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Climate change campaigners gather in Coventry for day of action

As EU leaders meet in Brussels to today (Thursday 19 March) to discuss key issues including Europe’s response to global warming, campaigners from across the UK are gathering in Coventry to demand urgent action to avert climate catastrophe.

The national Climate Change Day of Action has been organised by development agency Christian Aid, in partnership with CAFOD, the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and the World Development Movement.

The day began with a service in Coventry Cathedral, to be followed by a New Orleans style ‘funeral march’ around the city, mourning those in the developing world who have already died because of the effects of global warming.

Campaigners are then due to rally outside the UK headquarters of energy giant E.ON to demonstrate their opposition to the company’s plans to build a controversial new coal-fired power plant at Kingsnorth in Kent.

Campaigners are calling on Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and other world leaders, to ensure that the plight of the world’s poorest countries is central to crucial UN climate change talks taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark in December.

Christian Aid wants leaders attending the EU summit in Brussels to commit to at least 40 per cent CO2 emission cuts by 2020, and at least 80 per cent by 2050, with the reductions to be achieved domestically within the EU.

It also wants the EU to provide at least €35bn annually out of the estimated €110bn that will be needed each year from richer countries to help poorer countries cope with climate change through mitigation and adaptation.

The cathedral service heard about the danger of climate change from campaigner James Galgallo from northern Kenya, and world renowned climatologist Dr James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was attending in a private capacity.

The sermon was given by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones who said: ‘The climate is changing and there is no justice in the change’. This, he said, was because ‘those most affected by the changing climate are powerless to do anything about it; and those who have the power to make a difference don't yet feel the full disastrous effects.’

The order of service included an Act of Commitment at which the congregation were invited to read the Christian Aid climate change pledge in which individuals commit to: 

  • campaign for a fair and just deal in Copenhagen

  • lobby the richest to repay their carbon debt

  • do all they can to reduce their own carbon footprint and to encourage friends and family to campaign on climate change. 

The congregation joined by award-winning gospel soloist Sandra Godley from Coventry and the Visual Ministry Choir from London.

The march through Coventry was to end with a rally addressed by speakers including Christian Aid director Dr. Daleep Mukarji and actress and environmental campaigner, Greta Scacchi who before the service: said: ‘When world leaders meet in Copenhagen in December they must put poor communities in developing countries, who are already suffering the devastating effects of climate change, at the top of the agenda.’

Organisations participating in the Climate Change Day of Action say the next UN climate change summit taking place in Copenhagen 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 and a higher incidence of disease.

Campaigners are concerned there will be no agreement in Copenhagen unless countries show leadership by cutting their own emissions, and agree to shoulder the cost of helping the developing world with clean development and adaptation to climate change.

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For press information call Andrew Hogg on 0207 523 2058/ 07872 350534.

Notes to Editors:

  • Graveside picture (outside Coventry Cathedral)  Ashok Sinha, Director of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, Dr Daleep Mukarji, Director of Christian Aid, Dr James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and James Galgallo, climate change campaigner from northern Kenya

  • Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 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