Christian Aid Groups Explore Climate Change Effects on Development

American and European Christian groups have been meeting over the past several days to discuss how natural disasters caused by climate change will impact the groups' development work.

Some 25 representatives of church-related relief and development agencies are currently gathered in London to reflect on how, for instance, a single hurricane or flood can destroy years of development work. In response to these real potential disasters, the groups at the consultation planned to discuss how Northern societies can help Southern societies continue to achieve their development goals despite threats of natural disaster.

During the Apr. 12-15 gathering, representatives were also expected to renew and update their ecumenical advocacy policies on how to negotiate with government bodies on climate change issues after the year 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an agreement where countries that ratify the protocol promise to reduce their emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. There are more than 160 countries that have signed the agreement.

The gathering is to also consider ways for faith communities to participate in a global civil society campaign on climate change as well as setting emission reduction targets and timetables.

The consultation is hosted by U.K.-based Christian Aid and sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Working Group on Climate Change.

Participating organizations of the climate change consultation include Bread for the World/Church Development Service (Germany), Church of Sweden Aid, Church World Service (USA), Evangelical Environment Network (USA), Norwegian Church Aid, and Tearfund (U.K.).