Churches engage Prime Minister on moral challenge of climate change

By agency reporter
March 2, 2009

Three Free Church leaders have added their voices to the Church of England and the Church of Scotland’s in reminding the Prime Minister that not acting urgently at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference would be a “moral failure”.

The Methodist Church, The Baptist Church and The United Reformed Church have backed Anglican Bishops who said the European Council must seize the opportunity this month to agree a strategy to secure an effective response to climate change at the Copenhagen Conference in December.

The Rev Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of The Baptist Union of Great Britain, Revd Stephen Poxon, President of The Methodist Conference and John Marsh, Moderator of The United Reformed Church, wrote to the Prime Minister criticizing the European Commission Communication of January 28 and calling for a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen.

“We believe that the recent Communication of the European Commission fails to set out clear proposals for a comprehensive, ambitious and equitable new global agreement on climate change,” said the church leaders.

“The current recession stands to impact many in our communities and we recognise that EU Heads of Governments are tempted to use the immediacy of the economic crisis to shy away from taking long-term action on climate change. We are convinced that it would be short-sighted to stimulate economic growth without simultaneously addressing deficiencies in the relationship between economy and ecology.

“We recognise that challenges facing you and other EU Heads of Government when you meet in Brussels in March will be immense,” said the church leaders in their letter. “Yet, if Copenhagen 2009 is to be the moment in history in which humanity has the opportunity to rise to the challenge and decisively deal with climate change, then key aspects of the EU’s negotiating position need revision.”

The letter also advises Gordon Brown that the 28 January 2009 Communication needs two revisions. Firstly, the EU’s emission reductions targets must be clearly aligned with scientific evidence to limit long-term global warming to less than two degrees centigrade. Secondly, the EU should invest the financial equivalent of an additional 15 per cent emission reduction in developing countries by 2020.

Right Reverend David Lunan, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, also urged Gordon Brown not use the current economic crisis to shy away from helping those hit hardest by global warming.

Mr Lunan wrote to Mr Brown voicing his concern that heads of leading European countries are not doing enough to ensure sufficient funding is given to developing countries struggling to cope with the effects of climate change.

He said: “If Copenhagen 2009 is to be the moment in history in which humanity has the opportunity to rise to the challenge and decisively deal with climate change, then key aspects of the EU’s negotiating position needs revision.

“We are therefore disappointed that while the Communication recognises that massive resources are needed to help developing countries adapt to climate change and adopt green technologies, it fails to specify how much money the EU should contribute to this process.

“We encourage you to see the current financial crisis and economic recession less as a threat and more a historic opportunity to bring about tomorrow’s low carbon economy today.”

The Church of England’s House of Bishops, sent a similar letter to 10 Downing Street.

“The world needs to reduce its emissions of CO2 at the same time as dealing with a crisis in our debt-based economies. This is an opportunity for human society to build a new kind of low-carbon economy which is more fulfilling, more sustainable and more equitable,” the Rt Rev Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford, wrote in a letter to Mr Brown on behalf of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel.

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