Published on 29 July 2020
Jess Hall, Campaigns and Organising Officer, talks about The Time Is Now virtual lobby of the UK Parliament for a green and fair recovery.
On Tuesday 30 June Mary and Vanessa, young Christians from Bristol and London logged onto Zoom.
But this was no ordinary Zoom call. As they connected to audio and saw their faces appear on screen, they were joining thousands of people up and down the UK in the first ever virtual lobby of the UK Parliament. People had come together from all walks of life to call for a green and fair recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over 290 MPs were lobbied via Zoom and asked to work for a recovery that puts the climate, and people at its heart.
The time is now: the stats
The climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic have laid bare and worsened the inequalities and injustices in our world. The brunt of the climate crisis and the worst of the pandemic’s social and economic fallout are being (and will be borne) by developing countries in the global South.
These crises will deepen poverty and undo decades of work to address inequality unless there is urgent action, including here in the UK.
For Christian Aid and those we work with, the effect of the UK’s economic recovery will ripple around the world for better or worse. We were faced with a choice between more of the same or a bold new vision for a green, just and resilient way forward that benefits everyone.
Christian Aid supporters across the country, propelled by the prophetic vision of the church, chose that bold new vision and joined with fellow constituents to speak out.
‘In reading the Bible, God's heart for justice and for the oppressed is so clear, as a Christian I am convicted that I can't stay silent. The climate crisis is already harming people in the Global South and is set to get far worse on our current trajectory. If we don't act soon to make the necessary changes then millions of people will suffer.’ Mary, Bristol
From 8.30am to well into the evening, constituents expressed their urgent concern for people and the planet. Mary and Vanessa were among those specifically asking for global action; for debt cancellation so that poor countries can deal with the pandemic and the climate crisis as well as for the UK to stop spending tax payers’ money to prop up the fossil fuel industry overseas.
Loving God and loving people
‘Loving God and loving people is a key part of my belief and who I am in Christ. God has given us each other to love, and a beautiful planet to steward. Seeking fairness and economic equity for all is one of the ways we can express His love, as well as caring for our planet. Lobbying allowed me to do just that.’ Vanessa, London
For both Vanessa and Mary, this was the first time they’d stepped out in faith and lobbied their MPs.
‘I was a little apprehensive, but it went really well! I absolutely loved being able to speak to my local MP about the impact of environmental and climate change issues, both in my local area and globally.
‘I really liked that our MP was open and seemed to have taken on board some of the demands which we discussed on the day.’ Vanessa
Taking action is vital in reminding us of the power that we hold as individuals, but also the power that we can wield when we work together to put pressure on decision makers to act.
‘It was empowering to speak directly with my MP, and encouraging that she really listened to our concerns and committed to champion them.’ Mary
Seeking fairness and economic equity for all is one of the ways we can express His love, as well as caring for our planet.
Lobbying allowed me to do just that.
- Vanessa, Christian Aid Campaigner
What happened next?
The UK’s recovery plans are starting to emerge, thousands of you have made it clear, that even during a pandemic, tackling the climate crisis is a key priority for the UK public and should be central to economic planning.
Just over a week after the lobby, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a mini summer budget which included £2 billion to boost household insulation and energy efficiency.
Although the Chancellor did not mention the people of the global south directly in his speech, the home insulation measures he set out to reduce energy waste in the UK will have a beneficial impact on people already bearing the brunt of climate breakdown overseas
- Paul Brannen, Head of UK Advocacy and Campaigns, Christian Aid.
'If our economic response takes positive action for the climate, such as boosting energy efficiency and reducing emissions, it is potentially of huge benefit for rich and poor alike whether in the global north or the global south. But if we choose to base our economic stimulus on polluting activities like road building and fossil fuel company bailouts we would be restarting our economy on the backs of the climate vulnerable.'
In October the UK Chancellor will be involved in conversations with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and meeting with his counterparts from G20 countries. We wait to see if the message has hit home, that poor countries need debt cancellation. You can add your voice now by signing our petition.
What happens now?
Big political moments like a virtual lobby are exciting and they are part of creating change. But we know that we are in a struggle, and that injustice can be unrelenting. We must keep on standing with those living in poverty and remain inspired by our faith to tell a bigger story of justice.
Keep speaking to your MP, follow up on things they promised to do. If they couldn’t make the lobby, invite them to your local worship service and show them the power of the church in action.
Keep building the power of the movement, the challenge of poverty is big and we’re going to need everyone. If you’re looking for ways to get your church involved, take a look at our ‘Inviting others to campaign’ resource in our Campaigns Toolkit.
‘The lobby was a great way to bring the community together and make my voice heard alongside others! I learned a lot and absolutely loved hearing from the others who have been campaigning at the grassroots for longer than me. I can't wait to get involved more!’ Vanessa
Like Vanessa and Mary, let’s be inspired by our faith, let’s step out in our faith, and let’s put our faith into action.