The Justice and Peace group at Sacred Heart (Leighton Buzzard) organised a walk and liturgy on 8 July 2017 during the Speak Up Week of Action and invited their MPs Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) and John Bercow (Buckingham) to attend. It was wonderful that Andrew Selous could attend even for part of the walk though sadly John Bercow had other engagements and sent his apologies.
Over 15 people attended and constituents were keen to make their concerns of the world’s poorest people known. 1 in 6 people are still living without electricity! Local, renewable energy is usually the cheapest, fastest and most efficient solution to bring power to the poorest communities. It can help families out of poverty, without harming the world we share.
The day started at 10:15am where Deborah Purfield (CAFOD coordinator) introduced the event and welcomed Mr Selous saying, “Britain has a great track record with the UK having played a pivotal role in agreeing the Paris Climate Agreement and created the world’s first Climate Change Act. However, a renewed commitment to our climate ambitions is needed. We want to see global leadership and national action linked to local transformation.” She asked Mr Selous to take to the Prime Minister the following :
- Reaffirm the UK’s role as a global climate leader, working with international allies to fully implement the Paris Agreement
- Ensure all government departments work together to produce an ambitious emissions reduction plan that will meet the Climate Change Act targets.
Mr Selous responded by saying that the UK government is supporting the climate agreement and will provide £5.8 billion from the existing 0.7% official development assistance (ODA) budget to the International Climate Fund (ICF) between April 2016 and March 2021, including at least £1.76 billion in 2020. He added that constituents needed to keep up the pressure of supporting the 0.7% ODA. He emphasized how on the 7 June 2017 output of renewable energy was enough to meet more than 50% of midday power demand in the UK. Locally he noted that he was supporting making Leighton Buzzard and Linsalde a low carbon emission town.
More people managed to raise questions to Mr Selous during the walk along the canal which was lovely and it was good to see some barges with solar panels too!
It was interesting chatting to fellow walkers such as Yvonne Edwards who had much experience in building projects and renewable energy and provided very insightful information about renewable energy in the UK which she spoke to Mr Selous about. Another walker, Nicky Wiseman, who is very passionate about renewable energy also raised her concerns to Mr Selous during the walk.
We stopped at various points to participate in, as Erika Pratt summed up, “a thought provoking prayer and reflection which was so lovely”.
Mr Selous had to go after an hour and there was time for the rest of the group to stop for a coffee, a chat and to cool down from the lovely heat and carry on with the liturgy.
Those who had the stamina continued with the walk and we said goodbye to some who did so well getting as far as they did. We past lovely fields and woodlands and Mary Flach commented “It is lovely for us to be here in nature to see its beauty, what we love about creation!”
We stopped for lunch and then continued with the walk. This took us through woods and meadows which was so beautiful.
Four hours later we were saying goodbye to everyone having had a wonderful time. Deborah concluded, “It was a fantastic day! It was great having Mr Selous MP join us and listen to our concerns and for us to hear from him. My fellow walkers were wonderful and it was great to get to know them better, pray and enjoy the beauty of nature together.”
A big thank you to those who organised such a marvellous Speak Up event and to Mr Selous for attending. We hope that your efforts will help lift families out of poverty and that every child will have the power to achieve great things!