If the international community is to stave off the most serious consequences of climate change and the impact already being felt in the world's poorest communities, it needs to do more than reduce global carbon emissions, according to European Church leaders.
The warning is part of a joint letter sent by the head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams; the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden, the Most Rev. Anders Wejryd; and the Bishop of the Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (Evangelical Church in Germany), Dr. Wolfgang Huber.
In the letter, the church heads claim that "[s]ubstantially reducing global emissions of greenhouse gasses will not avoid the serious impacts of climate change already experienced by many of the world's most vulnerable communities."
"Climate change is not just about addressing environmental degradation; it is also about fighting poverty and providing for human security," they state. "The creation of new migration patterns from waterlogged, water scarce or food scarce regions will exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and lead to heightened regional and international security."
The church leaders called on world governments and the European Commission to "strengthen their commitment to addressing the challenge of climate change."
Reiterating the concerns of numerous Christian humanitarian agencies including World Vision, Tearfund and Christian Aid, the leaders noted that the impact of climate change is being felt most severely by those who have done the least to cause it.
This, they say, makes the issue of a joined up response to climate change not simply a question of environmental good practice, but also of international justice.
"Securing a just and equitable post-2012 treaty depends on governments progressing beyond notions of justice that reflect their own national interests to one that provides for the global common good," the church heads stated.
The letter was sent to the president of the European Commission and the president of the Council of the European Union ahead of the Intergovernmental Conference on Climate Change being held Dec. 3-14 in Bali, Indonesia.