Leaders of the UK’s three largest free churches have welcomed the breakthrough announced at the climate talks in Durban on Sunday morning – 11 December – but warned that time is running out for climate calamity to be avoided.
Commenting on the agreement of a roadmap towards a new climate deal, the Revd Roberta Rominger, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, said: “This eleventh hour consensus on charting the way towards a legally binding agreement on greenhouse gas emission by 2020 is good news for developed and developing countries alike. Now all governments must follow it through and take urgent action to cut carbon emissions significantly; failure to do this could have devastating consequences for the world’s most vulnerable communities.”
Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain asked, “Why should people with the lowest carbon footprints on earth have to bear the brunt of the increasingly frequent and extreme climate events? Climate change is now threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people who live in some of the poorest countries in the world. We have a moral obligation to challenge the voices of wealthier countries that place their own economic recovery ahead of the urgent call for climate action. Effective action to create low-carbon economies will require internationally agreed restraints on the production of greenhouse gases.”
Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, pointed out that taking climate change seriously was also a moral and spiritual issue. He said: “As Western nations we urgently need to address our individualistic, consumer lifestyles which are the major drivers of climate change – and recover an understanding of the richness that is related to sufficiency. We simply cannot celebrate the wonder of God’s creation in one breath and then destroy it in the next.”
Mr Edwards added: “Living more sustainably and simply to enable others to simply live is a crucial part of our Christian calling.”
The three denominations have supported proposals to reduce the carbon footprint of their churches, help members of congregations to reduce carbon emissions, and engage politically to work for national and international change. These proposals are part of the report Hope in God’s Future: Christian Discipleship in the Context of Climate Change which examines the issue of Christian discipleship in the context of climate change.