New reflections on global warming welcomed by Methodist Church

The Kyoto Protocol came into force in the same week as theChurch of England's General Synod adopted the report "Sharing God'sPlanet," which combines biblical and theological reflection with awealth of information, resources and challenges, featuringinitiatives such as the Eco-Congregation programme and OperationNoah campaign.

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

"We urgently need to work towards achieving a global consensuson a more comprehensive framework projected over a longer timeframebased on equitable entitlement to carbon dioxide emissions andrealistic strategies for energy conservation and carbon-neutralenergy sources.  'Sharing God's Planet' outlines the conceptof Contraction and Convergence devised by the Global CommonsInstitute - a radical but realistic mechanism for establishingequitable entitlements to reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

"The Prime Minister's leadership in placing Climate Change onthe agenda of the G8 summit is welcome. However this would beenhanced by a greater commitment to action in the UK. We could bedoing more in terms of our investment in integrated publictransport systems, the use of pricing mechanisms on fuel or roadtax to encourage fuel efficient vehicles, energy conservation inthe existing housing stock and building regulations for newhousing. These and other such measures would help to engage theprivate sector in utilising a mix of technologies to reduceemissions.

"To go further the government needs our critical support. Thechurch has a crucial role to play both in terms of practical actionand in raising awareness. Three current events are thereforesignificant. Firstly on 17 February the General Synod of the Churchof England debated and ultimately commended the report 'SharingGod's Planet'. This major new and very readable report stresses ourplace as one part of God's whole creation and the uniqueresponsibility we have for its protection. It explores the causesand consequences of human damage to the environment and suggestshow Christians can respond, providing many useful suggestions forchurches and individuals.

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

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