How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy?

Yesterday The Observer reported that it had received an email confirming that only eight of Labour’s 100 commitments are to be saved. They come as part of the Tories’ drive for ‘value for money’ for UK aid, something we at Left Foot Forward have consistently argued is a bonfire of straw men.

As we reported on Friday, the Department for International Development is already a world leader in aid effectiveness – yet the implementation of the key commitment on Aid Effectiveness is one of 100 that have been dropped.

The Tories said DfID must be independently audited, and we showed that it already is. They said we are wasting away money to Russia and China, and we showed how Labour was already ending those programmes. They claimed DfID wasn’t focused on results, we reported how it was, and how an over reliance on outputs can mean long term solutions are overlooked.

The transparency initiative the Coalition have launched deserves praise. But beyond that, where is the vision? Where is the leadership? Where is the ambition?

We’ve seen the prime minister let the Gleneagles promises on aid be dropped at this year’s G8, no clear plan for the Millennium Development Goals summit which is just weeks away, and now the dropping of key commitments that would have – and in some cases actually have been – making a huge difference to poor people’s lives.

It is no good for DfID to remain silent on these leaked documents when they pose so many questions:

Health and education

• What now for budget sector support? If £8.5 billion and £6bn on education and health respectively are to be dropped, how are governments going to be supported to develop their own national systems (and thus become less reliant in the medium-long term on foreign aid?

• Eight million in school by 2010, 55 million with access to water – what ‘outputs’ based targets are these to be replaced by?

• DfID is to drop its commitment to abolish user fees. Does this mean the Tories will push through support for ‘vouchers’ for private schools and the privatisation of health care as outlined in their Green Paper (and slammed by NGOs)?


Trade has been moved out of DfID, and now commitments are to be dropped to quadruple support for fair trade, provide £1bn a year for growth and trade, and support the International Labour Organisation on workers’ rights. They have also dropped a pledge to work with international partners to provide $10bn (£6.42bn) a year for infrastructure in Africa.

Shadow international development minister Gareth Thomas told Left Foot Forward that Andrew Mitchell’s decision to drop these crucial commitments was “a massive step backwards for fairer trade for the world’s poorest farmers and producers”, adding:

“This relatively small amount of UK aid spending was helping some of the world’s most vulnerable in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is a further signal that the coalition is failing to show real leadership on development.”

• Labour removed forced trade liberalisation as a requirement of UK aid – will aid be kept untied from commercial interests as promised in the coalition’s Programme for Government?

• Why drop support for aid for infrastructure, growth and trade when they provide long term routes out of poverty?

Climate Change

The Programme for Government said nothing on climate change finance. The leaked documents suggest they will keep Labour’s Fast Start climate finance commitment, but they are dropping a raft of other measures.

• How is the Coalition to address climate change, when it is dropping a strategic review on how to integrate climate change adaptation into our aid programmes? Or when it drops commitments to help developing countries develop low carbon technologies and reduce deforestation?

• Will future climate aid be additional – or is just going to be sucked from existing funds?

Conflict and humanitarian aid

• Why has support an International Arms Trade Treaty been dropped when the commitment was one promised in the coalition’s Programme for Government?

• Why is the Government to scrap support to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) – just at a time when the UN is struggling to raise the funds needed to deal with the devastating floods in Pakistan?

The Government promised the aid budget would be ring fenced; if these commitments are to be cut, where and how then is the money to be spent?

Mitchell has said aid should be redirected from other projects to Afghanistan. He’s now dropped a commitment to allocate aid on the principles of “country income and population size”. So how is aid to be distributed in future, exactly how much will be redirected to Afghanistan?

And who is going to spend it? Will aid be re-directed to the MoD, or to the Home Office to pay for immigration costs and student visas, as OECD guidelines allow? Last month the Labour Campaign for International Development (LCID) wrote a letter to the Treasury to ask if the level of aid spent through DfID will remain at 88 per cent – they have still not replied.

Mitchell recently described one of his party’s manifesto commitments on aid as “the sort of thing you say in opposition then rather regret in government… ” some of the world’s most poorest people may yet feel the same about the coalition’s entire approach to aid.

• Donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee Pakistan floods appeal by logging on to

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20 Responses to “How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy?”

  1. Shamik Das

    How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy? Donate: (via @leftfootfwd)

  2. Oxford Kevin

    RT @leftfootfwd: How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy?

  3. Friends of the Earth

    RT @leftfootfwd: How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy? Donate:

  4. Linda Beamish

    wwwfoecouk: RT @leftfootfwd: How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy? Donate:

  5. LockPickerNet

    How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy? Donate: via @leftfootfwd

  6. Billy Blofeld

    “can anyone paying attention to the vast majority of scientists”

    What is it these scientists say?

    Warming beyond 1.2C is not proven – and climate science is sufficiently complex that scientists agree that further research is needed.

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas and causes some warming, but there is still serious debate about how much warming.

    If compared to the pre-industrial era, you double CO2 levels, it will cause a theoretical 1.2C of warming. Scientific debate is now focused on whether warming will be amplified or mitigated by plants and other natural processes.

    Phil Jones, a leading advocate for human caused global warming, when asked if the science was settled said this:

    “It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don’t believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well.”

    When people like Joss Garman and Mike Childs try to add a political spin to climate science, it just serves to further undermine their aim. In fact every distortion only serves to harm the planet, because the public are becoming increasingly sceptical of exaggerated claims.

    If you really care about the earth – then report the facts honestly.

  7. Billy Blofeld

    Sorry – quotes left on unintentionally from the words “When people like Joss Garman”….. of course Phil Jones didn’t say all that….. that was me…..

  8. Marie Reynolds

    RT @leftfootfwd: How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy? Donate:

  9. Chattertrap Climate

    How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy? #climate

  10. Simon

    Well of course scientists are cautious about predicting climate. They add all sorts of caveats and cautions because it is a huge, complex, chaotic system. There is, however, a broad agreement among scientists that this is very serious matter. The natural caution and scepticism of scientists is not justification for carrying on as normal and pretending nothing is happening.

  11. William Heaney

    RT @leftfootfwd: How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy?

  12. Helen Bird

    RT @leftfootfwd: How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy?

  13. Billy Blofeld

    “There is, however, a broad agreement among scientists that this is very serious matter”

    Serious? Why?

    The Earth has warmed 0.7C over the past 110 years. Half this warming happened between 1900 and 1945 and half thereafter.

    Most man made CO2 emissions have occurred after 1945, yet we are still warming at the same rate. Why?

    A. It is not clear that human activity is causing the warming

    B. We have seen warmer times in the past with no ill effect

    It is, however, serious when people go around misrepresenting science for political ends – it is the equivalent of the boy who called wolf.

  14. Louise Hazan

    How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy? | Left Foot Forward

  15. People & Planet

    How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy? | Left Foot Forward

  16. Mel Risebrow

    RT @leftfootfwd: How will the world respond to the latest climate tragedy?

  17. Anon E Mouse

    Billy – The problem you have is that alarmists like Joss Garman and co. earn their living from perpetuating their opinions on this – it’s become a business.

    I’m all for reducing pollution but this is just going too far…

  18. marianne birkby

    Where is Friends of the Earth strong campaign against Nuclear ? Why the coyness?
    – Not only would new nuclear build trash the climate but would also trash our ability to live on the planet – taking us back billions of years to a time when the earth was too radioactive for human life.

    RAdiation Free Lakeland
    To the Prime Minister of Finland
    12th July 2010

    Dear Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi,
    I am writing to you from Cumbria in the UK. Radiation Free Lakeland support a viable and healthy future for Cumbria. A viable and healthy future is under threat from nuclear developments including the “geological disposal” of nuclear waste and new nuclear build.

    We have attended events in Cumbria highlighting the impacts from nuclear developments not only on us here in the UK but also worldwide. Many people are astounded to hear that the nuclear industry is being deregulated to allow uranium mining in the wilderness areas of Finland including Finnish Lapland. Habitat is under threat which is home to wolves, bear, lynx in fact many of the animals that could be seen in Cumbria 10,000 years ago.

    We note that the French state and its multinational company Areva/Cogema (Areva also in Sellafield partnership) are trying to force new uranium mining in Finland. Areva’s aggressive market policy to force uranium mines in fragile and increasingly disappearing habitat of taiga and tundra is all down to a desire to feed dangerous new nuclear build. The nuclear reactor now under construction by Areva in Olkiluoto was supposed to be a fantastic showcase for the nuclear industry. The world has seen that far from being a showcase it has not yet been built and has already seen hundreds of safety and financial scandals.
    Finland is home to the summer breeding grounds and migration routes of many species of our much loved overwintering birds here in Cumbria, including whooper swan and fieldfare.
    How much Co2 would be released by mining for uranium in the thousands of acres of peat of the taiga and tundra? Does anyone know or care? A recent book claiming to be “The Carbon Footprint of Everything” certainly makes no mention of it (impacts would be far more wide reaching than the burning of peat for fuel). It is becoming increasingly clear that the nuclear industry is a juggernaught out of control.
    We understand very well that nuclear Power is anathema to a healthy and viable future. It is widely accepted that habitat loss is much more likely to result in extinction than for example hunting!
    We strongly oppose uranium mining in Finland and urge you to reverse the laws which allow (force) this to happen.
    Please find attached a selection of drawings by children and adults in Cumbria showing threatened wildlife of Finland.

  19. Abandoning UN commitments will compound Pakistan floods disaster and others | Left Foot Forward

    […] Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, returning from viewing the devastation in Pakistan for himself today has told the world to ‘wake up’ to the full scale of the […]

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