Churches want Europe to take lead on climate justice

Churches want Europe to take lead on climate justice

A consultation on Poverty, Wealth and Ecology in Europe organized by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) in cooperation with churches in Hungary ended on Friday 12 November by adopting a “Budapest Call for Climate Justice”.

Some 80 representatives of churches and church-related agencies working on poverty reduction and development met during the 4-day conference in Budapest, in order to discuss the links between the creation and accumulation of wealth on the one hand and ecological damage and poverty on the other.

The group’s final statement underlines that the methods of wealth creation and the pursuit of unlimited wealth in rich industrialized countries of Europe often impoverish communities and harm creation as a whole. The document indicates that: “Climate justice and therefore both social and ecological values should be a central goal of policy-making. In industrialized countries economic growth should no longer be seen as an aim in itself.”

The statement calls for “the redistribution of wealth and sharing of technology between rich countries and poor countries affected by climate change” as “crucial elements of climate justice”. This has to go along with “additional support for climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

The EU is asked to live up to its ambitions with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions independent of policies by other large economies. At the same time, the group demands additional EU efforts to tackle poverty and social exclusion also among marginalized migrant communities.

Dr Rogate Mshana, director of the WCC programme on Justice, Peace and Creation, said: “The meeting in Budapest showed the importance of international ecumenical cooperation on the issues of poverty eradication and care for creation.”

“Christians have an important message for today’s world: we are all responsible to advocate and work for systems that eradicate poverty and must not let our lives be defined by systems of greed,” Mshana added. “The churches in the different countries and regions can make this message heard in different places and can hold each other accountable.”

Picking up on the outcome of the General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) held in the United States earlier this year, participants in the consultation called for the joint preparation of a global ecumenical conference to propose a framework and criteria for a new international financial and economic architecture that is based on the principles of economic, social and climate justice.

They invited the World Council of Churches to put climate justice and poverty eradication as well as the relationship between the two as a priority on the agenda of its 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea, in 2013.

Read the Budapest Call for Climate Justice

Read a youth statement from the consultation (pdf)

WCC work on poverty, wealth and ecology

WCC campaign for climate justice