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Climate change is hot topic at Christian Aid event

On Saturday October 8, around 45 people gathered at Norwich Central Baptist Church for ‘Climate Change: Moving Forwards’, an event facilitated by Christian Aid in Norwich as part of The Climate Coalition’s ‘Speak Up’ week of action. Local politicians and activists spoke about the issues facing humanity and what can be done about them. Mark Sims reports.

Speak Up is a national initiative where groups including Christian Aid, Tearfund, RSPB, Unicef and many others are asking MP’s to ensure there is an ambitious low-carbon investment plan.  

Dr Jo Veltman, a co-founder of local climate change group CHAIN, set the scene by sharing climate change information and talking about her journey from being totally unaware and unconcerned to being informed, very concerned and fearing for her daughter’s future.

Paul Burall, Liberal Democrat and author specialising in environmental issues, talked about the effects of rising sea levels in the next 100 years if we do not do enough now and the significant impact this would have on flooding – especially Norwich and for  the poorest in developing countries. 
He urged the importance of conservation and the importance of using less energy in the first place.  He called for more investment in conservation in ‘industry, our own lives, more efficient cars.’
Green Party member and City Councillor for Wensum Ward, Sandra Bögelein, encouraged people to share what we can do positively through relationships we hold, through our spending and also politically.
Sandra stated ‘I’m tired of waiting for politics to do anything…and I’m part of politics!.... ‘You have an awful lot of power,’ she said. ‘Whom you do and don’t support (commercially) matters a lot.’ Sandra urged people to ‘start voting with our feet and our wallets’ because the government listens to consumers.
However, Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South and newly appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy argued that, ultimately, the solutions to climate change will be political and explained how we need to make our voice heard.

After talking about the need to address Climate Change to help some of the poorest people living on our planet and how we need to change the way power structures are organised he also stated, ‘We need to change the voting system in this country, so we actually have one that is more proportionate and representative of what people actually think and the issues important to them. You have that and climate change will go up the political agenda.’
Lucy Riseborough, Christian Aid Youth Ambassador and International Development student at UEA, spoke of how many of her peers view climate change and how she believed we can do positively bring change.  ‘In society we’re not taught as if it’s an issue that needs to be acted upon.’
‘What I would really love to see is a move beyond (talking). It doesn’t change anything. We want movements… big changes. Climate change is the great equalizer – it affects all of us. ’
Conservative Councillor and Deputy Leader of South Norfolk Council Martin Wilby said Norfolk is ‘on the map for renewable energy,’ with projects such as a solar farm at Scottow Moor, Coltishall and energy efficient Passive Housing schemes in Ditchingham.

Julian Bryant, Regional Coordinator for Christian Aid who chaired the meeting and question time stated: ’We have been given this amazing planet to take care of. It’s one of the earliest responsibilities we have. I hope people will act urgently out of love each for each other, love for God and our concern for the Earth we have been entrusted with. It’s up to us to speak up, influence the Government and take action to make a difference.’
For more information on climate change visit the Royal Society (of Science) website

Pictured above is MP Clive Lewis with other participants at the Christian Aid Climate Change event in Norwich.

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