UK Government responds to Ripple Effect's climate crisis petition

We recognise that now, more than ever, there is a need for action to create solutions to the climate crisis; a need to work together to champion change for the long-term.

The climate crisis is the single most significant issue facing all of us today; especially for farming families in rural Africa like Gaspard’s from Rwanda. It not only threatens their lives, but the world’s ability to feed itself – now and in the future. Despite being the least responsible for the climate crisis, families in rural Africa are experiencing the effects, first and worst.

That’s why in early 2021, we launched our first-ever petition in the lead-up to COP26, calling the UK government to take urgent action on the climate crisis. In October 2021, we took 26,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street.

In our petition, we asked the UK government to act quickly to:

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Ambitious policies and plans are in place to deliver on its target of reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emission by two-thirds over the next 10 years.

Ensure support reaches vulnerable communities

Adequate support is reaching vulnerable communities affected by the climate crisis globally, who have often contributed the least to the problem.

Support communities to become carbon neutral

New measures are taken to support more vulnerable countries on their journey to being carbon neutral by 2050.

Why the UK government’s response doesn’t go far enough

On 14 January 2022, we received a response to our petition from the UK government through COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP. Here are some of the key quotes from their response, and why we don’t believe the government goes far enough in addressing the real issues.

The financing of adaptation is insufficient

“Under the UK’s COP Presidency, 95% of the largest developed country climate finance providers made new, forward-looking commitments, with many doubling or even quadrupling their support for developing countries to take climate action.

These pledges mean that the $100 billion climate finance goal will be met by developed countries by 2023 at the latest. It is now likely that $500 billion will be mobilised over the period 2021-25. This means more money for developing countries to decarbonise and adapt to the impacts of climate change.” COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP.

The latest IPCC report shows that as the climate crisis worsens, adaptation becomes increasingly more important. However, according to a recent report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) annual adaptation costs in developing countries are expected to reach $140-$300 billion per year by 2030, and $280-$500 billion by 2050.

While the climate financial goal is welcomed, looking at the figures from the UNEP, we fear that the financing of adaptation isn't sufficient and that the financial gap will continue to widen.

“$100 billion for 3 years is too little to save lives in vulnerable countries. Nevertheless, we wish to see a shift from commitments to disbursement. We therefore still need to lobby and continue appealing to the Government on this matter.”

Meshark Sikuku Regional Farm Systems and Sustainability Coordinator, Ripple Effect

There is a lack of commitment from developed countries to meet the 1.5°C target

“The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means 1.5°C remains in sight, but it will only be delivered with concerted and immediate global efforts.” COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP.

At COP26, The Glasgow Climate Pact was watered down when the wording “phase out” of coal-first power was replaced with “phase down”. It was disappointing to see this change to the pact, indicating a lack of commitment for countries to take the action needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

“We were keen the UK Government does more to protect rural communities in Africa who contribute least to carbon emissions, but are most affected by its effects. We have received a response from the PM office through Alok Sharma (COP President) that in our assessment does not go far enough to keeping within the 1.5C target.”

Donald Mavunduse Director of International Operations, Ripple Effect

It’s unclear what steps the UK Government will take to support vulnerable families

“The UK has doubled its international climate finance of £11.6 billion over five years including a balance between mitigation and adaptation spending, with an extra £1bn in 2024-2025 if the economy grows as forecast, supporting developing nations to access clean technology and build green infrastructure.” COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP.

We welcome the funding pledged by the UK government and other developed countries to support developing countries to decarbonise, adapt and build green infrastructure. However, the UK government’s response is not specific enough to explain the tangible steps it will take to support developing countries. We can only hope that financial pledges will be honoured and that the funds will reach the families that most need them.

Governments must be accountable for their actions

“Like you, we recognise that existing inequalities exacerbate the impacts of climate change for individuals and communities, limiting their resilience while constraining their options to act. The UK Presidency put the voices of developing countries at the heart of COP26 and the outcomes reflect this.” COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP.

We are pleased to see that the UK government recognises that the impact the climate crisis has on communities is exacerbated by existing inequalities, making it harder for communities to adapt and respond to climate challenges. However, it’s disappointing that the government fails to acknowledge the role it plays in contributing to the climate crisis; a crisis that puts vulnerable individuals and communities at risk every single day.

What can we take away from the UK government’s response?

We wish that the UK government will continue pushing through the climate crisis agenda at the global table. We hope to see deliberate and practical financing plans that put affected rural African communities at the centre, as well as clear concrete plans to channel resources to those in need.

We strongly agree with the UK government that working together is paramount. That’s why we will create community and global partnerships to consolidate efforts and resources to achieve better outcomes.

At Ripple Effect, we are continuing to strengthen our support to help vulnerable families cope and recover better from the climate crisis. We remain committed to finding sustainable adaptive and mitigative community-led solutions.

We are proud to have started a carbon offsetting project in Ethiopia which is based on the principle of reduce first and offset later. The same project takes a holistic view to carbon offsetting and addresses the livelihoods of families beyond planting trees. We plan to do more to stand alongside communities to influence their governments in Africa to also put in place concrete plans that improve livelihoods and protect the planet.

“Ripple Effect stands in solidarity with African rural communities ensuring that their voices are heard by governments as well as other policy makers, and particularly the developed nations who have been and are still responsible for global climate crisis.”

Meshark Sikuku Regional Farm Systems and Sustainability Coordinator, Ripple Effect

Although we didn’t receive all the answers we were hoping for, we remain thankful to our supporters around the world for standing with farming families and ensuring their voices are heard. In the year ahead, we will continue in our efforts to fight for climate justice.

Want to support farming families as they fight the climate crisis? Join our community of regular givers today.