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Anglicans and other Christian leaders demand action on Climate Change

Posted on: October 19, 2017 11:42 AM
The then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is briefed on the final draft of the Paris COP21 climate change agreement in November 2015. Ahead of next month’s COP23 talks in Germany, Christian leaders are calling on governments to implement the promises they made in Paris.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Géminel

Five Anglican archbishops have joined other Christian leaders in calling for governments to implement the promises they made at the Paris Climate Change talks. Political leaders from 197 nations will gather in Bonn, Germany, next month for the next phase of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23); and the Christian leaders are urging them to “keep the promises they made in the Paris Agreement, to restore the natural balance.”

The letter was signed by five archbishops: Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa, Winston Halapua of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Albert Chama of Central Africa, Philip Freier of Australia; and Francisco De Assis Da Silva of Brazil; and two bishops: Dr Jwan Zhumbes of Bukuru in Nigeria, and Dr Robert Innes from the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe.

The letter has been co-ordinated by Renew Our World – a Christian partnership bringing together the Anglican Alliance, Tearfund, Micah Challenge, EU-Cord, Eficor, Paz y Esperanza, and the Jos Green Centre in Australia, Brazil, Europe, India, Nigeria, Peru, the UK, US, and Zambia.

Renew Our World say that next month’s COP23 meeting is “the crucial next step for our world to take urgent action on climate solutions, before it’s too late. We already won the commitment of almost every country in the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. But now it is time to hold our governments accountable to those commitments, and make sure we turn the Paris Agreement into reality. We must make sure our leaders keep their promises.

“This year is critically important, especially since President Trump indicated he wants to withdraw the US from the agreement. Now is the crucial time for our world to band together, focus, and rise to meet our commitments to protect people and planet.”

Andy Bowerman, co-executive director of the Anglican Alliance, which co-ordinates relief and development work amongst the provinces of the Anglican communion, commented: “I’m sure that after their engaging and moving conversations at the Primates’ Meeting, it was an easy decision for each of the archbishops to sign the letter. 

“They, along with all of the archbishops who met in Canterbury, understand the deep consequences of not acting now on climate change.”

The letter has also been signed by more than 580 other Christian leaders, including Bishop Efraim Tendero of the World Evangelical Alliance; the human rights activist Dr Denis Mukwege; Pete Greig from the 24-7 prayer movement; US singer Nichole Nordeman; and Laura Vargas from the Inter-religious Council of Peru.

It says: “as Christians across the globe we are calling for action on climate change. The changing climate is causing great damage to people and planet right now, and we are particularly concerned about hunger and poverty hitting the most vulnerable communities, who did least to cause it.”

They are calling on world leaders to

  • Set targets for the world to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to limit global warming to the safe level of 1.5 degrees.

  • Invest in 100% clean energy, particularly using local grids so it reaches those in poverty beyond the reach of national electricity grids.

  • Support more sustainable, low emission agriculture, to stop communities going hungry, and help them cope better with more floods and droughts caused by climate change.

  • Publish national country plans in 2020 showing how each nation will move to zero emissions.

“This is our generation’s challenge, a significant part of how we love our neighbours,” the letter says. “We’re committing to respond as Christians by living more sustainably, praying, and raising our voices; we’re asking every member of the church – the world’s largest network – to join in, alongside many others, and every national leader to lead the way.”