UK Church Leaders Launch Lenten Campaign for Climate Change

Bishop Richard Chartres explains the significance of the Ash Wednesday Declaration to Revd Nick Mercer outside St Paul's. (Photo: Operation Noah)

A group of British church leaders have issued a Lenten call to Christians to become more knowledgeable and involved with building a sustainable economy.

Leaders from the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed, and Catholic Churches launched a declaration on Wednesday that calls on the church to repent and be more committed to preventing and combating climate change.

"The likelihood of runaway global warming, which will diminish food security, accelerate the extinction of huge numbers of species and make human life itself impossible in some parts of the world, raises questions that go to the heart of our Christian faith," reads the declaration, which was compiled by Christian charity Operation Noah.

The declaration was launched at a short public service of prayer at St. Mary-Le-Bow in London and at other churches around the country.

"Traditionally, Christians commit themselves to repentance and renewed faith in Jesus Christ on Ash Wednesday," said David Atkinson, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Southwark. "We must live out that faith in relation to our damaging consumer economy, over-dependence on fossil fuels and the devastation we, as a species, are inflicting on God's world. We believe that responsible care for God's creation is foundational to the Gospel and central to the church's mission."

The declaration comes just a few months before the United Nations' third Earth Summit in June. The once-a-decade event brings together government officials from around the world to discuss matters related to sustainable development. This year's event, titled Rio 20, will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the same location where the first Earth Summit was held twenty years ago.

"Rio 20 should lead to better coherence, integration and implementation in our development efforts," said Sha Zukang, secretary-general of the conference, at a panel discussion in New York earlier this month.

During the discussion, Zukang outlined several priority areas that U.N. member states should address in order to advance toward green economies, including poverty eradication, green jobs, energy, water, food security, urbanization, disasters, oceans and seas, and climate change and biodiversity.

He also stressed that development cooperation programs should be driven by countries receiving aid for their projects, and should take into account their priorities and specific national circumstances.

"Rio 20 is an opportunity for reinvigorating development cooperation," Zukang said. "Now is the time for an in-depth discussion on how it can better support green growth and sustainable development."

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