Churches urged to declare climate emergency

By agency reporter
May 1, 2019

The UK-based charity Green Christian is urging churches to join in a national declaration of Climate Emergency. The organisation is among the growing number concerned at the risk of catastrophic breakdown in the global climate within current lifetimes, and the failure of governments to protect life, particularly for young people, the world's poor and species at risk.

In October 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that urgent and unprecedented changes must be made within little more than a decade to preserve a relatively safe climate. There are now growing signs that critical tipping points are being reached which risk triggering uncontrollable warming well beyond the 1.5 degree Celsius target set by the United Nations. Scientific reports about other ecological collapses, for instance in insect populations, have also aroused alarm.

More than 400 local authorities worldwide have declared a Climate Emergency, pledging to take decisive action to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and engage citizens to do likewise. In the UK nearly 300 arts and cultural institutions and individuals have joined nearly 70 local authorities in doing so. Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn is seeking a Commons debate on the matter this week.

Green Christian is calling on the national governing bodies of Churches and denominations to use their moral leadership and spiritual insight to help mobilise change. A declaration of emergency can act as a catalyst for rapid, focused, co-ordinated and equitable action across society, and help individuals make sacrificial choices which reach well beyond the incremental change achieved so far.

The organisation is urging Christians who are active in their denomination at local and national level to propose a Declaration of Climate Emergency through their church's governance structures. It offers text for a Declaration which can be accompanied by an appropriate theological and ethical statement, and recommendations for action.

Paul Bodenham, chair of Green Christian, said: "Every week now it seems we are being hit by a new climatic extreme or a shocking scientific report. There is growing concern that after decades of delay, what we do now could be too little, too late. Certainly every action now matters. Every choice we make, from the personal to the global, will determine just how rough a future humanity will face. In reality a climate emergency already exists. We are asking our churches to help people face facts, facts they will wish weren't true, and take courageous steps to salvage a future. We encourage anyone who has access to their church's national decision-making process to work with us in making a declaration of climate emergency."

Sample declaration text

We (name of governing body) declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency

We pledge to work with and support our congregations and government, at local and national levels, in tackling this Emergency, and we call on others to do the same.

These are our intentions:

We will tell the Truth

Governments and their public broadcasters must tell the truth about the Climate and Ecological Emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and communicate the urgency for far-reaching systemic change.

We will communicate with members of our congregations and support them to discover the truth about the Emergency and the changes that are needed.

We will take Action

Governments must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.

We pledge to work towards reducing our emissions to net zero by 2025. We will challenge policies and actions of local and national governments and their agencies, where they do not help to reduce emissions or consumption levels.

We will actively work to imagine and model ways in which our faith and our congregations can enable the planet's resources to be safeguarded and regenerated.

We are committed to Justice

The emergency has arisen from deeply systemic injustices. Faith communities can imagine and unleash shifts in the ways people relate to one another and the world, in our values and behaviours.

We will do what is possible to enable dialogue and expression among our congregations and the communities they serve about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed.

We believe that all truth-telling, action and democratic work must be underpinned by a commitment to justice both within our nation and towards other nations, particularly those who are poorer.

Green Christian invites members of governing bodies to contact them at emergency@greenchristian.org.uk for further information and co-ordination.

* Green Christian https://greenchristian.org.uk/

* Independent Catholic News https://www.indcatholicnews.com/

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