Europe’s churches asked to tackle climate change

The 7th Assembly of the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) ended on Sunday with a call to Europe’s churches to make climate change a top priority.

The ECEN assembly brought together 100 delegates from 27 countries and all European traditions under the common theme, “The true challenge of climate change”.

The assembly coincided with the 10th anniversary of the ECEN’s founding this year and took its inspiration from last year’s third European Ecumenical Assembly (EEA3), which recommended that churches celebrate a “Time of Creation” between 1 September and 4 October and step up their level of engagement with environmental challenges.

The ECEN’s Secretary, the Rev Dr Peter Pavlovic, said in his concluding remarks that many European churches had taken up the cause of climate change.

“In a number of churches in Europe, care for creation has received rising attention. Therefore is it increasingly important to provide a space for exchange of experiences and deliberation in view of common action,” he said.

In a final statement issued at the Assembly’s end on Saturday, delegates urged people to go beyond a consumption-based view of creation.

“The roots of human destruction of the environment are to be sought not just in actions, but in our most deep-seated attitudes. It is not enough for humans to keep alive by consuming the world around them; they need a relationship with the world that is not purely utilitarian and market-based,” the statement said.

“Churches need to accept the challenge to come together to overcome the threat of water shortages, decreased harvests, natural disasters, diseases, migration and many other projected effects of climate change.”

The delegates called on European churches to develop a “road-map” with timelines and goals towards the amelioration of global warming.

They also ask individual Christians to lobby their governments and politicians in the European Parliament on the issue of climate change.

“The EU commitments for green house gasses emission must not be achieved through offsetting emissions: significant cuts of greenhouse gas emissions have to be achieved through efforts here and now,” says the document.

Last week, the vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Nobel Prize winner, Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele told the assembly that there was no need for a “fatalistic view of the future”.

“There are ways to reduce emissions, and churches can contribute to solutions by proposing changes in lifestyle and behaviour patterns,” he said.