LONDON – The Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches are challenging G20 leaders to show real leadership and agree on a strategy to deal with the economic crisis that also positively addresses climate change.
Ahead of the summit in London next month, the church bodies say the economic downturn is an opportunity for investment in new technology that will help save energy and reduce carbon output.
They are also calling on wealthier nations to provide generous support to developing countries to enable them to implement suitable environmental measures.
"The health of any economy cannot be measured solely on economic indicators such as growth, debt and employment," they said in a joint statement.
"Climate change has the potential to disadvantage millions in the developed world and in developing nations," they continued. "The G20 leaders must not allow the economic crisis to divert us from tackling this challenge. This is precisely the right time to be making concrete commitments on low-carbon growth."
Earlier, the church bodies had called on the European Union to make tackling climate change a priority and ensure that growth is coupled with binding commitments that benefit the environment.
The Rev. John Marsh, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church said addressing climate change is "a fundamental issue of justice" and "very important in Christian theology."
"We would like to see the G20 leaders articulating a vision for a more just and equitable approach," he said.
Senior representatives of the churches will join some 2,000 Christians from all denominations who are expected to take part in an ecumenical service in Westminster and march through central London with other environmental campaigners next Saturday.
Church-based groups Tearfund, CAFOD, Micah Challenge, World Vision and The Salvation Army are among those supporting the service. They are calling on G20 leaders to put people first as they work to re-build the economy and pay particular attention to job security and the environment.
"We need a world economy to be fairer, safer and greener if all in society are to benefit," said Paul Cook, Tearfund’s Advocacy director. "G20 leaders have a chance in London to build justice into tired and failed banking systems. They have a chance to lift the poorest towards better livelihoods with stronger economies in their countries."
Cook added, "And leaders have the chance to build economic policy that sustains the environment to limit the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable communities.
"This is the change we need, because cope they can’t."
Also taking part in the service are the Bishop of London, Dr. Richard Chartres, Father Joe Komakoma of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia and Joel Edwards of Micah Challenge.
"As global leaders gather in London, it is crucial that the world’s poorest communities are not forgotten," said Chartres. "The Put People First service and rally is our opportunity to make the case for a global society that is committed to tackling poverty, injustice and climate change with the aim of creating a brighter future for the many and not just the few."
Thousands of Christians will also join together in prayer during the week leading up to the G20 Summit as part of Rise Up, a call to prayer for justice for the poor. The prayer event is coordinated by Micah Challenge is taking place in countries worldwide from March 29 to April 3.