The World Development Movement (WDM) has informed Just4theplanet that pensioners, students and activists will be protesting outside the offices of the Department for International Development (DfID) today (18th November 2010). 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, 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.”
Follow us on Twitter@just4theplanet1