Countdown to the Environment Encyclical: 2. The Climate Coalition

Campaigners outside Houses of Parliament

Campaigners outside Houses of Parliament

Today, it is expected that at least 10,000 people will gather at Westminster to lobby their new MPs on Climate Change. The strength of support for the lobby from the Christian churches will be seen at two packed out simultaneous services in advance of the lobby where Bishop John Sherrington, auxiliary in Westminster, and Bishop Pat Lynch of Southwark will be doing readings. Then people will meet their MPs both inside Parliament and outside - on both sides of the river between Westminster Bridge and Lambeth Bridge. Stalls and workshops will be happening the whole time and a rally in Parliament Square will conclude the event at 4.30pm.

According to a new poll commissioned by Tearfund this week, Christians say environment and climate change problems are the main issues facing the world over the next ten years. One thing we do know is that climate change is going to be a major issue in Pope Francis' encyclical. However, he is probably going to say that these issues cannot be solved by Christians acting alone.

Today's event has been organised by The Climate Coalition, with sister organisations Stop Climate Chaos Cymru and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. They have a combined supporter base of more than 100 member organisations. The event aims to get politicians to work together across party lines to support a global climate change agreement at Paris in December that will end carbon pollution from fossil fuels by the middle of the century. This is critical if we are to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees. Also, to ensure that this September's Sustainable Development Goals reflect the need for urgent and ambitious action on climate change. At home, the Coalition wants an end to climate pollution from coal use in the UK, as a part of phasing out carbon from our power system. Making the investments in energy efficient homes, sustainable transport, and clean energy are needed to meet obligations under the UK Climate Change Act.

It should be underlined that this Climate Coalition includes development and environment agencies plus religious and others groups. It seems so right to be working together - CAFOD and Christian Aid alongside Friends of the Earth, RSPB and Greenpeace; Columban JPIC, Operation Noah, the Iona Community and Green Christian alongside Big Green Jewish, Edinburgh University Students Association and

The wariness some Catholics feel about environmentalists is misplaced, I feel. In all my work with people from environmental groups over the years I have never heard any of them push population control or despise mainstream religions. I have felt inspired by their commitment to valuing and preserving the natural world and their witness of living simply. New alliances are to be welcomed.

Tomorrow, Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury is the main speaker at both services at Westminster. He has been praying and fasting on the first day of every month for a meaningful and fair agreement at December's UN climate talks in Paris. As the lead Church of England bishop on the environment - an 'eco-bishop' - his talk is likely to urge more systematic engagement with the world outside the church doors. Responding to the climate change threat he is likely to call for disinvestment in fossil fuels - which is a growing global movement - and for the end of coal-fired electricity.

He will stress the importance of thinking and acting locally and globally with environmentally guided minds, taking the view that climate change is the most pressing moral issue in our world. Pope Francis will surely echo this a day later.

It is likely that Pope Francis will align himself with the environmental movement. The fact is that diverse groupings in human society will have to work together to build a sustainable future - among them development and environment agencies, religious groups, peace networks, youth movements, the corporate world, economic bodies and politicians. The pope's encyclical will be his invitation to Catholics and broader faith and secular groups to join in the conversation and be inspired to work together to construct sustainable paths to development.


Tags: climate, Ellen Teague, environment

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