Church in Wales declares a “climate emergency”

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Members of the Church in Wales today declared a climate emergency and agreed that an “urgent and rapid global response” to global warming was necessary.

They also voted to plan for the whole Church to have net zero carbon emissions, ideally by 2030, and to divest funds from fossil fuels.

Climate change was a key issue at today’s online meeting of the Church’s Governing Body The motion to declare a climate emergency and commit to net zero carbon emissions was brought by the Church’s environmental group, CHASE (Church Action for Sustaining the Environment).

It said, “We acknowledge that that an urgent and rapid global response to global warming is now necessary. We welcome the fact that solutions to alleviate the climate crisis are widely available including renewable technology, sustainable transport options and zero-carbon buildings. We support the decisions of governments, councils and organisations across Wales to pass motions declaring a climate emergency and setting net zero carbon emissions targets for their local areas. We should endeavour, through an action plan, to reach a net zero carbon emission position for the activities of the Church in Wales as soon as is practically possible.”

The motion also asked for an action plan to be prepared for consideration by the Governing Body in a year’s time, setting out how the whole of the Church in Wales could reach a net zero carbon emission position by 2030 or as soon as practically possible thereafter.

A second motion, brought by the Representative Body, called for the Church’s Ethical Investment Policy to be amended so that no investments would be made in any company deriving more than 5% of its turnover from the production or the extraction of fossil fuels, and for this to be actioned by the end of the year.

Both motions were passed by an overwhelming majority.

The Bishop of St Davids, Joanna Penberthy, who chairs both the CHASE group and the ethical investment group, said, “Today the Governing Body has joined many others and declared a Climate Emergency. We have tasked our Climate Change Champion, Julia Edwards, to prepare us an action plan by April 2022, so we can reach net carbon zero by 2030. The Governing Body began today by reducing our investments in fossil fuels. As we learn how to reach net carbon zero in church, we’ll apply these lessons in our homes and work together with partners in our communities.

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, a Christian climate change charity, said, “This significant leadership from the Church in Wales in divesting from fossil fuels and setting a 2030 net zero target is hugely welcome, especially as the UK prepares to host COP26 later this year. We hope other Churches will join them in demonstrating support for a just and green recovery from Covid-19 by divesting from fossil fuels and investing in the clean technologies of the future.”

The Governing Body is meeting online today and tomorrow (April 14-15).