Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change

A new Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change will be launched today (Wednesday June 17) by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment. The launch will be at ecumenical services in Westminster, London, to mark the national lobby of Parliament over the Paris talks. The national lobby is being organized by the Climate Coalition which has a supporter base of 100 organisations, from environment and development charities to unions, faith, community and women’s groups, representing more than 11 million people across the UK.

Yesterday, the Church of England published a Press Release Archbishop of Canterbury joins faith leaders in call for urgent action to tackle climate change including a new Lambeth Declaration, signed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and other faith leaders in the UK. Aimed at the forthcoming COP21/CMP 11 meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, 30 November to 11 December 2015, it warns that world leaders must agree to reduce emissions to avoid average temperatures rising beyond 2⁰C, widely considered to be the threshold above which it is considered that the impacts of climate change will be most severe. The original Lambeth Declaration was hosted by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and signed by faith leaders in 2009 ahead of the Climate Summit in Copenhagen COP 15/CMP 5.

The text of the new Lambeth Declaration is reproduced below:

Lambeth Declaration 2015 on Climate Change

As leaders of the faith communities we recognize the urgent need for action on climate change.

From the perspective of our different faiths we see the earth as a beautiful gift. We are all called to care for the earth and have a responsibility to live creatively and sustainably in a world of finite resources.

Climate change is already disproportionately affecting the poorest in the world. The demands of justice as well as of creation require the nations of the world urgently to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2degC, as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun. We have a responsibility to act now, for ourselves, our neighbours and for future generations.

The scale of change needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy is considerable and the task urgent. We need to apply the best of our intellectual, economic and political resources. Spirituality is a powerful agent of change. Faith has a crucial role to play in resourcing both individual and collective change.

We call on our faith communities to:

  • Recognize the urgency of the tasks involved in making the transition to a low carbon economy.
  • Develop the spiritual and theological resources that will strengthen us individually and together in our care of the earth, each other and future generations.
  • Encourage and pray for those engaged in the intellectual, economic, political and spiritual effort needed to address this crisis.
  • Work with our communities and partners in the UK and internationally to mitigate the effects of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world;
  • Build on the examples of local and international action to live and to work together sustainably,
  • Redouble our efforts to reduce emissions that result from our own institutional and individual activities.

As representatives of the vast numbers of people of faith across the globe we urge our Government to use their influence to achieve a legally-binding commitment at the international Climate Change talks in Paris, and with the continuing programme beyond.  Through our various traditions we bring our prayers for the success of the negotiations.

We call with humility, with a determination enlivened by our faith and with awareness of the need for courage, justice and hope.  We are faced with a huge challenge. But we are hopeful that the necessary changes can be made – for the sake of all who share this world today – and those who will share it tomorrow.”

Signatories include representatives from the Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities as well as the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Methodist Conference and other denominations and faiths. The Press Release states “more leaders [are] continuing to sign the Declaration. Hundreds more people are expected to sign up to the declaration as it travels rounds the country during a summer of pilgrimages”. Bishop Nicholas said:

“The impact of climate change is something about which all people of faith are concerned. We need to work together in order to find our responses to some of the most significant moral issues facing the world. Along with many Christians, I am glad to be part of Wednesday’s Climate Change Lobby at Westminster. We want to encourage our politicians to keep Britain committed to taking a global lead on climate change.

“The lobby will take place on the eve of the papal encyclical, to which we are all looking forward.”

Comment

Taken in conjunction with today’s national lobby of Parliament and the publication tomorrow of the encyclical Laudato si’, the new Lambeth Declaration is well-timed and important exhortation to UK faith communities. However, the development of “spiritual and theological resources” should be accompanied by a better understanding by faith communities of not only the impacts of climate change, but also of technological and legislative issues involved in its mitigation and adaptation – two words with specific meanings in relation to climate change but apparently confused in bullet point 4. There was similar lack of appreciation of the issues involved in the leaked version of Laudato si’ which [at 171] described carbon trading as a “quick and easy” system.

The Declaration acknowledges the importance of the reduction in emissions resulting from the signatories own institutional and individual activities, and this must be accompanied by the establishment of realistic but ambitious time-bounded targets. Our post The Church and the Environment noted that the CofE is committed to a carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050, with an interim target of 42% by 2020. As a former Secretary of State for the Environment, the new Second Church Estates Commissioner is well-placed to keep parliament informed of the CofE’s progress towards these goals, but as the Executive Director of the International Energy Association, (IEA) said on the launch of its own report on Monday:

“As IEA analysis has repeatedly shown that the cost and difficulty of mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions increases every year, time is of the essence”.

David Pocklington

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change" in Law & Religion UK, 17 June 2015, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2015/06/17/lambeth-declaration-on-climate-change/

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