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07/12/15 00:01

Cash boost for climate justice

First Minister pledges £12 million for developing countries.

An extra £12 million will be invested over the next four years to help reduce the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest communities, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today at the UN global climate change summit in Paris.

The funding will see the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund double in size and allow more support to projects in countries such as Malawi and Zambia. The fund aims to lessen the impacts of climate change on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The First Minister will address international faith groups and NGOs at the UN event and state that: “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.”

Today, the First Minister will also meet with former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, who officially launched Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund in 2012, as well as Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. The Fund has also received backing from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Over the last five years the Climate Justice Fund has already invested £6 million 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 First Minister said:

“We know that the most vulnerable are worst affected by climate change: the very young, the very old, the ill, and the very poor. Women are suffering disproportionately, since they are often the main providers of food, fuel and water.

“So, the people who have done least to cause climate change, and are least equipped to cope with its consequences, are the people who are being hit hardest. The scale of the injustice is massive.

“Now, the first and most important priority in tackling this injustice has to be to address climate change itself. That’s why Scotland backs the case for an ambitious agreement at the Paris summit - one which is capable of limiting temperature increases to below two degrees Celsius. And we are determined to lead by example – we have some of the most ambitious statutory targets anywhere in the world.

“But we also know that work needs to happen now. In 2012 we became the first national government in the world to establish a climate justice fund and we have had some fantastic results. That’s why I can announce today that we are doubling our funding for the Climate Justice Fund to £12 million over the next four years.”

Welcoming the increase to the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund, SCIAF’s Director Alistair Dutton said:

“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:

“We welcome the First Minister’s speech today. 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 to double investment in its Climate Justice Fund."

Notes to editors

In 2009 the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed world leading climate change legislation. Using 1990 as a baseline, we committed ourselves to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 42% by 2020 - and at least 80% by 2050. The latest data (2013) shows emissions reduced by 38.4% with seven years to go to 2020.