Churches challenge G20 leaders on real leadership

Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Church leaders havechallenged the G20 heads of government, meeting in London nextweek, to show real leadership and ensure that solutions to thecurrent economic crisis lead to action on global warming. They wantthe G20 nations to grasp the opportunity for investment in newtechnology, which will save energy and reduce carbon output. Inparticular, they are urging the richer nations to agree generoussupport for developing countries, so they can afford theinitiatives they need to take.

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

In a joint statement, they add: "The health of any economy cannotbe measured solely on economic indicators such as growth, debt andemployment. Climate change has the potential to disadvantagemillions in the developed world and in developing nations. The G20leaders must not allow the economic crisis to divert us fromtackling this challenge. This is precisely the right time to bemaking concrete commitments on low-carbon growth."

The Revd John Marsh, moderator of the General Assembly of theUnited Reformed Church added: "This is a fundamental issue ofjustice, which is very important in Christian theology. We wouldlike to see the G20 leaders articulating a vision for a more justand equitable approach."

The Revd Stephen Poxon, president of the Methodist Conference said:"It would be neither fair nor feasible to expect developingcountries to take on the challenge of climate change withoutsubstantial support. It would be equally iniquitous if the richernations were to provide financial support only on the basis of'offsets', allowing us to duck the responsibility to reduce our ownemissions."

The Revd Jonathan Edwards, general secretary of the Baptist Unionof Great Britain added: "A healthy economy is also a just andequitable economy; an economy that does not make unachievableclaims on our planet's future. Restoring health in our economyrequires preparedness to debate its moral and ethicaldimensions."

Senior representatives of the Churches will attend an ecumenicalservice at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, immediately beforethe summit begins on Saturday 28 March. They will also join a marchfrom Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park, where there will be a rally.They will include the Revd John Marsh for the United ReformedChurch, and Christine Elliott, Methodist Church Secretary forExternal Relations.