Free Church leaders in Britain have called on European politicians to make firm commitments on climate change policy at the EU summit meeting in Strasbourg, which starts today (29 October 2009).
The Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church have urged the European Union to agree carbon cuts of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and for these cuts to be made within the EU without extensive use of offsets.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) also sent a letter to MEPs this week, emphasising the need to reduce dependence on the consumption of fossil-based energy.
The Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain, said: “Europe must not be afraid to lead on climate change. This challenge will not be solved by nations sitting back and waiting for others to act first. Developed nations have benefited most from cheap fossil fuels and we must now lead on developing low carbon futures for all. Caring for God’s planet earth is today a crucial expression of Christian discipleship.”
The three churches have produced a report and study guide called 'Hope in God’s Future'. The booklet, available from Methodist Publishing, takes the reader on a journey using the changing mood of a worship service as a framework for considering climate change and people’s effect on the planet.
The Rev John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, commented: “Climate change is not only an urgent environmental issue, but a justice issue - as those least responsible for global warming are paying the highest price for our irresponsible lifestyles in the West."
He continued: "We call on our political leaders to demonstrate the moral courage and leadership now urgently needed to address this gross injustice. We see the consequences of climate change with increasing frequency, and as Free Church leaders, we express our solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in countries who have suffered the latest convulsions of the earth - in the Philippines, Sumatra, Samoa and American Samoa. We offer fervent prayer for their comfort and sustenance amidst the desolation of their grief and loss”.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of London on 5 December 2009 to show their support for The Wave campaign – a procession to advocate a safe climate future for everyone, organised the by Stop Climate Chaos coalition. Senior representatives from the three churches will be present at the ecumenical service at Methodist Central Hall which will take place at 11am on the morning of The Wave procession.
Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, added today: “We support the call of the Prime Minister for Europe to take a lead in setting up a substantial fund to help emerging nations cut carbon emissions. It is time that words were turned into solid and concrete financial commitments. Unless a proper funding package is put in place, little can be expected from Copenhagen – and, as so often, it will be the poorest in the world who will suffer most.”