Joanna Bracken with Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams. ©UNICEF UK/2012
I recently met my MP, Stephen Williams of Bristol West, on behalf of UNICEF UK. I wanted to discuss UNICEF UK's Speak Up for Children campaign with Stephen and persuade him to contact Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, in support of the Green Climate Fund.
The meeting began by me explaining UNICEF UK's campaign and highlighting to Stephen some of my personal reasons for supporting it. Two years ago I spent time volunteering in a school in Kenya where I saw the effects of climate change on children first-hand. Following severe droughts and failed crops many parents were unable to pay school fees, meaning their children were no longer able to access education. Those children that did attend school often hadn't eaten anything - the failed crops meant there was no food. Having witnessed this, I am now unable to treat the fact that each year for the next decade, 175 million children will be affected by climate change as merely a statistic. I see it as 175 million versions of the children I met in Kenya continuing to be denied their basic human rights. As members of a developed and influential nation we cannot stand by and let this happen. The Green Climate Fund would reduce the impacts of climate change and help children in adapting to its effects.
In principle Stephen was sympathetic towards the campaign. He was unsure as to whether any additional funds, above the 0.7% of national income that is currently spent on international aid, would be made available for the Green Climate Fund. We discussed ways to generate climate finance, including a Robin Hood Tax or a shipping fuel tax scheme. As already stated by UNICEF UK, Stephen noted that any such scheme would need to be an international one and highlighted that he has previously called for greater international cooperation regarding implementing such finance systems. I stressed that I firmly believed the UK has a historic responsibility to lead the way in pledging its fair share of new and additional funds to the Green Climate Fund.
Stephen agreed to write to Ed Davey on my behalf and our meeting ended with Stephen tweeting a photo of us both to his followers! I am now looking forward to hearing more from Stephen following his communication with Ed Davey.
Joanna Bracken is a UNICEF UK Children's Champion