Quakers call for UK leadership at climate summit

By agency reporter
December 10, 2018

As nations gather in Poland to agree how to achieve global climate change goals, Quakers are calling on the UK Government to set to a 'net-zero' emissions target for 2050, and commit to bold policy to meet it.

The target reflects the findings of the UN's recent Special Report on global warming. The report concludes the world must remain within 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels to avoid dangerous climate change.

Quaker meetings from across the UK are gearing up to engage MPs and local politicians on the need for immediate climate action. The concern for the earth and the well-being of all who live in it, is not new. It is deeply rooted in Quaker faith. Early Quakers knew that to damage the earth would be an injustice for future generations.

The UK is on track to miss its legally binding climate targets. This has raised concerns for Quakers and other faith groups.

The UK is among nearly 200 countries to attend the UN's COP24 climate summit in Katowice, Poland. The nations are aiming to establish a 'rule book' to put in place of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Quaker representative, Lindsey Fielder Cook, from the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO), is attending the summit in Poland. She said, “It is critical that a country like the United Kingdom, birthplace of the industrial revolution, show leadership at the COP24 in Poland. Specifically, the UK should lead efforts to deliver climate finance and greenhouse gas emission reductions (mitigation) promised to poorer countries prior to the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement."

This year, Quakers in Britain have joined with a wide range of groups to back a series of urgent climate measures. They have called on the government to:

  • reinstate a zero carbon standard for new homes, and extend it to all buildings by 2020
  • speed up the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars and vans by bringing forward the deadline to do this from 2040 to 2030
  • ensure the cheapest low carbon power sources – onshore wind and solar – are supported by appropriate subsidies and planning rules
  • set a target in the new Agriculture Bill to secure net zero emissions from agriculture by 2050 at the latest

In November 2018, Quakers joined campaigners, politicians and faith leaders at Parliament to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UK's Climate Change Act. In committing the UK to cut emissions fast and set up a series of carbon budgets, it was the world's first national climate legislation of its kind. “The UK is right to be proud of the Climate Change Act." says Helen Drewery, Head of Worship and Witness, Quakers in Britain, “Won by years of grassroots pressure, the Act allows us to hold Government to account on climate change. Ministers have said they want the UK to play a global lead on this. We need to see the policies and investments to make it happen soon."

* Read the Quaker Peace and Social Witness policy briefing here

*  Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

* Quakers in Britain http://www.quaker.org.uk/


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