2015 is a key year for both international development and climate change, with the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be agreed in September, followed by the global climate change conference in Paris in December.
There is a real opportunity to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals respond to the threat of climate change and deliver low-carbon development in focusing on eliminating poverty, ending violence against children and ensuring women and girls are at the centre of development.
I was delighted to meet with a delegation from Oldham East and Saddleworth at the ‘Speak Up for the Love Of’ lobby of Parliament, to hear just how passionate they are about taking action both domestically and internationally to tackle climate change. I agreed with them that if governments don’t act urgently and significantly to halt the harmful effects of climate change the consequences will be dire and irreversible.
The poor are hit the hardest by climate change and their vulnerability means they are least able to recover. We all need to adapt the way we use energy, and the Government needs to lead on global commitments to attain clean, sustainable energy for all. I was therefore extremely disappointed to see the Government announcement just the day after the lobby that they were ending subsidies early for onshore wind – currently the most cost-effective form of clean energy – and raised these with the Energy Secretary during her Oral Ministerial Statement in the Commons today.
It is clear that over the years the UK has played a leading role globally in helping some of the world’s poorest people and I am proud of the small part I have played in that, supporting the recent 0.7% bill and in my role as a Vice-President of the Labour Campaign for International Development.
Development assistance helps save the lives of some of the world’s poorest people in times of humanitarian emergency, and progresses social development as well as economic growth. In the long-run, this opens up new markets for the UK to trade with, which in turn creates jobs in Britain.
Extreme poverty and inequality are drivers of fragility and conflict within states. Providing aid to tackle extreme poverty and inequality can help counter violence and insecurity, reducing the global costs of conflict and the threat posed to Britain by transnational terrorist organisations. Similarly, investing in and building the capacity of developing states to respond to challenges, such as climate change and disease outbreaks like Ebola, increases the likelihood of us finding a global solution to such problems.
Ensuring that the aid budget is permanently tied to the health of our economy will increase the predictability of aid to poor countries, allowing for better planning for expenditure and long-term, strategic investments that represent the best value for money. With this commitment enshrined in law, the focus can now be on how to improve the quality of aid rather than ongoing debates about how much is spent.
I am committed to ensuring that UK development programmes deliver value for money, promote good governance and help achieve core development goals. To this end, I believe that the Britain must continue to work for transparency and accountability in how development assistance funding is used in recipient countries.
I will continue to press the UK Government to negotiate for Sustainable Development Goals and climate change targets that are both achievable and inspiring. We must make sure we get these decisions right in order to eradicate poverty and inequality and tackle climate change and its effects. I look forward to working with the wide range of organisations campaigning on the SDGs and climate change over the next year and beyond.