Put world's poorest first in climate debate says Archbishop

By staff writers
December 5, 2009
Vincent Nichols with Rowan Williams at The Wave

It is vital that the needs of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged are at the centre of the debate about climate change, Vincent Nichols, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, told Christians at 'Time to Pray', an ecumenical service about the environment and climate change held in London today (5 December).

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, David Gamble, President of the Methodist Conference and Steve Clifford, Director of the Evangelical Alliance were amongst other Christian leaders speaking at the service.

The service took place at Westminster Central Hall, prior to ‘The Wave’, a march in central London designed to highlight climate change issues prior to the Copenhagen inter-governmental climate summit.

Archbishop Nichols urged people to consider their own lifestyles when thinking about climate change, and urged that people live more simple lives, not dominated by the demands of the “consumer society”.

“Pope Benedict XVI in his statement to the UN Climate Change Initiative in September this year” said Archbishop Nichols, “made clear that since the natural environment is given by God to everyone, so our use of it 'entails a personal responsibility towards humanity as a whole, particularly towards the poor and towards future generations’.

“This is why we are right to repeat again and again the straightforward appeal: ‘Live simply!’; ‘Live simply so that others may simply live and so that our planet may be cared for and not exploited. Of course we sense within us never-ending demands, often provoked by the culture of our consumer society.

"But we must look hard at the way we live our lives and consider again those whose future is threatened by the effects of our own lifestyles. Only when we are clearly prepared to change the way we live will politicians be able to achieve the change we say we want to see.”

Archbishop Nichols also said that the development of technology would play an important role in resolving environmental problems.

“Technological advance is a crucial part of the way we will find solutions to the problems caused by climate change. Technology, of course, is not morally neutral. Rather its proper use is guided always by its effect on the common good. So today let us say, let the genius of our finest minds serve the needs of all, and the needs of our environment.

“Our voices today are not filled with anxiety or gloom, but with hope. This is because we know the source of true, enduring hope" he continued.

"Our most radical hope lies in the truth of the promised final completion, the final resurrection of all created beings, transformed into the reality of that wonderful vision of ‘a new heaven and a new earth.

“This is the hope that inspires us to insist that our world is not our own, not at our disposal, not for us to do with just what we like. Indeed, at the centre of our world stands the human person, every single one made in the image and likeness of God and deserving, for that reason alone, respect, freedom and cooperation.”

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.