British Christians march to support UN climate action

By Ellen Teague
December 5, 2011
Campaigners at one of Saturday's Climate Change events

Green Christians took part in a full day of Climate Change events in London on Saturday, as the UN climate talks in Durban move into their second week.

From midnight, a Climate Refugee Vigil was held on the foreshore of the River Thames, where activists from religious and secular organisations pitched a camp to highlight the precarious situation for the many people worldwide already affected by climate change.

Makeshift shelters were erected from bamboo canes and tarpaulin on the rough shingle and sand of the tidal beach, and a shrine of candles was lit, and music made, in solidarity with global climate change refugees, currently estimated to number 25 million.

In the morning around 50 people attended an ecumenical service organised by Christian Ecology Link at St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside.

The service was led by the Rev Steve Paynter from the board of Operation Noah, the Christian climate change campaign. Prayers were said for seeds of far-reaching change to be planted this week at the United Nations climate conference in Durban, South Africa.

The church group then joined thousands taking part in the annual Climate Justice march, that moved along the Embankment to Whitehall and Westminster, where a political rally was held opposite the entrance to the British Parliament's House of Commons.

Christian Ecology Link members then walked to St Paul's Cathedral to be welcomed for choral evensong by Canon Michael Hampel, Precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral Chapter. The service included prayers dedicated to the success of the Durban talks. Members of the congregation included activists from the Occupy encampment, who had been involved in the climate change events throughout the day.

Christian Ecology Link are encouraging all members to take part in the ecocell2 project, an eco-pilgrimage and study programme, as their own personal response to the risks of dangerous climate change.

Ruth Jarman, member of the board of Christian Ecology Link, who was there all day with her three children, said: "My children's future depends upon actions taken now. I want them to know they were part of a prophetic community demanding urgent action on climate change. As individuals it's easy to fall into despair and denial, but getting involved in Christian Ecology Link or donating to Operation Noah we can keep each other motivated, active and hopeful."

Columban priest Fr Peter Hughes said: “Columbans are here today to urge action on an issue which is even more of a crisis than the economic crisis, particularly for poor communities around the world”.

He added that Catholics around the world agree with Cardinal Wilfred Napier of South Africa who said this week that the global spiritual community must do what their political leaders have failed to do and not accept platitudes instead of action on climate change. Columban eco-theologian Sean McDonagh is attending the Durban talks.


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