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Faith groups, nature lovers and anti-poverty campaigners put climate change on election agenda

A coalition of development agencies and environmental groups are mobilising thousands of supporters in 51 key marginal constituencies across Britain to ensure climate action is firmly on the General Election agenda. The campaign has one simple idea: Ask the Climate Question.

Ask the Climate Question is aiming to get all parties to raise the profile of climate change in their election campaigns, and secure bold commitments by party leaders in the run up to the election. It is not aimed at getting supporters to vote for any particular candidate or party.

Ask the Climate Question is encouraging everyone who wants to see stronger action on climate change to ask candidates and party workers how their party would tackle the issue, on doorsteps and at hustings, or by email and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Ask the Climate Question is an unprecedented coalition made up of WWF-UK, RSPB, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Tearfund, Greenpeace, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, Green Alliance and others. On average these organisations have around 8000 supporters in each constituency.

Paul Brannen, head of Christian Aid’s advocacy and influence division, said: ‘The aim of this campaign is to encourage everyone who is concerned about climate change to make their voices heard in the seats where the political parties are listening hardest.  We are not trying to influence how our supporters or the general public vote, we simply want to ensure candidates and parties take climate change seriously.  Why? Because climate change is already killing some 300,000 people a year in developing countries[i], we have to act now.’

John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK said: ‘Tackling climate change offers huge opportunities for the next government. Countries that take the lead now in investing in low carbon technologies will gain a competitive advantage in rapidly growing global markets, creating sustainable jobs and increasing our prosperity. Moving away from fossil fuels will increase our energy security, and energy efficiency measures for our homes and communities will lower our emissions and our bills.’

David Nussbaum, CEO of WWF-UK, said: 'This innovative campaign sees environmental and development NGOs bringing a crucial concern to the attention of candidates and their party leaders. It is in these marginal constituencies that our supporters can help make climate action a defining issue for the next Parliament.'

Climate change is a priority for many people living in marginal seats.  A recent IPPR study[ii] showed that almost one in five people in marginal seats consider climate change to be amongst their three or four top priority issues, and four out of five people support the target to generate 15% of renewable energy by 2020.

Supporters getting involved in Ask the Climate Question are calling on political parties to act fast to keep global warming under two degrees and ensure the UK benefits from the economic opportunities of the transition to a low carbon society, by committing to:

· Put the UK on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, through strong domestic action.

· Ensure at least 15 per cent of all energy to come from renewables by 2020.

Protect the poor from the impacts of climate change and help developing countries curb their emissions, by committing to:

Provide the UK’s fair share of climate finance to the developing world for adaptation and low carbon development, in addition to existing commitments on overseas development aid. 

‘Climate Question Time’ husting events are being organised in each of the campaign’s constituencies so that supporters and members of the public have the opportunity to ask their local candidates about their climate change views and their parties policies and commitments to action.

For further details on Ask the Climate Question, to find your local Climate Question Time, or to discover other ways to ask your climate question visit www.asktheclimatequestion.org.uk


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For press information contact Karen Lobo-Morell at Christian Aid on 020 7523 2404 klobomorell@christian-aid.org


Notes to Editor: 

Ask the Climate Question is organised by WWF-UK, RSPB, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Tearfund, Greenpeace, CAFOD, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, Green Alliance and others. Supporters have joined forces to ‘Ask the Climate Question’ of local candidates in target marginal seats to ensure climate change is kept at the top of the political agenda.

The Ask the Climate Question campaign is calling on party leaders to make bold commitments to action on climate change in the next parliament, before the General Election.

Ask the Climate Question is independent from all political parties and candidates, and does not seek to influence voting behaviour. The campaign aims to provide a strong foundation for action on climate change in the next Parliament by ensuring climate change is a central concern of all political parties and candidates.

Constituencies

Aberconwy

Birmingham Edgbaston

Brighton Kemptown

Bristol North West

Broxtowe

Burton

Bury North

Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South

Carshalton & Wallington

Cheltenham 

Chippenham

Corby

Derbyshire South

Devon Central

Dorset South

Dorset West

Dumfries & Galloway

Eastbourne

Eastleigh 

Edinburgh North & Leith

Edinburgh East

Glasgow Central

Guildford

Hampstead & Kilburn (Hampstead & Highgate)

Hereford and Herefordshire South (Hereford)

High Peak

Islington South & Finsbury

Loughborough

Ludlow

Manchester Withington

Meon Valley

Norwich South

Oxford East

Pendle

Redditch

Romsey & Southampton North (Romsey)

Rugby (Rugby & Kenilworth)

Solihull

Somerton & Frome

South Ribble (Ribble South)

Stafford

Swindon South

Taunton Deane (Taunton)

Torridge & West Devon

Tynemouth

Vale of Glamorgan

Watford 

Westmorland & Lonsdale

Weston-Super-Mare

Wolverhampton South West

York Outer (various)


[i] Human Impact Report – Climate Change; The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis, Global Humanitarian Forum, 2009

[ii] The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), September 2009. Climate of Opinion survey of over 3,000 people in 157 marginal constituencies