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Joanna Lumley became one of the most powerful women in Britain after television show Absolutely Fabulous propelled her legendary character Patsy into notoriety and immortality.

But the binge drinking, chain smoking, wildly funny fictional fashion director (who claimed to have slept with every member of the Rolling Stones) is a universe away from the dedicated, multifaceted activist Lumley has become since fame found her.

Take Action: Ensure All Communities Can Withstand Climate Disaster

There's one cause that Lumley has backed for decades. While millions of young people march around the world to protest political inaction on climate change, the actress has now called on the city of Bristol to help a small charity who has been fighting it since before Absolutely Fabulous was even a comedy sketch.

Environmental charity Tree Aid have launched a campaign called She Grows to reverse deforestation and climate change in Mali, Africa. It aims to support 1,000 women to set up small businesses selling butter and honey while training them to replant forests that can yield food for them to eat and sell.

Read More: Joanna Lumley Is Speaking Out to End This Seriously Neglected Disease

Lumley is a patron of the Bristol-based group — and points out that tackling climate change is the same mission as that which battles poverty.

“I have been supporting Tree Aid for more than 25 years because it provides such an effective, practical solution to the urgent issues of poverty in Africa and the environmental decline that so often causes it,” Lumley said in a statement

“Trees are being wiped from the landscape in the African drylands and the desert is spreading, making it harder for people, especially women, to feed their families and earn an income,” she added. “If ever there was a time to support a local organisation working on global issues, it is now.”

Since 1987 — around the same time Lumley was suggested to be the first woman to play Doctor Who— Tree Aid has helped more than 1.2 million people plant more than 16 million trees.

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There are 18 million people in Mali, but according to the World Bank, 42.7% of them live in extreme poverty — meaning that they live on less than £1.50 a day.

Global Citizen has previously reported that 720 million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty because of climate change. By 2100, according to Cornell University, there could be 2 billion climate change refugees unless dramatic action is taken to stop the increase in global temperatures.

The consequences of climate change will be felt first by the world’s poorest people. In fact it’s already happening, as those trapped in poverty all over the world suffer from the damage wrought by extreme weather, severe drought, and environmental decline. 

Read More: This UK City Just Declared a Climate Emergency

“Trees are vital, especially for us women,” said Setou Traoré, a woman from Mali supported by Tree Aid who has found it increasingly difficult to provide for her family. “Without trees, we wouldn’t eat.”

“The produce from the fields has reduced,” she added. “Farming doesn’t feed us anymore, the sources of income are weak. There aren’t many trees anymore. I am worried for my children.”

The Lumley-backed campaign aims to mitigate against the local consequences of climate change in a country that’s already two-thirds desert. It’s also now been officially backed by the UK government, through its UK Aid Match initiative.

Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) has pledged to double any donation made by the public to Tree Aid until June 30 with UK aid — the lifesaving money spent to support the 736 million people who live in extreme poverty in lifting themselves out of it."

Overall, Britain spends 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) on UK aid, and in 2017, that equated to just over £14 billion. 


Defend the Planet

Joanna Lumley Calls on Bristol to Back This Tiny — But Brilliant — Climate Change Group

By James Hitchings-Hales