Churches give strong backing to global warming action

By agency reporter
December 10, 2007

Church leaders and Christians from many denominations joined protest rallies in more than 50 cities around the world this weekend, calling on world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali to effectively tackle the threat of global warming.

In London, near the UK parliament, an ecumenical prayer service took place at St Matthew's Anglican Church in Great Peter Street, Westminster. There was standing-room only at the event organised by Operation Noah, Christian Ecology Link, Eco-Congregation and the Student Christian Movement (SCM), reports Independent Catholic News (

During the service, Ann Pettifor, director of Operation Noah, declared: "Climate change is an issue that has parallels with international debt. Jubilee 2000 criticised the dangerous notion that debts would simply be fixed some time in the future. Today Operation Noah points out that global warming must be dealt with today. We can't rely on some fix to come along in the future."

She continued: "You people here have the gift of recognising how important the issue of global warming is for Christians, and for all life on earth."

Dr Pettifor went on: "An important aspect of sin is the refusal of the right use of things. Our society is guilty of that sin, but people here have the gift to recognise that. It is important to go forward and share that recognition with others."

She added: "Too much emphasis has been given in the green movement to individuals tackling climate change on their own. Operation Noah wants people to work together. Operation Noah believes that people of faith can do a great deal - celebrating God's gift of creation with others and offering leadership. We also need to be leaders ourselves."

After praying together, the congregation braved torrential rain on the walk down Millbank to Westminster where they joined the 10,000 strong march to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square.

On the way, protesters delivered a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Downing Street. It said: "We feel that dealing with this threat should be the number one priority of the British government, a priority for all areas of policy and across all departments of government."

The letter also urged the British government "to secure an equitable emissions treaty that is effective in preventing the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate and which minimises dangerous climate change."

The need for an "equitable and just" settlement was also stressed in a letter sent on Friday 7 December 2007 to the President of the European Union by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Uppsala, Sweden, the Most Rev Anders Wejryd, and the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Bishop Dr Wolfgang Huber.

They said that trust had to be restored between North and South after so many broken promises, and that governments needed to look beyond national interests to provide for "the global common good".

"Informed by the prevailing scientific evidence, all countries should commit to reduce collectively global emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050."

In the church leaders' view, "developed countries need to reduce their collective emissions by between 30 per cent and 40 per cent by 2020. Rapidly industrialising countries should be encouraged to commit to reduce their energy intensity by 30 per cent by 2020 (an average of 4 per cent per year) and agree to emissions targets thereafter."

These reductions would force heavily industrialised nations to make technological developments needed for carbon reduction. Those could be passed on to developing countries to enable them to continue growing while keeping to the new targets. Poor countries needed better access to mitigation funds to offset the immediate impact of climate change.

Speaking in the House of Lords, the Anglican Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, announced last week that the Church of England would "urgently review" the option to move to an 80 per cent target for carbon reduction. It would consider doing more to use renewable sources of energy.

"Already we have put solar panels on all sorts of church roofs," he added.

Meanwhile the Church of Scotland, with 1.5 million members, has added its weight to the Stop Climate Chaos campaign. The Presbyterian denomination is the largest in Scotland.

A Vatican delegation is among those attending the Bali conference from 3-14 December 2007.

Led by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, it is composed of Monsignor Andrew Thanya-anan Vissanu, nunciature counsellor in Jakarta, and three local experts from the Philippines and Indonesia - Fr Benito B Tuazon, Fr Alexius Andang Listya Binawan SJ, and Vera Wenny Setijawati.

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