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Footprint Friends joins Ed Miliband at Copenhagen-rally in Shoreditch


Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, hosted a public rally on Thursday 22 October in Shoreditch, East London, to give an update, and take questions, on the current state of negotiations in the lead to Copenhagen. We took a team to get involved and learn more about the plans for Copenhagen.

Ed opened with his view that actions now will be felt in 20-30 years time and that we need a double strategy for adaptation and prevention. He suggested that a positive outcome at Copenhagen and an effective strategy is doable.  

A big question... how do we respond to the truths of climate change when 90% of emissions have come from developed countries. This is about us folks – but do we really understand what this means and are we ready to take action?

We then watched a live link up to understand the view of people in Kenya. In the global south Climate Change is a matter of life and death. In Kenya drought used to happen every 11 years now it is every 2 years and as a result 80% of their livestock have been wiped out.

The plea which was felt by the audience was that this is a global issue and we, in developed countries, must accept our responsibilities and help save the lives of the people who are threatened. The biggest message for me was the very simple statement – For you all we ask is a lifestyle change, for us this is life or death.

Ed was asked why the government did not get fully behind 10:10 and why more radical actions have not been proposed to date – it was commented that the government should stop treating the British public like children and that more information and leadership is needed. Parallels were made to times of war. The Q&A session considered carbon rationing and the lessons learned from the Second World War; The idea that the only way to enforce change and preserve resources is to limit what we use per person. Churchill had once said “it's not that we have to do our best but we have to do what is necessary.” 

With all that we know about the risks of climate change do you feel that we are currently doing what is necessary – for me I’m not so sure that we are.

Ed felt that china will announce very soon a big plan to show that they want to be part of the solution. Why? Well Ed suggested that China is scared of the problems of climate change and the impacts that are already being felt in China. In the news recently I noted that the Pearl River delta is earmarked as one of China's most vulnerable areas to a changing climate. Parts of it regularly face both droughts and typhoons in the same year. 

The delta - home to tens of millions of people - is very low-lying, so it's also vulnerable to sea level rise - especially as ground water has been over-extracted in a way that's made the land sink further.

Farmers are making the problem even worse by drilling more than 100m for precious sweet water. That in turn is sucking salty water from the sea bed, and starting a slow destruction of the farmland. 

"Climate change is a big worry for China's politicians," says Zhou Yong Zhang, environment professor at Sun-Yat Sen University in nearby Guangzhou. "In south China, we worry about sea level rise because it will have a big impact on us. We also worry about the extreme weather. 

Back to Shoreditch, personally I was surprised that the venue was not bursting at the seams – why was the event under attended? Are people aware of what is happening? Do so few people care about the decisions that will be made in Copenhagen?

It was important for us to be there – and I am glad that Footprint Friends is trying to help get young people more aware of the challenges – it was great be on Ed’s radar and tell him that children need more information about these critical issues – BUT I also told the DECC team they need to help initiatives like Footprint Friends more – they keep asking for people to champion and lead but offer very little help to those who stand up and do. Ed if you read this – please help me and my amazing volunteers make more of a difference.



Posted Oct 26 2009, 09:04 AM by Swampy

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