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[greenyes] Environment & Justice & the Church

Church backing for climate plan
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

The Church of England has declared its support for a challenging proposal to
tackle the threat of climate change.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, says the plan, known often
as "contraction and convergence", offers a way to act justly towards the

The idea, hatched by the Global Commons Institute, says all the Earth's
people have equal rights to cause pollution.

Already endorsed by other faith groups, it says nobody, however rich, should
cause more than their allotted share.

Across-the-board support

"Contraction" means cutting the world's output of the gases (like carbon
dioxide) which scientists believe are threatening to heat the atmosphere to
dangerous levels.

"Convergence" means sharing out between countries the amount of climate
pollution which the scientists say the Earth can tolerate, so that by
perhaps 2050 every person in the world is entitled to emit the same amount
of pollution.

This kind of thinking appears utopian only if we refuse to contemplate
the alternatives honestly
Dr Rowan Williams

The idea has won the backing not only of religious groups like the World
Council of Churches but also of the chairman of the UK's Royal Commission on
Environmental Pollution and of Sir John Houghton, an eminent climate
Now the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr Williams, has added
his voice to the growing chorus of support for the work of the modest
London-based Global Commons Institute.

In a lecture in London, entitled Changing The Myths We Live By, he said we
had to avert a global ecological crisis that could ultimately jeopardise
"our viability as a species".

Potential for conflict

The archbishop criticised specifically "the addiction to fossil fuel of the
wealthy nations; this is what secures the steady continuance of carbon
emissions, but it is also what drives anxieties about political hegemony".

He said: "Since the oil production of relatively stable and prosperous
societies is fast diminishing, these countries will become more and more
dependent on the production of poorer and less stable nations.
"How supplies are to be secured at existing levels becomes a grave political
and moral question for the wealthier states, and a real destabiliser of
international relations.

"This is a situation with all the ingredients for the most vicious kinds of
global conflict - conflict now ever more likely to be intensified by the
tensions around religious and cultural questions."

What was also at stake, Dr Williams said, was "our continuance as a species
capable of some vision of universal justice".

Priority for justice

He feared "the prospect of a world of spiralling inequality and a culture
that has learned again to assume what Christianity has struggled to persuade
humanity against since its beginning - that most human beings are
essentially dispensable, born to die".

Contraction and convergence, the archbishop said, sought to achieve fairly
rapid and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions "in a way that
foregrounds questions of equity between rich and poor nations".


Published: 2004/07/05 17:31:51 GMT

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