Have Your Say on the Church of England and Climate Change!

bath_abbeyDo you know what the Environment Agency’s poll of 25 leading environmental experts said is the second most important thing that will ‘save the planet’? It’s that religious leaders make the planet their priority.[1] That’s why I’m rather excited that today (February 12) the General Synod of the Church of England will be discussing a motion on climate change and environmental issues (you can read the full text of the motion here).

The story that leads to this moment is rather lovely, coming as it does from a challenge by a 23-year old member of the congregation at St John’s Waterloo (the parish that contains the UK headquarters of Shell) when she questioned the C of E’s engagement with the fossil fuel industry. Who knew her challenge would work its way all the way up to the hallowed turf of General Synod?

Be that as it may, this motion is significant. The C of E has taken good steps in the past towards acknowledging the seriousness of climate change and the need to do something about it, producing the Sharing God’s Planet report in 2005 and launching its Shrinking The Footprint campaign the following year. But I think it’s true to say that the combination of post-Copenhagen despair and the 2008 economic recession led to the environmental agenda slipping down its priority list.

So will that change on Wednesday? Well, there are many of us out there who are hoping and praying it will. We live in a time in which global warming is now deemed ‘unequivocal’, with a 95% certainty that it is caused by human activities.[2] The chances of us limiting global warming to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels (in itself considered disastrous) is looking increasingly slim, with scientists considering 4 and even 6 degrees. The impact of this is unimaginable.

We need the Church to wake up and take action. It is one of the biggest global networks that exists and it could make a huge difference. As England’s national church, the Church of England occupies a unique position of authority and visibility and is thus ideally placed to take a lead on these issues.

So, we need General Synod to take this motion seriously on Wednesday and take urgent action on climate change in all areas, including political pressure, disinvestment / reinvestment, adaptation, consumption, poverty and international development.

And you can help them do that. How?

1. I’ve been working with a group of key organisations and people to formulate a statement, welcoming the debate and urging General Synod to accept the motion. Please read this statement and spread it around in any way you can. In particular, let’s create a Twitter storm over the next few days (particularly Monday 10th through to Wednesday 12th), showing the C of E the support they have for taking action. When you tweet, use #GSClimate and @CofEGenSyn. Take a look and see what people have been tweeting already.

2. Get in touch with your Synod rep to tell them about the statement and ask them to support the motion. The list of members (Bishops, clergy and laity) can be found here and a helpful sample letter/email is given here.

When we pray, ‘may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, we commit ourselves to trust and we commit ourselves to action. Let’s help the Church of England do the same!

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12 thoughts on “Have Your Say on the Church of England and Climate Change!

  1. Pingback: The Church of England mustn’t waste this opportunity to address the ravages of climate change « God and Politics in the UK

  2. Hi Ruth,

    I quote: “We live in a time in which global warming is now deemed ‘unequivocal’, with a 95% certainty that it is caused by human activities.”

    You do not have to convince me/us – but I find myself in conversation sometimes with the other 5%, and lack the sources on which they draw and the reasons for their disagreement with your “95%” statement. Can you help?

    Much love, Alan

    Alan & Jean Chilver

    ‘Albarka’

    26 Manor Road

    Upper Beeding

    STEYNING

    BN44 3TJ

    Tel. +44(0)1903 369909

    GSM: +44(0)7743 972 762 (Alan)

    +44(0)7743 971 747 (Jean)

    e: alan.chilver@talktalk.net

    jechilver@talktalk.net

    • ha, not really! I tend to find that if someone isn’t pursuaded by the science put forward by the IPCC (which is about the most rigorous and authoritative science around) then they won’t be pursuaded by anything. People tend to reject it for other, ideological reasons/agendas rather than the science.

  3. Hi Alan,
    You and Ruth seem to be talking about different things here. You say you find yourself “in conversation with the other 5%”. Ruth is actually referring to the level of confidence in the attribution by IPCC of the observed warming to human influence rather than the proportion of people who accept this. You can find the actual IPCC wording in section D3 on Page 15 of the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers (follow Ruth’s link). The wording they use is “Extremely Likely”.

    As to what to do about it – as Ruth says some people do not accept the weight of evidence for all sorts of reasons, however there are many others who are simply unaware of the weight of evidence and we can do something about that. As a starting point you could encourage them to read the IPCC Summary for Policymakers – it is quite clear. If they are raising a particular issue and you need a response, a good resource to look at is http://www.skepticalscience.com where all the common arguments for rejecting anthropogenic climate change are listed together with a summary of the scientific response.

  4. Hi Ruth,

    Dare I bother you with this again? My concern is with those who do NOT agree that it is caused ‘by human activities’. What are the sources for their arguments against a statement that humans are at fault? alan

    I quote: “We live in a time in which global warming is now deemed ‘unequivocal’, with a 95% certainty that it is caused by human activities.”

    You do not have to convince me/us – but I find myself in conversation sometimes with the other 5%, and lack the sources on which they draw and the reasons for their disagreement with your “95%” statement. Can you help?

    Much love, Alan

    Alan & Jean Chilver

    ‘Albarka’

    26 Manor Road

    Upper Beeding

    STEYNING

    BN44 3TJ

    Tel. +44(0)1903 369909

    GSM: +44(0)7743 972 762 (Alan)

    +44(0)7743 971 747 (Jean)

    e: alan.chilver@talktalk.net

    jechilver@talktalk.net

    • Hi Alan, I think my answer would be the same to your first question! If someone has decided not to accept the science of something as authoritative as the IPCC then there really isn’t going to much that will convince them. Sadly the Daily Mail seems to be their main scientific source ;-). You’re probably best to ask them themselves where they get their scientific evidence from and take it from there. They probably won’t have a clear answer other than, ‘well everyone knows…’.

  5. The science not only shows what is happening and can happen but all sorts of new things we can look forward to as we move into renewable energy, improved agriculture, sensible fisheries, education of girls world wide, recycling of waste and designs that reduce waste. God created things long ago that we are only finding out about now.

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