Anger over UK's controversial climate loans
Pensioners, students and activists will be protesting outside the offices of the Department for International Development (DfID) tomorrow. They are angry that the UK climate finance will increase Third World Debt for countries like Bangladesh. They are also upset that the government is rejecting their donations which they sent to DfID to help developing countries cope with climate change. The government has now threatened to send these to a local charity instead.
Last week, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank announced that they were lending Bangladesh nearly $600 million. Over $100 million of these loans come from the UK government. The loans are designed to pay for projects such as improving coastal defences to deal with stronger cyclones and storms caused by climate change.
The campaigners say that the money, which has already been given by the UK to the World Bank, should not have to be repaid because of Britain’s role in contributing to climate change. They point out that Bangladesh already pays back 50p on debts for every £1 it receives in aid and new climate loans will make this situation more unfair.
The Conservative Party had previously promised to give climate finance as grants rather than loans wherever possible, while the Liberal Democrats had pledged additional support to the UN’s role in helping developing countries adapt to climate change. To date, the UK has given no money to the UN Adaptation fund.
Over a thousand pounds in one pound coins have been sent to DfID from supporters of the World Development Movement and Jubilee Debt Campaign with personal messages asking the government not to increase Third World Debt and to send their money on to the UN climate fund. But DfID has so far refused to pass on these donations, saying it lacks the legal authority to do so, although why is unclear.
The issue of finance for developing countries is expected to be the deal breaker at the international climate talks taking place in Cancun, Mexico later this month.
Kirsty Wright from World Development Movement who will be attending the talks said:
“In his words, Andrew Mitchell has acknowledged the importance of the UN Adaptation Fund – the fund set up through climate negotiations and supported by developing countries - but his department is refusing to pass on the public donations, or to give the fund the proper financial backing it needs to be effective. This could be a nail in the coffin for the climate negations."
Nick Dearden from Jubilee Debt Campaign said:
“The British government is saddling developing countries with large debts so they can clean up a problem which the rich world caused. To add insult to injury, the money will flow through the World Bank – one of the world’s largest funders of fossil fuels – rather than the UN fund which developing countries support. It doesn’t get more cynical than that.”
For more information, please call Kate Blagojevic on 020 7820 4900 / 07711 875 345
Notes to editors:
Photo opportunity – 9am, Thursday 18 November 2010. DfID 1 Palace Street, London SW1E 5HE
Campaigners will be protesting outside DfID's offices from 8.45 until 10am. Campaingers dressed as David Cameron, Andrew Mitchell and Nick Clegg will gag the protesters to show that they are refusing to listen to the protesters demands and rejecting their donations. Protesters will include pensioners and students.
Supporters have been sending a pound to DfID for two months to put pressure on the UK to support the UN Adaptation Fund. See http://www.wdm.org.uk/climate-debt-campaign/send-pound-un-adaptation-fund
Further examples of the projects that the loans for Bangladesh are for:
- Improving water supply and sanitation in coastal areas suffering from increased flooding due to climate change. Water supplies damaged by floods often result in illnesses such as diarrhoea
- Helping farmers plant crops which are more resilient to changes in climate
The $600 million loan is made up of:
- $60 million for the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience. All of this money ultimately comes from the UK government.
- $300 million from the International Development Association part of the World Bank. At its last replenishment, the UK provided IDA with 16.7 per cent of its money from donors.
- $225 million is from the Asian Development Bank.
Niger, a country which has received World Bank and IMF debt relief, and Tajikistan, currently struggling with serious debt problems, have also been offered World Bank loans. We believe Tajikistan has declined.
Liberal Democrat party policy is to “support the UN Adaptation Fund” and to provide “grants for communities vulnerable to the impact of climate change without increasing the burden on indebted countries”. From Liberal Democrats. (2010). Self-assessment against BOND vote global manifesto. Liberal Democrats. And Liberal Democrats. (2009). Policy Motion: Energy and Climate Change. September 2009
Conservative party policy is to “continue, as far as possible, to give aid as grants not loans” and to “encourage other donors such as the World Bank to give aid for social objectives, whenever possible, as grants”. From Conservative Party. (2010). One world Conservatism: A Conservative agenda for international development.