Sophie Dodgeon if CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns. Here she tells us why she will be attending Speak Up for the Love Of lobby on 17 June. This blog first appeared on Huffington Post.
When it comes to climate change, the talk is often about the impact on future generations. The implication is that consequences are still some way off in the future and, despite the scary headlines, we don’t need to worry too much about them now. But for those of us who are deeply concerned about the effect carbon emissions are having on people and planet, this isn’t helpful.
As a parent, I have breakfast and play Lego with the ‘next generation’ every day. The ‘next generation’ shares my house, he likes his rice pops, he’s an ace on his scooter and he has just learnt to write his name. And being both a climate campaigner and a parent, I pause whenever I hear the ambition of the climate movement for 100 per cent clean energy by 2050. I pause because in 2050 my four-year-old son will be exactly my age now; he will be 39-years-old and perhaps sharing breakfast with his own son or daughter.
What sort of world will he be living in, I wonder? A safer world with cleaner air and zero carbon emissions? A world that has successfully made the transition to clean energy for everyone everywhere? Or will he eat his breakfast with the news in the background bringing headlines from an increasingly unstable world? A place where more and more people live in desperate poverty and where wars and conflicts abound because resources are scarce?
Like most parents I like to teach my son about responsibility. If he makes a mess, he needs to tidy it up. If he throws his threadbare rabbit when he’s cross, he needs to pick rabbit up. Historically, people in a handful of industrialised countries are responsible for the majority of changes in the climate being experienced across the globe. Now we know what carbon emissions are doing to our world, we can’t ignore it. Now we know that the poorest people are hit first and hardest by climate change, even though they’re least responsible for causing it, we can’t stay silent. We mustn’t sit back and think climate change is for someone else to sort out: this is our generation’s defining challenge.
A cleaner, safer, fairer world
The optimist in me, watching my son giggle and wriggle and live in the moment, wants to believe there are enough passionate people to build this cleaner, safer, fairer world that we all need. Enough organisers, engineers, entrepreneurs, political leaders – and you and me – all doing our bit. There is no doubt that it will take unprecedented cooperation, determination and focus, and it needs as many of us as possible to play our part.
Here in the UK we have a particular opportunity with a newly-elected government. You might be cynical, and you may or may not be happy with the MP you woke up to on 8 May, but this is the system we have and we need to work with it. We need all our MPs to know how many people from across the UK are concerned about climate change, for the sake of those far away, whom we will never meet, and for the sake of those we love and share our lives with.
The time to act is now
Why now? Because there are six months until critical international climate talks taking place in Paris to agree a new global deal to limit carbon emissions, and because at home – through forthcoming spending reviews and budgets – David Cameron and George Osborne have urgent decisions to make on energy and transport. Decisions that will help us shift to the low-carbon infrastructure that we and every other country needs to build.
So if you want to speak up about climate change, you can start next week. Come to Westminster on Wednesday 17 June, tell your MP why you care about climate change and poverty, and join thousands of others in The Climate Coalition for a fun day celebrating our planet and all that we love. Tell your MP about the world you want to see this year, this decade, and in 2050. And – if you can distract them from their Lego for just one minute – tell the people you share your breakfast with too.