Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Religions call for climate action

Planet Earth (Nasa)
Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband says a deal still hangs in the balance

Leaders from across the UK's religious communities have said there is a "moral imperative" to tackle global warming.

Leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Baha'i, Jain and Zoroastrian faiths called on G20 nations to cut greenhouse gases.

They said climate change posed a "very real threat to the world's poor".

Their joint call at a meeting at Lambeth Palace in London precedes the Copenhagen summit which aims to deliver a new global climate treaty.

In a statement, the religious leaders urged G20 governments to fight for a deal which would quickly end global reliance on fossil fuels.

'Moral imperative'

They said the richest nations were primarily responsible for the emissions that cause climate change and as such it was their responsibility to do something about it.

The leaders said the agreement must find a way to keep temperature rises to 2C to avoid the worst impacts of warming.

They said: "We recognise unequivocally that there is a moral imperative to tackle the causes of global warming.

Faith communities have a crucial role to play. We must do our bit and encourage others to do theirs
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

"This is reinforced by the reality that it is the poor and vulnerable who are most profoundly affected by the environmental impact of climate change - especially droughts, floods, water shortages and rise in sea levels."

The leaders promised to raise awareness of climate change in their communities.

They also said they would support international efforts to help the poorest and most vulnerable people cope with climate change, and redouble their efforts to cut emissions from their own institutions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said: "We all have to do more to face the challenge of climate change. Faith communities have a crucial role to play. We must do our bit and encourage others to do theirs."

'Legal responsibility'

Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, who has warned that achieving a deal at Copenhagen still hangs in the balance, said: "Each generation holds the planet in trust for the next and to fulfil our obligations to these future generations, we must succeed in getting a fair and ambitious agreement.

"We need the voice of all the world's religions in the coming weeks as we approach the Copenhagen summit."

In December, delegations from 192 countries will hold two weeks of talks in Copenhagen aimed at establishing a new global treaty on climate change.

Friends of the Earth international climate campaigner Tom Picken said the faith leaders "are absolutely right that rich countries must lead the way in tackling climate change".

He said: "Rich countries account for just a fifth of the world's population but are responsible for three-quarters of the emissions in the atmosphere today."

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