“It’s not too late to join the struggle,” say Archbishop and teenage climate activist

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An Archbishop and a teenage activist have called on Anglicans around the globe to take action to address climate change in a passionate plea from an international convention in Madrid

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An Archbishop and a teenage activist have called on Anglicans around the globe to take action to address climate change in a passionate plea from an international convention in Madrid.

Speaking at COP25, the Bishop of Panama, Julio Murray, Primate of IARCA – the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America (the Anglican Church in the Central America Region) spoke out about the struggle against land grabbing in Panama, where farmers are attempting to set up sustainable agriculture without the use of chemicals, and called on Christians to support action against climate change.

He said: “COP25 gives us an opportunity not only to represent Panama, it gives us an opportunity to represent the Anglican Alliance. I am here in representation of a group of people who are called to act in a preventative way over climate change. We have heard so many different aspects of climate change … now here in Madrid we are being asked to act.”

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The meeting in Madrid was the 25th event. It was led by Chile and attended by the 196 nations plus the European Union, which makes up the treaty. The aim of this year’s event is to move towards implementation of agreements on fighting climate change.

Archbishop Julio called on the churches to stand in solidarity with those attempting to mitigate the effects of climate change. He said: “I call upon churches to be areas that create consciousness that there is a crisis which we are all part of… I call upon the churches to work in a united way – as faith-based organisations we can make a difference working together.”

He also commended the way young people at COP 25 had taken part in the discussions and said: “I like the way young people are approaching this – they are saying we are the action.”

One young delegate, Leah Namugerwa from the Anglican Church of Uganda explained how she had encouraged tree planting and set an example by planting 200 trees on her 15th birthday.

Speaking from COP25 she said: “In Uganda plastic business is booming and although our government passed a plastic ban, it is not being implemented. So, I have set up a petition calling on the government to act and ban plastics.”

In an impassioned plea to all members of the Anglican Communion she said: “My message to Anglican churches is that it is not too late to join the struggle to save the planet. I want the Anglican church to raise this climate emergency through preaching every Sunday at services, letting people know what is going on in our world … to give us the climate justice we are looking for.”

At the end of the two weeks of negotiations in Madrid members approved an agreement on a number of important topics, which will guide governments in their forthcoming work to tackle the climate emergency. The agreement encouraged governments to scale up their ambitions and acknowledged the need to mobilize support and finance for people and communities facing loss and damage due to the effects of climate change.

Archbishop Julio said: “The important thing here is that climate change affects us all.”

He said Anglicans had a mandate to act on climate change, “The fifth mark of mission is about taking care of the planet or being good stewards of God’s creation. As the Anglican Communion we are also looking forward to making this part of the theme of the upcoming Lambeth Conference in 2020. We are here because we want to give testimony that there is time for us to act, and yes, we can make a difference.”

First published in Anglican Communion News Service on 19 December 2020.

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