Diocesan Environment Officer, Richard Hopper, recently took part in a national conference of Church of England environment officers in Bristol at which the following statement was prepared to coincide with the United Nations Rio+20 Conference (June 20-22).

‘We urge the church to re-engage with God’s Creation at a time of immense and grave challenge. We remind ourselves of the need to act humbly but fairly in living more lightly on the earth as we face increasing poverty, inequality and environmental destruction.

‘These days we recall the huge pressures on the planet – climate change, growing population linked to unsustainable economic growth, damage to ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, amongst others – and re-affirm that our biblical heritage pushes us towards radical action to care about the whole created world and to share more equitably the resources God offers to all life.

‘We echo the recent words of the Ecumenical Patriarch, that “the world is a sacred place, as well as our home” and urge the church to develop partnerships of action with others to continue to address these pressing issues.

‘Indeed, some of us recognise that our Christian communities are called to be “counter cultural in our challenge to the current creed of everlasting growth” (Bishop James Jones) that prompts the greed which is driving untold harm to the Earth’s resource base. We cannot sustain current aspirations to infinite economic gain on a finite planet.

‘It is clear that vulnerable communities are already experiencing displacement and death, and future generations will be facing immense challenges. It is vital that world leaders at Rio take action now if the growing threats to the planet’s ecology are to be halted and reversed and we move towards a more environmentally sustainable society.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, recorded a video message in advance of the Rio+20 conference and asks “What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?”

The Church of England is committed to act in reducing its carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 through projects in each diocese, parish and school to make energy savings, introduce efficiencies and develop appropriate renewable energy resources as part of the national ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ campaign.