Desmond Tutu backs UK call for tough action on climate change

By staff writers
24 Jul 2008

In a video message for the UK-based World Development Movement (WDM), Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has backed calls for the British government and its citizens to take tough action on climate change.

The WDM video says the UK government should stop the growth in air flights and to put in place an 80 per cent CO2 emissions reduction target by 2050.

The climate bill, currently going through parliament, includes only a 60 per target, and the G8 talked of 50 per cent - with a questionable start date.

Archbishop Tutu says: “It is the countries which are the least responsible for causing climate change that are paying the heaviest price. The average UK citizen produces nearly 50 times as much carbon dioxide as the average citizen in the developing world. This is a serious injustice.

“Do not fly in the face of the poor by allowing the emissions produced by endless and unnecessary business flights to keep growing. Insist on an 80% cut in your national emissions, and hold your governments to account.

“As an African, I urgently call on ordinary people in rich countries to act as global citizens, not as isolated consumers. We must listen to our consciences, and not to governments who speak only about economic markets. These markets will cease to exist if climate change is allowed to develop to climate chaos.”

“This is a message to people everywhere who challenge the causes of poverty around the world. Climate change is for real. As I speak, famine is increasing; flooding is increasing, as is disease and insecurity globally because of water scarcity.”

Murray Benham, Head of Campaigns at the World Development Movement commented: “The UK government must listen to Archbishop Tutu’s message. The reality is that the world’s poor will be the worst hit by climate change. This is a global justice issue. The rich countries have created the problem. They must show leadership in solving it.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also written a preface for the new book Fear or Freedom? Why a warring church must change, edited by Simon Barrow, published by Shoving Leopard / Ekklesia.

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