PEOPLE in more than a thousand places around the world took to
the streets on Sunday, motivated by a single issue: climate
I was proud to join in the biggest ever global event of its
kind, the People's Climate March, with the thousands of others in
London's message was simple: climate change presents an
ever-increasing threat to people around the world, and to nature,
on which we all depend. We need to act now.
Sunday was also the International Day of Peace. There could have
been no more appropriate day on which to reflect on the conflicts
that climate change could instigate in the future, and on the
choice that lies before humanity: whether to allow greenhouse-gas
emissions to rise unchecked, or to bring them down to levels that
scientists tell us are compatible with avoiding the worst impacts
of climate change.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
report said warming in the climate system was "unequivocal" and
that human influence on the climate is clear. It concluded that
climate change poses a severe threat to people and the planet,
including to food stocks and global security.
But the IPCC also said that it "doesn't cost the world to save
the planet". This was confirmed in another report published last
week, which found that tackling climate change was not only
compatible with economic growth: it could even lead to better
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate said that
ambitious action on climate change would also cut air pollution and
thereby improve health, and improve agricultural yields in
In short, the obstacles to action on climate change -
scientific, economic, and political - are disappearing.
In the Church of England, the Shrinking the Footprint campaign
seeks to cut our energy use and carbon footprint by 80 per cent by
2050. Among the progress made in London, the Chapter House of St
Paul's Cathedral is now warmed by a ground-source heat pump, and St
James's, Piccadilly, is one of several parishes to embrace solar
The feeling among the crowds at the weekend was that our
neighbours are not only the people in the same street, area, or
city as us: they are also the people in Bangladesh and other places
vulnerable to rising seas, the spread of preventable disease, and
increasingly unpredictable harvests.
The reality of our interconnected world is that we are all
afloat in a great ark. Our first-class accommodation will not long
remain immune from the effects of the leaks in the third-class
cabins. For the sake of future generations, together we must make a
difference today. Otherwise it is not just climate change but
climate chaos that will prevail.
The Rt Revd Richard Chartres is Bishop of London.