The UK-based Catholic aid and development agency CAFOD, backed by the Bishops in England and Wales, has sent out a strong message on the eve of the G8 summit.
Like many church-related NGOs, CAFOD's message draws on the direct experience of partners working against poverty at the grassroots across the world, both Christians and those of other faith or no religious affiliation.
CAFOD says the leaders of the world's richest countries gathering today (6 June 2007) in Heiligendamm, Germany, need to keep the promises they made two years ago at the Gleneagles summit and must act rapidly to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Two years ago 250,000 people marched in Edinburgh to 'Make Poverty History', the agency reminds global politicians. G8 leaders responded with a promise to increase aid by US $50 billion a year by 2010 and to double aid to Africa - from US $25 to US $50 billion a year - also by 2010. Now those promises are at risk of being abandoned.
"This is not acceptable," said George Gelber, CAFOD's Head of Public Policy. "Do thousands of people have to get out onto the streets again, just to make the leaders of the world's richest countries keep their word. Angela Merkel has talked about sending a 'message of trust' to Africa. This message will come back 'return to sender unless the Gleneagles promises are kept."
"When leaders of developing countries sign debt agreements, they are held to those agreements for decades at the cost of millions of poor people. But the signature of a western leader in 2005 seems to be negotiable when it is on an aid agreement," adds Charity Musamba, a CAFOD partner from Zambia.
CAFOD has welcomed President Bush's acknowledgement that climate change is a reality and that it requires international action, but his proposals for alternative negotiations without clear targets are an obstacle to effective progress.
It says climate change is a slow motion tsunami that threatens the livelihoods of the poor around the world with rising sea levels, drought and violent storms and flooding.
CAFOD, in common with other NGOs and environmental groups, wants to see an 80 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and endorses the need for a global climate treaty.