Churches commitments on climate change presented to No.10

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On Monday 18 October at 10:00am, leaders representing the five main faith groups from across the UK, including Bishop Olivia the Anglican Bishop of Reading, met at 10 Downing Street to demand bold and ambitious action on the climate crisis from Government, which is hosting the UN COP26 summit in two weeks. Bishop Olivia, representing the Climate Sunday coalition, was among the multi-faith leaders in attendance, and presented Government with a list of thousands of churches calling for government to act now.

This interfaith presentation is a key milestone of practical action by faith groups that comes at a critical time for the climate, ahead of the UN COP26 climate negotiations in November. Handing in the Climate Sunday list, which comprises of thousands of churches from 30 denominations and charities – representing the biggest ecumenical Christian movement for climate justice in the UK, is increasing pressure through their collective call on the UK government to be bold and ambitious at COP26.

Over the past year, the Climate Sunday initiative has been asking churches to act, pray and speak up on climate change. At their Climate Sunday service, congregations have been encouraged to make a commitment to ongoing action to address climate change in their own place of worship and community, and to use their voice to tell politicians that we want post-Covid recovery plans, and the decisions coming from COP26 to lead to cleaner, greener, fairer future in the UK and beyond. They were also encouraged to get involved with a church ‘greening scheme’, such as A Rocha UK’s Eco Church, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development’s Live Simply or Eco Congregation in Scotland and Ireland.

The Climate Sunday movement has involved those from many diverse church traditions. Churches are calling on the Government, in their role as chair of COP26, to be much more ambitious in seeking faster and deeper global emissions cuts and the delivery of long-promised finance to help poorer countries adapt to the climate disruption.

Many of those involved in Climate Sunday are ‘speaking up’ for the first time, and since the start of the ‘Climate Sunday’ coalition, 2,128 church congregations have joined the list, including clergy, Christian charities and young people. Thousands more, including other faith groups, have joined in signing the ‘Time is Now’ declaration, which calls on the UK government to go further faster on climate action before hosting the COP26.

The Bishop of Reading, The Rt Revd Bishop Olivia Graham, said: “I am proud and delighted to be standing shoulder to shoulder with other faith leaders today as we represent the millions who belong to faith communities to urge our government to put aside short-term political considerations and act on planetary warming, which is the key issue of this decade. There must be nothing half-hearted about our government’s leadership of the COP26. Lives and livelihoods are already being lost across the globe due to the climate crisis. The survival of future generations is at stake. We all have a global moral responsibility, and today we urge our government to act with confidence and conviction. They have our prayers and our support.”

Andy Atkins, Chair of the Climate Sunday coalition, and CEO of Christian nature conservation charity A Rocha UK said: ‘It’s hugely encouraging to see so many churches making their own practical commitments on climate change – surely one of the biggest moral issues of our generation. Clearly every section of society needs to contribute to heading off climate catastrophe including urging governments to use their greater powers and resources to maximum effect. There are still 2 weeks before COP26 and we hope and we know many more churches will be holding a service, committing to action and speaking up in that time.


For images and interviews with spokespeople please contact: Tamsin Morris, Press Officer, Climate Sunday Coalition on 020 857 45935 ext: 2006 or 07931 961557 or email: tamsin.morris@arocha.org

Notes to Editors:

Spokespeople available for comment in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland include:

Bishop Olivia, Bishop of Reading, the Diocese of Oxford’s first female bishop

  • Andy Atkins, Chair of Climate Sunday and CEO of A Rocha UK
  • Stephen Curran, Manager of Eco Congregation Scotland, Steering Committee for Climate Sunday
  • Reverend Judith Morris, General Secretary of Baptist Union of Wales
  • Reverend Andrew Orr, Church of Ireland representative and chair of Eco-Congregation Ireland
  • Shermara Fletcher, Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic & Multi-cultural Relations, Churches Together in England
  1. Climate Sunday initiative, organised by the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI)’s Environmental Issues Network (EIN), is the UK’s largest joint project planned by UK Churches on Climate Change. The vision for Climate Sunday is to leave a lasting legacy of thousands of churches better equipped to address this critical issue as part of their discipleship and mission and to make a significant contribution to civil society efforts to secure adequate national and international action at COP26.Climate Sunday has formal backing from CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, The Salvation Army, A Rocha UK, Operation Noah, Climate Stewards, Eco-Congregation Scotland, Eco-Congregation Ireland, Green Christian, the Church of England, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Baptist Union of Wales, the United Reformed Church, The Church of Scotland, Churches together in Wales, the Union of Welsh Independents, The Church in Wales, World Vision, The John Ray Initiative, USPG, The United Reformed Church, The Salvation Army, Joint Public Issues Team, CTBI, Christian Concern for One World, Church of Ireland, Young Christian Climate Network, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Churches can still register a Climate Sunday service and find resources at www.climatesunday.org
  2. Church Greening Schemes The ‘Greening schemes’ are award based programmes which equip churches to take action on the environment, in their church and local community. They are encouraged to do this through worship and teaching, reducing carbon emissions, land and individual lifestyles, and to speak up on the climate. There are three principal independent schemes in the UK to help grass roots churches tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and other pressing environmental issues. They work closely together. 9,248 UK churches are now registered with one or other scheme.Eco Church, run by A Rocha UK, for churches in England and Wales – https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk
    Eco-Congregation Scotland is an ecumenical environmental charity supporting local churches throughout Scotland to care and act for God’s creation, reducing their impact on climate change and living sustainably – https://www.ecocongregationscotland.org
    Eco-Congregation Ireland is a project of the Church in Society Forum, a standing committee of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting, encouraging churches of all denominations across Ireland to take an eco approach – https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/
    Live Simply is the environmental award scheme of the Catholic Church in England and Wales – https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award
  3. Time is Now Declaration – organised by the Climate Coalition, of which most members of the Climate Sunday Initiative are also members. It can be signed by individuals, business and community organisations. So far, 146,570 individuals, 640 businesses/organisations, and 264 community/faith groups have signed up (147,474 in total). These figures are shown here https://thetimeisnow.uk
  4. Bishop of Reading, Bishop Olivia Bishop Olivia became the Diocese of Oxford’s first female bishop when she was consecrated in November 2019. She began her career in teaching and international development, including a period working for Oxfam in Somalia. Ordained in 1997, she has since served in the Diocese of Oxford, in Garsington, Princes Risborough, and Burnham before she became the Archdeacon of Berkshire in 2013. Bishop Olivia is passionate about social justice and the interface the Church has with the wider world. In June 2019 she accompanied other faith leaders calling for Government action on climate change and took part in a Mass Lobby of Parliament. Big priorities for Bishop Olivia are the climate crisis and the challenges facing young people. Bishop Olivia is married to Keith, and they have three grown-up children.