Climate change and poverty
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Date: August 2007


'This isn’t an obvious campaign for the political wing of British Christendom to get involved in.'


Lev Eakins listens to Andrew Pendleton from Christian Aid talk about why the organisation is campaigning about climate change

Christian Aid is campaigning to combat climate change and is loud and proud about it.

This isn’t an obvious campaign for the political wing of British Christendom to get involved in, as it has largely concentrated on trade justice and combating global poverty, so why has is it zeroing in on the green agenda?

Andrew Pendleton, spokesman for Christian Aid on Climate Change, spent the Bank Holiday afternoon at Greenbelt explaining why at the Department for International Development (DfID) tent.

Andrew started with a brief run down on the science on Climate Change before conducting a snap poll on how green his audience were. Who uses energy efficient light bulbs? Who has turned their thermostat down? Who cycles to work?


Unsurprisingly a majority answered yes to each question, helpfully reinforcing Andrew’s claim that Britain is a global leader of developed countries pursing the environmental agenda, only accounting for 2.13% of global emissions.

Nevertheless we were warned that the UK is actively considering building two new coal fired power stations, that the airport expansion programme is harming our potential to criticise other countries who do not curb air travel and that our financial institutions enable polluting multinational companies to successfully grow and develop across the globe.

Having established the outstanding efforts needed to be made to combat climate change, the question remains, how does this affect the developing world and trade justice?

Bangladesh is a compact country for her population, much of which live on flood plains and costal areas. Although the country already floods regularly, the problem will be exacerbated by melting glaciers.

67% of the Himalayan glaciers which feed the rivers through Bangladesh are already in permanent recession, and if the Greenland ice sheet melts then global sea levels will rise between five to seven metres, permanently displacing over 10 million costal dwellers in Bangladesh.


Furthermore farmers in arid countries, particularly in Africa, report that “the desert gets closer every year”. Crop yields are dropping, making it even harder to compete on the already biased international food markets. What remains of the African agriculture market is under renewed threat from higher temperatures and expanding desert.

And who is to blame for this? Who can prevent this disaster getting worse? 85% of the damage caused to our climate is sourced from developed countries.

Despite accounting for the majority of the world’s population the developing world is only responsible for 15% of CO2 emissions. As Andrew said: “We, the developed world, have caused this problem and it up to us to find a solution.”

Christian Aid has done just that by proposing three practical steps:

  1. Developed countries need to cut domestic emissions by 80%.
  2. Technology that helps developing countries grow and develop with the minimal emissions should be made more available – even if it is at the expense of the developed world.
  3. Make funds available to help developing countries adapt to the changing climate.

As we see the climate changing before our eyes, with increased flooding and desertification across the globe, it is heartening to see organisations such as Christian Aid take the environment so seriously.

It could have simply ignored the issue, leaving it to others to fight for whilst it continues with a more traditional approach to campaigning for trade justice.

It is a sign of how serious the threat is, and a welcome shift in campaigning.

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