Christian climate campaigners joined an overnight vigil in Central London over the weekend to remind Britain’s new government that dealing with the climate crisis needs to be their top priority. Mark Dowd of Operation Noah, the Churches Climate Change Campaign, spoke at an ecumenical vigil service at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, on Saturday night. “It is our responsibility to bear witness to the dangers of climate change” he reflected, “but success is outside of our control and we cannot measure it purely by such things as fantastic UN resolutions”.
He had just returned from Fatima in Portugal where, in his other role as a documentary film maker, he filmed Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the shrine amidst crowds of half a million people. “If there was any justice we’d have those numbers here tonight on this crucial issue” he told the congregation of around 80 people, including representatives of Christian Ecology Link, CAFOD, the National Board of Catholic Women and Columban Justice and Peace. The service was led by Revd Chris Brice, Adviser for Social Justice to the Anglican Diocese of London.
Outside on the pavement, the Campaign against Climate Change had formed an ‘SOS Climate’ with red candles, and then a gathering 300-strong moved off in a candlelit procession down Whitehall accompanied by a large inflatable globe inside a ‘greenhouse’. As Big Ben struck one o’clock the group settled at Old Palace Yard, opposite parliament, for a night of talks, music and poems. Messages were written regarding the need for positive solutions for the poor and for future generations, plus a call for more investment and jobs involving green energy. They were printed off using a printer fired by cycle power. The messages created will be delivered to the Prime Minister and other important decision makers later in the week.
One of the speakers, John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, thanked those present for halting the third runway at Heathrow Airport, which lies in his constituency. The UK’s new coalition government scrapped the plans on 14 May. “The day the runway died was the day the climate camp set up in my constituency” he said, thanking those present involved in that camp. They included Ruth Jarman of Christian Ecology Link. He suggested that future action should be directed towards stopping the expansion of aviation and nuclear power.
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