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Saturday, October 1, 2016
Joining the Big Climate Connection
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First thing on Friday morning 5 November I’ll be meeting up with half a dozen others in my Harrow East constituency to lobby my MP about climate change. Before we visit Bob Blackman MP we’ll be gathering in a café nearby to get to know eachother and get our act together. The ‘Big Climate Connection’ lobby involves a whole range of environment and development agencies and the others registered from my area are strangers to me. The only thing we share is a commitment to action on climate change, but that does give us a significant affinity and I look forward to meeting them.

Throughout the UK thousands of people will be doing the same on 5th or 6th November. November is a key time for climate politics, with the upcoming UN climate talks in Mexico and the UK Energy Bill. We will all be asking our MPs to write a letter to Prime Minster David Cameron and Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, supporting our international, national and local policy demands.

At December’s climate meeting at Cancun in Mexico we would like our government to push for progress on international climate finance to help developing countries adapt to climate change and develop low carbon technologies. Extreme weather linked to climate change is a growing reality in the world – at the moment we are seeing massive flooding in Benin and drought in the Amazon! My husband and I, working in Northern Nigeria in 1981 with the Volunteer Missionary Movement, heard plenty of anecdotal evidence way back then of the advance of the Sahara Desert and a shorter rainy season which affected agriculture and food production. Then, two years ago I attended an international climate conference in the Philippines organised by the Columban Missionary Society and heard missionaries working throughout Asia and Latin America give plenty of evidence of the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities and the need for action. On that visit I also attended a climate awareness raising event of the Archdiocese of Manila that attracted 2,000 parishioners. They heard that more than half the parishes in Manila could be flooded by 2050 with projected sea level rises! Every parish was urged to appoint a dedicated environmental representative to keep abreast of the issue and stimulate local projects.  I’ll be relaying at least some of this first hand experience to my MP in my three minute slot of our presentation, and impressing upon him that the churches are engaged with the climate change issue.

In Britain, we would like to see the UK Energy Bill set a limit on the amount of CO2 a power station can emit and tackle aviation and shipping emissions. Here in Harrow, where our council has a Climate Change Strategy and a team to implement it, I am interested in increasing the tree planting programme and improving maintenance of trees, plus pushing the council’s goal of giving all homes in the borough an energy efficiency makeover. And what about linking with the Harrow churches in implementing the strategy? The Harrow Baptist Church for example, is an eco-congregation award winner.

I signed on for the Big Climate Connection with CAFOD at www.cafod.org.uk. A lobby pack is available to download and if you type in your postcode, you can find out about other lobbyists in your area.  This is an important initiative for the Catholic Church to get more involved in, especially since Climate Change was identified as an area for collaboration between the Vatican and the UK government during the papal visit. From bishops to Catholic youth, from parish priests to parishioners, we should all be supporting the Big Climate Connection lobby. And there is only a few days to go!
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Tags: Big Climate Connection, Ellen Teague


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