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Be gentle with the earth, Bishop Allister urges

08 November 2019


HUMANS should not lose the “basic principle” that the “earth, like its inhabitants, needs time to rest and recover when it has been used,” the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, said this week.

Speaking in a debate on international sustainability in the House of Lords on Monday, the Bishop said: “I do not question scientific method or all the scientific resources we can find being brought to bear on farming. It is right and proper, but not if we lose the basic principle that the earth, like its inhabitants, needs time to rest and recover when it has been used. Otherwise, it will be abused. . .

“We are called to be gentle with the earth, kind to it in the same way that we are called to be kind and gentle with one another.”

He was speaking during a debate to take note of the Government’s international development work to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and prevent biodiversity loss.

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, a Conservative peer, who opened the debate, said: “By using our international-development spending well, we can help to tackle poverty and natural environment. . . Currently, only around 2.5 per cent of the money invested to tackle climate change goes to nature-based solutions. Can the Minster give me an assurance that the Government will increase their focus on such solutions?”

Bishop Allister later said: “Caring for the earth is part of the Church’s mission. It is one of the five marks of mission enunciated and taught by the worldwide Anglican Communion. This principle predates concerns about global warming, though it is part of addressing them.

“It is about our belief that we should be stewards of this planet: for God, for creation, and for future generations. . .

“Yes, we need to make the earth as productive as it can be to feed people and for various other reasons — that is fine; but productive while still being healthy and self-sustaining. It is a basic principle that lies behind much else that has been discussed today.”

Baroness Sugg, a Minister of State at the Department for International Development, responded: “The UK is in a position of global leadership in this area. We have a great opportunity next year at COP 26 [the 2020 UN Climate Change Conference] to make real global progress.”

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