Churches warn Prime Minister on moral challenge of climate change

Three church leaders have added their voices to The Church ofEngland and The Church of Scotland's in warning the Prime Ministerthat not acting urgently at the Copenhagen Climate ChangeConference would be a "moral failure".

The Methodist Church, The Baptist Church and The United ReformedChurch have backed Anglican Bishops who said the European Councilmust seize the opportunity this month to agree a strategy to securean effective response to climate change at the CopenhagenConference in December.

Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of The Baptist Union ofGreat Britain, Revd Stephen Poxon, President of The MethodistConference and Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assemblyof The United Reformed Church, wrote to the Prime Ministercriticizing the European Commission Communication of January 28 andcalling for a comprehensive climate change agreement inCopenhagen.

"We believe that the recent Communication of the EuropeanCommission fails to set out clear proposals for a comprehensive,ambitious and equitable new global agreement on climate change,"said the church leaders.

"The current recession stands to impact many in our communities andwe recognise that EU Heads of Governments are tempted to use theimmediacy of the economic crisis to shy away from taking long-termaction on climate change. We are convinced that it would beshort-sighted to stimulate economic growth without simultaneouslyaddressing deficiencies in the relationship between economy andecology.

"We recognise that challenges facing you and other EU Heads ofGovernment when you meet in Brussels in March will be immense,"said the church leaders in their letter. "Yet, if Copenhagen 2009is to be the moment in history in which humanity has theopportunity to rise to the challenge and decisively deal withclimate change, then key aspects of the EU's negotiating positionneed revision."

The letter also advises Gordon Brown that the January 28Communication needs two revisions. Firstly, the EU's emissionreductions targets must be clearly aligned with scientific evidenceto limit long-term global warming to less than two degreescentigrade. Secondly, the EU should invest the financial equivalentof an additional 15 per cent emission reduction in developingcountries by 2020.