The leaders of the Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed churches in Britain have called on the government to put pressure on the world’s richest countries to reach a binding agreement at next week’s climate change conference in Copenhagen.
The churches argue that since developed countries such as the UK and US owe their wealth to activities producing high levels of carbon, they also have a moral responsibility to take the lead in setting measures to counter global warming.
The statement comes amid widespread acknowledgement that agreement on a climate treaty at Copenhagen – needed as the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 – is unlikely.
The Free Churches have been supporting developing countries in their fight for a deal that mitigates the effects of climate change on the poor and vulnerable and allows the economic development of poor nations.
The Rev John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, commented: “We share the anger and frustration of the world’s poorest countries with the intransigent positions adopted by negotiators of some of the richest countries ahead of the Copenhagen summit which has rendered a binding agreement unlikely. The time for talking is over."
He continued: “The richest countries have a moral obligation to ensure that a series of clear decisions are now made in order to have a treaty committing them to a cut of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
"We call on the government to do everything in their power to persuade their American counterparts to commit to this timeframe and target at Copenhagen,” declared Marsh.