British churches call for low-carbon economies

By staff writers
November 26, 2010

British churches are urging political leaders to lay out plans for low carbon economies at the Cancun follow-up to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

The Cancun conference in Mexico will take place from 29 November to 10 December.

The Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain have stressed the importance of new sources of finance in closing the global climate investment gap.

They have called on the Cancun Conference to support duties on aviation and shipping and to allocate revenue from carbon allowance auctions to an international climate finance depository. An international bank levy is also among the measures recommended to raise the $100 billion a year that the Copenhagen conference determined is needed to tackle climate change.

“This is a huge challenge but it is achievable,” said Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church, “We need sources of grant finance which are predictable and sustainable. We can’t rely on loans when so many countries are already struggling with debt”.

He insisted that, “At Cancun we must start to lay down the financial architecture to support that goal”.

The churches say that climate finance will also help countries adapt to the impact of climate change. They point out that cyclone shelters, rising tube wells, floating gardens and raising and strengthening homes are among the climate adaptation measures being used in Bangladesh to cope with rising sea levels, melting Himalayan glaciers and increasingly powerful cyclones.

Frank Kantor, Secretary for Church and Society of the United Reformed Church, criticised the failure of the Copenhagen summit last December to agree globally binding emission targets.

He said, “Europe has a chance to rebuild trust with poorer countries at Cancun but this will require EU countries to deliver on their three year pledge of €7.2 billion fast-start finance to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to climate change between 2010 and 2012”.

Kantor insisted that the EU has a unique opportunity to gain significant investment in renewable energy technologies by raising its carbon reduction target from 20 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020.

According to a new study compiled by the think-tank e3g, a fall in carbon prices would reduce investment incentive in renewable energy projects.

“As Churches we urge EU leaders present at Cancun to increase the EU carbon reduction targets,” said Kantor, “And thereby send out a clear message to other developed countries that raising carbon reduction targets to more realistic levels will contain the rise on global temperatures to less than two degrees”.

Rev Graham Sparkes, Head of Faith and Unity at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: “Developed countries have to recognise their role as historical polluters. They have to bear the burden and cost of building a clean-energy future.”


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