2018: a year of change
'Toxic' has been chosen as the word of the year for 2018. Its increased use this year is related not just to its former use to describe poisonous things – toxic chemicals, toxic fumes – but as a metaphor for certain aspects of our culture and debates in public life.
Every day seems to bring new political crises, divisions in society, environmental breakdown or angry rhetoric from parts of the press.
For many of us this year has been difficult in various senses. The troubles faced by those most marginalised in our community, both local and global can seem overwhelming.
We can’t deny these experiences, but rather because of them we need to challenge the toxic narrative permeating our cultures; to shine a light on the positive changes that are borne out of collective action of people taking a stand for dignity, equality and justice.
In doing so we’re reminded how much can be achieved when we work together and celebrate how much we have in common rather than focus on what makes us different.
Just look at what we’ve achieved, together, in 2018:
We’ve seen big banks make progress in response to your calls to stop funding climate change
- Barclays ruled out the funding of new coal projects in rich countries, and put heavier restrictions on funding coal in poor countries.
- Lloyds committed £3 billion to clean and low carbon finance, and announced that it will not finance any new coal power plants.
- RBS announced a phaseout of project finance to all new coal power projects and thermal coalmines, further restricted finance to coal companies, and £10 billion for renewable energy projects in 2018–20.
- HSBC announced that it will provide $100 billion in sustainable financing and investment by 2025 and prohibit finance to new coal power plants in most (but not all) countries.
- Standard Chartered announced it would stop financing new coal power projects everywhere
We’ve seen two major breakthroughs on tax justice, both coming years after you began campaigning on the issue
- The first was a commitment by the Vodafone to publish their profits made and taxes paid in every country — data which was previously shrouded in secrecy. This makes it much harder to dodge taxes in the countries in which profits are made.
- The second was a vote in the UK Parliament that could signal an end to secrecy in the UK tax havens once and for all, by requiring them to produce registers of beneficial ownership – making it clear who really owns a company.
This kind of transparency will make it harder for big global companies to dodge the tax they owe on profits made in the countries where they operate. And this means more revenue to provide more schools, more hospitals, more roads, better education and ultimately improve and save lives.
And, thanks to your campaigning to better protect people who have been displaced:
- the UK government has been advocating for a Global HighLevel Panel to come up with solutions for internal displacement. We expect this panel to be created soon, and are waiting for an announcement.
- the Parliamentary Select Committee on International Development is conducting an inquiry into forced displacement in Africa, which we are actively engaging with.
All of these are things to celebrate. They happened because of all our campaigning – together.
We're seeing real movements that can lead to better lives for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Our word for 2019 is 'ambition'
We’re challenging ourselves, and you, to rise up to the challenges facing us, not be overwhelmed by them. Get involved by:
- Pressuring HSBC to give up its fossil fuel funding all together by delivering a message to your local branch
- Lobbying MPs to ensure that the UK Government plays its part in tackling climate change.
- In Scotland you can join our local climate lobbies in January to make sure the new Scottish Climate Act matches up to the ambition required.
- Dropping Sierra Leone’s debt that incurred during the Ebola crisis and instead let that money fund healthcare.
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And if you’re interested in going deeper, get in touch – we’d love to come and do a talk or campaigns workshop in your community.
It’s only together that we can dismantle the systems that keep people poor, and instead build a better world.
With warmest wishes for a happy Christmas and a 2019 full of justice and peace,
Sarah, Luke and Alpha – the Christian Aid campaigns team.