Hundreds of nuns and monks march on Parliament to call on UK to kick carbon habit

Independent Catholic News
Hundreds of nuns, monks and clergy descended on Westminster yesterday, today to demand that MPs strengthen the Climate Change Bill and ‘kick the carbon habit’ for the sake of the poorest in the world.

Those in developing countries are the first to experience the devastating impacts of climate change – despite contributing to it the least. In its current form, the Climate Change Bill ignores the latest scientific evidence and key recommendations from all three parliamentary committees that reviewed the draft bill and recently the United Nations Development Programme also warned that the Bill needed improving as its targets were not ambitious enough.

Some 150,000 people die each year from the effects of climate change – and almost all live in development countries.

It highlighted that that even if the Bill were applied to every developed country, global temperature would rise well beyond the two degrees Celsius limit and perhaps as high as four or five degrees.

Nearly 300 hundred members of religious orders with placards and banners called on Parliament to ‘Kick the Carbon Habit’ and ‘Stop Climate Chaos’. The nuns and monks also met with their MPs to discuss urgent changes needed in the Climate Change Bill.

Amongst those lobbying Parliament were Fr Christopher Jamison (the Abbot of Worth Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery near Crawley which was the focus of BBC TV series The Monastery), Mark Dowd (journalist and documentary maker, a former Dominican Friar and Campaign Strategist at Operation Noah), Sister Pat Robb (Member of the Congregation of Jesus, who worked in eight African countries mostly during civil wars in refugee camps and with internally displaced people).

The lobby was organised by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, CAFOD, the Conference of Religious (CoR) and the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Links (JPIC).

Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Affairs met a delegation to hear their concerns.

Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD, said: “Tackling climate change is essential if the Government’s good work in fighting poverty is not to be undermined by rising global temperatures which hit the world’s poor hardest. We desperately need to see a strong Bill going through Parliament, which shows the UK is taking tough action on climate change, and gives the Government a mandate to speak out at crucial international talks.”

Sister Pat Robb, CJ, who took part in the lobby, said: “The poorest for whom life is already a real struggle will bear the brunt of climate change, while those that have consumed more than their fair share of the earth will not have to pay such a heavy price. We have to remember that the earth was given to us by God to feed us all, in return we must love and care for it. That is why as a religious community we feel it is our obligation to lobby our MPs on this important issue.”

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, sent a message of support and said: “I am greatly encouraged to know that so many Religious have made their way to the Palace of Westminster. Today, there is an opportunity to persuade politicians of the importance of strong action to combat climate change. People living in poverty, who have done least to cause climate change, are already suffering its effects.

“We are all called to care for creation, living simply and sustainably, and to work for justice in solidarity with those living in poor countries. ”

© Independent Catholic News 2008

Action on behalf of justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel.
Justice in the World – 1971 Synod of Bishops