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Queuing Round the Block
for Climate Bill Questions

16 January 2008

As I arrived at the House of Commons for Tuesday’s Climate Change Bill meeting, there was a long queue snaking its way along the road of at least a couple of hundred people. Were all these people here for the same meeting? Bumping in to friends and colleagues from Cafod, I soon discovered that they were!

Calling my friend David who works at Friends of the Earth, I discovered that the meeting was jam packed inside too. I pictured a scene of some chaos as they were asking a number of people to leave the room so that constituents of Karen Buck MP (Regent's Park & Kensington North) were given priority.

Having been told to wait outside while they sorted out the numbers, I worked my way up and down the queue asking people to please stay another 10 minutes. As a campaigner my instinct was to hang on to as many people as possible - especially as the sheer volume of people and the fuss being created drove home the point that lots of us care and lots of us are demanding a tough Climate Change Bill.

A bit more hanging around in the rain and Karen Buck even came down to those of us in the queue herself to tell us what was going on. Rather than turn us all away, she and Environment Minister Joan Ruddock MP, kindly offered to run the meeting twice.

Having been let in to the Great Hall while the first meeting finished, Lucy of Cafod and I were afforded another golden opportunity to let everyone know about the next steps in the Climate Bill campaign.

We managed to get 50+ Bill themed Valentines Cards to MPs signed there and then, told everyone about the upcoming Week of Action (30 March - 5th April), shared a few experiences of lobbying MPs and then broke in to loose groups based on where we live in London to arrange further local actions.

As for the meeting itself, it ran smoothly and there were some good questions put to speaker Joan Ruddock, but it definitely felt rushed and like those of us who’d been standing waiting for over an hour were glad to sit down in the warm!

Questions covered our key 3 demands - our ambition for an 80% target rather than 60%, the need for the inclusion of aviation and shipping in the targets, and the need for annual milestones.

None of these drew any new responses - and, in response to some pressing questions on aviation, Joan Ruddock didn’t deviate from the Government line. However, it appeared that she might have been hinting at, or at least understanding, why some of us might see the expansion of Heathrow as incongruous alongside the Government’s aim to cut emissions.

I’ve just heard from Friends of the Earth that they’re planning to organise a meeting in a much larger venue in Central London with the chance to listen to and question ministers. I’ll let you know when it’s on, so watch this space.

Click here for Friends of the Earth article >>

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