Group lobbies MP on climate change

Ellen Teague (second from left) with Robert Blackman MP (second from right)

Ellen Teague (second from left) with Robert Blackman MP (second from right)

“We will do our bit on climate change” promised Harrow East MP Robert Blackman after being lobbied at his constituency office by climate activists last Friday, 5 November.  

Our little group included me, representing St Joseph’s Parish in Wealdstone, north London,  and several Friends of the Earth and Agenda 21 activists. My bit was to inform him of Church concern about the vulnerability of poor communities in the global south to global warming and extreme weather. I told him about attending a climate conference in 2007 organised by the Archdiocese of Manila with the assistance of the Columban Fathers, where the 2,000 people attending learnt about the risks of sea inundation to around half of Manila’s low-lying parishes and shanty towns. And I pointed out that action on climate change appeared in the joint communiqué between the British Government and the Catholic Church, produced during the Pope’s September visit.

Mr Blackman undertook to write to Chris Hulne the Secretary of State for Climate Change and Energy and urge UK leadership at December’s international climate talks in Mexico.
He also informed us that the Conservative Party has assigned a group of MPs to keep themselves up to date on the climate change issue and meet regularly and that he is one of them. Mr Blackman reported that the British government will support new and innovative ways of raising finance to pay for climate action, such as taxes on air travel and shipping. He acknowledged that poor countries need help to adapt to the impacts of global warming and develop low carbon technologies, and that that they should receive this financial assistance as grants rather than loans.

He supports the Britain Government’s commitment of meeting the UN target of 0.7% of Gross national Income on overseas aid. For Britain, there was discussion about the forthcoming Energy Bill and hopes that it will set a legal minimum energy efficiency standard for houses in the private rented sector. It will ensure that carbon emissions from fossil fuel power stations are reduced, and the most polluting power stations curbed.

The group disagreed with the MP that nuclear power would provide a solution and hoped there would be more emphasis on reducing demand and on renewable energy technologies. In Harrow, Mr Blackman said he would be happy to support implementation of the Council’s Climate Change Strategy, which includes a tree-planting programme and awareness-raising about the issue.

We felt it had gone well and had been a very useful lobby. It was a great opportunity for me as a church activist on climate change to collaborate with others on a common cause and to meet our new MP for the first time. The lobby was part of the Big Climate Connection, organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, where people across the UK from all walks of life and organisations joined up to lobby more than 250 MPs on this issue.

In the neighbouring constituency of Harrow West the following week, Gareth Thomas MP was lobbied by a group of his constituents, including church representatives.
Photos of constituency lobbies – including many CAFOD supporters, diocesan justice and peace activists, and members of the Catholic Missionary Union - can be seen at:

Feedback and photos from CAFOD supporters of the lobby can be seen at:

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