Supporters of I Count, the campaign of Stop Climate Chaos, have visited Downing Street to hand in 150,000 petition cards demanding the UK Government does all it can to tackle climate change.
The visit comes as Environment Secretary Hilary Benn delivered what campaigners have said is a disappointing response to a public consultation on the Climate Change Bill.
The I Count delegation to Downing Street aimed to draw attention to the shortfalls in the draft Climate Change Bill.
The visit marks the beginning of a six month campaign which will see climate change campaigners all over the country lobby their MPs to try to ensure a satisfactory Climate Change law is passed.
Anita Payne, who has worked with Tearfund in Malawi and Liberia, was one of the five visiting Downing Street on Monday morning. “Poor communities around the world are already at the sharp end of climate change, with flooded homes, increasingly barren and drought-hit land. I’ve seen the effects for myself in Africa when I was with Tearfund helping local churches to respond to recent droughts.” she said.
“I'm here at Downing Street today because I believe that God requires us to love justice and live justly. We need to be good stewards of God’s earth and good neighbours to each other, not pushing poorer people into deeper poverty but living more sustainably, for everyone’s benefit.”
In a separate event at Kew Gardens Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced changes to the proposed Climate Change Bill, in response to a public consultation on the draft legislation. However Rachel Roach, Tearfund’s Climate Change Adviser, joined other campaigners saying she believed the changes still fell short of what is required for a robust climate change law.
“While today’s changes are a step in the right direction, the government has failed to take the bold steps required to seriously tackle climate change. While the Government proposes a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, the legislation must adopt the widely accepted 20C global warming danger threshold and cut CO2 emissions by at least 80% by 2050."
“This Bill is a major opportunity for the UK to demonstrate international leadership but at the moment the Government’s credibility is in question. They say they support the 20C target but are failing to translate their words into action. Bold action and strong leadership are required in the lead up to international climate change talks in December.”
The Climate Change Bill will be introduced to Parliament in the Queen’s Speech on November 6th and be the first of its kind in the world.
The first draft of the legislation was introduced by the Government in March following pressure from I Count and other climate campaigners.
The Bill is likely to receive its second reading in December before being voted on by MPs in Spring 2008.
During the crucial next six months, campaigners will be lobbying their MPs to ensure the UK delivers a bold Bill in line with the UK’s fair share of the international effort to prevent exceeding the global warming danger threshold of 20C.
They are asking that the Government increases the carbon dioxide reduction target, from 60% to at least 80 % by 2050. They also want emissions from international aviation and shipping included in the reduction targets.
It is hoped that binding carbon budgets with annual milestones will be set to make sure that emissions reductions are on track.
Groups will be collaborating on lobbying activity through the I Count Community Groups Map, an online networking tool (http://www.icount.org.uk/groupsmap) launched in September 2007.
The Stop Climate Chaos coalition, of which Tearfund is a member, comprises international development, environment and faith-based NGOs, as well as women’s organisations, trade unions and community groups.