Whilst rich countries are responsible for most of the emissions pumped into the atmosphere it is the poorest communities in the world that are being hit the hardest by climate change. But rather than providing compensation for causing climate change rich countries are using it to trap the world’s poor into new and dangerous climate debt. WDM is campaigning for climate justice for developing countries.
We want to ensure that the UK pays its climate debt instead of locking poor countries into further unjust debt by providing loans to help deal with climate change.
This map shows examples from the World Bank's long history of funding projects that are destructive to the environment and undermine human rights.
View the map
Find out more about climate change and climate debt and how they are disastrous for the world's poor by reading our briefings and reports
The UK government has announced it will now contribute £10m towards the UN Adaptation Fund to help countries fight climate change.
Rich countries like the UK have become wealthy by industrialising in a way that has pushed the world to the brink of catastrophic climate change, but it is the world’s poorest people who are paying the price. By following such a high carbon development path, rich countries have also used more than their fair share of the earth’s ability to safely absorb carbon, leaving the rest of the world unable to develop in the same way.
The UK is one of the world’s top emitters on a per person basis, both historically and currently. Our historical responsibility for climate change means we must now pay a massive climate debt to the world’s poorest people as compensation. This will help them cope with the impacts of climate change and transition to a cleaner development path.
Climate change is already killing 300,000 people per year
- Global Humanitarian Forum, led by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan
The major injustice is that the people most affected by climate change are not responsible for causing it. Climate change is already having a disproportionate impact on the global south, threatening millions of people with famine, disease, drought, flooding and other weather related disasters. Despite promising large amounts of new climate finance at the Copenhagen UN talks in December 2009, the UK is continuing to fail the needs of poorer countries.
Not only is the UK failing to recognise its debt and pay adequate compensation, but by providing climate finance as loans through the Wold Bank it is actually increasing economic injustice and inequality. At the same time, the UK is continuing to emit more than its fair share, thereby continually increasing its climate debt.
WDM is campaigning with people around the world to get the UK to live up to its commitments.
Firstly, the UK must stop increasing its climate debt. Every day that the UK continues pumping carbon into the atmosphere, it is increasing its climate debt. This means the UK must take the lead in reducing emissions by phasing out the use of fossil fuels and switching to a way of living that moves beyond the idea of continued economic growth at the expense of all else.
Secondly, the UK must provide compensation to the people who are suffering the worst effects of climate change, to help them adapt to better cope with the devastating consequences of a changing climate.
Finally, the rich world also bears a responsibility to ensure that countries in the global south are able to access their right to develop economically without endangering the world’s climate. As rich countries have used more than their fair share of the earth’s ability to safely absorb carbon, countries from the global south cannot follow the same development path. These countries, which do not bear the responsibility for climate change, cannot be expected to sacrifice their right to development so that the rich world can continue living in an unsustainable way. Rich countries must finance and support countries in the global south in transitioning to a cleaner model of economic development.
The UK government promised a significant amount of new climate finance during the Copenhagen summit in December 2009. Instead it is taking money from its aid budget, intended to be used for vital services such as health and education, and channelling it as loans through the World Bank. These loans will lock countries into further poverty. Repaying the loans and interest on them will divert scarce government resources away from vital measures to tackle poverty such as expenditure on healthcare and education. Trying to pay compensation to countries in the global south with climate loans is like a loan shark burning down your house and then offering you a loan to rebuild it.
The UK has also been instrumental in furthering the World Bank’s ambition to be the primary institution managing climate finance. This undemocratic institution has been completely discredited in the global south, and the use of it for channelling climate funds is opposed by developing countries (see ‘What’s so bad about the World Bank?’ below).
WDM is calling for climate adaptation funding to go through more democratic and accountable mechanisms like the UN Adaptation Fund, rather than the World Bank. The World Bank can use money to force economic and political conditions on countries and has a track record of failing to consult the people its projects affect.
We are calling for this money to come from new sources, such as a tax on shipping and aviation, a financial transactions tax (like the Robin Hood tax) and ensuring that corporations do not avoid payment of tax. These measures would not only provide new money, but could also be transformational in themselves. Finally, we are calling for none of this money to be given in the form of loans, but is instead given as grants.
The World Bank has a long history of pushing push policies which benefit rich countries and funding projects which have increased climate change. For example:
The World Bank then used this debt to force poor countries to privatise infrastructure, liberalise trade policies and cut public spending on education and health care. These policies led to huge increases in poverty across the world’s poorest countries, whilst creating business opportunities for western corporations.
In April 2010 the World Bank agreed a £2 billion loan to South Africa for the completion of the world’s fourth largest coal-fired power station, adding billions to South Africa’s already high level of debt. The loan will benefit some of the biggest corporations in the world which receive subsidised electricity while ordinary South Africans pay around four times as much per unit. As the US treasury stated, the loan showed “incompatibility with the World Bank’s commitment to be a leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation”.
The World Bank has proven itself incapable of effectively dealing with development or climate issues in the global south. Its track record of imposing policy conditions and programmes on developing countries, and its undemocratic governance structures seriously discredit the institution.
WDM, along with many other groups around the world, has campaigned for many years for the radical reform of the World Bank. However, in 2006 we released our Out of Time report which argued that the World Bank needs to be replaced because efforts to reform it have been unsuccessful. The World Bank was set up to ensure that rich countries would always be in control of the money it dispersed and the policies it advocated. This is so fundamental to the way the World Bank is organised that we now believe that it is impossible to reform to the extent that is needed.
For instance, decisions are not made through democratic votes but are instead based on a complex formula of economic factors. As a result high income countries hold over 60 per cent of voting power while low income countries hold just 6 per cent. Yet developing countries represent over 80 per cent of the world’s population and Bank’s membership; are where almost all of the Bank’s activities take place; and, through loan repayments, are the main financial contributors to the Bank.
The World Bank has proven to be incredibly resistant to reform. Management of climate funds needs to be democratic, accountable and transparent. The UN Adaptation Fund is one example of an existing fund that meets these criteria.
Thanks to campaigners some debt cancellation has become a reality – but enormous debts still remain. Despite progress in recent years the poorest 48 countries have a debt totalling US$168 billion. In 2008, these countries paid over US$8.3 billion to the rich world in debt service – over US$23 million a day. For example, Bolivia was given debt cancellation through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, resulting in nearly US$2 billion of Bolivia’s debt being cancelled. However, the Bolivian government’s external debt is still US$2.5 billion.
Rich countries have used this illegitimate financial debt to exercise control over developing countries. The World Bank and IMF have often acted as the vehicle for this control via policies such as structural adjustment programmes. For example in 2000 the World Bank forced Bolivia to privatise its water provision, handing it to US company Bechtel. This led to steep increases in price and left many people without access to water. Today climate change policies are forcing Bolivia to face the prospect of taking loans from the World Bank, thus pushing them deeper into debt.
There are a number of ways that the large sums which are required to repay the UK’s climate debt could be raised such as:
Innovative financing sources such as the ones above could also have other benefits, helping our transition to a more just world. For example, air passenger and maritime levies would reduce unnecessary flights by making it more expensive for airlines to continue inefficient flights, as well as making corporations pay the true cost of producing their goods.
A financial transactions tax, if set at a high enough level, would help limit the currency and commodity speculation that forces millions into poverty. This tax could help transform the global economy by making it more expensive for bankers to gamble on the markets. Speculators would have less power over the value of other countries’ currencies and be less able to recklessly push up the price of food in speculative bubbles, which creates hunger for even more of the world’s poorest people.
There certainly are problems with the UN. The failure of the UN climate talks to reach a meaningful deal on tackling climate change for the period after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol is due to expire is one of the clearest examples of the problems with the UN process.
In 2010 the World Bank approved a US$3.75bn loan to help build the Eskom coal power power plant in South Africa. It will be one of world’s largest, raising further questions about the World Bank’s commitment to solving climate change.
However, as long as there are efforts to reach a global deal on climate change, the best place for it to happen is through the UN because it is a forum where all countries in principle have an equal voice. That said, at the 2010 climate talks Cancún consensus was declared even while Bolivia was still objecting to the proposed weak deal being agreed.
While problems exist within the UN climate negotiations, the UN Adaptation Fund has proven itself to be an effective body. Because of a representative governance made up of countries of the global north and global south, rich countries have not been as able to impose their interests. The UN Adaptation Fund has given out 50 times more money than the World Bank’s fund for adaptation (the PPCR), in spite of the fact it has received less than 10 per cent of the financial contributions the PPCR has received.
No. Corruption is and has been a problem for many countries in the global south; however this doesn’t undermine the effects of providing finance to developing countries.
For example, repeated studies have shown that money from debt cancellation does go where it is needed. One study of ten African countries found a 40 per cent increase in education spending and a 70 per cent increase in health spending after just four years of debt relief.
Contrary to common perception, corruption is not just due to corrupt politicians and officials in developing countries, it also takes place in rich countries and is perpetrated by multinational companies based in the global north. Recent research has highlighted how open carbon trading systems are to abuse. Due to the undue influence of vested interests, the allocation of carbon permits in the European carbon trading system led to windfall profits of £5-7 billion for some of Europe’s largest polluters. Tax evasion by multinational companies is also a huge problem, estimated to cost developing countries as much as £100 billion a year.
Corruption is often used as an excuse for rich donor countries to try and increase their power and influence over poorer country governments. However, many of the free trade and market liberalisation policies pushed by these same rich countries through institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO have been responsible for growth in corruption.
The fact that corruption exists in both the global north and the global south is not a reason not to pay our climate debt. Instead we need to promote genuine solutions that can help to tackle the problem. To ensure that climate finance is delivered effectively, WDM is campaigning for it to be fully transparent (something which is a major problem with some of the finance currently managed by the World Bank).
The use of climate finance must also be accountable to those in the countries affected by climate change, rather than the demands of donor country governments. WDM also supports direct access to climate finance whereby non-governmental organisations can access finance directly, meaning that money is not provided solely through national governments.
It is based on the fact that the loans are concessional. This means that the loans are cheaper than if the recipient countries had taken them out at commercial rates.
Although the UK government announced in Durban that it would give £70 million to the PPCR as grants, £15 million will still be given as loans. This money is provided to the PPCR as ‘capital’ which means that it can only be leant to recipient countries. Grants involve a direct financial transfer for which no repayment is required. Given that loans from the PPCR must be repaid in full with interest it is highly misleading to claim that any part of these loans are “effectively grant finance”.
Ecological debt is the next frontier of social economic justice"
- Wahu Kaara, Kenya Debt Relief Network
WDM is campaigning in solidarity with our allies in the global south to ensure the UK fairly pays the compensation it owes for causing climate change, instead of using it to reinforce existing global inequalities, by propping up the World Bank and forcing new loans onto developing countries.
We are calling on development secretary Justine Greening to stop pushing climate loans on developing countries, loans that will only lock countries into new debt and increased poverty. The UK must end its support for the discredited, undemocratic and unaccountable World Bank, and instead support funds through more democratic institutions such as the UN Adaptation Fund. Finally, we are also calling that the UK uses new money, rather than diverting money from the aid budget as they are currently doing.
The UK’s World Bank climate funds are set to create hundreds of millions of pounds of new Third World Debt for some of the world’s poorest people. Take action with us to stop this outrage.
Take action: write to the Secretary of State for International Development demanding that loans are turned into grants
Order a free campaign pack with ideas of what you can do by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scotland has a world-leading climate change act with ambitious but achievable targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2020 and 2050. But these can only be achieved if public money finances our transition to a low carbon society.
In order to meet the first target, eight years from now, the next Scottish budget must properly fund action to cut Scotland’s carbon emissions.
As the next budget is being prepared, WDM Scotland is working with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland on a campaign to make sure that public funding for action on climate change is given priority.
Picture: Stop Climate Chaos Scotland mass lobby of the Scottish Parliament
If you live in the following constituencies then your MSP is an important decision-maker in the budget process. We need your help.
Click on the link to your constituency to join this Stop Climate Chaos Scotland e-mail campaign:
Please still write to them asking them to do all they can to ensure that action on climate change in Scotland is fully funded.
When writing to your MSP please also ask them to support the development of a Scottish international climate adaptation fund.
Scotland has derived huge economic benefits from its emissions of greenhouse gases and its exports of fossil fuels. But that has come at a price to countries more vulnerable than ours to the impact of climate change. A Scottish international climate adaptation fund would help redress Scotland’s climate debt by helping some of the poorest countries in the world adapt to the effects of climate change.
Please ask your MSPs to support this, and to ask John Swinney to publish a consultation paper on it as soon as possible.
Scotland has got rich on an economy built on fossil fuels. But that has come at a price, as the emissions of greenhouse gases has led to some of the poorest countries in the world suffering the worst impacts of climate change. We have made more than our fair share of pollution, and now owe a debt of action to the countries that are suffering the results. This is our climate debt.
Meeting the 42% emissions reduction target is an essential part of redressing our climate debt in Scotland. Another important part of redressing the debt is funding for adaption to climate change for developing countries.
In 2009, WDM Scotland was proud to be part of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition that lobbied for the world-leading Climate Change (Scotland) Act. The Act has targets of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2020.
A climate change action plan has been published by the Scottish government recently but it must be properly funded in the next Scottish budget if Scotland is to have any chance of reaching its 2020 target.
The Scottish Climate Change Act came into being in 2009, and since then the Scottish Government has done a great deal to promote its world-leading legislation, which includes a 42% reduction in Scotland’s own emissions by 2020, and 80% by 2050. More recently, the Scottish Government has produced an action plan called the ‘Report on Proposals and Policies’ which sets out which policies will be needed for Scotland to be able to achieve these targets.
This next Scottish Budget must reflect Scotland’s climate change ambitions. The Scottish Government is currently putting together the 2012-13 budget as well as a four-year spending review. The Scottish Parliament will then scrutinise the Budget and it will be agreed in February 2012. But this autumn is the key time to influence it, while it’s still in its early stages.
Recently, in its advice to Scottish Ministers, the UK Climate Change Committee stated that: ‘Scottish emissions reduction targets can be met at manageable economic cost... and should be accepted given the costs and consequences of not acting’.
Action in Scotland to reduce our emissions is a vital part of a just response to climate change. Whilst rich countries are responsible for most of the emissions entering the atmosphere it is the poorest communities in the world that are being hit the hardest by the impacts of climate change.
Every day that Scotland continues releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere it is increasing its climate debt to those who have played little or no part in the problem.
People across Scotland will also benefit in many ways from the measures needed to reduce carbon emissions, for example by improved health as a result of cycling and walking more or from homes being warmer through improved energy efficiency. And the Scottish Government anticipates the creation of 60,000 green jobs by 2015.
As a minimum, everything in the Scottish Government’s own action plan must be fully funded in the forthcoming budget. It’s that simple.
You can help make this happen by sending a short personal letter or email to your MSPs. This will be most effective if you write in your own words. You can use the information here as a basis for what you write. You should aim to do this before the 30th of September.
Letters to politicians usually pass through the filter of their staff first, as they get hundreds of letters a week. So, to make sure yours get noticed, you could:
This is just for your information – don’t forget to put your letter in your own words.
1. Above all, ask your MSPs to write to John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, who has overall responsibility for the Budget. Ask your MSPs to urge him to prioritise climate change actions in the forthcoming budget and, as a minimum, fully fund everything in the Government’s own plans, the Report on Proposals and Policies.
2. Ask your MSP to support our call for a Scottish climate adaptation fund. Scotland has derived huge economic benefits from its emissions of greenhouse gases and its exports of fossil fuels. But that has come at a price to countries more vulnerable than ours to the impact of climate change. A Scottish climate adaptation fund would help redress Scotland’s climate debt by helping some of the poorest countries in the world adapt to the effects of climate change. Please ask your MSPs to give their support to this idea, and to ask John Swinney to publish a consultation paper on it as soon as possible.
Please send an email directly from your email account or – even better - write a letter and send it in the post.
You can then email them at: email@example.com
Or write to them at: The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP
If you could email us a copy of your letter (to firstname.lastname@example.org), as well as any response you receive from your MSP, that would help us see who has contacted who.
For more information contact the WDM office in Edinburgh
Tel: 0131 243 2730
For the past two years WDM along with the Jubilee Debt Campaign have been campaigning for the UK government to deliver its climate finance to help countries cope with climate change as grants through the UN Adaptation Fund rather than loans through the World Bank. We are pleased that the UK government will now be putting £10 million towards the UN Adaptation Fund.
It will also give another £85 million through the World Bank’s adaptation fund. Although it’s disappointing that the money is going to the World Bank, the good news is that this time the UK has given the majority of its money, £70 million, as grants, not loans. This is a significant change from its previous policy.
WDM and JDC campaigners have done an amazing job in bringing this issue to the attention of politicians and decision makers in a way that they could not ignore.
Here is a slideshow of images from key moments in the campaign.
This statement is from civil society groups from countries that have been chosen as recipients to the World Bank’s ‘Pilot Program for Climate Resilience’ (PPCR) which is being supported by the UK government. The countries include: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Tajikistan, Yemen, Zambia, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga.
To Andrew Mitchell MP, UK secretary of state for international development and Chris Huhne MP, UK secretary of state for energy and climate change.
Dear Andrew Mitchell MP and Chris Huhne MP,
The changing of the world’s climate, primarily caused by the rich industrialized countries, is already having a devastating impact on the lives of individuals, families and communities around the world. As people from countries who are the first recipients of climate loans, we are already seeing lives being destroyed. This is especially true for people from poor and marginalized social groups such as farmers, indigenous communities, women and children who are increasingly at risk of floods, droughts, rising sea-levels and disease. Hundreds of millions of people face having their livelihoods ruined as global temperatures increase. Yet these people hold no responsibility for causing climate change. This is a massive injustice.
It is countries like the UK, through years of historical and current emissions, who hold primary responsibility for causing climate change. The UK must live up to this responsibility by giving reparations for the damage it has caused to the lives of people around the world.
However, instead of reparations, the UK is pushing for loans for climate change through the World Bank. Climate loans will only lock our countries into further debt, and further impoverish our people. This will not provide the compensation required to enable people to cope with the impacts we are facing. Loans for climate change are not acceptable.
We also condemn the UK’s role in pushing for the undemocratic World Bank to be in control of climate finance. All the UK's money for climate change adaptation that is going to the World Bank is currently given as capital, meaning the UK holds responsibility for loans given as climate finance. The World Bank is dominated by rich countries, and has a long history of failed projects and imposing harmful policy conditions. It is also responsible for pushing projects and policies that have caused climate change through deforestation, supporting harmful extractive industries, and providing financing for fossil fuels. Even as the World Bank is trying to remodel itself as the ‘climate bank’, it has increased its funding of fossil fuels 40 times over the last five years. The World Bank has a long history of causing more harm than good, including on climate change, and should therefore have no role in climate finance.
The actions of the UK on this issue will devalue and defame the ongoing climate funding process under the UNFCCC. The UK has also failed to make any contribution to the UN Adaptation Fund that was set up through these negotiations. This disregard for the UN process and institutions will undermine trust in the international negotiations.
The financing of programmes and activities related to climate change adaptation and mitigation must not violate human rights and social justice. We will continue to call on our governments not to accept the climate loans. We call on the UK to:
The UK must stop providing climate loans for adaptation, and stop pushing for the World Bank to have a role in climate finance.
La Plataforma Boliviana Frente al Cambio Climatico, Bolivia
Centro de Comunicacion y Desarrollo Andino, Bolivia
Agua Sustentable, Bolivia
The Democracy Center, Bolivia
Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh
Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh, Bangladesh
Jatiyo Sramik Jote, Bangladesh
Aid Accountability Group, Bangladesh,
Right to Food Movement, Bangladesh
Brahmmaputra Society, Bangladesh
Solidarity Workshop, Bangladesh
Sustainable Bangladesh Campaign, Bangladesh
Jatiyo Sramik Jote (trade unions), Bangladesh
Coastal Development Partnership (CDP), Bangladesh
Bangladesh Youth Movement for Climate, Bangldesh
Advocacy and Policy Institute (API), Cambodia
Indigenous Community Support Organization, Cambodia
Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, Cambodia
Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Caribbean
University of the West Indies, (Dr Norman Girvan, Professor Emeritus), Caribbean
Haiti Survie, Haiti
Jamaicans United for Sustainable Development, Jamaica
Jamaica Conservation Development Trust, Jamaica
Justicia Ambiental, Mozambique
Rural Reconstruction Nepal, Nepal
Right to Food Network, Nepal
NGO Federation of Nepal
All Nepal Women’s Association, Nepal
Team for Nature and Wildlife, Nepal
Green Civil Society, Nepal
Global South Initiative, Nepal
National Network Debt and Development, Niger
Réseau de la Jeunesse Nigérienne sur les Changements Climatiques section of African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, Niger
JVE Niger - Young Volunteers for the Environment, Niger
Ole Siosiomaga Society Incorporated (OLSSI), Samoa
Civil Society Organizations Network for Development, Yemen
Central Organization Control Auditing, Yemen Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection, Zambia
Ngati Hine tribe of the Bay Of Islands, Aotearoa and a trustee of Mahinga Mataitai O Ngati Hine*
Network of the Indigenous Peoples-Solomon Islands*
Women’s Action for Change, Fiji*
Pacific Gender Climate Coalition, Cook Islands
* on behalf of the people of Polynesia
South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE -www.saape.org)
LDC Watch (www.ldcwatch.org)
IBON and the Peoples Movement on Climate Change
Development Alternatives With Women for a New Era (DAWN)
This page features the latest briefings and reports about our climate change campaign.
Briefings tend to be shorter (2-3 pages), more concise summaries of our campaign policy which are ideal if you want to get up to speed with our campaign quickly.
Reports are longer (30-100 pages) in depth documents which WDM produces to influence policy makers and governments.
If you would like to request paper copies of our materials, please get in touch.
All our materials are provided in PDF format. Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader Download the reader here
In Climate loan sharks, the World Development Movement and the Jubilee Debt Campaign reveal that the UK is pushing $1.1 billion of climate loans, via the World Bank, on some of the poorest countries in the world.
For example Grenada’s debt is already 90 per cent of GDP, yet it is to be lent a further $22 million, over 3 per cent of the country’s GDP. Lending to such debt burdened country is at best irresponsible and at worst wilfully dangerous.
The UK, and other rich industrialised countries in the global north, owe a debt to countries in the global south as compensation for the devastating effects of climate change they have the primary responsibility for creating. A key part of this compensation is providing finance to poorer countries to help reduce the negative impacts of climate change on their lives and livelihoods.
The report finds:
Don't have time to read the full Climate loan sharks report? This easy to follow presentation explains the key elements of the UK's disastrous approach to climate finance. Click 'more' to view it in fullscreen.
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The World Bank has a long history of funding projects that are destructive to the environment and undermine human rights, investing in projects regardless of their devastating impacts both on local populations and on our planet.
The case studies selected here demonstrate the range of projects (both geographically, and by type) that the Bank invests in, but they are by no means a definitive list.
The World Bank has provided more than $6.7 billion in financing for these projects alone. The Bank has to be held to account for the crucial role it has played in fuelling climate change and human rights violations.
Click on the thumbnail images on the map to read about the destructive projects.
Our campaigners Kirsty Wright and Murray Worthy are at the UN climate talks in Durban South Africa. Here they report back on what is happening.
Climate change is like eating a slap-up meal then handing the bill to the world’s poor
- Ricardo Navarro, El Salvador
Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity. But it is not just an environmental issue, it is a development issue, and a global justice issue.
It is our excessive carbon emissions that are driving climate change. Rich countries are responsible for almost three quarters of global emissions. But it is poor countries that are bearing the brunt of the impact. Hundreds of millions face drought, floods, starvation, disease and death.
WDM is calling on the UK government to take action to reduce the UK’s emissions and show the rest of the world that it can be done. WDM is campaigning to stop climate injustice.
For more info all of our climate change briefings and reports are also online.
150,000 people are already dying each year because of climate change. The poorest in the world are the most affected by climate change yet they are the least responsible.
Flooding: Vast areas of land will become submerged as sea levels rise with increasing temperatures. Countries such as Bangladesh are already experiencing extreme flooding.
Drought: As temperatures increase droughts worsen. Droughts will endanger the food supply of hundreds of millions of people.
Disease: With temperatures on the rise, warmer wetter weather will increase the number of mosquitoes which spread diseases such as malaria. Malaria is increasing in Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya as a result of a changing climate.
Rich countries, like the UK, owe their prosperity to decades of overuse and reliance on fossil fuels and are historically responsible for 70 per cent of manmade carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Our whole way of life is based on burning things like coal, oil and gas. We burn them for our cars and planes, our heating, our factories and for electricity. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Rich countries have a moral responsibility to lead the way towards a low carbon economy.
Climate change is happening but we can stop it becoming catastrophic. This means keeping the increase in average global temperature to less than 2°C. Internationally an agreement is needed to ensure that, at the very least, this goal is met. Following a campaign for a climate change bill, the UK government has agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
But the government seems fixed on market based solutions to get us out of the problem – like carbon trading. But we cannot buy our way out of the effects of climate change. To effectively tackle climate change we need our government to lead the way in reducing emissions, showing the rest of the world that it can be done.
WDM is calling on the UK government to:
WDM's network of groups and activists taking action on climate justice in their local communities:
Brighton & Hove WDM with their World 'piggy' bank and loan shark
Brighton & Hove WDM show that climate finance should go through the UN Adaptation Fund rather than the World Bank.
Manchester WDM with their World 'piggy' Bank
Bexhill & Hastings WDM members smashing the World 'piggy' Bank
Coventry WDM taking part in a march against E.ON
Bexhill & Hastings WDM during the Big If campaign against new coal fired power stations
Cambridge WDM supporting the Climate Chains cyclists, travelling to the Wave protest
Brighton & Hove WDM staging a tug of war between coal and renewable energy
South East London WDM lobbying their MP on climate debt
Manchester WDM getting the message out with our giant 'climate change kills' banner
Communities, organisations and individuals across the UK are being asked to hold events, discussions, workshops and imaginative stunts to showcase Britain’s ambition and confidence to tackle climate change. Climate Week organisers want to “shine a spotlight on the many positive steps already being taken in workplaces and communities across Britain [to] inspire millions more people.”
But it’s not exactly inspiring that one of the main sponsors of Climate Week – the Royal Bank of Scotland – is undermining this kind of positive action by investing billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in climate trashing fossil fuels.
Until recently RBS sold itself as the ‘oil and gas bank’. It is the UK bank that has been most heavily involved in financing the global coal industry and companies mining tar sands in Canada. Canadian tar sands extraction has been described as the most destructive industrial project on earth, producing carbon emissions three times larger than conventional oil and creating devastating impacts on indigenous communities and the local environment.
Since the 2008 banking bailout, when billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was used to rescue failing banks, RBS’s dirty investments have effectively been done in our name!
Clearly RBS is hoping to gain some green credentials by sponsoring Climate Week. We don’t want to rain on the Climate Week parade, but we do want to make public the hypocrisy of RBS and put pressure on them to change.
A number of groups including Friends of the Earth Scotland, World Development Movement, People & Planet, Platform and SEAD have been campaigning to get RBS to clean up its act and disinvest in dirty energy, and instead direct funds towards a clean green future.
We’ve been gathering postcards calling on the Chancellor to turn the Oil Bank of Scotland into a Royal Bank of Sustainability. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky ask. As taxpayers’, we own an 83% share in the bank: the Chancellor could (and should) use his powers to force RBS to change its investment criteria and use its financial might to ramp up investments in a low carbon future on our behalf.
RBS keenly promotes its ranking in the Carbon Disclosure Project, but this only relates to carbon emissions from computer screens and light bulbs in its branches and offices, ignoring the vast impacts of fossil fuel projects that it finances. We want RBS to publish information relating to the carbon emissions embedded in its investment portfolio.
We have written to Climate Week’s many supporters explaining the contradiction of RBS’s involvement in the initiative, given its investment activities, and encouraging them to write to the Climate Week organisers about it. We have already had a number of positive responses.
We are also encouraging activists around the country to creatively engage with Climate Week, by celebrating the many positive steps being taken by individuals and communities, but at the same time, highlighting the irony of RBS’s sponsorship.
If your community is engaging with Climate Week, why don’t you join in? You could organise your own event, along the lines of those suggested on the Climate Week website (www.climateweek.com/run-an-event/event-ideas/) but use it to draw attention to the problems with RBS’s involvement. You could also write to the organisers of Climate Week expressing your disappointment that RBS is a sponsor. You can email them at email@example.com
Our ‘Clean up RBS’ campaign doesn’t end with Climate Week. We are planning a week of action around the bank’s AGM in April, and we would love for you to take part. Find out what we did at last year’s AGM here.
The World Development Movement is part of the Climate Justice Now! network, which is a southern-led coalition of around 150 organisations and movements campaigning for a globally just and effective solution to the climate crisis.
Communities in the global south as well as low-income communities in the industrialised north have borne the toxic burden of this fossil fuel extraction, transportation and production. Now these communities are facing the worst impacts of climate change - from food shortages to the inundation of whole island nations.
Inside the global climate negotiations, rich industrialised countries have put unjustifiable pressure on southern governments to commit to emissions reductions. At the same time, they have refused to live up to their own legal and moral obligations to radically cut emissions and support developing countries' efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts.
Climate Justice Now! will work to expose the false solutions to the climate crisis promoted by these governments, alongside financial institutions and multinational corporations - such as trade liberalisation, privatisation, forest carbon markets, agrofuels and carbon offsetting.
We will take our struggle forward not just in climate talks, but on the ground and in the streets, to promote genuine solutions that include: