Churches launch climate campaign

 The Catholic Church in England and Wales has joined a coalition of churches launching a campaign to curb climate change, by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. 'Operation Noah' aims to highlight warnings that atmospheric warming from burning carbon fuels is causing violent weather patterns and rising sea levels. Around 200 delegates attending a conference in Coventry on Saturday to launch the campaign were asked to sign a covenant promising to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. They were also encouraged to put pressure on the UK government and world leaders to do the same. Churches were urged to sign up to green electricity. Sir John Houghton, an eminent meteorologist and former member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), urged US President George Bush to read the scientific assessments of the IPCC. "Perhaps we should persuade him and Dick Cheney to do their homework" he told delegates. The US produces one quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions which are contributing towards global warming. The Catholic Coordinator of Operation Noah, Paul Bodenham, said 900 Christians have already signed the climate covenant and he urged others to do the same. "It is a mechanism to draw us into a covenant with vulnerable people" he said. More than 500 people took part in a colourful 'rainbow' procession through Coventry, followed by an ecumenical service in Coventry Cathedral, where Dr David Hallman, co-ordinator of the World Council of Churches' climate change programme, described climate change as "an issue of international justice and inter-generational justice". He felt that seemingly "modest little efforts" connect into advocacy and lifestyle change at an international level. Operation Noah has been given the enthusiastic backing of all five presidents of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. The presidents include Most Revd Mario Conti, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow and Most Revd and Rt Hon David Hope, Anglican Archbishop of York. It is organised by Christian Ecology Link (CEL) on behalf of the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission and director of Forum for the Future, said he was delighted churches were taking up the issue of climate change. "Operation Noah is a wake-up call, not only to people of faith but to the whole of society" he said. "It makes us stop and think what we are doing to the earth and dares us to live by a new set of values". BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the campaign was "the boldest co-ordinated step yet by senior church leaders to intervene in the political debate over climate change". See: for further information about Operation Noah.

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