The UK-based aid agency Tearfund has welcomed the actions of 86 leading US evangelicals who have formed an Evangelical climate initiative change , breaking with the White House's position on global warming.
In an apparent act of repentance for their slowness in realising the scale of the problem, eighty-six prominent figures in the movement, among them leading pastors, the heads of evangelical colleges, religious broadcasters and the Salvation Army, released a statement yesterday (Wednesday) warning that "millions of people could die this century" because of global warming - most of them in the earth's poorest regions.
However, yesterday other Evangelicals in the US issued statements saying that they were 'refusing to take sides' in the debate over climate change.
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has decided NOT to endorse campaigns or legislation regarding global warming.
The NAE Executive Committee adopted a motion "recognizing the ongoing debate regarding the causes and origins of global warming, and understanding the lack of consensus among the evangelical community on this issue."
Alan Wisdom, President of the Conservative Institute for Religion and Democracy said; "We commend the NAE for declining to take sides in the debates over global warming".
"Christians agree about our call to be good stewards of God's creation. But there is legitimate disagreement about the extent of, causes of, results of, and remedies for global warming. This is an issue on which individual Christians should form and express their own judgments, but not an issue on which the church should support a particular agenda."
But Evangelicals in the UK welcomed the new moves Evangelicals in the US to recognise and act on climate change.
Andy Atkins, Advocacy Director at aid agency Tearfund, said: "US evangelical Christian leaders have taken a significant step by releasing a statement on climate change. As a UK-based evangelical Christian development agency, we welcome the move. It must surely prompt America's church-going public to take climate change more seriously. And we hope reverberate through a large swathe of the electorate to the Bush administration.
"Tearfund's Christian partners across the world have been living for years with the effects of climate change. Poor communities tell us that seasons are changing, rainfall patterns are increasingly unpredictable, with devastating consequences for crop yields. They also report declining water supplies and growing health problems such as malaria attacking new communities as it reaches higher altitudes.
"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions immediately is vital, as the statement points out. Governments, including the US and UK must do more. Responsibility for this also lies with individuals whose everyday lifestyles have a major impact on the planet. This is why Tearfund has joined the Stop Climate Chaos campaign with others who are calling on the UK Government to go further on their commitments, whilst also encouraging individuals to take action. It is the shared responsibility of each of us on this planet."
Christian aid agencies including Tearfund were amongst those who issued a report in 2004 warning that global warming threatens to make the international targets on halving global poverty by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) unattainable.