Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Climate Change Bill Victory

Sheffield Friends of the Earth members have been campaigning on the Big Ask climate change campaign since it was launched in 2005. After more than 3 years of campaigning, the Climate Change Bill became law on Wednesday 26 November 2008. The new law commits the Government to deep cuts in the UK's emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. The first of its kind in the world. The law means:

· Big cuts—At least 80% cuts in greenhouse gases by 2050.

· Regular Monitoring - Reporting to Parliament to check we're on track.

· Policy - Government will have to consider climate impacts in all of it's policies.

· Solutions - Clear direction will give business the confidence to invest in solutions to climate change.

Friends of the Earth's Big Ask campaign saw unprecedented numbers of people calling for a strong climate law. Around the country, nearly 200,000 spoke to their MP directly - by letters, email, posting a video clip, or in person. Since 2005 the Sheffield Friends of the Earth group has hosted many stalls asking people to sign postcards and  managed to collect hundreds of signatures at the Razorlight and Ash gigs. Our members have written numerous letters to local MPs and visited their surgeries. When not writing letters and press releases our group members have attended several climate demos in London.

To celebrate, Steve Goodacre wrote a letter to the Star and telegraph thanking the MPs who voted for the new law and the members of the public who supported the campaign.  

The history of The Big Ask is featured below:


Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for a new law to cut UK carbon dioxide emissions through The Big Ask climate campaign. Here is a brief history of our campaigning success.

7 April 2005
Three MPs introduce a climate change Bill, drafted by Friends of the Earth, to Parliament setting annual targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions until 2050. Parliament was then shortly dissolved ahead of the general election. The MPs were former Conservative Environment Minister John Gummer, former Labour Environment Minister Michael Meacher and the then Lib Dem Environment spokesman Norman Baker.

25 May 2005
Friends of the Earth formally launches The Big Ask climate campaign with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, calling for new legislation to make the Government responsible for cutting UK carbon dioxide emissions by three per cent every year. This coincides with a NOP survey for Friends of the Earth showing that 73 per cent of the population thought that the Government wasn’t doing enough to tackle climate change. And on the same day a Parliamentary petition (Early Day Motion 178) opens calling for new legislation requiring "annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions of three per cent".

Sheffield Friends of the Earth is one of over 125 groups that signed up to the Big Ask day of action. We used the stall at the Sheffield Green Fair to collect lots of signed postcards to be sent to local MPs. Sheffield MPs Clive Betts (Labour) and Nick Clegg (Lib Dems) sign up to support the campaign.

13 July 2005
Friends of the Earth is one of the organisations behind a new coalition, Stop Climate Chaos, calling for a new climate law with annual carbon dioxide cuts.

21 November 2006
Sheffield Friends of the Earth joined a public meeting "Challenging Climate Change" in the basements of the Arts Tower of Sheffield University. Steve Goodacre explained The Big Ask campaign.

3 March 2006
Friends of the Earth publishes a new report, A Bright Future, showing how the UK could develop climate solutions to meet its energy needs and tackle climate change without using nuclear power.

1 May 2006
Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead headline The Big Ask Live concert in London. A Friends of the Earth survey reveals that three quarters of the population would support a new law requiring annual cuts in carbon emissions. The event is attended by David Miliband and David Cameron. The Big Ask Live is augmented by a series of gigs around the UK.

May 2006
Sheffield Friends of the Earth attend the Mayfest event handing out energy saving light bulbs and asking the public to sign Big Ask postcards to be sent to local MPs.

4 June 2006
Sheffield Friends of the Earth attend the RNLI gala day to get more Big Ask postcards signed.

Saturday 15th July 2006
Sheffield Friends of the Earth attend the Green Fair to promote the Big Ask campaign.

1 September 2006
David Cameron shares a platform with Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper to call for a climate change law to be included in the next Queen's Speech. 380 MPs have so far signed EDM 178, calling for a new climate law.

15 September 2006
Friends of the Earth and the Cooperative Bank commission the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, to produce the UK’s first roadmap to a low carbon economy.

Mid September 2006
Friends of the Earth launch a big push on the Climate Change Bill to encourage as many MPs as possible to sign EDM 178 and to write to the Prime Minister calling for new legislation on climate change. 620 MPs (out of a total of 646 MPs) are lobbied personally by constituents who back The Big Ask campaign. Members of Sheffield Friends of the Earth visited their MPs to lobby for a new Bill.

September 2006
Members from Sheffield Friends of the Earth join other environmental groups to leaflet the Showroom Cinema after the showing of the climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth. More Big Ask postcards are signed by the public

October 2006
5 volunteers attended the Razorlight gig at Sheffield Arena. Within three hours over 600 Big Ask postcards had been signed

12 October 2006
David Miliband indicates that the Government will introduce legislation to tackle climate change.

17 October 2006
Thom Yorke lobbies his MP in Oxford as part of The Big Ask campaign for a new climate bill.

8 November 2006
Young people visit Tony Blair in Downing Street to discuss climate change and to urge him to introduce a new Climate Change Bill. By now 412 MPs have signed EDM 178 - 64 per cent of MPs overall, and a majority in every party sitting in Parliament.

15 November 2006
The Government announces in the Queen’s Speech that it will introduce a new climate change law. The announcement was welcomed by Friends of the Earth, but said that that the Bill needs to ensure annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions of at least three per cent.

19 October 2007
Dressed as mermaids, regional Friends of the Earth staff meet Clive Betts MP outside Sheffield Town Hall to publicise the Climate Change Bill. They asked for a stronger climate law to include annual targets, including shipping and aviation emissions and to have an 80% cut by 2050.

25 October 2007
Sheffield Friends of the Earth campaigners ask Ash fans to sign 150 postcards at their gig at the Octagon centre. The postcards ask MPs to make the climate change bill stronger.

22 November 2007
Tony Blair and Friends of the Earth’s director Tony Juniper launch an on-line debate on climate change.

December 2007
Sheffield Friends of the Earth members attend the I-Count demo in Trafalgar square in London with about 25,000 other people including David Attenborough, Miranda Richardson, TV presenter Simon Amstell and music from KT Tunstall and Razorlight.

20 February 2007
Friends of the Earth launches a series of Inconvenient Truth screenings followed by debates with senior politicians including David Miliband, David Cameron, Sir Menzies Campbell and Ken Livingstone.

13 March 2007
The Government publishes its draft climate change Bill. Friends of the Earth welcomes the Bill, but the group calls for it to be strengthened to ensure that it is effective.

30 May 2007
Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell joins Friends of the Earth to highlight solutions to climate change that already exist and which would flourish with the introduction of a strong climate change law. The solutions day involves showing journalists a new carbon-free motorbike, low-carbon bus and a London restaurant where most of the food is grown within the M25. Johnny Borrell also records a new song in a solar-powered recording studio.

2 June 2007
The Co-op arranged a number of special screenings of Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, around the country. There was one in Sheffield on Saturday 2nd June which Julie visited to hand out The Big Ask Climate Change post cards

5 July 2007
Friends of the Earth launches The Big Ask online march.

Summer 2007
We got over 100 Friends of the Earth climate change postcards signed at Peace in the park and we convinced a few folk to respond to the consultation on the climate bill.

18 February 2008
The UK government announces that the Climate Change Bill will set annual milestones for emissions reductions. This means the UK will stay on track to meet its long term target.

27 February 2008
Thom Yorke travels to Brussels to launch the European Big Ask. Friends of the Earth groups in 17 countries across Europe are calling on governments and the European Union to cut carbon dioxide emissions every year.

7 June 2008
The European Big Ask campaign joins Radiohead on their European tour. Friends of the Earth travel to 10 countries and collect more than 40,000 signatures calling for annual cuts in emissions across Europe.

28 October 2008
MPs vote in favour of a Climate Change Law that will cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 and includes all UK emissions. It's a massive victory.

26 November 2008
The campaign for a climate change law in the UK, led by Friends of the Earth, achieves its goal. The law is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The campaign continues around Europe.