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Evangelicals see light on climate

EVANGELICAL leaders in the US last week declared themselves convinced by the science of climate change and the arguments on global warming, and urged their government to do more to reduce greenhouse gases.

The statement and call to action, signed by 86 prominent Evangelicals, many of them college principals, represents a significant change of position. "Many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians," says the frank preamble to the statement.

It goes on to commend four "simple and urgent claims": human-induced climate change is real. The consequences will be significant, and will hit the poor the hardest. Christian convictions demand a response to the problem, and the need to act is urgent. It emphasises that governments, businesses, churches, and individuals all have a part to play in addressing climate change.

"We are convinced that Evangelicals must engage this issue without any further lingering over the basic reality of the problem and humanity's responsibility to address it," the leaders declare. "Love of God, love of neighbor, and the demands of stewardship are more than enough reason for Evangelical Christians to respond . . . with moral passion and concrete action."

As early as 2001, the Episcopal Church in the US  urged the President to address the issue of global warming and take the necessary steps to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. It also urged the President and Congress to provide finance and leadership for developing nations to control emissions in order to reduce their vulnerability to climate change and weather disasters.

President Bush made no reference to climate change or global warming in his State of the Union address last month. Groups on the religious right, such as Focus on the Family, insist that global warming is "an environmental theory yet to be adequately substantiated".

Tearfund warmly welcomed the statement. "It must surely prompt America's churchgoing public to take climate change more seriously - and we hope reverberate through a large swathe of the electorate to the Bush administration," said Andy Atkins, advocacy director.

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