Free Churches condemn failure to reach climate deal

The Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches have condemned the world's richest countries for failing to reach a binding agreement at the Copenhagen climate change summit.

The Free Churches have been arguing that, as the world's biggest carbon emitters, developed countries have a moral responsibility to take the lead in agreeing a new deal to counter global warming when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. "The failure by negotiators at the climate talks in Copenhagen to agree to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, after two weeks of negotiations, represents an immense set-back for rich and poor countries alike," said the Revd John Marsh, moderator of the general assembly of the United Reformed Church.

"History will judge our generation harshly for failing to act on the clear scientific evidence for global warming linked to human activity," he added. "We therefore urge the British government to continue exerting pressure on all key players to agree the necessary cuts in emissions to reduce the risk of global temperatures rising above 2 degrees."

The Revd Graham Sparkes, head of Faith and Unity at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: "No doubt people will point the finger of blame in many different directions. But the fact is that those who will suffer most have no voice and no political power. They are the poorest in our world, and are least equipped to deal with the catastrophic effects of climate change."

Steve Hucklesby, policy adviser for the Methodist Church, said: "The reality is that the US, Europe, Australia and some others are emitting a great deal more greenhouse gases than our eco-system can sustain. The science is clear; we know what needs to done to prevent catastrophic climate change. There is no realistic alternative to a strong international treaty that commits developed nation states to deep cuts in emissions."

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