03/09/2022

UK Government responds to Ripple Effect's climate crisis petition

The climate crisis is destroying the lives of farming families in rural Africa who are least responsible for it right now. In October 2021, we took 26,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street demanding that the UK Government take urgent action on the climate crisis. In January 2022, we received a response to our petition through COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP. However, we don’t feel this response goes far enough in addressing the real issues.

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.

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

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

The impact of the climate crisis on families in rural Africa

The climate crisis is the single most significant issue facing all of us today; especially for farming families in rural Africa. 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.

In our recent video, ‘The climate crisis: life on the front line’, Gaspard, a farmer from Rwanda that works with Ripple Effect, shares the stark reality facing families like his as he watches his crops drying up:

For over 30 years, we have been working alongside farming families on the frontline of the climate crisis, supporting them with the tools, skills and knowledge to mitigate the impacts. From tree planting to natural soil improvement, rainwater harvesting to integrated pest management, families have been putting into practice all they know to adapt and thrive, even in the face of climate challenges.

“$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

The petition was signed by over 26,000 passionate people who believe the UK Government has a responsibility to protect vulnerable communities from the devastating impacts of the climate crisis.

What was the UK Government’s response?

When we handed our petition into 10 Downing Street in October 2021, we hoped that in doing so our call for urgent action would be listened to. We hoped that the UK Government would do more for hardworking families like Gaspard’s.

On the 14 January 2022, we received a response to our petition from the UK Government through COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP. The response outlined some of the following key points:

  • The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increase ambition and action from countries, means 1.5C remains in sight, but it will only be delivered with concerted and immediate global efforts.
  • 95% of the largest developed country climate finance providers made new commitments. The financial pledges mean that the $100 billion climate finance goal will be met by developed countries by 2023 at the latest and $500 billion may be mobilised between 2021-2025, meaning there is more money for developing countries to decarbonise and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
  • The UK has doubled its international climate finance of £11.6 billion over five years, supporting developing nationals to access clean technology and build green infrastructure.
  • UK Government has cut its emissions by 44% between 1990 and 2019 and has put into law a commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • UK Government recognises 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 puts the voices of developing countries at the heart of COP26.
  • The UK Government states that working in collaboration with Egypt and the hosts of COP27, they will continue to demonstrate leadership to ensure that commitments made in Glasgow are delivered.

“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

The response we received from the UK Government outlines that “the Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means that 1.5C remains in sight.” However, 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 1.5C.

We welcome the funding pledged by the UK Government and other developed countries to support developing countries to decarbonise and adapt. 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 these financial pledges will be honoured and that the funds will reach the families that most need them.

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 annual adaptation costs in developing countries are expected to reach $140-$300 billion per year by 2030, and $280-$500 billion by 2050. So, while the initial $100 billion climate finance goal is welcomed, we fear that the financing of adaptation isn’t sufficient and that the financial gap will continue to widen.

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, an active and influential COP member, 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.

In the UK Government’s response to our petition Alok Sharma shared: “The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means that 1.5C remains in sight, but it will only be delivered with concerted and immediate global efforts.”

“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 the answers we were hoping for, we remain thankful for 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.