Church agencies to join major climate change coalition
Three of the largest UK church development NGOs - Christian Aid, CAFOD (the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) and Tearfund - will be officially joining the Climate Movement, a new alliance which aims to create 'an irresistible public mandate for political action', when it is launched in September 2005.
Other members of the action coalition will include Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Network for Social Change, Oxfam, People and Planet, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Women's Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.
Between them, the three church agencies represent the great majority of Christians in Britain, spanning the evangelical, ecumenical and Catholic constituencies. They were involved last October in publishing a report, Up in Smoke, to highlight the need for global warming targets.
In January 2005, the general secretaries of the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation also urged political leaders across the globe to heed the danger that climate change could pose in triggering disasters like the Asian tsunami.
Burning coal, oil and gas releases carbon dioxide, explains CAFOD. This excess forms a blanket around the earth, trapping heat. Such warming could cause an increase in storms and droughts, and a rise in sea level, affecting low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.
CAFOD sees the impact of climate change on poor countries as part of a matrix of issues including deforestation, water scarcity, pollution, urban poverty and environmentally-linked disasters.
Christian Aid's international director, Paul Valentin, says that the new campaign aims to create a world in which human-induced climate change is capped at a level which will allow all of humanity to prosper, by means that promote global social, environmental and economic justice.
Mr Valentin declared last week: 'Christian Aid has a track record of working on environmental issues. Our report in 2000 highlighted the relationship between disasters and climate change. Through work with partners on the ground we have been confronted with the increased vulnerability of millions of people due to climate change.'
Emphasising the international dimension of the coalition's aims, Valentin continued: 'Our goal is to link [Christian Aid] programme work abroad to tackling climate change, its effects and its causes, and to make that link more explicit.'
Meanwhile Tearfund, which is working with partner organisations and governments on climate change and disaster prevention and preparedness, says it 'hopes this will develop to become the equivalent of Make Poverty History.'
Last year churches in Britain launched Operation Noah, which seeks to get Christian communities and households to sign a covenant promising to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions. Among the denominational signatories was the Methodist Church.
The Stop Climate Chaos initiative, as it will be known publicly, is due to be launched 'in spectacular fashion' on the 1 September at Jubilee Gardens, near the famous London Eye, say organisers.