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14 December 2015

Christians hail historic climate change agreement

Christians hail historic climate change agreement

The Church of England and leading Christian charities have hailed this weekend's settlement on climate change as historic after countries agreed to keep global warming to below two degrees.

After two weeks of talks, participants have committed to hold the increase in global temperatures to "well below" this level, alongside clear rules on transparency and reviews of carbon emissions every five years.

In the run up to the talks, the Church of England organised the Pilgrimage2Paris, which saw pilgrims walking 200 miles from London to Paris to call on COP21 to reach a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal.

This culminated with Bishop Nick Holtam, the lead bishop on the environment, meeting President Hollande of France to present climate justice petitions signed by almost two million people.

Bishop Holtam said: "It was a privilege to meet President Hollande on behalf of the 1.8 million people from faith communities who had signed petitions calling for climate justice.

"Supporting our politicians and diplomats to make difficult decisions has been an important part of the COP21 process, and we will continue to pray for them."

Alliance member Tearfund's advocacy director Paul Cook commended the step forward, but urged nations to "go further in reducing their emissions over the next few years to ensure the global temperature does not rise by more than one and a half degrees to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

"We work with some of the poorest people in the world, and hear and see every day how lives and businesses are being destroyed by climate change.

"The challenge for each nation is to bring the Paris deal back home and put things committed on paper into action and then strengthen it even further until the limit of one and a half degrees can be truly met."

Christian Aid's senior climate advisor Mohamed Adow praised the agreement's commitment to support poorer countries develop more sustainably: "Crucially the Paris Accord has not left poor countries behind.

"Richer countries have committed to deliver the finance they promised to help developing countries adapt and grow in a clean and sustainable way."

But he also called on the British government to push forward to fulfill Britain's low carbon energy potential, encouraging ambitious policies to deliver the Climate Change Act.

You can read our Friday Night Theology piece from last week, which looked at the COP21 conference, here.