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More pictures of the procession and conference

See also: Bishop John Oliver's talk
David Hallman of the World Council of Church's talk
John Cridland's talk and
Living a Carbon Cool Lifestyle by Trewin Restorick

11 October 2004

CHURCHES' CLIMATE CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED

Operation Noah the new campaign by Christian churches to curb human-induced climate change - was launched in Coventry on Saturday as activists converged on the city.

Around 200 delegates attending a launch-pad conference at Methodist Central Hall were asked to sign a covenant promising to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. They were also encouraged to put pressure on the UK government and world leaders to do the same. Churches were to be lobbied to sign up to green electricity. A letter was read out from the Coordinator of Climate Network Africa, based in Kenya, welcoming the action of the faith-based groups involved in Operation Noah. Ms Grace Akumu warned in her letter that "Africa's hopes and aspirations are being dashed by the blind pursuit of economic development in the industrialised countries". A standing ovation was given to Ed Beale - a 27-year old Baptist who is walking from Lands End to John O'Groats to raise awareness about Operation Noah - as he entered the hall in his walking boots and carrying his rucksack.

Sir John Houghton, an eminent meteorologist and former member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), urged US President George Bush to read the scientific assessments of the IPCC. "Perhaps we should persuade him to do his homework," he told delegates, alluding to the fact that the US produces one quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions which are contributing towards global warming. He had strong words for the British prime minister too, who has declared climate change to be one of his international priorities. "It is not enough for Tony Blair to make grand speeches," he said, urging specific actions, particularly during 2005 when the UK Government will assume the presidency of both the G8 and the EU.

Operation Noah coordinator, Paul Bodenham, reported that 900 Christians have already signed the climate covenant and he called upon others to do the same. "It is a mechanism to draw us into a covenant with vulnerable people" he said, referring to the likelihood that the worst impacts of global warming will be experienced by populations in poor countries. He hoped the issue would move up the agenda of church groups.

After the conference, more than 500 people took part in a colourful "rainbow" procession through the streets of Coventry, led by a youth samba band. A model of an ark was carried shoulder high at the head of it and a 12 foot high "St. Francis" followed close behind, reminding that care for the natural world is part of Christian tradition. Rainbows abounded in a sea of banners. This was followed by an ecumenical service in Coventry Cathedral, where Dr David Hallman, co-ordinator of the World Council of Churches' climate change programme, described climate change as "an issue of international justice and inter-generational justice". He felt that seemingly "modest little efforts" connect into advocacy and lifestyle change at an international level. John Oliver, the retired Anglican Bishop of Hereford, welcomed the announcement on the previous day that this year's Nobel Peace Prize will go to Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist. "In making peace with the land she is making peace between people," he told the congregation.

Operation Noah has been given the enthusiastic backing of all five presidents of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. The presidents include

Most Revd Mario Conti, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow and Most Revd and Rt Hon David Hope, Anglican Archbishop of York. It is organised by Christian Ecology Link (CEL) on behalf of the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI).

Press contacts:

Ellen Teague, on behalf of CEL, on 020 8943 6255 or 07956 317 338 (mobile)

Anne van Staveren, CTBI's Communications Officer, on 020 7654 7220 or 07939

139 881

Photos of the launch and rainbow procession can be viewed on
http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/on-pics/htm001/op-noah-pics.htm and also see foot of this page. If you wish to use them in magazines please credit Christian Ecology Link

The five Presidents of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland who have signed this endorsement are:

The Most Revd Mario Conti (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow),

The Most Revd and Rt Hon David Hope (Anglican Archbishop of York),

Revd David Kerr (Methodist Superintendent of the Belfast Central Mission),

Revd Nezlin Sterling (New Testament Assembly),

Sister Eluned Williams (former President of Methodism in Wales).

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is the umbrella body for all the major Christian Churches in Britain and Ireland. It liaises with ecumenical bodies in Britain and Ireland as well as ecumenical organizations at European and world levels. Its work includes Church Life, Church and Society, Mission, Inter Faith Relations, International Affairs and Racial Justice. It provides a forum for joint decision-making and enables the Churches to take action together. See www.ctbi.org.uk



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