Kirk welcomes climate-change pact signed by political party leaders

The Church of Scotland has welcomed a new pact signed by political party leaders which commits them to do all that they can to tackle climate change.

Scottish political leaders back climate change
Scottish political leaders: (from left) Patrick Harvie, Ruth Davidson, Nicola Sturgeon, Kez Dugdale and Willie Rennie. Photo courtesy of Maverick Photo Agency

Leaders take a stand

Adrian Shaw, the Kirk's climate change officer, said he was "delighted" that Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) Kez Dugdale (Labour), Ruth Davidson (Conservative) Patrick Harvie (Greens) and Willie Rennie (Liberal Democrat) teamed up yesterday to pose with a large model of planet Earth at the Scottish Parliament.

The photocall, organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition which the Kirk is a part of, illustrates their commitment to do everything they can to create a healthy planet for future generations.

The event coincided with a special mass lobby event at Holyrood which brought nearly a hundred people from all over Scotland to meet their MSPs.

They urged politicians to do more to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings, invest in the renewable energy sector and in low carbon transport, and cut greenhouse gas emissions from the food we eat.

Last year the leaders signed a joint promise to set out comprehensive plans on how they will tackle climate change and reduce emissions.

The Scottish Government is due to publish a Climate Plan early next year, setting out their actions to tackle climate change.

This is expected to be followed by proposals for a new Climate Change Bill.

Kirk backing

Mr Shaw said: "I am delighted that party leaders have reconfirmed a commitment to tackle climate change and very pleased that the Church has been part of the process.

"We were part of the drafting of the Climate Change Bill, we had it amended and have been working with Eco Congregations Scotland and Kirk congregations across the country and international partners.

"I was particularly pleased that a large number of people who attended the lobby in the Scottish Parliament were from churches.

"This shows how committed people are to help the Scottish Government into affect its commitments of climate change."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "We are committed to maintaining our position as global leaders in tackling climate change and will be consulting on a new Climate Change Bill early in 2017."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson added: "Each of us has a role to play in tackling climate change and ensuring that Scotland takes steps to reduce emissions."

Scottish Labour leader Kez Dugdale said: "We all have a duty to leave the world in a fit state for the next generation, and we have to step up our efforts to address climate change."

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "Scotland must show the rest of the world that we remain willing to fight dangerous climate change by agreeing legislation in line with last year’s Paris conference agreement."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: "Tackling climate change is an enormous challenge that no one political party can tackle alone."

The Kirk is hosting a conference titled Climate Change Changes Lives at the Gillis Centre in Edinburgh tomorrow.

The purpose of the day is to introduce climate change activists from partner organisations around the world to representatives from government, civil society, faith leaders church and others.

The CoP 21 agreement in Paris last November/December set nations in a new direction and the event will enable discussions about work being undertaken to deal with the implications of the new deal.

On Saturday, the Church of Scotland is holding a Care for Creation Conference at Bridge of Allan Parish Church.

Speakers from around the world will be sharing the impact of climate change on the lives of communities across the continents and all participants will join workshops to explore how we can respond in Scotland.

Participants include Cecilia Cordova, Christian Aid's Bolivian programme officer, Per Ivar Vaje of the Diaconia and Society Office at the Church of Norway and Afiwa Allahare from All Africa Conference of Churches, Kenya.

Very Rev John Chalmers, Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland and former Moderator, will deliver the key note address.

He is expected to say: "Climate change for us in the developed world is a lifestyle issue and lifestyle is governed by the imperatives of what we believe.

"We enjoy the harvest of carbon based fuels and all that it has provided for our enjoyment of life.

"But crucially climate change is also a lifestyle issue in the developing world because many of the poorest people have nothing but trial and despair to put up with in their lives because climate change is pushing the boundaries of the deserts and causing more frequent extreme weather events which are driving them out of home and land.

"So it becomes a justice issue, because the poor do not cause climate change - they use but a tiny proportion of the world’s resources.

"It’s the developed world that causes climate change, and we do so almost without feeling the difference while those with no voice and no resources to do anything about it; suffer on a disproportionate scale.

"As Christians we set our coordinates according to the belief that the ownership of the earth is not ours, but that it is a gift lent to us from generation to generation.

"We are not to "rule over it" without license - and that is why the Church of Scotland has made the issue of Climate Change such an important priority."

Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland, will also be addressing the conference.

Speaking today, she said: "I will be reflecting on the time since COP21 - how I returned from gathering full of hope and now we have to press those countries who made promises of higher financial contributions and lower carbon footprints to deliver on those promises.

"Only weeks after that summit ended, we saw devastating floods rip through our country - destroying homes and livelihoods.

"It was terrible.

"But we have the infrastructure to rebuild and bounce back.

"Not so for so many of the countries in the world suffering every day from the effects of climate change.

"We share one beautiful, finite planet - and we have to care for it and share it gently with each other.

"We have not inherited it so much as borrowed it from our children."