Jeremy Cain, Community Participation Coordinator for Hexham and Newcastle, tells us about how local MPs are supporting us in our campaign on climate change.
A field full of giant solar panels might seem a strange place to be on an overcast Autumn morning but that didn’t prevent two MPs, several councillors and around thirty local people from turning up to hear how climate change affects us all.
From floods in the north-east of England to hurricanes in Haiti and droughts in sub-Saharan Africa, the catastrophic impacts of climate change are regularly in the news and we’re all aware of the suffering they cause. Yet even though we know all about the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it sometimes seems there’s little we can do beyond keeping our heads down and hoping for the best.
CAFOD, believes otherwise. As David Cross, CAFOD Community Participation Co-ordinator, explained, “Although each change we might make- switching lights off for example- might seem small in itself, together it all adds up. If we are calling on politicians to cut emissions and support sustainable energy, then our words will be much stronger if we commit to achieving the same goals in our own lives.”
Nicol Perryman, Managing Director of Windward Renewables, and the event organiser agreed: “At the Paris Climate Change Conference in December, our government agreed to work with 194 other nations to limit global temperature rises to below 1.5°C. If we all work together, then we really can make a difference.”
The event was held at Newton Aycliffe solar farm, a renewable energy facility built and managed by Lightsource, Europe’s largest developer of solar photovoltaic projects. It was part of a nationwide campaign organised by the Climate Coalition to encourage our politicians to make good on its promised in Paris. In fact Theresa May has already announced that her government will start work on ratifying the agreement but the Climate Coalition wants to make sure includes robust measures to promote sustainable transport, provide warm homes for all and invest in the development of green energy supplies.
The organisers greatly welcomed the involvement of MPs Phil Wilson and Helen Goodman as well as Jed Hillary, Mayor of Great Aycliffe and other local councillors, who took time out from their busy schedules to attend the event and show their support for renewable energy in the UK.
So, what links a solar farm in Newton Aycliffe with a smallholder farm in Nigeria and why are an overseas aid charity involved? David Cross of CAFOD again: “We believe that climate change is the biggest single threat to reducing poverty overseas. Current projections suggest that over the next 20 years up to 200 million people will be at risk of hunger if the planet sees the possible 2 to 3°C rise in temperature. Switching to renewable energy, such as that generated here at Newton Aycliffe can really help.
But schemes like this can also point the way in how energy should be provided in the developing world. One in five of our brothers and sisters around the world don’t have the electricity they need to power school, clinics, homes and businesses. Local, renewable energy is a practical, affordable solution. It helps tackle climate change and poverty.”
We’d love it if you got involved. Write to your MP to call on the UK government to bring power to the poorest people overseas. You might also consider some things we can all do to better care for creation and love our neighbours – from emailing to politicians to saving energy at home or at church to spreading the word about the campaign in your parish. Find all the resources you need and order free copies to share at home and in your parish.