Churches Commitments on Climate Change handed in to No.10

A key milestone on the road to COP26, the final total of participating churches and commitments will be presented to the UK Government

– ‘Climate Sunday’ is the biggest ecumenical Christian movement for climate justice in the UK happening ahead of COP26      
2,128 churches from 30 denominations and Christian charities call on the UK government to act on climate.       
– Over 600 faith groups have signed the ‘Time is Now’ Declaration, joining around 150,000 signatories across UK civil society.        
4,773 churches are involved in church greening schemes to reduce their environmental impact and so far1,593 have achieved awards.  

On Monday 18 October at 10:00 am, leaders representing the five main faith groups from across the UK, including Bishop Olivia the Anglican Bishop of Reading, met at 10 Downing Street to demand bold and ambitious action on the climate crisis from Government, which is hosting the UN COP26 summit in two weeks.  Bishop Olivia, representing the Climate Sunday coalition, was among the multi-faith leaders in attendance and presented Government with a list of thousands of churches calling for the government to act now.

This interfaith presentation is a key milestone of practical action by faith groups that comes at a critical time for the climate, ahead of the UN COP26 climate negotiations in November.  Handing in the Climate Sunday list, which comprises thousands of churches from 30 denominations and charities – representing the biggest ecumenical Christian movement for climate justice in the UK, is increasing pressure through their collective call on the UK government to be bold and ambitious at COP26.  

Over the past year, the Climate Sunday initiative has been asking churches to act, pray and speak up on climate change.  At their Climate Sunday service, congregations have been encouraged to make a commitment to ongoing action to address climate change in their own place of worship and community and to use their voice to tell politicians that we want post-Covid recovery plans and the decisions coming from COP26 to lead to cleaner, greener, fairer future in the UK and beyond.  They were also encouraged to get involved with a church ‘greening scheme’, such as A Rocha UK’s Eco Church, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development’s Live Simply, or Eco-Congregation in Scotland and Ireland.  

The Climate Sunday movement has involved those from many diverse church traditions. Churches are calling on the Government, in their role as chair of COP26, to be much more ambitious in seeking faster and deeper global emissions cuts and the delivery of long-promised finance to help poorer countries adapt to climate disruption.

Many of those involved in Climate Sunday are ‘speaking up’ for the first time, and since the start of the ‘Climate Sunday’ coalition, 2,128 church congregations have joined the list, including clergy, Christian charities, and young people.  Thousands more, including other faith groups, have joined in signing the ‘Time is Now’ declaration, which calls on the UK government to go further faster on climate action before hosting the COP26.

Andy Atkins, Chair of the Climate Sunday coalition highlights the numbers of churches and organisations signed up to Climate Sunday before COP26

Bishop of Reading, Bishop Olivia, the Diocese of Oxford’s first female bishop said:

“I am proud and delighted to be standing shoulder to shoulder with other faith leaders today as we represent the millions who belong to faith communities to urge our government to put aside short-term political considerations and act on planetary warming, which is the key issue of this decade. There must be nothing half-hearted about our government’s leadership of the COP26.  Lives and livelihoods are already being lost across the globe due to the climate crisis. The survival of future generations is at stake. We all have a global moral responsibility, and today we urge our government to act with confidence and conviction.  They have our prayers and our support.”

Andy Atkins, Chair of the Climate Sunday coalition, and CEO of Christian nature conservation charity A Rocha UK said: ‘It’s hugely encouraging to see so many churches making their own practical commitments on climate change – surely one of the biggest moral issues of our generation.   Clearly, every section of society needs to contribute to heading off climate catastrophe including urging governments to use their greater powers and resources to maximum effect.   There are still 2 weeks before COP26 and we hope and we know many more churches will be holding a service, committing to action, and speaking up in that time.

Written By: Tamsin Morris

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