A new coalition of leading UK environmental and social justice groups, convened by Oxfam and nef (the new economics foundation) and including Friends of the Earth and the Royal College of Nursing, says the government cannot choose between tackling poverty and climate change; it must begin to tackle these related issues together and it must take action now.

At a time of rising unemployment and economic insecurity, some people argue that we cannot afford the 'luxury' of protecting the environment; but the report, Tackling Climate Change, Reducing Poverty shows that tackling climate change actually offers a huge opportunity to boost the economy and tackle UK poverty at the same time.

One in five people in the UK still live in poverty, often without enough money to heat their homes or to eat healthily. The new report shows that the poorest people in the UK will be most affected by the effects of climate change. They tend to live in poorer housing, have poorer health, less access to home insurance, and less money to adapt to price rises. Their situation could be worsened by measures to combat climate change such as higher taxation on fossil fuels.

But the report also shows how the need to combat climate change could present a huge opportunity to tackle poverty too. Home insulation cuts fuel bills, keeps homes warm, and reduces CO2 emissions; investment in public transport provides affordable travel for all and cuts air pollution; and the move to a low-carbon economy could be a stimulus for new skilled jobs in home insulation and energy efficiency.

The message from the coalition is clear: now, more than ever, government can - and must - tackle poverty and climate change. If not, the poorest people, both in the UK and around the world, will pay the price.

The report recommends:

  • Improving household energy efficiency, reducing both emissions and fuel poverty.
  • Planning for an equitable transition to a low carbon economy; paving the way for the UK to capitalise on the opportunities and reap the benefits of the new low-carbon economy including the creation of new 'green collar' jobs.
  • Promoting sustainable public service provision, including low-carbon food procurement for hospitals and schools. Improving the existing housing stock; moving towards low carbon design in housing and urban development.
  • Investing in a public transport system, which is better for the environment and more equitable.

The Roundtable on Climate Change and Poverty in the UK are: nef (the new economics foundation) Oxfam GB Friends of the Earth The Royal College of Nursing Sustain Climate and Health Council WEN (Women's Environment Network) Medact Capacity Global bassac With additional contributions from Sustrans, TUC, UNISON, Help the Aged, Every Action Counts and the NHS Confederation.


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