Charities welcome Scottish Government pledge to help curb climate change in developing countries
A commitment by the Scottish Government to double the country’s Climate Justice Fund has been welcomed by charities and NGOs.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used her visit to the on-going United Nations (UN) climate summit in Paris to announce that and extra £12 million will be made available.
It will be invested over the next four years and will hugely increase the range of the fund, which aims to lessen the impacts of climate change on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
Addressing charities, international faith groups and NGOs at the UN event, the first minister said: “The people who have done least to cause climate change are the people who are being hit hardest. The scale of the injustice is massive.”
Over the last five years the fund, which has been backed by Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has invested £6m for 11 projects in four sub-Saharan African countries.
In Malawi, for example, around 30,000 people now have access to safe clean drinking water and over 100 committees have been trained in natural resources rights and management.
The people who have done least to cause climate change are the people who are being hit hardest - Nicola Sturgeon
Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund director Alistair Dutton led a chorus of praise for the move, saying: “Climate change is devastating the lives of millions of people in poor countries.
"Increasingly, unpredictable weather means that families who grow their own food no longer know when to plant. More frequent and severe flash floods and droughts also wipe out their harvests, leaving already extremely poor families hungry and even poorer.
“We welcome the increase to the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund. It’s a clear recognition that wealthy industrialised countries like Scotland have a clear responsibility to help poor countries cope with the huge climate challenges they face. It sets a positive example to other wealthy nations meeting in Paris.”
Head of Oxfam Scotland Jamie Livingstone said: “We know climate change is already making the daily lives of the world’s poorest women, men and children even harder and it is the single biggest threat to winning the fight against hunger.
“Globally, and here in Scotland, we must limit the damage by reducing emissions, but we must also ramp up our support to help those already affected adapt their lives to unavoidable climate impacts.
“In this context, the Scottish Government’s enhanced commitment to climate justice is very welcome – it increases the funding promised and creates much needed predictability.
“By pledging to increase Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund – which is additional to the International Development Fund – Scotland is showing crucial leadership during the Paris talks.”
Prof Alan Miller, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: “There needs to be an urgent global response dealing with the consequences of climate change, ensuring the explicit recognition of human rights in the new climate agreement.
"We are already seeing the effects of climate change impact on people’s human rights, especially in countries where their population has done the least to contribute to climate change.
“Vulnerable people in developing countries with historically low carbon footprints suffer a disproportionate burden of climate change - increased incidence of droughts, flooding, violent weather patterns, desertification, crop failures and diseases spreading into new areas.
“The Scottish Government has already committed to promote the concept of climate justice in its work. This helps to ensure that the developed countries – like Scotland and the UK - understand their responsibility to mitigate their own carbon emissions, recognise the right to development, and support a low carbon path of development for developing countries.”
The Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church & Society Council, attended the Paris summit last weekend as part of a delegation from the Church of Scotland and Eco-Congregation Scotland.
She said: ‘Whilst many in the richest parts of the world are deeply concerned about future climate change, in other parts of the world the West’s past failure to act is already having a devastating impact.
"Communities are disappearing, crops are failing and people are going hungry because of our lifestyle choices.
"We must therefore tackle both long term causes and short term symptoms.
"That’s why we welcome both the call of the Scottish Government for an ambitious agreement to be reached at the Paris summit – one which will make life on our planet sustainable in the long term – and also its commitment in double investment in its Climate Justice Fund.”
Tom Ballantine, of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, which recently organised a march through Edinburgh ahead of the Paris talks, said: "Tackling climate change is an issue of justice. Like other wealthy nations, Scotland benefited greatly from the era of fossil fuels, and it means we owe a climate debt to the world's poorest people, who are the most affected by climate change.
"We hope that other governments in Paris will now follow Scotland's example, and provide urgently needed support to people who are already struggling against the effects of climate change."
The UN climate talks finish on Friday, 11 December. It is hoped that an agreement can be reached among the world's nations which will see a committment to limiting global warming to 2C (3.6F).