Anglicans from Londonderry involved in humanitarian missions to the impoverished global south have warned climate change is a matter that needs to be addressed now for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
A delegation from the Church of Ireland Derry and Raphoe Diocese joined Christian Aid to lobby the Foyle MP Mark Durkan about issues of global concern including climate change, emergency disaster relief and debt forgiveness.
The delegation - led by Christian Aid’s Education and Campaigns Coordinator, Dave Thomas - included diocesan representatives Albert Smallwoods and Sylvia Donnell from the Bishops’ Appeal committee; Rev Arthur Burns, Pastoral Assistant Glendermott and Newbuildings; and Derry and Raphoe’s Youth Officer, Martin Montgomery.
Mr Montgomery told the MP that the issue of climate change, in particular, was of huge interest and importance to young people in the diocese.
“This is about their future and their children’s future,” he said.
Member of the delegation shared their personal experiences from visits to countries such as India, Kenya and Mauritius, where they had witnessed the impact of climate change at first hand.
Mr Durkan explained that he was sympathetic to many of the delegation’s aims, including securing “ambitious climate change outcomes “ at the Sustainable Developments Goals summit in September and the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change summit in November.
The Foyle MP said, though, that past summits had ended up fudging issues. “We need to get beyond ‘lip service.’ This issue requires a combined mobilisation across party lines and across regions”. He stressed, too, that the burden should not be allowed to fall on poorer, less developed countries and regions.
He thanked groups like Christian Aid for “helping with that mobilisation” and for raising MPs’ awareness of constituents’ interest and concern.
It’s further proof of how exercised local Church members and leaders have become about the issue of climate change.
Back in February Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor John Sweeney addressed a climate justice event in Letterkenny organised by the inter-church environmental campaigning group, Eco–Congregation Ireland (ECI).
The Emeritus Professor at NUI Maynooth was one of the contributing authors and a review editor of the alarming Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and as such, shared, with several hundred other climatologists, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
He spoke at a ‘Climate Change: the clock is ticking’ event in Letterkenny.
Back then ECI chairperson, the Ven Andrew Orr said: “The time is running out for us to address the most pressing environmental issue of our time.
“Neither the British nor Irish governments appear to be serious about tackling our carbon footprint.
“Christians should be at the forefront of environmental concern, because we believe that this is God’s world and we are expected to take care of his creation.”
Professor Sweeney warned: “Time is running out for taking decisive action to avoid dangerous climate change. In Ireland political paralysis and vested interests are preventing us from meeting our agreed international obligations.
“As individuals and a society, our ethical responsibilities demand we take seriously what is generally agreed to be the major problem of the 21st century. As preparations continue for what will be a crucial UN meeting in Paris in December, it is clear that a radical change in our approach is required if we are not to condemn the next generation to a seriously damaged planet.”