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Friends from Witney Speak Up for Pinoys

By Arturo Tahup

Editor’s note: Arturo Tahup, ICSC’s project coordinator, is on a speaking tour across the United Kingdom to share stories about our community-based solar projects funded by Christian Aid. Here is the first of his dispatches from the UK.

Last October 9, I got goosebumps listening to residents of Witney in Oxfordshire speak up and stand in solidarity with us Filipinos who have borne the brunt of climate impacts.

“I would like to tell my half-Filipino grandsons about the threat to their mother’s homeland and make sure they grow up lobbying their government to help the people of the Philippines and ensure they’ll be safe,” said Meg Roberts, a grandmother to British-Filipino boys. Her daughter-in-law is a native of the flood-prone Pampanga province.

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Arturo Tahup, ICSC’s project coordinator, joins residents of Witney, Oxfordshire speak up for people affected by climate change at the Kencot Hill Solar Farm, one of the largest in the UK.

“It’s imperative that as soon as we know who our new MP (member of parliament) is, let’s start lobbying and talking with the MP. Everyone in parliament needs to be behind this,” said Margaret Walker. Former Prime Minister David Cameron resigned as Witney’s MP in the wake of the Brexit vote.

“We need to push for more renewable energy to protect our world from climate change”, Margaret added.

Before our Speak Up action at Kencot Hill Solar Farm, the townsfolk listened intently to my stories on uncertainty and climate change in the Philippines, including a briefing on our work in ICSC. I thanked them for their continuous support of Christian Aid which makes our efforts possible.

But I also told my new friends that they have to commit to the fight in their own home front. They and other UK citizens must put pressure on both government and industry to build more solar and other renewable energy plants, keep fossil fuels in the ground, and stop fracking and nuclear power. They must also ensure that the British government under their new Prime Minister Theresa May will immediately ratify the Paris climate agreement despite Brexit.

Fortunately, Christian Aid has been campaigning for a shift away from fossil fuels to renewable, low carbon alternatives through the Big Shift Campaign. And Witney is just one of the growing number of communities that are coming together across the UK for the charity’s Speak Up Week of Climate Action.

“Filipino survivor communities speak up for you and support the Big Shift,” I assured my new friends as we parted ways.

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