Dom Goggins works in the Government Relations team at CAFOD. He looks back at political progress made on climate change and looks forward to a busy general election period.
With so much at stake in the next few months – a general election focusing on vital issues around the economy, the NHS and the UK’s role in Europe among other things – climate change can sometimes feel like a distant challenge – something we can put to one side for now and deal with in the future.
That might even be the case for many of us in the UK, but climate change already has a devastating impact on many of the poor communities we work with around the world; amplifying existing social, political and economic inequalities and pushing people over the edge. Ultimately, as the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, “if we don’t confront climate change we won’t end poverty”.
Find out about CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign
Important progress was made in 2014. CAFOD’s MP Correspondents* played a key part by asking the Prime Minister to show his commitment to climate change by attending a special UN summit hosted by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – and he did! At the summit he echoed CAFOD’s call that the UK should “help those who need it, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable”. We also urged the Government to pledge £720 million ($1 billion) – the UK’s fair share contribution – to the Green Climate Fund to help poor countries deal with the effects of climate change. The Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey joined the USA, France, Germany, Japan and others in pledging the initial cash needed to get the fund off the ground and have a real impact in the world. Such international cooperation is also vital for building trust and commitment ahead of negotiations for a global climate deal in Paris this December.
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The Church speaks out
Pope Francis and the Catholic Church have also been working hard on this issue. The latest UN climate summit in Peru last December will be remembered for the impact of the Catholic Bishops, many came from around the world to attend the summit and, supported by CAFOD, challenged world leaders to work together and pledge to “accompany the political process and seek dialogue to bring the voices of the poor to the table of decision-makers”.
Pope Francis has also talked of his “hope-filled prayer” that, by December, the world will have agreed ambitious new goals to tackle poverty alongside a legally-binding deal to tackle climate change that is fair to the world’s poorest. At CAFOD we join him in this prayer and we will work hard to help leaders reach these agreements – we hope that you can help us in this.
As well as a busy international year in 2015 we also have a General Election at home. At such times, as Catholics, we are asked to think about the world we want to live in and we have an opportunity to speak out for the poor and vulnerable, both at home and overseas. CAFOD has been working with CSAN (the domestic social action agency of the Church) to put together resources to help supporters who may wish to speak to local candidates about issues affecting those in poverty.
The election resources are designed to help you if candidates knock on your door, if you attend a hustings meeting or if you plan to communicate with your local parliamentary candidates in any other way. They include key questions from candidates – two from CSAN and two from CAFOD – along with some ‘top tips’ as we try to ensure that the voices of the poorest and most vulnerable people, both at home and overseas, are heard by our leaders – regardless of who is in government. The resources include an election guide with some background information and a reminder postcard you can take to hustings or keep by your door for when candidates come knocking!
If you can’t get to a husting meeting and no candidate visits your door you can still ask your candidates what they will do to tackle poverty and climate change – email your candidate through the CAFOD website.
Keep in touch
Please let us know if you’re able to ask a question (so we can help you to make sure that promises are kept) by emailing us at email@example.com. Please feel confident that you can get in touch with us at any time, as many times as you like, during the election campaign.
Please help us to ensure parliamentary candidates know that poverty at home and overseas is an issue we care about. With your help 2015 could be the year when those in poverty are place at the centre of the global agenda.
If you need any help or have any questions about the election resources please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*An MP Correspondent is a CAFOD supporter who volunteers to write to their MP three or four times a year for CAFOD. They receive information from CAFOD about what to write and then write a personalised letter or go and speak to their MP. Letters and visits to MPs have a big impact and can really help get the government to act on issues we care about. If you are interested in making change happen, please consider becoming an MP Correspondent.