Anglican Head Urges Churches to Pray, Act Now for Environment

LONDON – The head of the worldwide Anglican Communion has issued an appeal to churches to pray and act for the environment ahead of key UN talks on climate change later this year.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams is urging churches to use Environment Sunday on June 7 as an opportunity to pray for the planet and the campaign for climate change to ensure that the best deal is reached by government leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

"Whilst it will be for governments meeting in Copenhagen in December to agree a successor to the Kyoto regime for global reductions in carbon emissions – and we all want those to be both ambitious and deliverable – we have a part to play," he said.

"Governments need to know that people want them to be ambitious. They need a mandate," the church leader added.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2009 is a crucial year in the international effort to address climate change.

This year, two working groups will be operating in full negotiating mode to advance work toward meeting their respective mandates while important ongoing work under the Convention will also be taken forward in 2009.

The year will culminate with the Dec. 7-18 summit in Copenhagen, where an ambitious international response to climate change that was shaped by parties in 2007 will be agreed upon.

Currently, a second round of negotiations is taking place in Bonn, where the first meeting had also taken place March 28 to April 8. The second meeting concludes June 12 after having started on June 1.

In his appeal, Williams, who is considered "first among equals" in the Anglican Communion, said that climate change was "probably" the most important issue the world is facing today and stressed that it was a matter of justice as well as caring for the environment.

 "As usual, the poorest are likely to suffer the most though the richest have contributed most to pollute the atmosphere and accelerate global warming," he said.

"So we can pray that a proper sense of responsibility – not least to the generations who will follow us – and of justice guides the hearts and the minds of the politicians who will meet in Copenhagen."

The archbishop urged Christians to get involved with events and campaigns taking place between now and the Dec. 7-18 climate change summit.

Williams plans to be in Copenhagen to support last minute campaigns for a suitable deal to emerge from the talks.

Christian Today reporter Jenna Lyle contributed to this article from London.