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Climate Change Bill lacks teeth, say aid agencies

16 November 2006

A human wrong? A woman uses buckets to collect water for her family in a rural part of Burkina Faso

A human wrong? A woman uses buckets to collect water for her family in a rural part of Burkina Faso

by Bill Bowder

THE GOVERNMENT committed itself to a Climate Change Bill in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday. But the Bill would have to be “consistent with the need to secure long-term energy supplies”, the Queen said at the state opening of Parliament.

Christian Aid criticised the plans for not focusing on the millions of vulnerable people in the developing world who would be affected by climate change. “If the Bill is only underpinned by a desire to hoard fuel stocks, then we fear that it will lack the teeth it needs to bring down urgently the dangerous greehouse gas emissions that impact so savagely on poor people’s lives,” Andrew Pendleton, Christian Aid’s climate analyst said.

Campaigners were concerned that the commitment to slow global warming, evident two weeks ago in the Stern Report, was missing at last weekend’s UN climate change conference in Kenya. The conference had met to decide what to do after the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions ends in 2012.

Bishop Paul Mususu, from the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, accused the Nairobi gathering of weakness. “I did not expect such weak action on African soil after all the promises about emissions cuts from rich countries,” he told the aid agency Tearfund.

Andy Atkins, of Tearfund, said: “The uncompromising urgency of the Stern Review and other recent reports is completely absent.

“We are limping along the road to adequate global carbon-dioxide emissions cuts, when giant steps are needed. The emissions cuts agreed under the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol were what countries thought they could manage, not what the world needed. The same must not happen in the second phase.”

The Government seeks to create a fund that would redirect income from carbon-trading to Africa, which has so far not benefited from the £6 billion trade in emissions credits which has mostly gone to China and India.

But indigenous peoples, such as the Maasai, backed by church groups, say the governments have failed to take their experience into account.

Lucy Mulenkei, a Maasai from Kenya, who is leading an international indigenous forum on climate change, told journalists on Wednesday of last week that although Maasai survival was threatened, governments continued to ignore their experience of living in the regions and coping with change.

“They think our lands are empty, but we have known for years how to manage these lands,” she told Ecumenical News International.


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