The news release on the open meeting on climate justice is below. 

See also the presentation by Kiri from Oxfam, and our record of the ideas from the discussion that followed her talk.

News release: Winchester Churches Together joined with Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) and Friends of the Earth Winchester District to host a meeting on climate justice on Tuesday 22 March 2016.

Guest speaker Kiri Hanks, who leads Oxfam International's fossil fuels and energy policy work, explained that climate change is a crisis driven by the greenhouse gas emissions of the ‘haves’ that hits the ‘have-nots’ the hardest.

The poorest half of the global population – around 3.5 billion people – are responsible for only around 10% of global emissions. Yet the countries they live in are overwhelmingly the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Around half of emissions can be attributed to the richest 10% of people around the world, who have average carbon footprints 60 times as high as the poorest 10%.

Even though some ‘emerging economies’ like China and India have rapidly rising emissions, the emissions of the hundreds of millions of their poorest citizens remain significantly lower than even the poorest people in the countries such as the UK.

Climate injustice isn't only between rich and poor nations. It is also local. Chris Holloway, co-Director of WinACC, reminded the meeting of a study commissioned by Hampshire County Council which found that socially vulnerable people are also most vulnerable to the effects of flooding and heat waves. “People who are less well-off are more likely to live in homes that are poorly insulated, so they suffer when the weather is particularly hot or cold”, she said. “And people who are old, infirm or isolated are most vulnerable in emergencies such as flooding”.

“As residents of Winchester District, we live in one of the most affluent areas of the UK, which itself is one of the most affluent countries in the world. So we have a very real opportunity - and an obligation - to do more than others to make the world safer through our actions”, said Angela Sealey, Vice-chair of WinACC, who chaired the meeting.

Asked how people in Winchester should respond, “Lobby, lobby, lobby” was the verdict of the meeting. It's important for people in Winchester to cut their own emissions, but they cannot solve the climate crisis through voluntary action alone. That’s why people who are concerned about climate justice are mobilizing to demand action from their governments. If there is no public transport, it's not possible to drive less; if your home isn't suitable for solar power, you have to use the electricity that comes out of your sockets, even if it was generated in polluting coal-fired power stations.

Writing to your MP is important. “MPs really do take notice of their postbags and in-boxes”, Angela added.

Climate activists at the meeting pledged to ask politicians what their party will do about climate change whenever they are canvassed about the coming local elections.

Lobbying can influence business too. “Vote with your wallet” urged Sarah Cramoysan from Kings Worthy, who has volunteered at the Winchester Oxfam shop for eight years “Shop at Oxfam. Or choose to shop from ethical companies, and lobby big companies to cut their carbon footprint.”

To add your name to national and international petitions and lobbies on climate change, go to “National and Global - Have Your Say”  or look out for links in WinACC News, which you can also sign up to on the front page of the website.