Surfers, beekeepers, nurses, anglers, friars, grandparents, faith leaders and farmers. All descended on Westminster on the 17th June to lobby their MPs on climate change. More than 10,000 people attended the event, organised by the Climate Coalition. Lobbyists stretched from the Houses of Parliament to Lambeth Palace, hoping to speak with their MPs.
For the many faith groups present at the event, the day started with a choice of two services at St Margaret’s or the Emmanuel Centre, both attended by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt. Revd Nicholas Holtam. Speaking at the Emmanuel Centre the bishop said: “[climate change] is not just our individual concern. It is our Christian concern together as the church. It is the concern of people of all faiths. It is our human concern in solidarity with all people. The world is our home.”
Worship at the Emmanuel Centre was led by A Rocha’s Churches and Theology Director, Dr Ruth Valerio and included testimony from an aid worker with the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), based in Niger. Niger is one country where people are being adversely affected by climate change, particularly poor farmers. Following the services, lobbyists flocked to meet their MPs who were transported out to their constituents on a flotilla of rickshaws. Jeremy Corbyn, a candidate for the Labour leadership stated that, if elected to lead the Labour Party, he would work on setting the issue of sustainability into policy change.
The lobby culminated in a rally on Millbank, hosted by comedian Arthur Smith, including interviews with faith leaders and London school children about their feeling on climate change. Later, a reception was held at the Marks & Spencer headquarters, attended by the Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change as well as celebrities and A Rocha’s own Andy Lester and Dr Ruth Valerio.
Overall, the day was judged to be a great success. Around 350 MPs were lobbied. It is hoped that MPs will take on board the concern shown by so many of their constituents on the issue of climate change.
Sources: The Guardian. Online. June 2015; Christian Aid. Online. June 2015