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Campaigners converge on Coventry for crucial climate change protest

Hundreds of campaigners from around the country will join forces with NASA’s Dr James Hansen, a world expert on global warming, in Coventry on 19 March 2009 for a national Climate Change Day of Action.  The aim is to highlight the plight of millions of poor people in developing countries for whom extreme weather conditions are now a matter of life or death.

The Climate Change Day of Action has been organised by Christian Aid, in partnership with CAFOD, the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and the World Development Movement.  It will call on Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and other world leaders, to ensure that the plight of the world’s poorest countries is central to crucial climate change talks taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark in December.

The Day of Action will begin with a service at Coventry Cathedral at noon attended by Dr Hansen, and the Right Reverend James Stuart Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, together with more than a thousand campaigners.  This will be followed by a New Orleans style funeral march around the city by hundreds of ‘mourners’ dressed in black in remembrance of those who have already died as a consequence of extreme climate change.

The march will begin at 1.30pm at the old Cathedral ruins in Coventry town centre and end by the Civic Centre, Little Park Street at 2.30pm. 

The ‘mourners’ will then visit the nearby headquarters of power company E.ON, with the final message of the day: ‘No to coal!’ Protestors will show their opposition to plans by E.ON to build a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent by ending the funeral march at the company’s front door.

The Copenhagen talks in December must agree new carbon capping limits to come into force when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.   Vulnerable communities in countries with the least responsibility for carbon emissions are now bearing the brunt of the impact of climate change through droughts, floods, desertification, an increase of extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes and typhoons, and a higher incidence of disease.

The organisations participating in the Climate Change Day of Action are concerned there will be no agreement in Copenhagen if richer countries refuse to show leadership over cutting their own emissions, and agree to shoulder the cost of helping the developing world with clean development and adaptation to climate change.

If the Kingsnorth power station gets the go-ahead before technology is developed to capture and store carbon emissions it would emit in excess of seven million tonnes of CO2 a year - more than the combined annual emissions of the 30 least emitting countries or nine times the total annual emissions of Rwanda.

Dr Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space, who recently publicly warned US President Barack Obama about the importance of tackling climate change said:  ‘Time is running out for the climate and the vulnerable people of our planet.  Campaigning on climate change has never been more crucial.  Make sure you add your voices to the Climate Change Day of Action.’

Hansen also recently described plans for a new coal-fired plant at Kingsnorth as: ‘A terrible idea. One power plant with a lifetime of several decades will destroy the efforts of millions of citizens to reduce their emissions.’
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For press information call Karen Hedges on +44 (0) 20 7523 2404 email khedges@christian-aid.org.

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Notes to Editors: 

  • Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in 49 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve. Together with faith-based development agencies in a number of other European countries, Christian Aid has launched a new climate justice campaign called Countdown to Copenhagen. www.countdowntocopenhagen.com

  • Christian Aid is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition - the UK's largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change. Media contact: Lucy Pearce, 07891129865

  • CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development which works with communities in over 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, working to fight poverty and injustice. CAFOD launches its Climate Justice campaign in March, calling for a fair and binding agreement at the UN that puts poor communities at its heart. Media contact: Debbie Wainwright, 020 7095 5557 or 07785 950 378, dwainwright@cafod.org.uk

  • The World Development Movement campaigns to tackle the root causes of poverty. WDM believes that charity is not enough and aims to change the policies that keep the developing world poor. It is a democratic and politically independent organisation with 15,000 supporters and 70 local groups across the UK. For more information, go to www.wdm.org.uk Media Contact: Kate Blagojevic, 020 7820 4900 or 07711 875 34, Kate.Blagojevic@wdm.org.uk