Oxfam to step up green campaigning

Oxfam will be increasing its emphasis on environmental campaigning ahead of December's Bali conference on the replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The organisation, which traditionally campaigns on issues such as poverty and fair trade, said the change in campaigning policy was a natural extension of its traditional concern with the plight of the world’s poor.

The Kyoto Protocol is a United Nations treaty that was introduced in 1997 with the objective of reducing the production of greenhouse gases.

Peter Hume, a campaigner for the charity, said: “Throughout Oxfam’s programmes, it is becoming increasingly obvious that climate change is hitting the poorest hardest and first, and is undermining our efforts to relieve poverty.”

Oxfam’s increasing focus on climate change echoes that of other humanitarian charities such as Christian Aid, which launched its own Cut the Carbon campaign earlier this year.

Ashish Sharma, press officer for climate change issues at Oxfam, cited the example of the charity’s recent report warning that EU proposals to power 10 per cent of Europe’s transport with biofuels by 2020 ignore the social impact of clearing large areas of land in the developing world to produce the sugar cane and palm oil from which the fuels are made. The report says the clearances would undermine food production and force poor people from their land, compelling them to work for low wages on the plantations.

“A year ago, that paper wouldn’t have been possible,” said Sharma. “We bring something new to the table in our emphasis on the human effects of climate change, but we aren’t the experts. We are working together with other charities in the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, listening to them and coming up with policies together to suggest to governments.”

He said the charity would be building up its campaigning over the next year in the hope of attaining binding targets on the emission of greenhouse gases to replace those in the Kyoto Protocol.

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