Encouraging words but more substance needed at climate summit

By Oxfam

New York--International aid organization Oxfam welcomed encouraging remarks made by heads of state at the UN Summit on Climate Change, but cautioned that it remains to be seen if they will be translated into a fair, ambitious and binding global treaty in Copenhagen this December.

“We heard a lot of urgency in the words of world leaders who spoke today, but we must not let poetic words cover up inadequate action,” said Vicky Rateau, Oxfam International spokesperson. "While the Summit generated some momentum at an important crossroads, we needed a bigger boost this close to Copenhagen.”

While many leaders spoke of good intentions, those suffering from famine, drought and flooding now and in future generations need more than words.  Governments must start tabling genuine commitments that will translate into action.

Oxfam is calling on rich nations, who are responsible for climate change to cut carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, as well as deliver $150 billion a year to help poor countries cut carbon emissions and adapt to climate change.  This money must be in addition to existing overseas development aid, not ‘raided’ from existing aid commitments as proposed by some countries.  Other than Japan, who publicly re-affirmed plans to cut carbon emissions by 25 % by 2020, solid proposals from other nations were missing from today’s talks.

“It’s time for heads of state to step up as world leaders and start putting adequate figures on the table.  We do not have the luxury of time with climate change.  Too long have these negotiations been treated like trade talks, with countries watching out for their own individual interests.” said Barbara Stocking, CEO, Oxfam Great Britain.

“Climate change is the most pressing issue facing humanity today and is affecting the lives of millions of people worldwide. What is needed is political will on a global scale if we are really going to deliver in Copenhagen”, she added

Constance Okollet, a farmer from Uganda, who has witnessed hunger, death and an increase of cholera in her village after increasingly extreme weather, who travelled to New York with Oxfam for the UN Climate Summit, said: “I ask world leaders to help my community fight the climate change that destroys our houses, increases diseases and stops our children from attending schools.  They must cut their emissions so that we can look forward to planting our crops without having to face floods that wash them away, or droughts that stop them growing at all.”

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