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Climate ‘is a religious issue’

26 June 2008

by Ed Beavan

THE Mission and Public Affairs Council’s report Climate Change and Human Security: A challenging environment of injustice, to be debated by the General Synod next month (News, 13 and 20 June), says that the Church “needs to reshape the climate-change debate from being a purely environmental issue to a moral and religious one”.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, will move a motion endorsing the report’s recommendations on the Sunday afternoon of the Synod’s York sessions

The report says that world governments are increasingly treating climate change as a threat to human security, as it undermines the “pillars of prosperity” such as the availability and access to food and water. The social and economic dislocation caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in August 2005 is given as a recent example of the new threat of climate change.

It does not set out to be a theological response to climate change, but examines the steps the Church would need to take to influence the debate on the issue.

The report looks at the impact climate change is having on developing countries, and how it could affect the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the seventh goal, which aims at ensuring environmental sustainability.

It says: “Climate change is already impacting disproportionately on many of the world’s poorest communities. The irony of this — not lost on a number of governments in the developing world — is the realisation that climate change is a developed-world problem for which the developing world is paying the price.”

The report quotes statistics from the Stern report on climate change, which predicts that the human cost of climate change could be an additional 165,000 to 250,000 child deaths per year in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa by 2100.

In conclusion, the report makes four recommendations, including a request that the Archbishops’ Council explores the possibility of becoming a corporate member of the Stop Climate Chaos campaign for an initial period of three years.

It also calls for more to be done at diocesan level to highlight the issue of climate change.

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