Churches urged to support Climate Sunday
Churches are being urged to act on climate change as the UK prepares to host a critical international climate summit.
They are being asked to hold a climate focused service and to commit to effective action ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in November.
The Climate Sunday Initiative, a coalition of UK churches which includes the Church in Wales, is the broadest-based church response to the climate crisis in the UK in the run-up to COP26. Over the past year, participating churches have been asked to do three things: hold a climate-focused service to explore the science and theology around addressing human-caused climate disruption; commit to taking ongoing practical action themselves; and sign a joint call for the government to act - the Time is Now Declaration.
For those yet to hold a Climate Sunday service, there is still time as the weeks before the summit is the Season of Creation (September 1 to October 4), including Harvest, and therefore an ideal time to focus on the environment. You can hold your local service any time before #COP26 in November, but please register it by Sept 5 at: climatesunday.org/register
Canon Carol Wardman, spokesperson for the Church in Wales’ environmental group, CHASE (Church Action for Sustaining the Environment), says, "This year, the Church in Wales declared a Climate Emergency, appointed a Climate Champion, took the decision to divest from fossil fuels, and committed ourselves to becoming carbon-neutral by 2030. Every diocese is registered with A Rocha’s Eco Diocese scheme, and for some years we have encouraged churches to celebrate Climate Sunday and Creation Time (September-October), with specially-written resources in English and Welsh. We are proud to be a Partner of the Climate.Cymru campaign, which aims to send messages from 10,000 Welsh voices to COP26, encouraging the leaders of the world to take transformational and urgent action.
Tackling climate change is literally a life-and-death issue, and we pray that governments both at home and across the globe will have the courage to act before it is too late.”
The coalition wants to see the UK Government bring out domestic policies before the international conference, to get the UK back on track with its own emissions targets. It is also calling on the Government, in its role as chair of COP26, to seek faster and deeper global emissions cuts and the delivery of long-promised finance to help poorer countries adapt to the climate disruption which they are already experiencing.
There is deep concern among climate specialists within the churches and charities that the UK government is undermining its influence to deliver a successful COP26 outcome by failing to implement policies to achieve the UK’s own emissions targets and by slashing the UK’s overseas aid budget. They believe it needs to take rapid action before COP to restore its own credibility as a ‘climate leader’.
So far, more than 1,500 churches across Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland are taking part and hundreds more, including several cathedrals, are planning to do so.
This widespread take up of the initiative across diverse church traditions indicates a growing commitment by churches to act on climate change, and to demand that the government act too.
The website contains a ‘toolbox’ of free resources and enables churches to register their commitment. Typically, churches are committing to progress through one of three major ‘church greening schemes’ ,such as A Rocha’s Eco Church. Many are ‘speaking up’ for the first time joining tens of thousands of other members of the public, organisations and other faith groups in signing the Time is Now declaration.
A key milestone of the campaign before COP26 will be a national Climate Sunday event in Glasgow Cathedral on Sunday 5 September 2021. This will celebrate the commitments made by churches so far, and to present the Government with a list of those commitments and the signatories of all churches who have signed the Time is Now Declaration. The final total of participating churches and commitments will be presented to the Government at the COP conference itself.
- Join online by registering here: nationsclimatesunday.eventbrite.co.uK
Worship, commit, speak-upClimate Sunday resources (in Welsh and English)
- For more resources see Cytun, Churches Together in Wales
Andy Atkins, Chair of the Climate Sunday Coalition, which is organised by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), says, "The climate crisis is accelerating alarmingly; but we have the unique opportunity in rich countries to accelerate the solutions by directing Covid recovery funds towards building a new, green economy. At present the government is in danger of ‘building back worse’. So, there has never been a more crucial time for UK churches to come together to pray, act locally and speak up nationally on the climate crisis and on the need to ‘build back greener’."
Hannah Eves, a member of the Young Christian Climate Network who are also supporters of the coalition, from Northern Ireland says, ‘"It's five to midnight on the ticking clock to avoid catastrophic climate change. We’re thrilled to see churches now acting on the concerns of my generation. But the grand statements we hear from the government are so often undermined by contradictory actions. Boris Johnson says ‘We’re committed to Net zero,’ then launches a massive new road building programme for example. The whole world is watching. Our government needs to put it’s own house in order fast, to have a fighting chance of delivering a successful COP for the world and my generation."