A wide variety of 50+ people attended from areas of the South of the UK, from London to Cardiff and much more. Stalls from CAFOD, Pax Christi, NJPN and local displays were available.
After a welcome by Anne Peacey and prayer, Fr Augusto Zampini gave an invigorating address where he urged us to convert our parishes to the message of Laudato Si, heard and quoted all over the world more than any papal document ever, but largely unknown in the pews. The need is to respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. He urged us to resist those who deny climate change, as all the best scientists with the most conservative consensus agree we are at a crucial tipping point and the last opportunity for urgent action. Conversion must be deeper than reason, or emotion, but involve our very deepest commitments, such as our faith. Our faith can counter prevailing utilitarianism about the world’s resources and people with the spirituality of contemplation, the individualism of society with the uniting focus of the liturgy, and the materialism with an aesthetic of beauty. He urged ‘injustice is not invincible’ and that our faith means that change is possible and we must want to leave the world a better place, which we are not doing at the moment. He emphasised the power of example, of prayer and of doing small things for God, in the little way of love of St Therese of Lisieux, contrasting the globalisation of indifference with radical transformative love for the planet and all its life.
Phil Kingston followed as a climate activist, who led us in an exercise to get in touch with our feelings when we heard that while the Paris agreement committed us to reducing global emissions of CO2, the last three years have seen their relentless rise. This was a transformative exercise for many, in digesting what we had already heard.
Nikki Jones from Clifton Climate Action completed the input, with news of powerful scientific evidence, making financial and investment institutions move radically in the last few months. The big lack is a change in consumer culture. She mentioned that a 10% cut in car use equals a 130% cut in emissions as much comes from production and transportation of oil We should examine our use of energy, understanding our bills, cut our shopping, not fly, insulate our homes better. There is tremendous consumer power. Airlines have a 3% profit margin so are very vulnerable to changes in demand. She quoted ‘We are in a battle for our lives’ Antonio Guttierrez, and ‘This is our Third World War’ Joseph Stiglitz economist. She has set up three Climate Change action groups in Clifton.
We then heard news from various parts of the country, and from the different networks present, including a major push for COP 26, the Conference of the Parties, seeking to ratify the Paris commitments worldwide, which will happen in Glasgow in November 2020.
The meeting concluded with thanks to all who came and for all involved in the organisation.