CANADA: New Westminster bishop calls for action on climate

January 15, 2007

Canadian Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster has entered a national debate about climate change, giving support to environmentalists currently pressuring the British Columbia and Canadian governments to take action.

"Care of the Earth has become one of the most pressing, ethical, moral and spiritual issues of our time," Vancouver-based Ingham wrote in a letter to the premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell, calling on the provincial government to set binding provincial targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

David Dranchuk, coordinator for societal ministry in Ingham's Diocese of New Westminster, said the inspiration came from actions in California where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has set some tough greenhouse gas controls in place, The Vancouver Sun newspaper reported on January 15.

"We're called to honor and protect God's creation, so we think there's an expectation for churches and all faith communities to exercise some leadership," said Dranchuk. "Leadership means concrete action not just pious God talk."

Ingham, who is known for his role in allowing congregations to bless same-gender unions, criticized targets supported by Canada and the United States on gas emissions linked to relative productivity or economic output.

Campbell, leader of the British Columbia Liberal Party, welcomed Ingham's initiative, saying that Church support for the environment is a "hopeful sign." However, he has offered no plan of action by his provincial government.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative-led government had been accused of weakening efforts to control greenhouse gases and abandoning Canada's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, which binds 35 industrialized nations to reduce emissions. Early in January, however, Harper appointed a new environment minister and pledged to do "a lot more" on climate change.

Ingham said "absolute reductions" in greenhouse gas emissions are needed. "We believe the targets must be based on the best possible science in terms of what is required to stabilize the climate," he wrote.