FOR OURSELVES and for future generations we need to act now, urgently and at scale. However, actions are difficult to sustain unless there is also the transformation of hearts and minds from which such action flows. The climate emergency is not just a physical crisis — it is also a spiritual one.
Humanity needs a spiritual and cultural transformation. We must see the world differently: repenting of and rejecting an extractive world-view, which regards the earth and all nature as something to be exploited, and embracing a relational world-view, espoused especially by Indigenous peoples, which sees the profound interdependence of all creation.
We call on the Instruments of Communion to:
- Support commitments to tackle urgently the triple environmental crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
- Advocate with the international community to deliver, as a matter of justice, the required financial commitments for loss and damage due to climate change, and to speak and act prophetically within the Communion on the issue, to demonstrate solidarity.
We call on ourselves as bishops and the people of our Provinces, dioceses, and parishes to:
- Treasure God’s marvellous creation, recognising the profound interdependence of all life on earth and repenting of actions and theologies of domination, which have caused great harm to the earth and injustices to its people.
- Recognise the triple environmental crisis as a crisis of cultural and spiritual values and build on the reach and influence of the Church to challenge ourselves and humanity to transform our mindset away from exploitation of the natural world to one of relationship and stewardship, as embodied by the wisdom of the Christian tradition and by Indigenous peoples.
- Equip communities to build resilience to help them withstand and recover from disasters, and promote the prophetic voice of young people and the key role of women as earth protectors, recognising that climate change impacts unequally on women and future generations.
- Join in the Communion Forest initiative, to protect and restore forests and other ecosystems across our planet, and commit to promoting tree planting at the time of confirmation, and other key life and faith moments, as a symbol of spiritual growth.
- Ensure we use and invest our assets ethically to be good news for our planet and people and, as a matter of urgency, remove our funds from any new fossil fuel exploration, and seek to invest in renewable energy sources.
We call on world leaders to:
- Enact bold and urgent policy changes, including:
- achieving net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
- fulfilling and substantially increasing their commitments to climate finance, including for loss and damage due to climate change.
- halting new gas and oil exploration.
- protecting and restoring biodiversity and tackling pollution.
2. Challenge wealthier nations and those with greatest responsibility for climate change to take the lead on climate action and just financing for other countries to reduce emissions.
3. Support international co-operation and ambitious targets to transition to clean energy and to sustainable land use practices and food systems.
4. Acknowledge that the scale and urgency of the climate emergency is such that politics must give way to action based on science and rooted in a moral call to recognise our interdependence with each other and the natural world.
5. Recognise the wisdom within faith communities about the value and care of creation and the role that the faithful, and their faith leaders, can bring in influencing change in communities.
‘Creation to be treasured’
A DAY in Lambeth Palace in the middle of the Conference was designed to be a change of scene for the bishops, and a chance to focus on questions about the environment, writes Francis Martin.
As they trooped into Lambeth Palace, they were greeted by about 20 activists from Christian Climate Action. But there was no stand-off, and instead the bishops engaged with and encouraged the protesters, talking and praying with them. “Their response was fantastic,” one activist said afterwards.
Unlike on other days during the Conference, the Lambeth Calls were not the main attraction. Instead the focus was on the launching of the Anglican Communion Forest, an initiative to encourage dioceses across the world to take actions that preserve and regenerate the environment (News, 3 August).
The project started with the planting of a tree in the garden of Lambeth Palace, in which all bishops and guests were invited to participate. The tree-planting, with a short liturgy, followed lunch, speeches, and discussion held in a vast marquee in the garden.
The first of the Lambeth Calls on the environment was broad-ranging: to “treasure God’s marvellous creation”, urging world leaders to “enact bold and urgent policy changes”, and to “recognise the wisdom within faith communities about the value and are of creation”.
Such positions were a “no-brainer” for the Church, the Bishop of Wellington in New Zealand, the Rt Revd Justin Duckworth, said. He welcomed the chance to focus on the environment, and to gain encouragement and inspiration from the efforts being made in other provinces.
The secretary-general of the UN, António Guterres, addressed bishops in a video message. Mr Guterres, a practicing Roman Catholic, said that the actions of the bishops as they “walk, listen, and witness together”, offered a blueprint for progress.
“It calls upon all people to bring values to life, not through words, but through action and service to others, and to deliver the economic, social, and environmental justice that our world needs now more than ever.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury also addressed the assembled bishops, along with Caroline Welby, his wife. Referring to the usually verdant trees that in the garden, Archbishop Welby pointed to the effects of the heatwave and drought: a visual sign of climate change.
“For many of you, it is already a terrible, terrible disaster,” he said, and drew attention to the “downward spiral” in which increasingly scarce resources creates conflict, which in turn prevents action being taken on climate change.
Lambeth Calls: Sustainable Development
WE ARE in a season of action: a vital, urgent opportunity to re-imagine our world and address these injustices and threats. 2030 is the crucial target date for the SDGs. As Anglicans, the mission of the Church — that is, the mission of Christ — is expressed in our Five Marks of Mission. These recall Jesus’s mission to bring good news to the poor, release for the oppressed, and fullness of life for all (Luke 4.18; John 10.10). It is our call and our desire to follow in Jesus’s footsteps. The SDGs are a tool to help inform our understanding and response, our call to action, to be part of a wider global movement for people and planet. We are called to be God’s Church for God’s World.
We call on the Instruments of Communion to:
- Uphold the Five Marks of Mission as integral to Anglican identity and our discipleship and holistic mission as God’s Church for God’s world.
- Launch and support a campaign to re-imagine our world and so encourage and equip the Communion to make a significant contribution to achieving the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Collaborate in partnership with other faith communities and people of good will, for the mutual well-being of people and planet.
- Challenge the unjust structures that perpetuate global economic and political systems driving injustice, inequality, and instability within and between countries.
- We call on ourselves as bishops and the people of our provinces, dioceses and parishes to:
- Embed further the Five Marks of Mission in the life of our churches as we serve as God’s Church for God’s world.
- Engage and equip our churches to work together with their neighbours for transformation, using our gifts and assets to build resilient, sustainable, and just communities in line with the vision for the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Support and encourage one another across the Communion to work together towards achieving universal human dignity and flourishing (John 10.10) in a thriving planet.
We call on world leaders to:
- Commit to finance and action to enable all nations of the world to be able to fulfil the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including its vision to “leave no one behind”.
- Recognise the strategic importance of faith actors and include them as key partners in sustainable development and in disaster preparedness, resilience and response.
Follow up and implementation
These calls appeal to the Instruments of Communion to provide leadership and for bishops to implement them within their own provinces and dioceses, with support from mission and development agencies. The ACC and its Standing Committee will monitor the specific calls and report on progress up to 2030, including at ACC18 and ACC19. Communion-level bodies, including the Anglican Office at the United Nations, the Anglican Alliance, ACO departments such as for gender justice, and the relevant Anglican networks and commissions will all collaborate to help connect, equip, and inspire members Churches, as well as work with global bodies, towards fulfilling the actions laid out in these Calls for the environment and sustainable development.