Campaigners welcome moves toward greener church
Christian campaigners from across the denominations have welcomed the adoption by the Church of England's General Synod of a report that suggests 'going green' is not an optional extra but a matter of justice.
In the same week as the Kyoto Protocol came into force, the Church's governing body adopted the report entitled "Sharing God's Planet: A Christian Vision for a Sustainable Planet" which combines theological reflection with a wealth of information, resources and challenges for the church.
The report stresses the unique responsibility Christians have for protection of the planet and also explores the causes and consequences of human damage to the environment.
Recommendations in the report include 'creation care prayers', organic bread and other natural materials for use in worship as well as an education programme, car pooling and recycling.
The report also features two church initiatives; the 'Eco-Congregation' programme and 'Operation Noah', a new campaign by Christian churches to curb human-induced climate change launched in Coventry last year.
The synod debate and report has received such attention that Thames Water even agreed to send the Right Rev Richard Chartres 900 of its ìSave a Flushî devices to distribute to Synod members before he spoke in the debate.
In welcoming the report, however, churches warned that there was much work to be done, despite the Kyoto agreement.
Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for International Affairs, said; "The significance of the Kyoto Protocol is in underlining the necessity for governments to place a cap on carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change effectively. However the protocol in its current form has significant weaknesses. It fails to acknowledge the seriousness of our addiction to ever-expanding levels of consumption and production. It has not yet gained the support of key players such as the United States and Australia. Finally it doesn't address seriously the inequalities in wealth and consumption and the development needs of countries such as China and India, whose economies are booming.
"We urgently need to work towards achieving a global consensus on a more comprehensive framework projected over a longer timeframe based on equitable entitlement to carbon dioxide emissions and realistic strategies for energy conservation and carbon-neutral energy sources. 'Sharing God's Planet' outlines the concept of Contraction and Convergence devised by the Global Commons Institute - a radical but realistic mechanism for establishing equitable entitlements to reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
"The Prime Minister's leadership in placing Climate Change on the agenda of the G8 summit is welcome. However this would be enhanced by a greater commitment to action in the UK. We could be doing more in terms of our investment in integrated public transport systems, the use of pricing mechanisms on fuel or road tax to encourage fuel efficient vehicles, energy conservation in the existing housing stock and building regulations for new housing. These and other such measures would help to engage the private sector in utilising a mix of technologies to reduce emissions.
"To go further the government needs our critical support. The church has a crucial role to play both in terms of practical action and in raising awareness."