Christians tell world leaders to step up climate change action

(Unsplash/Peter Ford)

Over 5,000 people, including 56 Christian leaders, have signed an open letter urging world governments to step up their commitment to tackling climate change. 

World leaders are meeting at the UN's COP24 summit in Katowice, Poland, this week to work out the rules and guidelines that will implement the Paris Agreement on climate change reached in 2015. 

In an open letter by the Renew Our World campaign, Christian leaders said nations needed to ramp up legally binding and timebound climate commitments as well as implement 'strong' national policies to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

They also challenged wealthy nations to deliver on their 2009 promise to provide $100bn in assistance to poorer nations already experiencing the effects of climate change. 

They said the money was needed to help communities transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and develop more sustainable and low-emission agriculture that is more resilient to the floods and droughts caused by climate change. 

The letter reads: 'Climate change is having devastating impacts across the world right now. Rainfall is less reliable, and there are more droughts and more floods.

'That means for some there is no food to eat, homes are being washed away and communities are being completely destroyed, never to be rebuilt again. The poor are being trapped in intergenerational poverty.

'Christians across the world are responding to this urgent issue. From communities already being hit by the changing climate to those who have contributed most to the problem, we are taking action together.'

It adds: 'This is the greatest challenge of our generation. Every fraction of a degree of warming is going to matter.' 

Signatories of the letter include Tim Adams, Associate Director of IFES; Christine MacMillan, Senior Advisor at the World Evangelical Alliance; Eva Morales, President of the Latin American Theological Fellowship; and Paul Harcourt, National Leader of New Wine.

Renew Our World campaign partner Tearfund is also supporting the letter. Its Director of Advocacy, Ruth Valerio said there was a 'huge gap' between where countries currently are and where they need to be in their climate commitment if the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius is to be reached. 

'Time is of the essence, it's vital we step up our efforts to tackle climate change,' she said. 

'Here at Tearfund we see the devastating daily impact that climate change has on the most vulnerable and poorest people in the world, for many they end up being pushed deeper into poverty.'