From 20 January, when Barack Obama becomes the world’s most powerful man, the planet will be looking to him to fulfil his manifesto pledge to make the US a leader on tackling climate change, says UK-based international development agency Christian Aid.
The charity is calling on the British public to take their own New Year pledge to go green and make their voices heard by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders including Barack Obama.
Christian Aid wants people to speak out on behalf of millions of poor people in developing countries who are suffering the devastating effects of climate change.
People like grandmother and coffee cropper Audelia Ramos, whose village in Honduras is under threat of hurricaines and flooding and mother Hadja Sala Diallo, who spends all day collecting water because of the encroaching desert in Senegal.
As the New Year encourages people to re-evaluate their lifestyle, Christian Aid says it is challenging the public to help them reach a target of 250,000 pledges taken to help women like Audelia and Hadja. Taking the Copenhagen pledge includes a commitment to:
* Reduce your personal carbon footprint through recycling, reusing and reducing consumption
* Write to the Prime Minister and speak to your local MP and let them know you expect the UK Government and other world leaders like Obama to work for a new international climate change agreement that is fair to poorer countries
* Encourage friends and family to sign up to the pledge
Participants can take the pledge and e-mail Gordon Brown by adding their names at: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/copenhagen 
The agency argues that 2009 is a crucial year for making real progress on climate change. World leaders are due to meet in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a deal on climate change.
Christian Aid is calling for industrialised countries across the world to pledge to reduce their CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, to prevent climate catastrophe. Without this commitment, analysts say it will be impossible to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C. As a result, 30 million more people could go hungry, 18 per cent of Bangladesh will be underwater and up to 3 billion people could face acute water shortages.
Rhian Beynon, Campaigns Manager for Christian Aid, explained: "Let’s keep switching off the lights and cutting our flights, but let’s also make our voices heard by those in power. With a new US president who’s made climate pledges and a new international deal up for negotiation in December, it’s time to let Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders know that people across Britain want them to make a difference to the poor in countries like Senegal and Honduras."
Ms Beynon added: "Campaigning with Christian Aid works. Last year our supporters successfully campaigned with us sending decision-makers and businesses some 70,000 letters, e-mails and action cards to get changes made to the pioneering UK Climate Change Bill, which now includes mandatory CO2 reporting for all FTSE-listed companies and a more ambitious CO2 reduction target. Our supporters highlighted the need for strong legislation and the government listened."
More information: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/