Church leaders representing the main strands of the Protestant church in Britain have written to Boris Johnson calling on him to pledge to cut UK emissions by at least 75%, from 1990 levels, by 2030 when he submits the country’s first climate plan under the Paris Agreement.
With the UK leaving the EU, it must now provide a standalone national climate plan to the UN climate body, the UNFCCC, outlining its proposed emissions cuts and the support it will provide to vulnerable countries that have done little to cause climate change. It will be closely scrutinised as the UK is presiding over the crucial next UN climate summit taking place in Glasgow in 2021.
The letter to the Prime Minister was signed by the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, as well the Archbishop of Wales, and leaders from the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Union, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and Quakers among others.
They write: “In 2021, the UK has the chance to be a true global leader. 2021 is a critical year to tackle the climate crisis and the UK is uniquely placed to lead the world in ambitious action as the President of the COP26 UN climate talks.
“Christian Aid, their supporting churches across the UK, and their local partners around the world expect your Government to tackle climate change in a way that is fair and just for the world’s poorest people. That’s why today we, as representatives of those churches, are writing to you in support of the petition being submitted to you by Christian Aid, signed by over 57,000 of their supporters, calling for action.”
They call on the Government to commit to cutting UK emissions by 75%, from a 1990 baseline, by 2030, solely through domestic action, and based on the scientific evidence provided by the Committee on Climate Change.
They also call for action to support for climate-vulnerable countries with climate finance, assistance for communities needing to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and help to acquire renewable energy technology so they can avoid a fossil fuel based development path.
They conclude: “As we look with hope to the securing of a critical deal in Glasgow next year, churches across the UK are committed - together with Christian Aid and its supporters - to working with you and your Government to help deliver a national climate plan that ensures climate justice for the world’s poorest people.”
The letter is accompanied by a petition, signed by 57,000 people, demanding a New Deal for Climate Justice, which puts the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities at the heart of global climate policy, stops the expansion of fossil fuel projects and invests in rapidly decarbonising the UK economy.
Pete Moorey, Christian Aid’s Head of Campaigns and UK Advocacy said: “The climate emergency is the great moral issue of our time. The people suffering the most are those that have done the least to cause it. That’s why church leaders from across Britain have stood together to call on Boris Johnson to set a bold commitment for other countries to follow.
“As president of the UN climate summit next year, the UK will be encouraging other nations to come forward with ambitious plans. The UK’s own climate pledge must set a high bar for action, anything else would be a failure of leadership.
“After the recent decision to cut UK overseas aid, the UK has a moral duty to make inequality and injustice in the world’s poorest countries central to next year’s summit. People around the world facing the reality of climate change right now are counting on it to be a success.”
The signatories to the letter sent to the Prime Minister
Elizabeth Allen, Quakers in Scotland
Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Convenor Faith Impact Forum, Church of Scotland
The Most Revd John D E Davies, Archbishop of Wales & Bishop of Swansea and Brecon
Revd Clare Downing, Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church
Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain
Revd David Gregory, Convenor, Baptist Union Environment Network
Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, lead bishop on environmental affairs for the Church of England
Revd Dr Jennifer A Hurd, District Chair of The Cymru Synod of the Methodist Church
Carolyn Lawrence, Vice President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
Revd Judith Morris, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Wales
Rev Meirion Morris, General Secretary of The Presbyterian Church of Wales
John O Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Peter Pay, Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church
Revd Dyfrig Rees, General Secretary of the Union of Welsh Independents
Rev. Lindsey Sanderson, Synod of Scotland, United Reformed Church
Revd Richard Teal, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
Revd Simon Walkling, Moderator of the United Reformed Church National Synod of Wales
Revd Dr Stephen Wigley, Chair of the Wales Synod of the Methodist Church