World Methodist Conference calls President Bush to global warming summit with US bishops

The World Methodist Conference has called on President George WBush to meet with US Methodist bishops to diffuse concerns over theAmerican leader's stance on global warming.

The US bishops have called for talks with President Bush,himself a United Methodist Church member. They are yet to havereceived a positive reply from the White House agreeing to a summitmeeting on how the US can tackle global warming.

Now the bishops' efforts to push global warming higher in thepolitical agenda has been endorsed by fellow Methodist leaders fromacross the world. Meeting in England this week, Methodist leadershave backed the outcome of the recent climate protection summit inBonn that reached an agreement to save the Kyoto Protocol. Theagreement, backed by every major country except the US, sets inmotion efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

The World Methodist Council, meeting in Brighton, this weekendpassed a resolution calling on President Bush to "re-engage withthe Kyoto process" and talk with the US Bishops on how the USgovernment and people can respond to the issue of globalwarming.

But the council stopped short of directly criticising Mr Bushamidst concerns that some Methodists were unwilling to take a leadin changing their own links with the business world.

More conservative US delegates stopped a more strongly wordedresolution calling for the largest nations including the US to takean urgent lead in reducing industrial emissions. Objections centredon a plan to commit the Methodist Church only to invest incompanies practising ethical environmental policies.

The resolution passed by the Council said that the KyotoProtocol, "whilst only modest in its proposals to counter globalwarming, is the only widely supported formal framework currentlyavailable for dealing with global warming". Current practices inenergy generation, industrial processes and transport pollute theatmosphere in a way which "contribute greatly to global warming andclimate change".

Supporters of the resolution, tabled by British Methodist CathyBird, included the President of the British Methodist Conference,Rev Christina Le Moignan, and Putney MP Tony Coleman. They agreedthat failure to stabilise and reduce emissions would have enormousconsequences, especially for poorest and geographically low-lyingcountries.

Earlier in their conference, World Methodist leaders heardleading climate change expert Sir John Houghton declare that "notcaring for the earth is a sin".

Sir John, Co-chairman of the UN Assessment of Global Warming andClimate Change, said that "the Christian message is about theredemption of the whole of creation not just the human part of it".He suggested that historical Christian reluctance to engage inenvironmental issues is down to a misinterpretation of the word'dominion' in Genesis 1:28 and Christians thinking that they can dowhat they like with the earth.

"If we are to have dominion over the earth, we are to be itsservants," he said, going on to call for a better balance betweenthe spiritual and the material, and a renewed effort to co-operateon environmental matters with those of different or no theologicalviews "because we all share the same earth".

The 18th World Methodist Conference meets from Thursday 26 Julyto Tuesday 31 July in  Brighton, England

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