Environment Bishop urges Government to put climate change at the heart of pandemic economic recovery

At the start of the second annual London Climate Action Week, Bishop John Arnold joined UK faith leaders in calling for the government to focus its economic recovery strategy, post-COVID-19 lockdown, on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.

In the open letter, representatives from Britain’s faith groups urged the government to develop a new shared vision for our common home, shared equitably, that is “rooted in sustainability and respect for nature and the earth’s resources” and “founded on the fundamental principles of justice and responsibility.”

London Climate Action Week was split into two parts this year due to the Coronavirus outbreak – a three-day digital event (1-3 July) that featured over 70 online events and discussions and a planned event in November 2020 to take stock of the capital’s climate change goals and also to serve as a platform for relaunching the momentum of climate action towards COP26 – the UN climate change conference to be held in Glasgow in 2021. The UK has the Presidency for COP26.

Full Text

COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.

We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.

At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean.

We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most.

All this shows us how precarious our previous ‘business as usual’ was, socially, economically, ecologically and spiritually.

Yet we have also demonstrated our capacity to adapt to new realities.

Many people have discovered a deeper sense of spirituality. We have seen the possibility of creating a more sustainable and generous society in which we care more deeply for each other and the world.

Our faiths teach us that our planet, with its rich resources and inspiring diversity, is lent to us on trust only and we are accountable for how we treat it. We are urgently and inescapably responsible, not just before God but to our own children and the very future of humanity.

This unique moment calls us to develop a shared new vision for our future which we cannot afford to miss. As faith leaders we are committed to working alongside the people and governments of this nation and the world to formulate and live by such a vision.

It must be based on the recognition of our limits: this planet is a complex ecosystem in which we are only one part. It must be rooted in sustainability and respect for nature and the earth’s resources. It must be founded on the fundamental principles of justice and responsibility.

In this, the fifth anniversary year of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, we undertake to:

  • Speak out urgently about the need for change;
  • Promote the vision of the earth as our common home which must be shared equitably;
  • Protect biodiversity and restore natural environments;
  • Work with our communities to reduce substantially the carbon intensity of our activities;
  • Build worldwide partnerships to reduce the impact of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable;
  • Model what we teach in our faiths and communities.

We therefore call on our Government to:

Ensure that every element of the economic recovery strategy has at its centre the urgent need to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change;

Implement policies for sustainability in every sector of the economy;

Take its due share of responsibility for a global and just transition, including through its approach to trade, investment and overseas aid;

Use its COP26 presidency to work for a global commitment to net zero, building on the Paris Agreement;

To protect biodiversity and restore the environment;

We urge every sector of civil society to use this opportunity to work together to create a better world.

Yours faithfully,

Bishop John Arnold
Bishop of Salford
Lead Bishop for Environmental Issues

Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam
Bishop of Salisbury
Church of England Lead Bishop on Environmental Affairs

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
New North London Synagogue and Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism

Rt Revd Sarah Mullally
Bishop of London

Dr Husna Ahmad OBE
CEO, Global One, Trustee, Faith for the Climate

Qari Muhammad Asim MBE
Chair, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board

Rabbi Charley Baginsky
Interim Director of Liberal Judaism

The Very Rev Dr Susan Brown
Convener of the Faith Impact Forum, The Church of Scotland

Talia Chain
CEO, Sadeh Farm, Trustee, Faith for the Climate

Rt Revd the Lord Chartres
Former Bishop of London

Rt Revd Richard Cheetham
Bishop of Kingston

Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
Bishop of Southwark

Rt Revd Jonathan Clark
Bishop of Croydon

Commissioner Anthony Cotterill
Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army in the UK and Ireland

Jamie Cresswell
Chair, Religions for Peace UK
Trustee, Faith for the Climate

Rt Revd Woyin Karowei Dorgu
Bishop of Woolwich

Mr Derek Estill
Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church

Olivia Fuchs
Eco Dharma Network coordinator

Revd Giles Goddard
Chair, Faith for the Climate

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith
Senior Rabbi, Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue

Revd Lynn Green
General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism

BK Jayanti
Director, Brahma Kumaris UK

Jagbir Jhutti-Johal
Senior Lecturer, Sikh Studies, University of Birmingham
Trustee, Faith for the Climate

Bishop James Jones KBE
Former Bishop of Liverpool and former Co-founder of Faiths4Change

Fazlun Khalid
Founder, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Carolyn Lawrence
Vice-President of the Methodist Conference

Rabbi David Mason
Muswell Hill Synagogue and Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue Executive

Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra
Co-Director, Virtue Ethics Foundation

Paul Parker
Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain

Mrs Trupti Patel
President Hindu Forum of Britain, Trustee, Faith for the Climate

Gopal D. Patel
Director, The Bhumi Project

Imam Sayed Razawi FRSA
Chief Imam, Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society

Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich
Rabbi, Nottingham Liberal Synagogue

Most Rev Mark Strange
Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Revd Richard Teal
President of the Methodist Conference

Revd Nigel Uden
Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church

Rt Revd Graham Usher
Bishop of Norwich

Canon Guy Wilkinson CBE
Secretary, Faith for the Climate

Rt Revd the Lord Williams of Oystermouth
Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and former Archbishop of Canterbury