21 September 2009
Statement from the Church of England's College of Bishops responding to the challenge of Climate Change in the run-up to Copenhagen.
The full statement agreed at last week's annual College of Bishops in Oxford reads as follows:
If a fire breaks out and spreads into thorn bushes so that it burns stocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.
As Christians we are called to love God, follow the path of Christ and love our neighbour as ourselves. From these aspects of Christian vocation and witness we derive an ethic and practice of care for God’s creation and action for justice and peace in safeguarding the environment on which all depend, which belongs to God, and which is in our care as faithful stewards and servants of God.
As a Church we recognise the gravity of the ecological problems facing our world and the need to deal with them in ways that offer justice, hope and sustainable livelihood to the poor of the earth. We are committed in the spirit of the Christian faith to work with others, especially those of other faiths, for sustainable development – development that brings justice and decent living standards to the poor and marginalised, that uses wisely the resources of the earth, that safeguards the richness of God’s good Earth for future generations.
With less than four months to go before the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, in December 2009, this year’s Time for Creation provides an obvious occasion for the Church to join with others across Europe in prayerful reflection on those political decisions that need to be taken by governments to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation.
Securing an agreement capable of limiting global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will require an extraordinary effort that is without precedent in global environmental politics. It will also require a radical change in mentality and awareness in society as a whole. Now more than ever the Church is called to demonstrate its visible commitment to care for the integrity of creation, by living simply and sustainably itself and by pressing governments to provide effective leadership internationally.
Energy saving toolkits launched on 11th June 2009 as part of the Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint initiative provides a valuable new resource to assist the whole body of the Church to meet its stated ambition of reducing its environment footprint by 80 per cent by 2050. The launch this week of the Climate Justice Fund – a web-based tool that enables individuals, parishes and dioceses here in the UK to calculate their own carbon footprint and pay compensation for anything over their share – reminds us that important though mitigation is, our actions can’t begin and end there.
We have a responsibility to protect and assist those vulnerable communities that are already experiencing, through no fault of their own, the devastating impacts of a changing climate. Leaving the world’s poor to sink or swim with their own meagre resources in the face of the threat posed by climate change is clearly morally unacceptable. That is why at its heart climate change is an issue of global justice.
These initiatives, together with the significant Church of England and Anglican Communion statements, and commitments already made by the General Synod, have been assembled by Theos, a Christian think tank, for presentation at the Copenhagen Conference and publication on the Shrinking the Footprint website.
Taken together, these efforts illustrate the Church’s understanding that responding to the challenge of climate change requires both changes in lifestyle and also financial compensation to those most affected. Whilst it will be for governments meeting in Copenhagen in December to agree an ambitious and deliverable successor to the Kyoto regime for global reductions in carbon emissions, we have a part to play by joining with others across the world in providing political leaders with an ambitious and compelling mandate to act justly and responsibly.
16 September 2009, Oxford
2009 is a crucial year in the international effort to address climate change, culminating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen, 7th-18th December. In 2007, Parties agreed to shape an ambitious and effective international response to climate change, to be agreed at Copenhagen.
In 1989 the Ecumenical Patriarch suggested that 1st September, the first day of the Orthodox Church's year, should be observed as a day "of protection of the natural environment". Ten years later the European Christian Environmental Network widened this proposal, urging churches to adopt a Time for Creation stretching from 1 September to the feast of St Francis on 4th October. This was endorsed by the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania in 2007, which recommended that the period "be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change".
Shrinking the Footprint is the Church of England’s national strategic campaign to enable its members and institutions to address - in faith, practice, and mission - the pressing issue of climate change. It aims to challenge, encourage and support the whole body of the Church to shrink its environmental footprint to create the "The 20 per cent Church" by 2050. Shrinking the Footprint was set up in 2006 on Environment Day.
The Climate Justice Fund is being set up under the umbrella of Shrinking the Footprint. Any money accrued to the Fund will go initially to support three Anglican Church Projects in Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These projects will help poor communities respond quickly and effectively to the challenges of climate change. All financial matters regarding the Climate Justice Fund will be managed by Tearfund, one of the UK’s leading relief and development agencies. The decision to set up the Climate Justice Fund was taken by the Church of England’s General Synod in July 2008.
Climate change exacerbates existing development problems and is therefore an additional burden on developing countries seeking to achieve sustainable development. These challenges will need to be addressed through both short term and long term approaches to adaptation. According to a selection of current estimates on the overall needs, the additional investment required for adaption to the inevitable impacts of climate change in developing countries is in the order of US$50-80 billion per year by 2020, in addition to existing Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments.
The College of Bishops includes all diocesan and suffragan bishops in the Church of England - 113 when there are no vacant Sees.