A final agreement has been reached at the crucial United Nations Climate Change conference (COP 21) in Paris.
Christian Aid has hailed it as ‘a new era which has the potential to transform the global economy to address climate change.’
The ACT Alliance, of which Christian Aid is a member, said: ‘This is a milestone in the human story to tackle climate change and gives us hope for a climate friendly, resilient and more equitable future’. Mattias Södeberg, head of the ACT Alliance delegation at the conference, commented ‘It’s not as good as we expected but still a good solid base for a path towards a green and resilient future’.
Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), who was present in Paris while the summit took place, has expressed gratitude and hope: ‘The Paris Agreement is a reality. We have the right to hope! Thanks to God! And thanks to all who have walked steps towards climate justice’.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) has welcomed the agreement as ‘a signal of hope for combatting climate change and advancing ecological justice’. CEC’s statement says ‘The agreement is historic in its recognition of the need for radical change of the global economy. This includes increasing efforts toward reducing carbon emissions, and the role of industrialised nations in leading these initiatives’.
Welcoming the climate deal, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the global church must be a key partner in tackling climate change. The Church of England has also released an offical statement. ‘It is good to have an ambitious agreement about the aspiration. What matters now is that governments actually deliver a low carbon future – the transparency of accountability and process of review will be what ensures that happens. This looks like real progress – there is now a much more positive spirit about what now needs to happen than after Copenhagen six years ago, but we are still at an early stage on the journey’, commented the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury.
The Church of Scotland is also positive about the climate change deal. Ms Foster-Fulton, convener of the Church and Society Council, said: ‘Today is a good day for our planet and for all of God’s creation’.
President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Steve Wild, commented: ‘We are delighted with the historic achievement at the climate summit in Paris. Our Lord’s call to us to be disciples is often challenging. When God entrusted his creation to our care he never said that it would be easy. In our churches we recommit ourselves to tread more lightly on the earth. We pray that we can work together for the common good remembering that we are called to be reconciled to God and to one another in love.’
Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for the Joint Public Issues Team and specialist on climate change, said: ‘In the light of the achievement in Paris the UK Government’s proposed cuts to incentives for investment in renewables need to be reconsidered. We cannot simply replace the burning of coal with gas. In the past our churches called for 60% of our electricity to be generated from renewable energy by 2030. We need leadership from our government so that we can all see more clearly the path that our nation must take to a low carbon future’.
Commenting on the agreement, Pope Francis said ‘Putting it into practice will need a concerted commitment and a generous dedication on the part of all. In the hope that particular attention will be guaranteed for the most vulnerable populations I exhort the entire international community to move forward urgently along the path that has been taken in a sign of solidarity that becomes ever more feasible’. You can see his statement on the Reuters website.
Below we list responses to the agreement from the churches and aid agencies, and you can see the comments and contributions that were made before and during the conference:
Church and aid agency responses
During the conference