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Churches unite for climate change plea

Clerics issue alert as Pope calls for action during speech to US Congress

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 25/09/2015

Pope Francis addresses the joint session of Congress in Washington DC yesterday
Pope Francis addresses the joint session of Congress in Washington DC yesterday
Pope Francis having a selfie taken with Cartrice Haynesworth during a visit to Catholic charities of the Archdiocese of Washington DC
Pope Francis with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office
Pope Francis is welcomed to the Speakers Balcony at the US Capitol by members of Congress

Religious leaders have joined forces to urge politicians here to do more to tackle climate change.

The heads of Ireland's four main churches are among the signatories to a letter warning of the devastating consequences of failing to act.

The letter was released on the eve of the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development in New York.

More than 150 world leaders are expected to attend the three-day summit to formally adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda.

The agenda is intended to serve as the launch pad for action by the international community and national governments to promote shared prosperity and wellbeing over the next 15 years.

In a letter released yesterday, religious leaders hit out at the "continued inadequacy" of the political response to climate change.

Its signatories include Richard Clarke, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland; Eamon Martin, the leader of the Catholic church in Ireland; Ian McNie, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and Brian Anderson, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

The letter calls for a new dialogue at all levels of society.

It states that climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing the human race.

"The opportunity to limit further warming to relatively safer levels and avoid even more devastating impacts will soon disappear," they write. "The continued inadequacy of the political response at all levels to this urgent challenge is a common, moral concern."

The letter warns that increased action to reduce the carbon emissions that are accelerating climate change is critical.

It adds: "Political leaders elected to protect and promote the public good have a special responsibility to work together and with all stakeholders to confine climate change to a limit safe for humanity.

"We urge them to use the political and legislative opportunities ahead to prioritise and increase action, including domestic legislation and international climate change agreements."

The writers say that the future does not have to be bleak.

"Climate change is the manifestation of a human rather than an environmental problem and provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to act towards a more just and sustainable society," they add.

The letter comes after Pope Francis called for further action on climate change.

On the second day of his visit to the US, the pontiff said it was "a critical moment of history".

Speaking to a crowd of more than 11,000 people on the White House South Lawn, he said the problem could "no longer be left to a future generation".

President Barack Obama said the Pope reminded people "that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet".

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