General Assembly Resolution on Global Warming /Climate Change
United Reformed Church
General Assembly resolution on Global Warming /Climate Change (2007)
Global warming/climate change is widely recognised by scientists and governments as the greatest challenge facing the earth. Climate change is an environmental issue, with consequences including devastating heat waves, drought, the spread of disease, habitat loss, species extinction and increased storms and rising sea levels causing both inland flooding and coastal inundation. Climate change is also a justice issue, whilst the west/north have made the biggest contribution to the causes of global warming the south is least able to mitigate the situation and most likely to pay the highest price. Scientists warn of an impending 'tipping point', a point of no return after which the level of carbon in the atmosphere will cause an irreversible and accelerating change. It is imperative that all of civil society, including the Church acts.
What has the URC in association with sister churches done to date?
- Produced a study and action guide entitled Roots and Branches (Assembly 1998) for local churches.
- Adopted the Five Marks of Mission (Assembly 1999) as our core mission driver which includes as the fifth (but of equal ranking): to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, to sustain and renew the life of the earth.
- Passed a Denominational Environmental Policy (Assembly 2004)
- Promoted the ecumenical Eco-Congregation project designed to help churches consider environmental issues within their church life and take positive action, with excellence being marked with the Eco-Congregation Award.
- As members of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches aided the development of the Accra Confession (2004), which was subsequently taken up by the Council for World Mission (2006) in the 'Living out the Accra Confession' statement inviting people, congregations and churches to covenant for justice to transform ourselves and the world according to God's purposes and promises, inspired by the vision of a new heaven and a new earth.
- Promoted Operation Noah– the churches' campaign on climate change (Assembly 2004)
- In 2005 established with the MethodistChurch 'Creation Challenge', an environmental network enabling those who are active on environmental matters to pool ideas and expertise and to makecare of God's creation a central part of local church life and witness. The network is working with synod property officers to produce an audit regarding environmental friendliness, which could be added to quinquennial surveys of church buildings.
- Is developing a partnership with the church and government of Kiribati, in the Pacific, to spread understanding of climate change issues and to take action on environmental damage in the Pacific.
- Is launching at Assembly 2007 "At the Water's Edge", a Commitment for Life publication with Bible study and worship ideas reflecting the link between climate change and poverty including stories from some of its four partner countries, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Zimbabwe.
Climate change requires concerted decisive action by all civil society, governments, business, the voluntary sector including churches and all people. Current government targets are to achieve a 60% cut in carbon emissions from the 1990 level by 2050. However, it is increasingly recognised that even this level of cuts is too little too late, with the poor bearing the highest cost. The church has an honourable record of campaigning and acting, most recently in debt and trade issues. It is important for the church to take a prophetic lead to act for the well being of the world including the poorest and as Christian witness. Recognising our common purpose, International Relations, Church and Society with Commitment for Life seek to work together with the whole church to reclaim a spirituality of caring for the whole of creation and encourage the whole church to act for the common good.
Climate Change – Resolution passed at General Assembly 2007
1) Notes with approval the work already underway on climate change, and reaffirms the need to build this into the whole life of the local Church;
2) Recognises that all society, including the United Reformed Church must shrink its carbon footprint;
3) Calls upon Church and Society:
(a)to determine how carbon emissions can best be monitored across the church;
(b)to develop plans in consultation with the relevant agents of the church to implement year on year cuts in carbon emissions using the expertise of such groups as Eco- Congregation, Operation Noah, Creation Challenge and the Joint Public Issues Team;
(c)to roll this out across the church, and
(d)to report annually to the Trustees;
4) Calls for the urgent development of energy sources alternative to fossil fuels;
5) Calls upon Local Churches to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, to sustain and renew the life of the earth.