October 06 - Tearfund

A huge rally to stop climate change is planned for Trafalgar Square on November 4. Richard Chilvers of Tearfund asks if you’ll count.

What makes your blood boil? A refereeing decision? Traffic jams? Someone jumping ahead of you in the queue? Global injustice?
 
What would make you turn up to a rally in central London?
 
Thousands supported the Make Poverty History rallies in London and Edinburgh last year. It sent a powerful signal to the government that Christians and others wanted their politicians to take action.
 
Tearfund is now at the heart of a new campaign to make the UK government take action on climate change. The Stop Climate Chaos coalition is a group of development and environmental charities which is determined to raise awareness of climate change.
 
‘I Count’ is set to be a huge event in London’s Trafalgar Square, on Saturday 4 November from 1-3pm. There will also be a church service from 12.30pm, dedicating the event and the campaign to God. After the event, there will be refreshments at a nearby church and an opportunity for Christians to find out more.
 
July this year was the hottest month in the UK since records began. We all knew it, but I bet you got burned at least once. At the first sight of the sun, most of us still rush out to soak it up. It’s only later that we realise soaking up the rays has given us sunburn.
 
We’re much the same with climate change. We’re starting to realise that all the carbon dioxide humans pump into the atmosphere is heating the world up, but we’re not yet really worried about the consequences.
 
It’s hard to take personal responsibility when we don’t experience the impact of our consumer lifestyles. Like sunburn, we’re not feeling it now, but we will face the consequences later. The trouble is, some – poor people in developing countries – are getting badly burned already.
 
Climate change is already affecting the world’s poorest people much more than those in the West. Global temperatures rose by 0.6°C during the 20th Century and as a direct result, those who are least able to cope are experiencing changing rainfall patterns and ever more extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. According to the World Health Organisation, 150,000 people die every year as a direct result of climate change, and the vast majority of these are in the developing world.
 
Tadesse Dadi is a Tearfund Programme Support Advisor in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
 
He said: “The worst effects of climate change are already being felt by millions of Africans whose livelihoods are directly dependent on the weather. Climate change involves all of us, as we share the same atmospheric resources. The question is, are we ready to give our lifestyles a critical look and see if we are causing damage to our neighbours, and indeed the generation that is to come after us?

"I think there is a question of justice to consider here. As the western countries have led the world into industrialisation, I urge them to take the lead in adopting lifestyles that are less damaging to the environment, particularly the atmosphere. The future of the planet for our grandchildren is at stake.”
 
People will be travelling to the event from across the UK in ingenious low-carbon ways, and welcomed to the Square by top hosts introducing high-profile supporters and music performances. In the Square you’ll find music, film, special guests and speakers … but most importantly, we need you!
 
Everyone who signs up to the campaign via text message or by logging onto the campaign website (to be launched in October at www.icount.org.uk) will be counted ‘virtually’ on the day. A live counter will clock up those in the Square and those who care but couldn’t come.
 
The ‘I Count’ event precedes the next round of climate change negotiations. Tearfund is urging Christians to lobby the government in the lead up to the meeting of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Partners (COP) in Nairobi.
 
The UK Government will be at the table, and Tearfund is making three key demands in the lead up to the COP. 
• Firstly that the Kyoto Protocol agreement on reducing carbon emissions, which ends in 2012, will be renewed and improved. 

• Secondly, Tearfund is urging the UK government to use its influence to help poor communities adapt to climate change. The Least Developed Country Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund need more finance. In addition, a Programme of Work to help countries adapt to climate change must get more funding.

• Finally, Tearfund is lobbying for adaptation to climate change to be central to all future development work.
Tearfund is also asking supporters to sign a pledge to cut the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they produce. These are to
 
* Use energy-saving lightbulbs
* Switch to a green energy provider
* Walk or cycle short journeys instead of driving where possible

 
Paul Cook, Tearfund’s Head of Policy, said: “Climate change is already damaging the fight against poverty, and if urgent action is not taken at the COP in Nairobi, precious advances will be lost. Tearfund is asking Christians to sign the pledge of action against climate change at www.tearfund.org/pledge and to pray that world leaders see the urgency of taking action."
 
Will you count?
 
To find out more, visit Tearfund’s website at www.tearfund.org or www.icount.org.uk  You can also order For Tomorrow Too – a free resource for Christians to help us live responsibly in a world of climate change. Contact Tearfund on 0845 355 8355 or order online at www.tearfund.org/ftt
 
* Richard Chilvers is senior media officer at Tearfund


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