CHURCHES URGED TO DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY
in light of scientific warnings and political failure
- UK charity Green Christian is calling on the governing bodies of churches in the UK and worldwide to ‘tell the truth about climate change’ by declaring a Climate Emergency
- The churches will join a worldwide movement, which in the UK alone already includes nearly 70 local authorities and many other institutions
- Green Christian has published text to help Christians to propose a Declaration through their denomination’s structures.
The UK-based charity Green Christian is urging churches to join in a national declaration of Climate Emergency. The organisation is among the growing number concerned at the growing risk of catastrophic breakdown in the global climate, within current lifetimes, and the failure of governments to protect life, particularly for young people, the world’s poor and species at risk.
Last October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that urgent and unprecedented changes must be made within little more than a decade to preserve a relatively safe climate. There are now growing signs that critical tipping points are being reached which risk triggering uncontrollable warming well beyond the 1.5 degree Celsius target set by the United Nations. Scientific reports about other ecological collapses, for instance in insect populations, have also aroused alarm.
Over 400 local authorities worldwide have declared a Climate Emergency,
pledging to take decisive action to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and engage citizens to do likewise. In the UK nearly 300 arts and cultural institutions and individuals have joined nearly 70 local authorities in doing so. Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn is seeking a Commons debate on the matter this week.
Green Christian is calling on the national governing bodies of Churches and
denominations to use their moral leadership and spiritual insight to help mobilise change. A declaration of emergency can act as a catalyst for rapid, focused, co-ordinated and equitable action across society, and help individuals make sacrificial choices which reach well beyond the incremental change achieved so far.
The organisation is urging Christians who are active in their denomination
at local and national level to propose a Declaration of Climate Emergency through their church’s governance structures. It offers text for a Declaration which can be accompanied by an appropriate theological and ethical statement, and recommendations for action.
Paul Bodenham, chair of Green Christian, said: ‘Every week now it seems we are being hit by a new climatic extreme or a shocking scientific report.
There is growing concern that after decades of delay, what we do now could be too little, too late. Certainly every action now matters. Every choice we make, from the personal to the global, will determine just how rough a future humanity will face. In reality a climate emergency already exists. We are asking our churches to help people face facts, facts they will wish weren’t true, and take courageous steps to salvage a future. We encourage anyone who has access to their church’s national decision-making process to work with us in making a declaration of climate emergency.’
- Green Christian invites members of governing bodies to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and co-ordination, including members of the following:
- Synods in the Church of England, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church
- Methodist Conference
- United Reformed Church Synods and General Assembly
- Church of Scotland Assembly
- Baptist Assembly
- Catholic Bishops Conference
- Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.
- A statement on Christian ethics and the ecological emergency was published by Christian Ethicists Without Borders in March 2019. The most effective ways for people to reduce their share of greenhouse gas emissions are to eliminate air travel, shift to a plant-based diet, and improve home insulation. The charity also recommends that people tackle their MP, for instance at the forthcoming mass lobby of Parliament, ‘The Time is Now’, on 26 June.
- Alongside this initiative, Green Christian is seeking to respond to a
recent upsurge in ‘eco-anxiety’ and ‘climate grief’. They are making
plans to offer spaces where people who are wrestling with difficult feelings about the ecological crisis can find mutual pastoral support. They will also publish liturgies of public lamentation which can be used in places of worship and public spaces.
- For press enquiries please contact Paul Bodenham, Chair of Green Christian, on 07470 907656 or 01949 861516, or email email@example.com
- Green Christian was formed in 1981 to share green insights with Christians, and Christian insights with the green movement. The charity produces resources, campaigns and events to help people relate environmental issues with their faith, and integrate environmental action into their mission. www.greenchristian.org.uk
Sample declaration text
We (add name of governing body) declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency
We pledge to work with and support our congregations and government, at
local and national levels, in tackling this Emergency, and we call on others to do the same.
These are our intentions:
- We will tell the Truth
Governments and their public broadcasters must tell the truth about the Climate and Ecological Emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and communicate the urgency for far-reaching systemic change.
We will communicate with members of our congregations and support them to discover the truth about the Emergency and the changes that are needed.
- We will take Action
Governments must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
We pledge to work towards reducing our emissions to net zero by 2025. We will challenge policies and actions of local and national governments and their agencies, where they do not help to reduce emissions or consumption levels.
We will actively work to imagine and model ways in which our faith and our congregations can enable the planet’s resources to be safeguarded and regenerated.
- We are committed to Justice
The emergency has arisen from deeply systemic injustices. Faith communities can imagine and unleash shifts in the ways people relate to one another and the world, in our values and behaviours.
We will do what is possible to enable dialogue and expression among our congregations and the communities they serve about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed.
We believe that all truth-telling, action and democratic work must be underpinned by a commitment to justice both within our nation andtowards other nations, particularly those who are poorer.