The Church of England calls for greater action on climate change
The Church of England's Environmental Advisory Group (EWG) is calling for the Church to recognise the Climate Crisis and to immediately step up its action to safeguard God's creation. Following its most recent meeting, the EWG, chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, aksked for greater action on climate change, urging churches to move faster with a revised target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 (rather than the current 80% reduction goal).
The EWG report offers guidance to staff, clergy and synod members around the country on the climate crisis covering everything from reducing carbon emissions to increasing biodiversity on church lands, managing ethical investments to hosting climate refugees. Churches are urged to be forward thinking, looking ahead to a time of crisis:-
"As the impacts of climate breakdown start to accelerate and the impact of biodiversity loss is seen more clearly, we foresee an increasing need and opportunity for the churches to play a missional role in communities across the country. Local churches can act as a catalyst in their community for carbon reduction initiatives and climate resilience strategies, as well as preparing to provide sanctuary in extreme weather events and for climate refugees from within and outside of the UK."
Across the country many churches and individuals are already increasingly concerned and have been praying and taking action. Acknowledging that caring for creation is part of the Church of England's mission and ministry, the EWG urges all churches to build ecological awareness into everything they do recommending a revised carbon reduction of net zero by 2050 to allow parishes, dioceses, schools, chaplaincies, and the National Church Institutions time to work together. Although the report urges those parts of the Church that can move faster to do so:-
"Everything we do must be seen through the lens of the environment", says the report. "We are all called to exercise leadership in this area, prioritising the fifth mark of mission 'to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth', and without this being done wholeheartedly the other four marks lack credibility in today's context".
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam urged all Christians to pull together, "It will need the commitment of everyone in the Church to engage strongly with our communities and establish creative policy frameworks that get the best out of people, not just because of anxiety but for the love of this wonderful creation."
Next year will be key year for gathering momentum on the climate and other ecological concerns. The Church of England's National Lent Campaign (starting in February) will focus on the environment co-ordinating with the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book, "Saying Yes to Life", by Ruth Valerio. Creation care will also be a hot topic at the 2020 Lambeth conference in July, attended by members of the global Anglican Communion and there are also plans for events surrounding COP26, the UN climate change summit in Glasgow in November.
You can read the guidance from the Church of England Environment Working Group here