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Faith leaders join call for urgent climate action

Catholics unite

Creative Commons: Dennis Jarvis, 2010

As Christians around the world prepared to celebrate Easter, Anglican bishops have led a Holy week call for direct global climate action, joining the a growing chorus of faith voices including Desmond Tutu in debating the morality of climate change.

The 17 Anglican bishops have written to their 85 million strong congregations, labelling climate change the “most urgent” issue facing humanity today.

The bishops from six continents – Africa, Asia, Europe, Australasia and the two Americas – have united in a common concern for the future of the planet and humanity.

The letter, titled ‘The World is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice” is imbued with deeply political sentiments and touches upon a variety of issues that surround debates about climate change.

They highlight to the silenced voice of the young in this debate and well of warning of the disproportionate burden of climate change on women, poorer nations and individuals, and indigenous communities.

However, what is particularly unique about this revelation is the role that they have given the church as an important player in the degradation of the natural world.

They argue that they have been “complicit in a theology of domination” – that they are in part responsible for the sorts of sentiments and psychologies that have led to global environmental destruction, and attempt to remedy this by calling upon fellow Anglicans to push for a radical resolution to the UN climate talks in Paris later this year.

The bishops acknowledged the inherent injustice of the distribution of environmental effects and the nations, individuals, businesses that are complicit in the continuation of climate change and excavation of fossil fuels and criticised the political motives that may get in the way of effective action on climate change.

The letter read:

We acknowledged that there are large economic and political issues at play in this complex conversation around unexploited fossil fuel reserves and the development of sustainable and renewable forms of energy: including the subsidization of fossil fuel industries and the powerful influence of big business on government policy throughout the world.

Furthermore, the letter announced a review of the churches’ investment practices with a focus on supporting “environmental sustainability and justice”. Specifically, they declare that they will follow the global trend and divest from fossil fuel investments.

The relationship between religious leaders and the divestment campaign is particularly topical today.

Desmond Tutu has recently condemned the Church of England (CoE) and Kings College London (KCL) for not going down the path to divestment.

Tutu has described divestment as “a moral movement to persuade fossil fuel companies away from a business model that threatens our very survival”

He has joined other social activists, including Bill McKibben, US author and founder of 350.org in criticising the CoE for “dragging its heels when it comes to dropping fossil fuel investments” from its £5.2 billion fund.

McKibben argues that “If there was ever a moment when we needed strong moral leadership, this is the moment.”

However, almost 200 institutions worldwide have divested from fossil fuels and an estimated $50 billion has been moved away from this industry in the process. This includes the Guardian media group which this week released its plans to divest £800 million.

Meanwhile he relationship between morality, religion and climate change is drawing increasing attention from the world and will be of fundamental significance as we come up to the COP21 talks in Paris, as a host of religious voices speak out in favour of climate action.

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