Three major British churches have voiced their disappointment that the United Nations’ Rio+20 Earth Summit has not made progress on the environmental challenges that face the global community.
The Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and Baptist Union of Great Britain say that world leaders have largely repeated previous climate pledges, rather than pressing forward.
The summit had aimed to stimulate the green economy, but its declaration in the summit document, The Future We Want, puts the green economy as just one pathway to sustainable development.
The summit ended on Friday, its outcome roundly criticized by environmental groups and politicians.
And the churches said the pledges in the document are an “inadequate response to the risks posed by climate change.”
“Whilst we’re pleased that international leaders recognize the plight of the planet and the lives of many living in poverty, we are disappointed in the lack of clear action coming out of Rio+20,” said Rev. Roberta Rominger, general secretary of the United Reformed Church.
“We welcome the $175 billion fund pledge to boost sustainable transport in developing economies,” she said.
“However, developed nations must now find innovative ways to resource a Green Fund to help developing countries create low carbon economies.”
“We also regret that the summit has declined to identify a timescale or plan of action for the phasing out of subsidies for fossil fuels,” Rominger said.
Rev. Jonathan Edwards, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain said, “The world is only slowly waking up to the fact that our present consumption levels are unsustainable.
“I believe that churches should not only call on governments to live more sustainably, but set an example in how this can be done through reducing our carbon footprints.”
Methodist Youth President Sam Taylor also expressed frustration with the weakness of the Rio+20 communique. “Without targets and dates, it’s just words on paper. Will we be in the same position in another 20 years?
“The lives of future generations will be affected if we fail to act now on climate change,” Taylor said. “The final communique does not set out a path towards the future we want. We can and must do more.”