This year, the Vale Festival, held on Birmingham University Campus,chose the “Humanitarian aspects of Climate Change” as its main theme.The Vale Festival officially supported Friends of the Earth “Big Ask”campaigns and hundreds of postcards were signed on the day, asking for a strong climate law.

This is the text of a speech I gave in the evening of the festival to thank all those who had signed postcards:

“200 years ago, in 1807, Britain led the way towards the abolition ofslavery by passing a bill to abolish the slave trade.

This was achieved only through intense lobbying by thousands of people(led by William Wilberforce), thousands of people who signed petitions asking for the end of the slave trade.

When slavery started, it was perfectly acceptable that one person could own slaves, but within a quarter of a century, at the end of the 18th century it was intolerable.

But we are today facing a new, potentially even bigger, challenge:
Recent studies have shown that if Europeans, on the basis of current lifestyles, were to live without using any kind of fossil fuel energy(that is energy based on the burning of oil, coal or gas), it would take them on average a hundred slaves working full time to give them the services provided by electric appliances, cars, washing machines, central heating and so on. In a way, we are now all slave owners. At the moment, it is morally acceptable to fly for a weekend to NewYork City, but I strongly believe that there will be one day when this will be considered as perhaps worse than being a slave owner, for depleting natural resources and destroying the climate.

By signing petitions against Climate Change, you are joining thousands of other people who are asking for a strong climate bill. Britain is likely to be, again, the first country to pass a bill setting aframework for the abolition of this new form of slavery, the first country to set targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.This is a great historical moment and 2007 will be remembered – if the law is strong enough – as the year that saw the first victory against Climate Change.

Thank you for making it possible to happen”.
Jean-Francois Mouhot