BRITAIN: Churches warn on neglecting environment in economic crisis

March 11, 2009

Churches in Britain are working with Christians throughout Europe to lobby government ministers who are to meet in Brussels on March 18 to decide on the European Union's position at a United Nations summit on climate change in December.

"The world needs to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide at the same time as dealing with a crisis in our debt-based economies," Anglican Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford wrote in a letter to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on behalf of Church of England bishops. "This is an opportunity for human society to build a new kind of low carbon economy which is more fulfilling, more sustainable and more equitable."

The Anglican bishops have also asked church leaders and congregations through Europe to lobby their governments to support sharp EU cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.

In a joint letter, leaders of the Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed churches wrote that they feared that EU leaders might use the global economic crisis "to shy away" from taking long term action on climate change.

"We are convinced that it would be short-sighted to stimulate economic growth without simultaneously addressing deficiencies in the relationship between ecology and economy," the church leaders stated.

In a speech in Cardiff on March 7, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams also urged that environmental cost be factored into economic calculations, "in terms of doing justice to future generations. There needs to be a robust rebuttal of any idea that environmental concerns are somehow a side issue or even a luxury in a time of economic pressure; the questions are inseparably connected."