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Synod members are invited to climate vigil

07 February 2020


Police arrest a climate activist during a protest outside the Science Museum, on Tuesday, where the Prime Minister launches the UK’s COP26 strategy. The demonstration was organised by Extinction Rebellion and Stop HS2 activists

Police arrest a climate activist during a protest outside the Science Museum, on Tuesday, where the Prime Minister launches the UK’s COP26 strategy. T...

THE Christians of Extinction Rebellion have invited members of the General Synod to join them for a memorial service for the children killed by the climate crisis, outside Church House on Wednesday morning before Synod.

Christian Climate Action says that climate change is already killing children around the world, and is therefore one of the great moral issues of our time, which needs prophetic organisations such as the Church to be acting on it with urgency.

On Wednesday, the General Synod is due to vote on setting the date at which the Church of England reduces its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero as 2045. Currently the target year is 2050, the date that the UK Government has set for the country.

Responding to the vigil, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams said: “Acting justly includes creating the conditions in which justice is possible. A world in which present generations make human well-being and equity impossible for future generations is grossly unjust: the Christian Churches need to be clear in naming this for what it is, and courageous in doing what can be done to set it right.”

The open letter to Synod members, which invites them to the vigil, outlines three “asks” of the Church of England. The first is to be prophetic and tell the truth of the climate emergency; the second is to divest immediately from fossil fuels; and the third is to lead by example and pledge to reduce net zero emissions by 2025. The group points out that the National Farmers’ Union has set a net zero date of 2040, and the UK water industry of 2030.

The Revd Sue Parfitt, a priest in Bristol, is a member of Christian Climate Action. She said: “This climate emergency will not wait for us. Every year that we delay reducing our emissions is a year that we are knowingly inflicting suffering on the world’s most vulnerable people. As a Christian, this breaks my heart. Isn’t it our duty to speak out for the needy, not force them into desperation?

“The fact [that] the Church is talking about improving their bare minimum 2050 target reveals they know it’s not good enough, and that they are currently on the wrong side of history. However, if they want to claim to be prophetic leaders on the greatest moral issue of the 21st century, they will need to go further and faster.”

The vigil takes place at 8.30 a.m. outside Church House, Westminster, on 12 February.

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