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Tackle Covid, poverty, and climate change together, Government is urged

02 February 2021

Coalition of organisations ‘Crack the Crises’ calls for global moral leadership


Boris Johnson takes part in the world leaders’ One Planet Summit, in Paris, earlier this month. Participants reiterated calls for urgent, concerted global action to safeguard biodiversity, and for a global governance framework on climate issues in the post-pandemic era

Boris Johnson takes part in the world leaders’ One Planet Summit, in Paris, earlier this month. Participants reiterated calls for urgent, concerted gl...

THE UK Government should demonstrate global moral leadership on the triple emergencies of Covid-19, poverty, and climate change, says a new “Crack the Crises” coalition of organisations representing ten million people in the UK.

It was launched on Monday after a YouGov/Save the Children poll showed that 83 per cent of respondents believed that the coronavirus outbreak was better dealt with by countries’ working together to find a solution. Eighty-six per cent and 61 per cent respectively believed that the same was true in relation to climate change and poverty.

The coalition has been formed in advance of the UK’s hosting of the G7 nations in Cornwall in June, and the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, in November. It embraces international development agencies such as Christian Aid, Oxfam, CAFOD, Save the Children, and WaterAid; nature conservationists such as the Wildlife Trusts and the Marine Conservation Society; and others, including the National Union of Students, VSO, and 38 Degrees.

Asked whom they thought most likely to provide global moral leadership, only six per cent of the 1671 adults polled chose Boris Johnson. Joe Biden topped the poll at 22 per cent; eight per cent thought Emmanuel Macron, and another eight per cent named Justin Trudeau. Eleven per cent voted for Angela Merkel, one per cent for Vladimir Putin, and none for Xi Jinping. One quarter of respondents believed that none of these was likely to provide moral leadership. Another quarter did not know.

Asked how well they thought Mr Johnson was currently doing at providing moral leadership on dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, 36 per cent felt that he was doing well, and 56 per cent that he was doing badly. Asked the same question in relation to climate change, 32 per cent thought that he was doing well, and 43 per cent that he was doing badly. On providing help to poorer countries, the figures were 31 per cent and 35 per cent.

On whether governments should always do their best to keep promises that they had made, even if that was hard to do or if circumstances changed, 57 per cent thought that they should, and 27 per cent that they should not.

The coalition is calling on the UK Government to work with others to make sure that the coronavirus vaccine is available to everyone who needs it, without a global race that leaves the poor behind. In the UK, the Government should make sure that “nobody has to choose between their life and their livelihood, with proper support for everyone who needs help with finances during the pandemic.”

It speaks of the growing plight of countries left without the resources to protect their people, and calls on the Government to reverse its plans to cut aid (News, 27 November), to work with other countries to drop the debt (News, 29 January), and to get every child into school. In the UK, it must make sure that “no child is hungry or locked out of learning.”

On the climate crisis, the coalition urges the Government to show leadership at November’s climate talks on a credible plan to limit global temperature rises to 1.5º, and to protect ecosystems at home and abroad. “At home they must show their commitment to a green recovery by mounting a green jobs revolution and immediately stopping the opening of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years.”

The world was facing a daunting combination of crises, the head of campaigns and UK advocacy at Christian Aid, Pete Moorey, said, but 2021 provided a unique opportunity to tackle Covid-19, poverty, and climate change together. “This year must be a historic moment when we come together to tackle systemic injustices and set the world on a better path,” he said.

“The Church has a vital role to play in this. Throughout history, Christians have been at the forefront of campaigns for change, whether that be William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, Jr, or Archbishop Desmond Tutu. That’s why we want Christians to get involved this year and to press the Prime Minister to ensure these summits deliver for our sisters and brothers on the front line of these terrible crises.”

The campaigns director for Save the Children, Kirsty McNeill, said: “The world is watching our leaders. These summits this year are an ultimate test of whether they are able to deliver the changes the public are telling us they want.”

The ecological and climate crises were the strongest possible warning that the future of people and the planet were intimately connected, the chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Craig Bennett, said. “Covid has revealed a lot of what’s unfair in our world, and all these crises are telling us what’s unsafe, too.

“We’re facing mutually reinforcing crises of Covid, ecosystem collapse, climate change, and injustice. Today, we’re standing together to say they need tackling together.”

Green prayer. The charity Green Christian is asking congregations and individuals to “Show the Love” on 14 February by saying one of the charity’s new prayers.

Show the Love is an annual St Valentine’s Day campaign run by the Climate Coalition, a network of organisations which includes Green Christian. Because 14 February falls on a Sunday this year, Green Christian had called on members and supporters to write a prayer in response to the campaign.

The winning prayer and blessing were written by the Revd Toni Bennett and the Ash Vale Chapel Poetry Group, and are featured on Green Christian’s website, greenchristian.org.uk, alongside the other entries received.

A co-chaplain of Green Christian, Andrew Norman, said: “Each of the prayers submitted touched us in some way, so it was hard choosing just one. But . . . the other prayers will remain as a rich resource for us all to use.”

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