21 February 2005

New reflections on global warming welcomed by Methodist Church

The Kyoto Protocol came into force in the same week as the Church of England's General Synod adopted the report "Sharing God's Planet," which combines biblical and theological reflection with a wealth of information, resources and challenges, featuring initiatives such as the Eco-Congregation programme and Operation Noah campaign.

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for International Affairs, says "The significance of the Kyoto Protocol is in underlining the necessity for governments to place a cap on carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change effectively. However the protocol in its current form has significant weaknesses. It fails to acknowledge the seriousness of our addiction to ever-expanding levels of consumption and production. It has not yet gained the support of key players such as the United States and Australia. Finally it doesn't address seriously the inequalities in wealth and consumption and the development needs of countries such as China and India, whose economies are booming.

"We urgently need to work towards achieving a global consensus on a more comprehensive framework projected over a longer timeframe based on equitable entitlement to carbon dioxide emissions and realistic strategies for energy conservation and carbon-neutral energy sources.  'Sharing God's Planet' outlines the concept of Contraction and Convergence devised by the Global Commons Institute - a radical but realistic mechanism for establishing equitable entitlements to reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

"The Prime Minister's leadership in placing Climate Change on the agenda of the G8 summit is welcome. However this would be enhanced by a greater commitment to action in the UK. We could be doing more in terms of our investment in integrated public transport systems, the use of pricing mechanisms on fuel or road tax to encourage fuel efficient vehicles, energy conservation in the existing housing stock and building regulations for new housing. These and other such measures would help to engage the private sector in utilising a mix of technologies to reduce emissions.

"To go further the government needs our critical support. The church has a crucial role to play both in terms of practical action and in raising awareness. Three current events are therefore significant. Firstly on 17 February the General Synod of the Church of England debated and ultimately commended the report 'Sharing God's Planet'. This major new and very readable report stresses our place as one part of God's whole creation and the unique responsibility we have for its protection. It explores the causes and consequences of human damage to the environment and suggests how Christians can respond, providing many useful suggestions for churches and individuals.

"Secondly Jeremy Leggett, author of 'The Carbon War' and Director of Solar Century speaks to the CTBI General Assembly this week. Solar Century envisages a solar panel roof on every building, supplying clean power.

"Finally, 'Prosperity with a Purpose' will be launched at Parliament on 28 February. This study by CTBI explores the ethics of affluence to rethink issues of poverty and prosperity in a newly globalised world threatened by environmental degradation."

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