Climate Justice: Tackling climate change together
Our new campaign launches with a call to for people to become "ambassadors for climate justice"
More than 200 activists, supporters, policy-makers and church leaders gathered in Westminster Cathedral Hall, London, for the launch of the Climate Justice campaign.
They heard from Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, CAFOD Director Chris Bain, and Lay Sophea from our partner DPA in Cambodia about the crucial importance of working together to tackle climate change.
Governments alone won't achieve a climate change agreement. It needs you, civil society, people of faith and not of faith, all of us
Do not be daunted
Ed Miliband congratulated us for launching a Climate Justice campaign, urging the audience that "governments alone won't achieve a climate change agreement. It needs you, civil society, people of faith and not of faith, all of us.
"The challenge of climate change looks daunting because of the economic crisis and because of the science, but we can't estimate how past struggles have also looked daunting.
"People coming together is what shifts public opinion. Not only must governments be willing, but the people must show willing."
At the heart of the event - and of the campaign - was a focus on the human face of climate change. Lay Sophea movingly described the impact of changes in climate from the perspective of people in his native Cambodia.
He shared stories of families who had been unable to grow rice because of extreme weather. Some had resorted to cutting down trees in order to make a living, others were having to rely on weeds normally used for animals to feed themselves.
"Communities can adapt to climate change but only up to a point," he explained. "We need international communities to support our communities to adapt to climate change."
Our climate is in our hands - but it is also in yours. The UK government must be a leader on climate change."
Inspired to action
Bishop of Hallam John Rawsthorne urged everyone in the room to become "ambassadors for climate justice" and to take the campaign message into their parishes.
In response to his words, members of the audience were already beginning to plan how they would take action.
Campaigner Melanie Beasley, from Brunswick Park, said: "Tonight was a great opportunity to hear both sides of the story - to hear what is happening in Cambodia and what the UK Government are supposedly doing.
"I'll certainly be going to the Put People First march on March 28, and watching the G20 more closely on climate change."
Father Joe Ryan from Westminster added: "An evening like this brings people together. We have all been doing our own thing, but we are all in this together and must be united."
The London launch was the first of a series of Climate Justice campaign events across England and Wales.