On 17 October CAFOD launched its first Climate Change Awareness conference, hosted by McAuley Catholic High School in Doncaster.

More than a hundred delegates from Hallam Diocese heard CAFOD’s concerns that climate change is having a devastating effect on the world’s poorest people.  Countries in the grip of hunger are now barely able to grow enough food to feed them because droughts and floods are ruining their crops.

Bishop Ralph, priests from parishes in Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, Caroline Flint MP and staff from CAFOD’s Romero House in London heard moving concerns from the young people of McAuley School about the future of the world, if we continue to ignore the effects of Climate Change.  Rasha, Jade, Robyn, Izzy and Angel gave personal accounts of the effects of Climate Change in the third world, as well as in their own community of Doncaster.  Together they called on MPs, church leaders, parents and concerned adults to do something urgently to save the world for future generations.

McAuley School CAFOD s

Bishop Ralph, Caroline Flint, Anne Prior from Hallam CAFOD, Jesy and Adan, the two Peruvian CAFOD partners and CAFOD young volunteers from McAuley School

Southern World Witness

As well as the young people’s witness we heard a first hand account from two CAFOD partners from Peru who live in the shadow of a melting glacier above their village.  This threatens to wash away their homes and their crops unless they can slow down the rate of flow from the glacier.  Like our young people they are concerned that no one is taking any notice of the destructive effects of the world warming up.

What Can We Do?

Our Catholic Community often has a sense of helplessness when it comes to combating the destructive effects of Climate Change.  What can we do in the face of clear evidence that our world is overheating?  Clearly we must be pressing our political leaders to stand by the international agreements to reduce carbon output.  But MPs say there is little pressure from their constituents to take the effects of Climate Change seriously, and hence this topic does not figure strongly in their agendas.

CAFOD hopes to change political apathy by asking the Catholic community in Hallam to write to their MPs about Climate Change concerns.  To help us do this easily CAFOD have a supply of campaign cards, which can be ordered for each parish from the CAFOD Office at St William’s in Sheffield.  This card to our MPs is the essential first step to re-energising them to do something now about Climate Change by showing them that we, their constituents, do care.  In addition many, many people within our community can do simple things, which will make a difference to the effects of Climate Change on our world.  Parishes can work together to achieve the “Live Simply Award” which sets out, within our Christian framework, some fundamental actions and good ideas that can be carried out in our homes, work place, schools and churches, to slow down and possibly even reverse, the effects of Climate Change on our world.

Again Parishes can apply to CAFOD’s Office for an action pack about the Live Simply Award.

Parish communities which achieve this award will be taking positive steps to help to save our world for our children and grandchildren.

McAuley School CAFOD volunteers s

MP Caroline Flint with some of the CAFOD young volunteers from McAuley School

Annie, a CAFOD Hallam young volunteer, relates her experience of the evening.

On Friday, 17 October over 100 CAFOD supporters came together at the McAuley School in Doncaster for an informative and memorable evening where we learnt more about the devastating effects that climate change has on our precious world.

Jesy and Adan travelled all the way from Peru to share information with us about the fact that they have been experiencing the increased melting of glaciers around their communities, and how this has had detrimental effects on their livelihoods and quality of life.  It was a real eye-opener, reminding us that the consequences of our careless actions on this side of the globe, regarding energy use, are felt and suffered by those thousands of miles away.

We also got a chance to listen to Don Valley MP, Caroline Flint who gave a fantastic talk about her views on climate change and we had the opportunity to quiz her on what the government has planned for the future to reduce energy use.

The event started with a presentation from some of CAFOD’s young volunteers from the McAuley School.  They spoke about the issues of climate change and the fact that its effects are felt most by those in the poorest countries.  They also highlighted the floods that hit South Yorkshire recently and particularly Doncaster in 2007, giving us a sense of empathy with those whose livelihoods are destroyed or limited by extreme weather.

There were many campaigning opportunities on the night with lots of Climate Actions taken, including a ‘For the love of …..’ photobooth – which entailed writing the name of something you love with all your heart which may be lost as a result of climate change onto a piece of card and being photographed with it.

As well as this, one of the young campaigning volunteers ran a stand asking people to sign up to be MP correspondents.  This means being in regular contact with your MP using the resources that CAFOD will send you to keep MPs aware of the need for action to tackle poverty, climate and trade issues that affect people in the poorest communities.

Over all it was an interesting and engaging evening which will hopefully play a part in the huge task that is reducing our carbon footprint to ensure the preservation of our planet, so that our brothers and sisters and future generations can enjoy the beauty and wonder that it provides.