22 May 2001
Speaking at the first of a series of public meetings which he is holding, John Thurso highlighted the problems of poverty in third world countries and linked it to the global scale of environmental problems. He said “It is perhaps fitting in the middle of Christian Aid Week to remember that one of the key responsibilities of the Westminster Parliament is for foreign affairs, and international aid. The combination of grinding poverty and rampant disease - much of it curable - has condemned many third world countries to a vicious circle from which they find it hard to break free.
Liberal Democrats have always been committed internationalists. We recognise the clear duty on wealthy nations such as ours to help countries less fortunate to break free from these shackles. We commend the action taken by the Government on debt relief for third world countries - a crucial tool for delivering sustainability - but we would also honour the UK’s commitment to raise aid to the UN target of 0.7%.
It is essential that third world countries become not only economically sustainable but also environmentally sustainable. These two areas are inextricably linked. At a time when we see the breakdown of the Kyoto accord and ever threatening scientific data on global warning, it is clear we need to work with the third world not against it. The need for a world solution for this world problem has never been more evident. We will place Britain at the forefront of climate change negotiations and establish a new target of 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010.
Our Manifesto has green policies in every section which are clearly set out. This is not merely symbolic of the importance which Liberal Democrats attach to environmental issues, it also delivers practical steps to achieving sustainability for our planet.
Environmental issues can no longer be a footnote to the political agenda. They are now mainstream.”