Welby joins faith leaders calling for action on climate change

Posted Jun 17, 2015

[Lambeth Palace press release] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has joined faith leaders in Britain pledging to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change, in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.

Representatives of the major faiths, including Welby, said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.

In the Lambeth Declaration, which will be launched June 17, signatories call on faith communities to recognize the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

The call comes ahead of the international climate change talks in Paris this December where negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change, aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out.

The Declaration, signed by the archbishops of Canterbury and York and other faith leaders in the U.K., warns that world leaders must agree to reduce emissions to avoid average temperatures rising beyond 2⁰C, widely considered to be the threshold above which it is considered that the impacts of climate change will be most severe.

The original declaration was hosted by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and signed by faith leaders in 2009 ahead of the Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

The declaration is being launched Wednesday, June 17, by Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, at ecumenical services in Westminster, London, to mark the national lobby of U.K. Parliament over the Paris talks.

Signatories include representatives from the Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities as well as the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Methodist Conference and other denominations and faiths, with more leaders continuing to sign the Declaration.

Hundreds more people are expected to sign up to the declaration as it travels rounds the country during a summer of pilgrimages.

View text of the Lambeth Declaration and full list of signatories on the Church of England website


Comments (1)

  1. Glenn Horton-Smith says:

    Good news and good article. One phrase bugs me a bit: the description of 2⁰C as “the threshold above which it is considered that the impacts of climate change will be most severe” is somewhat hard to follow, and in particular the phrase “most severe” is unclear. It could be read as saying that climate change impacts reach a “most severe” level at 2⁰C, above which the impacts remain “most severe”, i.e., the worst they could be. That’s not the case. It’s generally accepted that any impacts would get ever more severe with higher temperature rises.

    It would be closer to the mark to say that the expected impacts of a 2⁰C rise have been generally considered as too severe to accept. Policy makers have to look at the best climate models they can get and make human judgment calls about the largest acceptable climate change we can tolerate.

    There is no “most severe” in a purely physical sense, only “more severe” and “even more severe”. Only human judgment can take the analytic graphs of expected severity versus temperature rise and add a line showing “too severe”.

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