Senior leaders of four major UK Churches have welcomed the Government’s commitment to limiting climate change, and have called for more to be done to keep global warming below 2°C.
Leaders of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church issued a statement today in the lead up to the COP21 summit in Paris.
Next week representatives from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris from November 30 – December 11 with the aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change to keep global warming below 2°C.
Over the past year, churches, charities and agencies have prayed, fasted and marched in solidarity for climate justice.
The statement reads: “Concern for the environment is central to a theology of care and respect for God’s creation. It involves solidarity with all the peoples of the earth, all other creatures and with our planet itself. The impacts of global warming will fall increasingly on the world’s developing nations, in the form of droughts, famines and lands becoming uninhabitable.
“We welcome the UK Government’s commitment to provide climate finance to developing nations… and the UK has made the second largest contribution of $1.2bn.”
In terms of the UK’s own energy usage the statement says: “It is essential that the UK does not simply replace coal with increased reliance on gas. Our Churches have called for the Government to ensure that 60% of our electricity generation comes from renewable sources by 2030.”
In comment on the statement, the Revd Jenni Entrican, President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: “We welcome the UK Government’s announcement that coal fired power stations will be phased out by 2025. However the Government is proposing to roll back incentives for the renewable energy that have helped churches and their members to play a part by investing in solar power. Our nation cannot simply replace coal with gas, as this will make it impossible to decarbonise our electricity generation sufficiently by 2030. Our churches would be delighted to see the UK take a leadership role in clean affordable renewable energy.”
The Revd Steven Wild, President of the Methodist Conference, added: “The words of the prophets remind us that we are called to acts of love and justice. Today’s prophets might well include the vast body of climate scientists who in very measured language speak clearly of the situation that we face today. In Copenhagen in 2009, based on this science, Governments promised to take action to ensure that global warming does not pass 2 degrees centigrade. Over the next two weeks we look to Governments to take leadership and deliver on their promise. This will involve trust between nations and the willingness to agree to binding and ambitious climate targets. Church members, policy makers and MPs each have a part to play in responding to the call for justice and care for God’s creation.”
Mr John Ellis, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, said: “The world continues to look to Paris as the Climate Summit gets underway. We are conscious that peace cannot be forced but needs to be built. We have witnessed a tremendous outpouring of concern for the victims of violence from around the world. A fitting response would be a redoubling of efforts to ensure that future generations are not displaced from their homes by climate induced disasters. I pray that this proves not to be just another governmental summit but a moment when we identified with the suffering of others and took action.”
The Right Revd Angus Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “Scotland has led the way in the United Kingdom in the development of renewable electricity and the Church of Scotland is very concerned progress is being put at risk because of recent changes in UK Government policy. Community renewable energy projects help us address fuel poverty and reduce our carbon footprint. At the time when governments are meeting in Paris to tackle climate change we call for the UK Government to think again and support community energy projects as a priority. Climate change is arguably the greatest long term threat facing our planet and we must all act to reduce the damage we are doing to future generations.”
To read the full statement, click here.