Stories and pics from the Big Climate Connection!

Our volunteer Mike Willcox led the lobby in Southampton Test

Last weekend, supporters from CAFOD and from the over 100 organisations that make up the Stop Climate Chaos coalition did a brilliant job by visiting their MPs as part of the Big Climate Connection – a national lobby on Climate Change. We were calling for action from the UK government in the upcoming Energy Bill (better insulation for homes, strong legislation on fossil fuel energy) and at the international climate change talks that will take place in Cancun in December (climate financing for developing countries).

Here are some photos and stories from the CAFOD-led lobbies in our diocese! 🙂

Our volunteer Mike Willcox led the lobby in his constituency, Southampon Test (Alan Whitehead MP). He reports:

“The lobby took the form of a public meeting in a local Community Centre, and was attended by about twenty people from a wide variety of backgrounds.   A large group were from Southampton University, studying Environmental Sciences.  And there were also people involved in CAFOD, Oxfam, Woodcraft Folk, and Transition Southampton.  The Co-op kindly donated tea, coffee and mince pies !

After welcoming Dr Whitehead, and allowing people at the meeting to introduce themselves, we watched a short Oxfam video showing the impact of climate change on African bush people.  Then I outlined the three main asks to Dr Whitehead, and he spoke knowledgeably and supportively in response, especially in the area of domestic energy policy and the window of opportunity for low carbon energy. He also advocated much tougher rules on insulation, believing that the current system of Energy Performance Certificates needs to be strengthened to enforce minimum standards.  There was much interest during Q&A later on this point from the Southampton Uni students, who felt that they aren’t given access to this information when making decisions on rented accommodation. 

Internationally, Dr Whitehead said he doesnt expect any major deals at the Cancun summit, however he hopes that the engagement of the United States (the big positive from Copenhagen) will allow a framework to be put in place that will lead to a major deal in 2012.   He also spoke of his support for “Tobin” taxes on financial transactions to raise money for international climate finance, and for CO2 emissions from aviation and shipping to be brought within a proper framework of international responsibility.

We gave Dr Whitehead a letter, signed by most of the people at the meeting, asking for his support on the Big Climate Connection Policy Asks.  He agreed to write to David Cameron and Chris Huhne, both reflecting our concerns and adding his own support.  

A "bright" and special present for Alan Whitehead MP!

We presented Alan with a gift of a low energy light bulb, with a label attached summarising the three main “asks”.   We also gave him similar gifts for Chris Huhne and David Cameron, for him to pass on along with our concerns.  All three gifts were delivered in party-colour-themed gifts bags”.

Another excellent lobby, led by our volunteer Louise Croll, took place in the New Forest consistuency.

Louise and campaigners from the New Forest constituency present Julian Lewis MP with the SCC letter

The group reported: “The lobby went well, Dr Lewis gave us 40 minutes and a good discussion, and he undertook to represent our views strongly to the Secretary of State at DECC and to the Prime Minister.

We had printed out some maps from various websites showing how much of our consituency is already at flood risk, and how much more will be under water as sea levels rise, to help make the point that it’s a local issue as well as one for developing countries! He commented: “The Stop Climate Chaos team have sent a strong delegation making a powerful argument, which I shall certainly convey to the Secretary of State and Number 10. Controversy continues about the causes of climate change, but I know that the Government takes very seriously its responsibility to try to mitigate the effects. Certainly, the projected possible loss of coastline in New Forest East, if sea level rises increase, calls for serious consideration and investment in sea defences.”

In Maidenhead, Laura and local campaigner Simon Bond from Maidenehad Quakers met with Home Secretary Theresa May MP.

Laura and Simon Bond with Theresa May

We explained the 3 asks in detail and had a good discussion on the issues. She told us that the Government is keen to deal with climate change and environmental problems in general, and on the UK being at the forefront of low carbon technology industries. She also said the Government is committed to see some progress being made in Cancun. She will get back to us about the official government stance on the 3 asks and we look forward to hearing from her.

Our supporters John Ball and Martha Vickers from Newbury, together with 4 supporters of other SCC organisations, had a very positive meeting with their MP, Environment Minister Richard Benyon. They discussed both local and international issues. He was supportive and promised to convey the asks to David Cameron and Chris Huhne.

In Aldershot, Samantha Hearnshaw, Lynda, Marguerite Wong and Joe Merriman spoke to Gerald Howarth, Minister for Defence and asked for his support particularly in ensuring that any UK money for climate adaptation will be provided as grants and not loans.   The group hope to meet with Mr Howarth every three to four months to discuss progress on the main issues.

In Reading East, our volunteer Rita Belletty took part in the lobby organised by Owen Jewiss from Christian Ecology Link. The group included representatives of various organisations including Friends of the Earth and WWF – a great example of local collaboration 🙂 The group brought to the attention of Rob Wilson MP various “green” initiatives that they had started in the constituency, showing an example and asking for his support. They then explained the SCC asks and asked him to write to the PM and to Chris Huhne in support of these policies – and also asked to meet with him again regularly next year to ensure progress on this agenda. Great work!!! 

We also know of other CAFOD supporters who haven taken part in their local lobbies – a huge thanks to everyone involved, nothing is more effective than meeting MPs face-to-face when it comes to campaigning, so hopefully the efforts we made over the weekend will pay off! Please keep us posted if you get any responses back from your MPs. Thanks again! 🙂

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