The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is joining Anglicans from around the world in urging world leaders to take action on climate change. Representatives from 197 nations are gathered in the German city of Bonn this week for the latest round of climate change talks at the UN’s Cop23 conference. They are discussing ways to implement the agreement signed in Paris at the Cop21 talks 2015. It is the first Cop meeting since President Donald Trump announced that the US was pulling out of the agreement.
Although being held in Bonn, the talks are being hosted by the pacific nation of Fiji. In a letter to the Fijian Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, Archbishop Justin said that the Anglican Communion “supports your work to ensure that . . . issues of climate change and global warming are recognised as an urgent priority requiring immediate attention. We are praying for the renewing of our world.”
The Anglican Alliance is part of a consortium of Christian organisations, including Micah Global, the World Evangelical Alliance, and the international aid and development agency Tearfund, in setting up the Renew Our World campaign.
The executive director of Micah Challenge USA, Jason Fileta, said: “The archbishop is absolutely right when he talks about the need for immediate attention in the battle against climate change. I see the effects climate change is having on the poorest people in the world every day. It is dragging many back into the clutches of poverty.
“Archbishop Justin is one of thousands of Christians around the world who are joining our campaign to urge world leaders to agree substantial plans for how they will cut their emissions.”
Writing in the New York Times, Archbishop Justin said there was a moral duty to tackle climate change. “As people of faith, we don’t just state our beliefs – we live them out,” he said. “One belief is that we find purpose and joy in loving our neighbours. Another is that we are charged by our creator with taking good care of his creation.
“The moral crisis of climate change is an opportunity to find purpose and joy, and to respond to our creator’s charge. Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love our neighbour and to steward the gift of creation.”
The US-based Episcopal Church has observer status at the United Nations, and has sent a delegation to Bonn to “offer worship and prayer to those who are participating . . . to advocate for ways of helping to improve our environment and [to help] the nations of the world to do that work,” the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said.
“It is important for the Church to be there,” Curry said in a video message ahead of the talks. “We have joined with our partners in the Anglican Communion as well, in this work of environmental stewardship. And we will, likewise join with them, other Christians, people of other faith and good will – all of whom care about the air we breathe, and the water we drink, and the land on which we dwell.”
He said: “Pray for them. Pray for us. Pray for the Planet. Pray for the World – for this is God’s world, because in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This is God’s world, and we are given the task to care for it.”
Led by the Bishop of California, Marc Andrus, the 11-strong delegation is the third time the Episcopal Church has sent observers to a UN Cop meeting: they were present at Cop21 in Paris in 2015, and last year for Cop22 in Marrakesh.
Canon Charles Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church, commented: “Our goals are to build on the work done at previous conferences by urging member states to implement the Paris Agreement and pay particular attention to developing nations and the poor, to raise awareness across the Episcopal Church of the importance of engaging on climate change as Christians, to digitally engage Episcopalians in that work before and during the conference, and to network within the accredited and public zones of the conference to spread the word about what the Episcopal Church is doing on climate issues.”
The leaders of the ACT-Alliance – a coalition of 146 faith based organisations and churches based in 125 countries, including many Anglican Churches and agencies – the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation have prepared a video message calling on the leaders to follow the Paris agreement with “accountable and ambitious action”.
“Let us take this opportunity again in COP23 to make decisions that lead us in the right way,” the general secretary of the WCC, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, said. “It is about who is affected today, who is living in livelihoods that are threatened by what is happening”.
The Cop23 talks began on Monday (6 November) and are due to conclude next Friday (17 November)