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Climate Friend is going to the forthcoming  conference “On the Run” of the initiative Pacific Networking in Europe, the Network of Pacific Groups in Germany and the Pacific Conference of Churches (Fiji). With our guest speakers from Kiribati, Fiji and from European countries we want to discuss the issue of climate change and migration in the Pacific.

The conference will be focusing in particular at what is European Civil societie’s responsibility to the South Pacific islands, the marine life, the People of the region. 

I personally I am going to talk about the youth work I did in Tuvalu, to do a display similarly to the one I did in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conferance 2009 and with the intention of trying to develop “climatefriend’ a little more and see if I can get a little closer to the youth network between campaigners of CC and

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So we  find ourselves  in the last leg of the campaign… As you guys get into election frenzy, we are too. Only our election is this friday and all you need is a mobile phone!

We have presented this campaign to such a wide range of people here in Bangladesh, Students, Professors, Slums dwellers, Climate migrants, politicians, Economists, Scientists, something its amazing, others are suspicious but for most the campaign strikes a cord.

It’s funny if,  I have had any criticism for this campaign, its been from foreigners or overseas NGO workers. Many have told me it is naive to take the campaign to places like Kutubdia and the Slums, assuming that people there will a) want to participate or b) even know or care about UK government – let alone know where the UK is.

But we have been surprised, at least the people I have conversed with are not ignorant of things that go beyond their everyday existence. In the Slums for instance people knew about the Iraq war and Blair and knew that millions had marched through the streets against it, and yet Blair had invaded Iraq.

It is events like this, that stick in peoples minds and upon which opinions are formed. It is therefor ironic that we are suggesting they vote for the next PM to make or unmake some of  these global decisions.

Never before have I been so aware of the butterfly effect. It really is true that decisions taken in the UK and USA have repercussions all over the world.

Though I found them really interesting, the experience in the Slums has been the hardest.  We had a good crowd at the workshops  and I believe people understood the idea of the campaign They were really really angry. It was not like in the Slums in the south where there was a sense that people were grateful to have the chance to raise their voices, here the tone was completely different.


Many, especially the women looked like they might spit in my face. When asked whether they had any questions to pose to the UK government here were some of their responses.


Name: Parul (f), Age:40, Climate migrant

‘’I have been evicted many times over 40years. The UK lies. The UK lives in luxury. Look at you in your nice clothes. We are poor. We do not want to speak to the UK. We hate the UK.  We need clothes, shelter, food. Why should we speak? Help us with these things, otherwise we will not speak again. No conversation’’


Name: Saliha (f), Age 50+

‘’I do not want to speak to the UK. They all are talk. They talk and they do nothing for us. Many show commitment, but nothing has changed for us. Are you going to give us permanent shelter and jobs? We live in temporary conditions’


Name: Jalal, Age: 70

“ I appeal for permanent settlement. The UK must control its carbon emissions. The UK people must sacrifice something. We have nothing. They have the power to preserve the earth, for a better life. Developed countries must control their luxury, it will help us keep are lives. Are the UK going to do this ? ’’


Name; Abdul Manan Shapooz, Age: 37

‘’The UK and the USA must be accountable as Developed countries to helping those that are suffering. You mention democracy? They should show real Democracy first, before trying to take it to other countries.. Stop this war in the name of Democracy. The UK has to stop collaborating with the USA. They must compensate what they are doing with helping us with technical knowledge. Each family that is made victim of Climate Change should be given a VISA to the USA or UK, so they have a chance of survival. Will you do this?

The discussions here were raw and honest. They wanted to know whether we would be back with answers. It was a big wake up call for me to the reality of a situation. I did not take it personally, but the my beige skin and my white trousers were enough to evoke a response that goes back for generations.

I am interested to know from those who read this blog and people who have been following the campaign whether collecting testimonies/voices/ peoples is of any interest and if so in what form…?

We have a done a fair bit of press interviews here. Here is Lisa doing an interview for Radio 4’s The World Tonight. It is great to engage the media in this and help even further to take peoples voices from Bangladesh to the UK citizens and the UK politicians.


But sometimes I  wonder if these messages have been heard/seen/read too many times.

I later learnt that Slums in Dhaka are some of the most visited and monitored, by development and NGO workers in Bangladesh – no wonder they were suspicious of us. We are going back there tomorrow with the proposed polices the UK political parties have for Development and for Climate Change.
The students have really taken this campaign and run with it, making posters and handing out flyers with the difference in the three major parties and how to vote.

Last night we had an amazing  Give Your Vote event at Dhaka University campus where we had an outdoor screening of the UK leaders Debate on foreign Policy. It was a really exciting event, and we showed clips of UK participants explaining why they wanted to give away their votes and we had this amazing professor of Peace and Conflict giving this speech about world equality. It felt really surreal as the air was  thick with humidity to see hundreds of people looking up to  David Cameron’s waxy face hung between Mango trees explaining his proposed policy on tightening UK borders.!

(photos of this are to follow)

Many of these students would like the chance to study in the UK. Many of their questions are about students visas. It seems that often after years of applying they are given places and when they arrive in the UK there are no places for them and it was all fiddled by corrupt Visa officials.

A large amount of the Students I have conversed with would rather the UK concentrated on reducing its carbon emissions and setting a leading example in Renewable energy to the world, than giving them hand outs in aid. The main reason for this popular belief is : Corruption. At every level a little is swiped  off.

Corruption is the big white elephant in the room when you play the game of ‘saving the world from injustice’ – its gets increasingly hard to see round the white elephants big fat arse!

The UK is the biggest donor of aid to Bangladesh, and yet rather than giving it straight to the country the UK gives it to the IMF. Which takes a 12% cut. Then after much anticipation in how the money for Climate Change focused development is spent it is decided that cleaning and polishing up the streets of Gulshan and Banani (the two richest areas of Dhaka). This is like saying that instead of making  the whole of London sustainable on Wind Energy it is going to spend the same amount making Kensington and Chelsea not only litter free but also paved in gold.!


Many of the NGO workers and academics I have met out here have really differing stories about Climate Change effects in Bangladesh. Firstly they all have different facts. Some say it is 3000 people a day coming into the city because of  Climate related migrants, others say 1000 and then others say 10’000. I am finding this at times slightly frustrating


People have migrated for centuries, and its important to keep this in mind when we think of why people are moving places –

CC is not a single issue. We can not use it to mask all the other problems that exist in this world already. Like, water scarcity, diarrhea, cholera, disease, natural disasters, malnutrition, migration, poverty, war..

At Gobal summits we talk about what we are going to do with all the Climate mirgrants. But what are we going deal humanly right now with the Iraqi’s, the Sudanese, the Congalese, the Afghani’s that are knocking on our doors asking for amnesty.

Luckily for most we have no sense of this ‘knocking’ because our government cleverly contains these people like animals in depots like large aircraft shelters and every single day in coachs with blacked out windows hundreds and hundreds of these illgal people are deported in airplanes destined for the countries they have so just escaped form.

I worry that we sometimes see Climate Change like a fruit basket and we stop looking at what fruit is actually in the basket. CC is the like the wind to a fire. We have the fire already and it is paramount  we find a wind block.

My job has been to collect messages  from people here, for the UK and also to engage people in the idea of a democracy that goes beyond boarders and encourage them to take part in Give Your Vote and take a vote donated by a UK citizen to have a voice in political process they are usually ignored in.

Give Your Vote has excited people here becuase they feel thay can express these truths and with the help of supporters in the UK bring awareness to some of these issues.

Who knows what this campaingn will be bring. It has most certainly caused a stir here and created a new sense of hope and a certain amount of excitement, and many of us a talking about the next step.. what ever that will be.. the American elections, Global Referendums, Global Democracy…

I really really do not have answers. My head feels like it is about to explode everyday with juxtaposition of all the ways we can experiance a ‘life’ on this earth.

On the Saturday of the Volcano, my family were having a big family Ceilidh in Edinburgh. I was really surprised to hear however that half the people did not turn up from london because they had all been booked on flights…..

It seems the short drive did not seem an option, and a rare family gathering not worth the effort. I wander if we have forgotten somewhere our priorities, when it comes to this fast way of life.

All i know is that having a great deal more respect and understanding of the powers of this earth would not go a miss, because I have a feeling that over the next few years it is going to remind us of this power.

……………………………

None of this would be possible with out an amazing activist and friend Feroz Bhai – he is a youth leader and a great supporter of Give Your Vote, working with him has been an honour!


Women attending the Workshop

A few days ago Atique, Parvil a filmmaker and his assistant and I took a long bus journey down to the Bay of Bengal to hold workshops and discussions in some of the worst affected areas of Climate Change in Bangladesh.

I was intrigued and excited about this trip as it felt imperative to contextualise this project in the actualities of what we all keep talking about, Climate Change

 

On the way down while standing behind the bus having our 18th chai of the day, a little beggar boy comes over and starts to pull my shirt. I ignore him.

I am with Bangladeshis only and I do not want to be seen as soft and more importantly I have  got into the habit of ignoring the many beggars. I am not sure when this occurred. Maybe it was months in India or a tramp in London throwing the apple I offered him out of my hand, which made me stop giving to beggars. Or maybe it was one of the many beggar stories that tend to make you ungraciously clump them altogether. It doesn’t really matter what, I do not see my self as uncharitable, I just know somewhere over the years I have stopped. There just comes a point when we harden I suppose and a limit to what you can give….. or is there?

So when this kid comes over, I ignore him. Atique, however looks at the young boy and ruffles his hair and hands him over 20 dhaka. (20p).   He looks up at the rest of our surprised faces and says, ‘Why… 20dhaka is nothing to me, this boy has nothing?

This boy is begging because he is the direct result of climate change. Yes he is poor, and yes begging is as old as the fields. This little Bangladeshi boy and all those that will increasingly follow him did not choose to beg, his family like the other thousands and thousands of climate migrants in this town on the coast, are actually from families of farmers and fishermen, but they do not literally have land anymore to fish or farm, so what can they do..? It appears that options are limited.

When we got to the Bay of Bengal we took a boat to Atiques home island of Kutubdia. At the turn of the 20th Centurty this island was 250km in diameter, it is now 38km, with a population of 40’000. They islanders are farmers and fishermen, but the coastal erosion is so server and the cyclones so frequent that 10 families a day are leaving across the waters to the first of the many Climate Migrant refugee camps on borrowed government land on the route to Dhaka.

Use a UK vote in Fishing village - Kutubdia

We did two workshops on the island; One with fishermen and farmers in a meeting house on the north side of the Island and then the other in a village at the local Homeopaths store (of all places!).

Rather than push the  ‘Use a UK Vote’ campaign onto the islanders Atique and I decided it was more appropriate to hold discussions first about what they see change on their island in relation to the weather and land. Then we spoke of the UK and other influential countries and whether they had questions they wished to raise to the UK government and issues they wished people outside of Bangladesh to know about.

Almost 100 people crammed into this little bamboo hut and we had a dynamic meeting and similarly in the village too. Here is a couple of the questions raised.

Name: Noorkan, Age; 30, Occupation: Fisherman

‘I go to the deep seas. I am a fisherman. Everyday there are warning of bad weather. This means I can not go out. What will you do. Our weather is changing and it affects my livihood. I now can not fish.’

Name: Riobul, Age: 19, Occupation: Student

‘If someone asks me where I am from, I am not from Bangladesh, I am from the Globe. Same as those people form the Developed countries. I am a human being and I have a voice. Consider me. As the emitters do you consider me as a human being? ‘

It surprised and embarrassed me that very few ‘foreigners’ had held meetings in Kutubdia where their motive was to simply to take down questions. Most seemed genuinely surprised that the UK were in anyway interested in what they had to say, even more so, willing to share their votes with them.  I do not know enough to say what sort of international aid and development goes on here, all I can say is that over the next few days many people came to pass on thanks via me to those of you in the UK who want to know about them and what they are experiencing.

Similarly, as when I was in Tuvalu I was reminded that the countries ‘Bangladesh and Tuvalu’ have become common names in the Climate Change jargon and yet little attempt has been made to engage the very people who are suffering and to inform them that on the other side of the world, people in the UK do actually care and are trying actively to change their government policy.

For some of islanders to speak of Climate Change, is not always appropriate. The notion that what is happening to their island is a result of extensive CO2 emissions in developing countries is not an obvious equation. Many see their displacement as an act of God and have not questioned the reason for their change in weather. Others however are well aware that they the rapid change and the increase in natural disasters are because of global warming.

We filmed lots and interviewed many, hopefully in a few days time, post editing this will be available on the website to see.

Cox Bazzar - man and boy

After a long and very hot day we decided it was a ‘wrap’ and climbed into the battered jeep and Parvil to my total delight brought out his mobile and from out of the little contraption he started to play Fleetwood Mac! So with Stevie Nicks singing her heart out, it felt good to lean my head out the window and watch this world go past. The villages, the small farms, the street shops selling blue plastic chairs, shampoo in individual mini packets cascading out of baskets, packets of biscuits and a pyramids of watermelons. Groups of men dotted along the road, some drinking chai,  some walking their goats, some leaning on their rickshaws and then every so often in the empty paddy field a game of cricket would be taking place.

COAST. NGO and Activist- U.uk.V Meeting

The next day we held more workshops on ‘Use a UK Vote’.

Firstly with some of the activists and NGO workers who are working directly with people in the coastal area. Their work covers a variety of social problems, such as domestic violence and education, however most of it is Climate Change related; rehabilitation, awareness, adaption. It is these guys that are at the very core of the work here and trying to raise international awareness.

They were unsurprisingly a little more suspicious of the scheme. One man asked me as others had done, whether I thought the UK politicians were going to care about this campaign and bother to answer these questions. After gulping, I enthusiastically replied that if my friends had anything to do with this, then yes; they would make sure the Politicians care and see that these questions were answered. (Fingers crossed) I then went on to explain that GYV was by no means suggesting that voting in other peoples elections was a way of solving our global problems, but instead it is an attempt, a beginning of a new way of thinking about a just democracy when it comes to dealing with Global problems and a means of involving people globally by listening to their opinion so much so that they are prepared to share their vote. It is a great act of global solidarity.

These guys are more aware than anyone of the break down of communication and the lack of attention they for their cause. Did anyone know that during Copenhagen thousands and thousands of people took to the streets in Dhaka, to demonstrate on Climate Change? I certainly did not. Form my experience at Copenhagen most of the media was focused on Europeans being put in ‘detention cages’. Shame, there was so little on the activism of the very people Climate Change affects.

Though these activists have every reason to be suspicious of the infancy and thus strength of this campaign, they understood it perfectly, thought it a little hilarious and have pledged to move it forward in the coastal region.

Make shift houses at the Kutubdia Slum

We then went to the Kutubdia slums on the Cox Bazzar. This is the first of many Climate Mirgrant impermanent camps that the migrants arrive at.

Kutubdia Climate Mirgrants - Slum in Cox Bazzar

This meeting was quite incredible; it was attended in an open gathering spot by at least 200 people. School children, fishermen, Elders, Council leaders, Richshaw drivers, and Women. Again Atique and I spoke, and Atique translated what I said.

Taking down questions

Lots of people spoke and the response and questions were very moving. Up until this point most people who posed questions had been men, I then asked the crowed if any women wished to speak. After silence. One women stood up with her baby wrapped around her and with tears coming down her cheeks and said;

Rofika Begon

‘I am not crying for my self, I am crying on behalf of my village. I lost my family members and my home to the last Cyclone. I live here and work here now. But my government want to move us on. How are we meant to live when we face being moved on and on. We have no land. How will you influence our government to stop us moving. We have moved many times now, due to Global warming. ‘

She was given quite rightly a large applause. I do not think any of us were expecting this.

Rashida Begon

The situation here is real. This camp is under threat from the government due to coastal development. The term refugees is not sufficient for these people. A refugee has land they have come from and may at a time of peace return too. These people’s land does not exist anymore.

school boys at the meeting

A huge amount to things to think about.

That evening I decided to go for a walk. The others were not keen for me to walk alone, but I insisted I would be fine and needed to be alone. As I walked down the little streets, I realised I had not wandered aimlessly anywhere, and I felt for the first time since I have been in Bangladesh like a traveller, I felt myself.

watermelon and Cooows!

I drank chai, ate watermelon and had little conversations with people and enjoyed the gentle rhythm of a street preparing for the evening. I wandered on to a large piece of waste land upon which several sports were being played. To my delight a game of cricket was being played so I went and sat under the shade of a Mango tree and watched.  I felt happy watching this little game of cricket, with the pile of bricks as the stump and the continuous movement of people joining in or just sitting down on the pitch unbothered by the running batsmen and drinking Sprite. Every thing was going a smoothly until the young boy in the Zidane t-shirt hit the ball so hard it went into the rubbish heap running along side the field. The game came to a halt as almost all the players had to trample over and help the fielder search for the ‘lost’ ball amongst all the rubbish. Meanwhile our little Zidane was kart wheeling his runs and doing a lap of honour!

An evening of Cricket

Cricket…. I am familiar with this gentle sport, I grew up playing cricket on our front lawn at home with my dad and my wonderful Godfather Henry and all us children. Our game was just as haphazard and ‘make do’ as the one this evening.

Tomorrow in a church in south London, the most important people to me will gather for my dear Godfathers funeral and my dad will read a speech about his best friends life and in it he will talk of the many, many times that they played and watched cricket together.

It always surprises me how we use this land in so many similar ways. Just because we are far away, life continues in its countless ways.

 I hope I will always remember this game of cricket on the coast of Bangladesh, for many reasons.


Dhaka!!!!
Three days feels like three weeks, and three weeks is what we have to make Give Your Vote and Use a UK Vote, as it is called in Bangladesh..  enormous..!!

http://www.giveyourvote.org          http://www.useaukvote.org

Three days ago I met with the Equity and Justice group and Lisa, a wonderfully pro-active Canadian who is doing VSO out here. Though the idea was well supported, little had been established in Dhaka and there had been quite a bit of miscommunication.

But after a hearty discussion, lots of use of a white board we established all the things we hoped to achieve. To begin with the team here hope to get 4000 (!!) Bangladeshis to vote in the UK elections! Amazing!

The E and J group are long term grassroots Human and Environmental Rights activists, they manage to get 1000’s in Bangladeshis to take action against the impending Climate and labour problems that the country faces. They know their stuff and though they were a little apprehensive of speed at which I was suggesting we did things, they have proven they can definitely do it.

We have decided to focus our attention on 4 areas; Dhaka students and intellectuals, The Dhaka Slums, the island of Kutabdia and a garment factory.

We are hoping to firstly engage these groups in the ‘idea’ of voting in the UK elections and why they may want to or not want to do this, while also asking them to pose questions, those who have internet access they can do this via the website, those who do not, we will do this through interview and the traditional pen and paper. Then second half of the month we hope to engage all types of media to help circulate the UK Politian’s answers so Bangladeshis have an idea what these Parties are all about and what they are saying in particular about Climate Change, Student Visa’s, Labour rights, and Migration… that  is our plan anyway! Not a day to spare!

Every day our little initial group is expanding and as the seed is planted in more peoples mind, within a few days they have trees poking out their ears!! This campaign certainly gets people talking!!

The one little problem here is the TRAFFFFFFFIC!! It can take up to an hour to travel just a few miles!

The roads in Dhaka are like nothing I have ever seen. There seems to be no rule for which part of the road is used;  to walk, drive or bike down. There is also no rule deifying how many cars can be in a lane and it appears to be quite normal to have a 3 tuktuk’s 5 rickshaws and 3 cars attempting to go down a lane at once.

It will be little surprise to many that I have fallen in love with the rickshaws, they are mini gypsy caravans!!!! Totally  beautifully decorated, very similar to the trucks in Pakistan and almost every form of transport in India. As a rule the more decorated the better, for business and for luck.!

My first rickshaw ride wasn’t too great. Not use to being  ‘pulled’ by a skinny man on a elevated seat above all those below me and my pasty April English skin provoking curiosity, I felt a little self conscious. Worse still, as we approached the gradient of a bridge, with the pounding 38 degree sun, the material of my friends back turned a darker colour.  With sweat pouring off him he jumps down from the bike  and starts to push the rickshaw. Horrified that my weight is the reason for this, I jump down beside him and start to help him push our rickshaw……

Errrr.. Very much the wrong thing to do!  Not only does my rickshaw man stop amidst mental traffic and stare at me in horror, but the 23 other moving contraptions seem to miss taking of my life my milimeteres!  I jump back onto the thrown, embarrassed at performing this faux pas and realise that I have become ‘soft’  in my ways and quietly clearly no longer the ‘tough’ little traveller.

So my days have been spent meeting people, journalist, activist, students, people form governmet; some times socially and sometimes at the ‘equity office’ I feel like im walking a little in the dark, there is no format to follow, nothing to compare this campaign too., I suppose it is just developing organically with everyday another person pops up and clearly fits a missing peice of the puzzle.

I am so lucky to be staying in an lovely flat with a great Bangladeshi girl called Julian, and May’s great friend Layla.

Late into the night Layla and I have sat with our wavering candle light ( constant power cuts) our illegal beer and sweat dripping down our backs talking about the project, the possibilities, the ways of the world, Palestine, (she is Palestinian), working in other countries, the frustrations, the hilarities. I am beginning to realise when working amongst people in their way do I begin to learn a little of this ambiguous term ‘culture’.

Today after practising for the press conference a very important and Human Rights activist Shahadat Chowdhury came into the room and heard the last part of the paper and was really impressed and started to fire suggestions and I felt for the first time that people were going to run. Run with this and this was going to be amazing.

The Equity office is great, there is always an activist of some kind or an Important national speaker coming through the door. Of course I have heard of none of them, but the respect shown by all and the stories they tell me of the fights and struggles, for the poor, the refugees, the fight for independence, for climate change, for  workers rights, makes me feel quite honoured to be in the hub of this city’s activist meeting place, not a hippy or vegan in sight…just a lot of Men!

It  is a funny experience to be working mainly with older men, with who’s language and culture I am unfamiliar with. But there is a lot of respect at least I know form my part, and maybe from there’s too. They love that we hijacked a coal train and they all get in fits of giggles and mi mick me, doing big hand signals and say ‘AmaZINg AmaZING!!! –

As I left last night after our press conference rehearsal,  Mustafa one of the big Chiefs of Equity motioned me in to his office and said told me to make sure I  ‘try dress a little too not scruffy’….

’Er yes Mustaffa’ I swallowed…… Why do hot countries make me so unglamourous!!

So today, early rise with Laylas  ‘tiny’ sized suit jacket  in an attempt at ‘smart’ and a read through of the ‘Presentation Paper ‘ while bumping about on the rickshaw, I met the crew, downed a bottle of rescue remedy and we went into the Reporters Conference Hall!!

There were about 20 journalists and few photographers. The guys did their Bangla versions and there were lots of encouraging noises and shacks of the head (this is a good sign in the sub continent!) Then I did my presentation and it was very exciting and I felt quite honoured to be speaking of such things as working towards  global democracy and justice. I had goose pimples I think for the whole speech.

Then we had questions, which were interesting, Here were a few of the tougher ones;  whats the UK going to do about student visa’s; What are the UK’s parties  policy for reduction of CO2, Why had we chosen only three parties, did we think we were actually going to influence UK government..

We all answered as best we could, in both languages and our audience were satisfied. Infact all those who seemed to ask tough questions in the conference, came up after wards and said how much they thought it was a brilliant symbolic act, and that ‘thank gods someone is trying something’!! This was my fav comment.

After quite a few interviews, Atique and I hurried back and sent off all the press releases and arranged our trip to the island. I then went to meet our new Filmmaker, who is going to document the next 3 weeks. As once again Im pretty hopeless at filming and organising, so its going to be brilliant to have him and his assistant on board, he is a very sound guy and very keen to  highlight whats happening in Bangladesh.

Did you know, that 3000 people a day…..a day!! Arrive in Dhaka form the Islands as homeless migrants. This is quite unbelievable. Atique, PAvil  (the filmmaker) his assistant and I, are heading to one of these islands , Kutabdia, to hold group discussions with residents, farmers and activists there about the idea of voting in the UK elections to see what they make of it. We are also going to do the same thing on the coastal villages which have become refugee sites. Or the correct term, home to the Climate induced Migrants. This is their first stop on the way to the Dhaka.

Okay, so we now have a power cut (3rd this evening!) so I that is all for now, off to bed. Getting up early with the hope that Use a UK vote.. will be all OVER the Bangladeshi Press !!!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

ক্ষুধার রাজ্যে পৃথিবী গদ্যময় পূর্ণিমার চাঁদ যেন ঝলসানো রুটি

“Poetry, we do not need you anymore. A world devastated by hunger is too prosaic, The full moon now reminds us of toasted bread” Sukanta Bhattacharya



Climate Friend is a grassroots network for people who are affected by Climate Change and those campaigning against Climate Change. It has been set up for people to exchange information, to create links of solidarity and  encouragement in thier various campaigns. Global friendships are possible and necessary. What is it really like to be in Tuvalu, Bangladesh or East Cumbria. It is based on the ethos of gentle empowerment.

In June 2008 29 activists occupied a coal train going into Drax Power station, in hope of shutting off the power supply and stopping carbon emissions. They were arrested, attended court hearings and threatened with two years’ imprisonment. Clemmie was part of this action and was profoundly affected by the experience and the aftermath.

In order to fully comprehend her actions  and to speak with conviction about why she did what she did, Clemmie began to research the effects of climate change on people her own age in places around the world that are already severely affected by global warming.  

During her research she found that there was very little information available and few accessible forms of communication set up between climate change campaigners and those suffering from climate change, particularly among youths. In particular she learned that people affected by climate change often did not know that people in industrialised countries were fighting on their behalf.

 

So with the help of funding she travelled to the Island of Tuvalu one of the most gravely affected areas in the world to exchange her own story with the stories of young people. She stayed with an extraordinary Tuvaluan environmentalist and UN speaker, Rev. Tafue Lusama, to find out what young people were thinking and doing about climate change.

Tuvalu is a small low lying nation made up of nine islands in the South Pacific. It is suffering from numerous effects of climate change: sea level rise, coastal erosion, flooding, coral bleaching, sea life depletion, salinated soil, change of weather, drought, and a dependency on imported food.

Climate scientists predict that Tuvalu has 25 years before the islands will disappear due to rising sea levels. When this happens, a whole nation of people will be displaced and face the threat of losing their history, culture and national identity.

It will be the youths of today that will have to deal with the consequences of this profound crisis.

For this reason, Clemmie wanted to try and understand the opinions of young people in Tuvalu – and to ask the question, what does climate change mean to them and what do they want done about it?

While on the islands Clemmie gave talks about climate change campaigning in the UK and ran workshops at the university, schools and youth groups. As much as she wanted to come home with information about climate change in Tuvalu, Clemmie also wanted to impart her own experiences as an activist and the issues that she and her fellow campaigners were working on – such as airport expansion and the building of new coal-fired power stations. The project was therefore fundamentally about exchange; in hope of offering solidarity, support and encouragement.

It was apparent from these sessions that most people had no idea what people the other side of the world were doing, let alone doing in the name of helping islands like Tuvalu. Often people would come up to Clemmie at the end of the talks and ask her to personally thank people for making an effort to try and change policy in their countries and for fighting in their various ways against climate change.

This display is a collection photographs from Tuvalu and the consequence of a questionnaire that many youths filled out. There were three questions; how climate change affects their island, what they see happening in the future to their island and what is their message to the rest of the world. Clemmie asked a few of them to choose an area on Funafuti that they saw as a particular example of environmental degradation and where they wished to be photographed with their message.