Meeting from 13-14 October 2008, the Methodist Council - a governing body for the Methodist Church in Britain - has backed a major Free Churches' initiative on the environment in the light of the reality of global warming.
The Council endorsed the formation of a climate change and theology working group, to produce a report on climate change from ethical and theological perspectives.
The group will be made up of representatives from the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain. Their report will focus on the need for both individual and corporate action, particularly in terms of the national Churches’ environmental policies.
The work will be presented to Methodist Council in April 2009, before going to the Methodist Conference in July. It will also be going to the advisory and decision-making bodies of the other churches before a public launch.
The Methodist Church in Britain has also responded to the report of the Committee on Climate Change by calling for concrete action and a commitment to long-term change.
The Church has welcomed the Committee’s proposal of an 80% target for the reduction of carbon emissions by 2050. This will require a greater investment in energy efficiency and rapid ‘decarbonisation’ of the power and transport sectors. The Church has expressed concern over an apparent lack of direction from the government as to how this is to be achieved.
Christine Elliott, Team Secretary for External Relationships, explained: "This is a huge challenge. We cannot let the fear of turmoil on the financial markets paralyse us. In the Britain of the future the use of fossil fuels must become the exception rather than the rule."
The Methodist Church has raised particular concerns over the use of carbon offsetting by industrialised nations. In submissions to Parliament the Church called for the use of carbon credits to be very limited (offsetting no more than 10% of the UK carbon reduction effort). The Government has argued for industry to have the flexibility to use carbon credits to buy out 50% of the carbon reduction effort required by the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).
"It would be unethical to dodge our responsibility to cut emissions in the UK by purchasing carbon offsets", said Steve Hucklesby, Policy Advisor. "Investment in clean development projects overseas is vital but cannot be a substitute for reducing carbon emissions in the UK. We are looking to the Government to provide strong leadership in mapping out the path to a low carbon economy".