James Ronan is a Geography degree student and CAFOD volunteer from Tavistock. Here he tells us about the Parliamentary Lobby on Climate Change on the 17th June.
On 17th June CAFOD supporters, volunteers and staff travelled up to London to speak up for action on climate change and to lobby their MPs to take the lead at Westminster. The day started bright and early with everyone in very high spirits despite having to start from Plymouth train station at 7:15am! The four hour journey to Westminster was full of fun and discussion, and the CAFOD group was also joined by a member of staff from the RSPB, one of CAFOD’s partner organisations through the Climate Coalition. Once in London everything was in motion – at least 9,000 people, including CAFOD supporters from every Diocese, met their MPs to talk about climate change and the devastating impact it has been having on people living in poverty overseas.
In what was the biggest ever climate lobby of Parliament, almost half of all MPs were lobbied by groups alongside CAFOD campaigners such as the Women’s Institute, Surfers Against Sewage, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and Greenpeace and asked to:
- Tackle climate change by delivering 100% clean, safe energy by 2050.
- Ensure the new sustainable development goals agreed at the UN this September respond to the increasing climate change and deliver low carbon development.
- Help agree a global deal at UN Climate talks in Paris in December requiring countries to take their fair share of action to limit global temperature rises to below 2°C.
- To support developing countries to cope with escalating climate impacts.
At the House of Commons I was privileged to be able to join the Plymouth group to meet their MP, Oliver Colvile, with a rather informal chat on the riverside Terrace, and called on Oliver to encourage the Prime Minister and his government to take the lead in Europe and the world on Climate Change.
CAFOD key volunteer Monica Evans lead the group in lobbying their MP on a number of issues. He agreed that the 0.7% GNP that the UK provides in foreign aid was essential and that we should be doing more to help the poorest communities affected by climate change as well.
CAFOD Diocesan manager Simon Giarchi who lives in the Plymouth constituency lobbied Oliver Colvile further to personally speak to the Prime Minister to encourage him to lead the global fight on climate change. Oliver agreed to take action and even volunteered to ask him questions in the House of Commons to which the group was very grateful.
On a personal note I was inspired and taken-aback by the positive and energetic atmosphere within the Houses of Parliament. Everywhere I looked I was amazed to see MPs meeting their constituents; the scene seemed so cordial and relaxed in stark contrast to the adversarial scenes you see on the television. After our meeting with Oliver we were able to speak briefly with Desmond Swayne MP, Minister of State for International Development.
The lobbying lasted roughly an hour, after which CAFOD supporters took part in an inspirational Climate rally which finished off the day in style with stirring speeches from young campaigners, Olympic rower Andrew Hodge and Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, punctuated by short films and music.
The day was extraordinarily inspiring and it was good that young and old and people of many different faiths and none could come together to speak up not only for what they loved about our planet but also about what they didn’t want to lose to climate change. We hope that the lobbying of MPs will have a lasting impact and that the Government will lead the way not only on sustainable energy but also in helping the poorest in the world who are at the frontline of climate change and its impacts.
I’m grateful to the Climate Coalition for organizing the event, to all the CAFOD staff and supporters who travelled to Parliament to lobby their MPs, and to all those who couldn’t make the event but have emailed their MPs about Climate Change. Everyone feels that the day was a great success and hope that it will raise public awareness of the need for urgent change in our lifestyle.