Speak Up For the Love of
Grace Buckley, SCIAF Ambassador for Glasgow Archdiocese, reports back from the recent climate lobby.
It was an eventful trip to London for a group of SCIAF supporters and staff to join the mass lobby of MPs on Climate Change in the run-up to the UN Conference in Paris in December where countries will try to agree a binding and universal agreement on climate commitments.
To minimise environmental impact (as well as watch the budget) we elected to go down on the Megabus sleeper coach. The journey was smooth and we were deposited in London around 7.30am. We made our way to CAFOD’s offices where we were warmly greeted and given facilities to freshen up before receiving a briefing on the day.
Our next stop was the Emmanuel Centre for an ecumenical service. All along the way we saw activists from a wide spectrum of organisations. As well as our sister Caritas organisations CAFOD and Trocaire, there were members of 38Degrees, RSPB, WWF, Friends of the Earth, Global Justice Now, Oxfam, beekeepers and surfers and so many more.
The surfers in particular took a trick with the cameras as they turned up with their colourful surfboards – and their colourful shorts! The service included a stirring rendition of “All Creatures of our God and King” and a very powerful testimony by a CAFOD overseas representative working in Niger, on the impact of climate change there, followed by challenging penitential prayers led by Bishop Dr. Joe Aldred.
As we arrived at Parliament Square, we were amused to see rickshaws on hand to offer MPs an environmentally friendly way of getting around. After working our way through security we arrived at the grand central lobby where Stop Climate Chaos Scotland staff were busy linking up constituents and MPs and keeping us up to date on what was happening.
While we waited for meetings with our own MPs we had the chance to lobby MPs who didn’t have constituents there to meet them. Altogether we met 45 of Scotland’s 59 MPs. We also took part in numerous photo stunts with MPs who held up the quilts and bunting made by Scottish schoolchildren to set out what they loved and wanted to protect.
I eventually got the chance to meet my MP, Alison Thewliss with a small group of constituents. We handed over briefings for her use and talked about the importance of climate change action to our supporters in Scotland – citing the example of the thousands of postcards delivered to the Scottish Parliament recently- and to our colleagues and partners in the Majority World, and the people they are supporting. We also drew her attention to the imminent publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, which was promising to be far reaching.
Her responses were encouraging and supportive. Despite having had a very demanding day (and no lunch) she showed no urgency to be gone, and we felt the potential for a good working relationship for the future.
On the way out, we realised that we too had had no lunch yet, and took up Patrick Grady MP’s offer to come and have tea. It was just par for the course that as he sat down with us, the division bell rang for a vote and he had to dash off.
As we headed off for our train we were in no doubt that the day had not been wasted and this was just the start of the journey to the Paris Conference. (Pity I didn’t look at the runners for the Ascot Gold Cup – the winner was “Trip to Paris”!)