Saturday the 15th of May the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

10,000 to travel to Westminster for historic climate meeting with MPs

Thousands of people are to take part in a mass meeting with hundreds of MPs outside Parliament to call for action on climate change and the environment.

School children, nuns, farmers, doctors and surfers will be amongst an estimated 10,000 people travelling to Westminster on Wednesday 26th June from nearly every constituency in the country.

MPs will be taken from the Houses of Parliament by rickshaw to the area around Parliament to meet constituents – many of whom will start their journey in the early hours of the morning and travel hundreds of miles by coach.

The organisers of ‘The Time is Now’ mass lobby are calling for policies to be put in place to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2045 at the latest, and for an ambitious Environment Bill that improves air quality, restores nature and wildlife and tackles plastic pollution.

The meeting, which is being co-ordinated by campaign groups The Climate Coalition and Greener UK, will be the largest mass lobby of Parliament in recent history and comes in the wake of government plans to set a ‘net zero’ emissions target.

The two coalitions consist of more than 130 organisations representing over 15 million people – ranging from aid agencies such as CAFOD and Christian Aid to community groups including the Women’s Institute and conservation bodies WWF and RSPB.

Bernard White, a CAFOD volunteer from Dorset who will be travelling to join the lobby, said: “I believe that climate change is the biggest threat to the planet and all the people and other living things in it.

“The 423 million people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are already living in extreme poverty. That is more than the populations of the USA and the UK combined.

“Governments must be made to take this seriously and lead action to arrest it. Public pressure can be very powerful.”

People taking part in the lobby will ring alarms clocks at 2.00pm to symbolise ‘The Time is Now’ to act.

The day will also see leaders from different faith communities, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, gather for a ‘walk of witness’ from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall.

Lawyer and human rights defender Jose Batista Gonçalves Afonso will travel from Brazil to speak to MPs and campaigners about how unequal land ownership and large-scale farming and mining in the Amazon are driving climate change and hitting poor landless communities.

Batista said: “The climate in the region I am from in the Amazon has changed so much over the last few years, partly due to the burning and deforestation of the forest.

“Today the situation is totally out of control. The farmers who live in this area no longer have any certainty about when the rains will come. Without a doubt these changes in climate are related to the deforestation of this part of Amazon.

“Sometimes we think we can’t do anything, especially those living far away, outside the Amazon. But each of us can do something. We can find out what is happening in the Amazon and get involved.”

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD and Chair of The Climate Coalition, said: “We’ve seen with the government’s commitment to a net zero target how much of a difference people can make when they speak up on an issue.

“Now our politicians have to back the policies which will meet that target, as well as pass the laws we need to protect wildlife and clean up our rivers.

“The people travelling to Westminster to speak to their MPs are going to play a hugely important role in persuading them to do this.”

Picture: Archive photo dated 5th December 2009 showing climate change protestors forming a human wave around the Houses of Parliament in central London. (Johnny Green/PA).