Yesterday, CAFOD campaigners met with MPs as they debated climate change in Parliament ahead of the United Nations climate talks at the end of the month. Amy Ashdown, a media volunteer in the Westminster Diocese, describes the day:
On a cold and rainy morning, I joined a group of CAFOD supporters at the Houses of Parliament to witness a debate recognising Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ as an important contribution to the discussion on climate change.
The debate, organised by Helen Goodman, Labour MP for Bishop Auckland, was attended by about 20 MPs, including representatives from most of the major parties.
Speakers from all parties commended the Pope on his encyclical, which has provoked much reflection on the subject of protecting our common home. Sir Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, put the encyclical into a theological context, stating that Laudato Si’ “affirms the Pope’s belief in the interdependence of man, nature and God.”
I had never been inside the House of Commons before, so I must admit I was quite excited. What struck me about the debate was how polite everyone was towards each other – none of the catcalling you see on TV. The general mood was of consensus between all parties, which I think is a testament to how much climate change is a global issue – it is something that transcends party politics.
World leaders will meet to discuss climate change in Paris in December and former Labour leader Ed Miliband gave an insightful speech on what we hope will come out of the talks versus what we expect to happen. An agreement may not be reached but he stressed that “what happens after Paris will determine whether the summit has turned out to be a decisive moment.”
The debate has given me a lot to think about, particularly in the need for countries to set aside their interests to tackle climate change. I will be in Paris when the talks start and, even though the rallies have been cancelled, I will be there in solidarity with those calling for decisive action.
I have been inspired by Laudato Si’, which is a significant document for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It calls on everyone to work together at this crucial time to prevent irreparable damage to creation.