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CEL home > Links + Internat > March 2006


STOP CLIMATE CHAOS: Impressions of the Carbon Dating event 1 March 2006

Bernard Shaw writes:-

Although a member of CEL, I agreed on the afternoon of 28 Feb to take up a CAFOD place.

Participants were divided into groups of 10, sat around tables. My group included people from environmental organisations (FOE, Greenpeace etc), Practical Action, WDM (Vicky Tongue) WI etc There was no time to find out much about the others, but that may because I was a late after some extra queuing.

There were introductory presentations from Nazmul Chowdhury, Practical Action's Project Manager from Bangladesh (for the full text of his presentation, see ), Elaine Storkey of Tearfund and Tony Juniper of FOE.

Nazmul Chowdhury spoke of the threat to Bangladesh of rising sea levels, where a 1°C increase in global temperature would affect 55 million people. The facts may be familiar, but he also spoke of appropriate technology such as the floating garden made of hyacinth roots and banana plant that rises with the flood waters allowing vegetables to grow even when land is flooded.

In an inspirational address, Elaine Storkey said "Rich countries are responsible for 55% of carbon emissions yet it's the poor who are picking up the tab for the indulgence of the rich..The implications of climate change for the poor of our world are massive and yet it is almost as if we watch these things with glazed eyes in our culture."

Tony Juniper was concerned about how slow our governments had been to accept the reality of climate change and even now policies of different departments are disconnected, hence the need for a Carbon Budget and the courage to make difficult choices.

The occupants of table 28 met Michael Meacher (former Environment Minister) and Sadiq Khan (Labour MP for Tooting) with 3 requests in mind:




Michael Meacher was obviously well informed and spoke with passion about climate change being the biggest issue facing the planet. He echoed Tony Juniper's statement about the disconnected approach of government departments, and mentioned DEFRA as having a good understanding, whereas DTI and ODPM have much to learn. (my words, not his) He also recognised that the need for Government to take bold policy decisions, but feared the general level of mistrust of politicians meant that members of SCC had a major role in public education, thus creating a climate were these bold decisions could be made and accepted. In response to a question about the effect on poorer countries, he spoke only of the damage caused by the North and not how to adapt patterns of development to cope with climate change .

Sadiq Khan recognised the threat of climate change, particularly as it affected future generations. He spoke in very general terms, commending several Ministers.

The hall was a buzz of conversation, yet we spent much of the time awaiting an MP. Evaluation was straightforward, in that there was general consensus. Pledge cards were seen as important in demonstrating the level of public concern.

Reports on the day showed that 68 MPs had visited a hall of 700 lobbyists. The flow of MPs rather dried up because of a key vote at 16:00 .

It was encouraging to meet my own MP, David Haworth, on Green Park station before the event. A tube journey of one stop is not the best opportunity for conversation, but I did confirm that he had an Environmental Audit Committee meeting at 14:30 and he still managed to go Carbon Dating. He spoke to me of the need to take unpopular action in addressing climate change eg fuel costs, standards of insulation in new build properties etc. This is quite consistent with a written response to my questions to him on climate change during the election campaign.

Reports of the event include:
(Cameron, Beckett and Campbell go Carbon Dating as pressure grows for tough UK action on climate change)
(SCC meeting with Ministers),,1721467,00.html
(MPs take their turn to woo green activists)
(Carbon dating the decision makers)
(SAS carbon date politicians and over 4000 sign petition)


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