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Polar Bears and Friends Visit Downing Street to Stop Climate Chaos

Polar Bears and supporters of I Count, the campaign of Stop Climate Chaos -  the UK’s largest coalition on climate change, visited Downing Street today to hand in 150,000 petition cards demanding the UK Government does all it can to stop climate chaos. The visit coincides with the Government’s response to public consultation on the Climate Change Bill, to be announced today by Environment secretary, Rt Hon Hilary Benn.

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition comprising international development, environment and faith-based NGOs, as well as women’s organisations, trade unions and community groups includes major NGOs such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Christian Aid and Oxfam.

The I Count delegation to Downing Street included two polar bears and five supporters from coalition members Tearfund, Practical Action, Friends of the Earth and People & Planet. The visitors aimed to draw attention to the shortfalls in the draft Climate Change Bill and tell Government what supporters all over the UK will be doing to persuade MPs to improve it.      

“We’ve delivered the 150,000 pledges to the Prime Minister today to mark the beginning of a six month campaign which will see supporters all over the country lobby their MP to ensure a Climate Change law is passed which works”, Lucy Pearce, I Count Campaign Manger said. “Currently the draft law contains a 60% carbon dioxide reduction target by 2050 which equates to a 4C global temperature rise and irreversible and catastrophic climate change. We need at least an 80% target to keeps us within the 2C global warming safety net.”

The Climate Change Bill will be introduced to Parliament in the Queen’s Speech on November 6th and be the first of its kind in the world. The first draft of the legislation was introduced by the Government in March following pressure from I Count and other climate campaigners.  The Bill is likely to receive its second reading in December before being voted on by MPs in Spring 2008. 

During the crucial next six months, I Count supporters and local groups from member organisations will be lobbying their MPs to ensure the UK delivers a bold Bill in line with the UK’s fair share of the international effort to prevent exceeding the global warming danger threshold of 2C : Specifically, the Government must..

• Increase the carbon dioxide reduction target, from 60% to at least 80 % by 2050.
• Ensure that emissions from international aviation & shipping are included in the reduction targets.
• Set binding carbon budgets with annual milestones, to make sure that emissions reductions are on track.

Groups will be collaborating on lobbying activity through the I Count Community Groups Map, an online networking tool (http://www.icount.org.uk/groupsmap) launched in September 2007 with 350 groups. The number of groups joining to host themselves on the site has risen to 450 so far and this is set to increase as word spreads. 

Notes to Editors:
1. I Count is the campaign of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition - showing the public and politicians that all our actions to reduce carbon emissions count.  We are the largest campaign on climate change and together we are millions of people and counting. www.icount.org.uk.

Alison Blower Media Coordinator - I Count campaign
Email: [email protected] Tel: 0207729 8732 Mob: 07967 698928

2. Visitors to Downing Street
Lucy Pearce - Campaign Manager, Stop Climate Chaos
Anita Payne - Tearfund
David Flint - Practical Action
Stephen Huxton - Friends of the Earth
Ayah alZayat - People & Planet
Supporter tbc from Oxfam

3.   Why the Bill needs at least an 80% carbon reduction target.
If industrialised countries only delivered a 60% CO2 reduction and ignored aviation and shipping then we would be looking at a global temperature rise of  4C or more according to The Tyndall Centre.  Industrialised countries must deliver at least an 80% cut in CO2 if global warming is to be kept under  2C.  The Stern Review and the IPCC clearly state that an increase of 2C degrees or more risks severe impacts such as the collapse of the Amazonian rainforest, the onset of irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the beginning of more than one billion people suffering water shortages. Up to 40% of species will potentially face extinction and in southern Europe, crop yields will decline by 20%.   

4.  I Count members include: Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid,
GreGreenpeace, Oxfam, People & Planet, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, RSPB, Tearfund, World Wide Fund for Nature - UK (Board members), A Rocha, ACTSA, Action Aid, Airport Watch, BMS World Mission, CAFOD, Campaign against Climate Change, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Carplus, Climate Outreach and Information Network, Come off It, Ethical Consumer, Ethical Jobs, From Greenhouse to Green House, Garden Organic, Glasgow Eco-Renovation Network, Global Student Forum, Green TV, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science, Islamic Relief, Medact, National Commission for Justice and Peace, The National Trust for Scotland, Operation Noah, Plan B, Practical Action, Road Block, SAOCC, Save our World, SCIAF (Scottish Action on Climate Change), Shared Energy, SPEAK, Spokes, Surfers Against Sewage, Sustrans, Take Global Warming Seriously, The Wildlife Trusts, Transport 2000, UNA, Unison, Women's Environmental Network, Woodland Trust, World Development Movement, Youth Against Climate Change.

Quotes from attendees at Downing Street

Anita Payne, Tearfund
We, at Tearfund, as a Christian development agency, are particularly concerned for people in poorer countries. They have contributed least to global warming but are already suffering the most. We have a responsibility to act personally in our churches and in our communities. But also we need to stand with poorer and more vulnerable people around the world. Give them a voice and encourage the UK and other governments to provide funds and training to help the most affected to adapt to their changing circumstances. The vulnerable should not have to pay for our lifestyles. We want to work together for a sustainable life for us all.

Steven Huxton, Friends of the Earth
Climate Change is happening. It’s going to affect the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world at home as well as abroad. A strong UK climate law would make sure we take responsibility and help lead the world in this vital issue.
The UK cannot tackle climate change alone. However, a strong climate law will help us lead the way to tackling this issue. After all, if we won’t do it, who will?

David Flint, Practical Action
I have children and I hope to have grandchildren. I’m here at Downing Street for them and so that I’ll be able to answer if they ask what did YOU do about climate change?
Climate change is an issue in which science and morality come together. The science tells us that if we continue to release CO2 at our present rate, we will trigger positive feedbacks that will increase temperatures by well over two degrees. Morality tells us that it is simply wrong for the rich countries, like ours, to inflict these catastrophic changes on poor countries. It is our actions that have created the problem so it is up to us to fix it.

Ayah Alzayat, People & Planet
It's time the UK legally committed itself to reducing its carbon emissions (by at least 80%).  I am very positive about the influence that individuals and grass root organisations have over governments in lobbying and activism.