The World Council of Churches (WCC) programme on climate change and water has welcomed a high-profile report released today by the United Nations climate panel. The WCC brings together mainline Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and indigenous churches across the world, working closely with Roman Catholics and in exchange with Evangelicals and Pentecostals.
The fourth major report in 20 years from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents the overwhelming scientific consensus on greenhouse gas emissions.
It is "very likely," the report says, that emissions from fossil fuels and other human activities are the main causes of climate change. In IPCC terminology, "very likely" indicates at least 90 percent probability, and is the strongest link to human activities made by the panel since it was set up in 1988. The report also reminds governments and peoples that correcting the damage already occasioned will take many centuries.
For the Rev Dr Martin Robra, responsible for the WCC's work on climate change, the global debate over human impact on the environment must now shift from denial and delays to responsibility and remedies - that are well within humanity's grasp.
Alarming scenarios concerning the consequences of climate change for people, plants and animals, the WCC says, should compel everybody to do their utmost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to support those already affected by storms, droughts, floods and rising sea levels.
The Council is calling a rapidly growing number of people in its constituency who are taking action on climate change to consult and use the information published in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
The WCC's own work on climate change began in 1990, drawing the attention of churches and the wider public to the threat to future life of climate change, as well as to its actual impact today, especially on poor and vulnerable communities.
At a launch event today (2 February 2007), the IPCC said that global temperatures were probably going to increase by 1.8-4C (3.2-7.2F) by the end of the twenty-first century.
It also projected that sea levels were most likely to rise by 28-43cm, and global warming was likely to influence the intensity of tropical storms.
"We can be very confident that the net effect of human activity since 1750 has been one of warming," co-lead author Dr Susan Soloman told delegates at the gathering in Paris, France.
In many cases industry is now joining environmental campaigners in urging President Bush, who has been influenced by global warming sceptics, to join other nations in taking decisive action.