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17 June 2015

Climate change: the biggest challenge in the next decade?

Climate change: the biggest challenge in the next decade?

Thousands of Christians are joining others of all faiths and none today for a climate change lobby at Westminster to share their concerns on the damaging effects of climate change.

The event comes as a Tearfund survey reveals Christians believe environmental and climate change problems is the biggest challenge facing the world over the next 10 years.

The lobby which is called Speak up for the love of…, has brought 100 agencies together for the first mass lobby of the new government as part of the Climate Change Coalition.

The coalition has more than 11 million members in the UK.

The Rev Dave Matthews, 63, and p"In Bangladesh, people's land and crops are being washed away, making survival extremely difficult.

"As a Christian, I believe the Church has a moral imperative to speak up for the people most affected by climate change and to care for God's beautiful creation."

At noon, an ecumenical service was held at St Margaret's Parliament Square for prayer and worship and a talk by the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England's lead bishop on the environment, the Bishop of Salisbury.

Bishop Nicholas will launch the new Lambeth Declaration in which signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

The Declaration, signed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and other faith leaders in the UK, warns that world leaders must agree to reduce emissions to avoid average temperatures rising beyond 2C, widely considered to be the threshold above which it's considered the impacts of climate change will be most severe.

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.

Bishop of Salisbury said: "The changing climate is affecting all of us but is pressing hardest on those who are most vulnerable.

"As the Church, we are called to serve the world's poorest people, that's why we need to speak up and call our government to act now."

The event coincides with the survey conducted by ComRes for Tearfund, which asked unprompted questions to identify the main social and political issues participants believe the world will have to face over the next 10 years. Practising Christians in the UK are most likely to say climate change or the environment –28 per cent of respondents.

Participants were also asked to identify the social and political issues facing Britain today, and found that social justice (27 per cent) came top of the list, followed by concern about secularism (18 per cent), migration (14 per cent) and poverty (12 per cent).

Paul Cook, Tearfund's advocacy director, said: "The call to justice and generosity is a strong part of the Christian faith, and we see this very clearly. It's important that we understand the priorities of churchgoers so we're better able to represent them as we engage in debate about the big political and social issues which affect the world's poorest people."

At the climate change rally today, many
will meet with their MPs and ask them to support a global climate change agreement that will end carbon pollution from fossil fuels by the middle of the century;ensure that the sustainable development goals to be agreed by the United Nations this autumn reflect the need for ambitious action on climate change;to end climate pollution from coal use in the UK, on the way to phasing out carbon from our power system and to invest in warm homes, sustainable transport, and clean energy.

A global summit on climate change will be held 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.

Image: Church leaders and others gathering outside St Margaret's Westminster on 17 June 2015. The ecumenical service, organised by Tearfund and other Christian organisations, took place ahead of the first mass lobby of the new government.