23 March 2009

Churches challenge G20 leaders on real leadership

Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Church leaders have challenged the G20 heads of government, meeting in London next week, to show real leadership and ensure that solutions to the current economic crisis lead to action on global warming. They want the G20 nations to grasp the opportunity for investment in new technology, which will save energy and reduce carbon output. In particular, they are urging the richer nations to agree generous support for developing countries, so they can afford the initiatives they need to take.

The three Churches have already urged the European Union to adopt stronger measures on global warming. Some European leaders have resisted any further burden on industries at this time and have argued that the priority should be on restoring growth. The Church leaders say, in a globalised world, if growth is to be 'green', countries must make binding commitments. One key area could be emission targets for new cars, as a condition of manufacturers obtaining state support.

In a joint statement, they add: "The health of any economy cannot be measured solely on economic indicators such as growth, debt and employment. Climate change has the potential to disadvantage millions in the developed world and in developing nations. The G20 leaders must not allow the economic crisis to divert us from tackling this challenge. This is precisely the right time to be making concrete commitments on low-carbon growth."

The Revd John Marsh, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church added: "This is a fundamental issue of justice, which is very important in Christian theology. We would like to see the G20 leaders articulating a vision for a more just and equitable approach."

The Revd Stephen Poxon, president of the Methodist Conference said: "It would be neither fair nor feasible to expect developing countries to take on the challenge of climate change without substantial support. It would be equally iniquitous if the richer nations were to provide financial support only on the basis of 'offsets', allowing us to duck the responsibility to reduce our own emissions."

The Revd Jonathan Edwards, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain added: "A healthy economy is also a just and equitable economy; an economy that does not make unachievable claims on our planet's future. Restoring health in our economy requires preparedness to debate its moral and ethical dimensions."

Senior representatives of the Churches will attend an ecumenical service at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, immediately before the summit begins on Saturday 28 March. They will also join a march from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park, where there will be a rally. They will include the Revd John Marsh for the United Reformed Church, and Christine Elliott, Methodist Church Secretary for External Relations.

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