Petitions from nearly three-quarters of a million people calling for urgent action on climate change in line with science have been delivered to Downing Street.
The petitions - presented on Friday 31 May by a group which included a nun, a secondary school student, a midwife and a community activist - have been signed by almost 750,000 supporters of environment and development organisations.
The visit came on the same morning that more than 120 business leaders and a number of leading scientists sent letters urging the Prime Minister to set a 'net zero' emissions target in law ahead of her departure from Number 10.
Sister Karen Marguerite d'Artois, a campaigner with CAFOD who was part of the delegation to Downing Street, said: "The message I want to bring to Theresa May is: please act now. This is the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy, one that will go far beyond your lifetime. We have to act now to save our planet. The government needs to introduce legislation so that we can reach net zero emissions as soon as possible. The time is running out."
The delivery of the petitions was made at the end of a month in which the government's independent climate advisers recommended the UK set a target of reducing emissions to net zero by 2050.
The report from the Committee on Climate Change said a net zero target is necessary to keep temperature rises below 1.5C.
Last year, UN science body the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that allowing temperatures to exceed this level would jeopardise food and water supplies for hundreds of millions of people.
Warming above 1.5C would also increase the risk of devastating storms and floods and lead to more frequent and extreme heatwaves like that of last summer.
Next month, thousands of people will travel to Westminster for a mass meeting with MPs in the area around Parliament. The event on Wednesday 26 June, which is being coordinated by CAFOD and campaign groups such as The Climate Coalition and Greener UK, will see constituents calling on their MPs to back a net zero target and to support action to protect the environment.
Aya Bdaiwi, a community activist from Faiths Forum for London who also helped to deliver the petitions, said: "It was great to be part of something today that's something so close to my heart and so important. Hopefully this will bring about the change that is needed."
The petitions delivered to Downing Street were signed by supporters of campaign groups and charities - including WWF, CAFOD, Greenpeace, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and 38 Degrees.
Daniel Hale, Head of Campaigns at CAFOD, said: "No politician can have missed the momentum gathering in recent months for action on climate change, but if anyone was unsure of its scale, these petitions confirm it. Despite the current political uncertainty, the public want the government to urgently set a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2045 at the latest. Climate change won't wait for Brexit or leadership elections.
"Setting a net zero target will not only help to protect the poorest and most vulnerable people from paying the price for our emissions but would put the UK in a position to lead the world in the shift to a low-carbon economy. This would be a landmark achievement for any Prime Minister, something Mrs May should secure as she approaches the final weeks of her premiership."
Fanny Calder, Director of Campaigns at WWF, said: "The climate emergency impacts each and every one of us. If we want a world with clean air, safe coastal cities and enough food for everyone, we must act now to avert climate breakdown. In the UK we know that we can end our contribution to climate change by 2045, but only if the government takes urgent and ambitious action to slash our emissions.
"This call for action to deal with the climate emergency has been signed by hundreds of thousands of people. In June, thousands more will gather in Westminster to lobby their MPs. We are the last generation who can prevent this crisis from becoming a disaster. The British public wants action - it's time for the politicians to listen to them, and for the government to act before it is too late."
Molly Boydon, of 38 Degrees, said: "Politicians may be focusing on Brexit and their own internal fights but the climate emergency has not gone away. Hundreds of thousands of people from every walk of life and every part of the country demand that the politicians who work for us take meaningful and urgent action to save our environment. That does not mean business-as-usual tinkering or warm words. That means ambitious measures now to stop greenhouse gas emissions and rescue our natural environment."
Tell the government #TheTimeIsNow for an ambitious net zero target at a mass meeting of MPs and constituents on 26 June at cafod.org.uk/climatelobby
A mass climate and environment lobby of Parliament will take between 13:00-16:00 BST on Wednesday 26 June 2019 in the area around the Palace of Westminster. Hundreds of MPs will be taken by rickshaw to meet thousands of constituents urging politicians to back a goal of halting UK climate change emissions and to support action to protect the environment. More than 10,000 people from almost every constituency in the UK are expected to travel to Westminster for the meeting. Further information on the mass lobby can be found at cafod.org.uk/climatelobby
We Need Your Support
ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.
Please support our journalism by donating today.Donate