Discussions of the Sibiu Creation Forum

Climate change: an issue for the churches

  • The changes in climate that are being experienced in different parts of the world demonstrate our interconnectedness with the whole of creation and with past and future generations.
  • Human technological developments and economic growth built on the use of fossil fuels (putting a warming blanket of carbon gases round the earth) is already disrupting climate patterns. If carbon emissions are not reduced drastically, we are bequeathing catastrophic climate change to our children and grandchildren.
  • We are irreversibly damaging the ecological systems on which life – all life - depends.
  • This is God's creation, created in and for love, which the human race is rendering uninhabitable.
  • This is therefore a prime concern affecting all else discussed in the Assembly: it aggravates the problems associated with migration, peace and social justice; it calls for changes of heart and will, and therefore spirituality, to recognise that we belong within and among the totality of God's creation, not apart from it as rulers and exploiters.

Focus on life-style

  • The Bishop of London drew the attention of the Assembly to the pictures taken from space showing the wealthier parts of the earth, not least Europe, covered in light, with the rest largely in darkness. This symbolises in a striking way that it is the consumption of energy in the rich industrialised countries that is causing misery in other parts of the world.
  • It is our life-style in Europe that is ignoring the limits set by the ecological balances that sustain life.
  • But our life-style in Europe is not simply a matter of individual choice: we are part of a culture that tempts us to seek identity and status through our possessions and traps us into relying on transport that goes on putting carbon into the atmosphere.
  • We must actively question the priority given to economic growth that is built on ever increasing production and consumption.
  • To meet the challenge, Governments must act urgently to establish forms of carbon rationing.
  • At the same time, we must experiment with simpler ways of living that can show our politicians and industrialists that radical alternatives can promise a much happier future for the human race.

Proposed action

  • That the Time of Creation, beginning on 1 September, be used imaginatively in all our churches for praise and prayer for creation and also, crucially, for bringing people together to plan action.
  • This action should include inspiring and equipping Christians, in the words of the Youth statement “to re-think their life-style in accordance with the biblical witness” or in the words of the Catholic Bishops of England, “to live simply, sustainably, and in solidarity with the poor”.
  • Action should be taken – as is already happening – to practice eco-management of church buildings and institutions, not least as a witness to the wider community.
  • This then gives us the right to bring pressure on our Governments to re-orient their political and economic priorities, putting first the safeguarding of the Earth's life-supporting resources. Economies must be a sub-set of ecology, not the other way round.
  • This political advocacy must also include pressing the urgency of negotiating a successor to the Kyoto treaty to ensure that global carbon emissions are drastically cut in the next 10 years. Also, that the right to emit carbon within the agreed cap is shared equitably among all nations
  • Action to be seen as an opportunity to work with others, not least people of other faiths
  • There is a need to strengthen the networks that provide inspiration, support and the opportunity to share good practice, in particular the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN), which in addition to its Assemblies, has working groups on Creation time, climate change, mobility, eco-management, creation theology, water and education.

Ruth Conway, Co-Moderator