops and harvest a lot. But over the years the environment has been destroyed and the soil has become infertile. Because of climate change there are less rains, and we are harvesting only a little food – which is a big challenge for us.”  [Read more…]