Archive for April, 2009

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.

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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.

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