A WAVE of climate-change activism washed into Westminster on
Wednesday as Christians and members of other faiths joined a mass
lobby of Parliament, ahead of the Pope's encyclical on the
Thousands gathered in Westminster to urge the Government to back
radical steps to tackle climate change at an international summit
in Paris later this year.
A Lambeth Declaration calling on people of faith to join the
campaign against climate change was also launched on Wednesday. The
document, signed by dozens of religious leaders, urged faith
institutions to redouble their efforts to cut emissions, as well as
demanding that the Government works to mitigate the impact of
rising temperatures on the poorest countries.
On Thursday, after the Church Times went to press, Pope
Francis was due to release Laudato Si: On the Care of our
Common Home, an encyclical urging the world to make drastic
What appeared to be a draft of the encyclical was leaked to an
Italian magazine on Monday. It suggested that Pope Francis would
call on people everywhere to reduce energy consumption and change
lifestyles to avoid "unprecedented destruction of the
He was also expected to suggest setting up an international body
to reduce pollution and organise development in the poorest regions
of the world. Humans are largely responsible for changing the
climate and raising global temperatures, the encyclical was
expected to say.
Those who deny climate change exists, including certain
Christians, come in for criticism, and are described in the draft
as standing in the way of solving the problem.
Speaking in St Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis said he
hoped his encyclical would encourage everyone to "grow in
responsibility toward the common home that God has entrusted to
Released ahead of Laudato Si, the Lambeth Declaration
has been signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and dozens of
others including the Archbishop of Wales, the Rt Revd Barry Morgan;
the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke; the Chief Rabbi
Ephraim Mirvis; and representatives from the Methodist, United
Reformed, Scottish Episcopal, Lutheran, and Pentecostal Churches,
Reform Judaism, Sikh groups, Zoroastrians, and Muslims.
A poll commissioned by Tearfund to mark Wednesday's activism
suggested that British Christians believed climate change to be the
biggest political or social issue the world will face in the next
The survey, which took place after last month's election, found
that 28 per cent of Christians identified, unprompted, climate
change as the world's most pressing issue. The next was immigration
and asylum-seekers, chosen by 16 per cent of the Christians
But when asked what was the most significant issue facing the
UK, only four per cent answered climate change, making it only the
14th most pressing concern, below things inequality (suggested by
27 per cent), the erosion of Christian values (18 per cent), and
immigration (14 per cent).
Tearfund is among more than 100 charities, including dozens of
Christian organisations, who have combined to form the Climate
Coalition, which organised the demonstrations in Westminster on
As well as calling on the Government to support a global
agreement to ban fossil-fuel emissions by 2050, the protesters also
demanded an end to pollution from coal, and investment in clean
energy and better-insulated homes.
After gathering outside Parliament, many of the activists went
to a service at St Margaret's, Westminster. The Bishop of
Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, said during the service
that Christians were speaking out to say that they cared for God's
"It is our Christian concern together as the Church. It is the
concern of people of all faiths. It is our human concern in
solidarity with all people," he said. "In the last 150 years we
have burned fossil fuels that took one billion years to lay down in
the earth. The earth cannot sustain this level of consumption."
As climate change disproportionately affected the world's
poorest nations - through rising sea levels, increasing numbers of
storms, changing rainfall, and drought - the British Church needed
to act now on their behalf, Bishop Holtam said.
The Paris summit must also produce "fair, ambitious, accountable
and binding climate change agreements, nationally and
internationally," he concluded.
At the Bonn meeting last week, international negotiators worked
on a new global climate deal to be signed later this year in
Negotiators were trying to whittle down the text that will make
up the final agreement for Paris. In a rare intervention, the
co-chairs of the negotiations were asked to go away and develop a
more workable document ahead of the next meeting in August.
Christian Aid's senior climate-change adviser, Mohamed Adow,
said that this in itself was a welcome development, as it showed
that countries recognised the need to get a move on if they were to
complete the work required before Paris.
in good hands' - Leader comment
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