Magazine article The Christian Century

In Copenhagen, Religious Leaders Urge Solutions That Slow Climate Change

Magazine article The Christian Century

In Copenhagen, Religious Leaders Urge Solutions That Slow Climate Change

Article excerpt

Bells pealed as a warning on climate change after the archbishop of Canterbury told a church service in Copenhagen, attended by people from major faiths and Christian denominations, that humanity can show love to all only by making the earth safe from the ravages of an altered atmosphere.

Archbishop Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion, preached the main sermon before Danish royalty, Denmark's prime minister and religious leaders in a packed Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen's Lutheran cathedral.

"We cannot show the right kind of love for our fellow humans unless we also work at keeping the earth as a place that is a secure home for all people," Williams said at the December 13 service, described as "an ecumenical celebration for creation."

Regardless of what agreements were reached behind closed doors by government officials and experts, the countless numbers of faith-based organizers present testified to religious concerns about the environment.

The service marked the midpoint of United Nations--organized talks on limiting emissions held responsible for causing climate change. The Danish monarch, Queen Margrethe II, attended the service.

"We have to flesh out in our lives that fundamental biblical conviction that when God looks on the world he finds it good," Williams told worshipers. "We have to show in our lives some echo of the delight God finds in creation."

As candle-bearing congregants lit one another's candles, Anders Gadegaard, the dean of Copenhagen Cathedral, intoned, "Let us bring this sign of hope with us into the world."

That was the signal for the cathedral to chime its bells 350 times, joined by other churches in Denmark, Scandinavia and the rest of central Europe. Indeed, churches worldwide had been invited to ring bells and other instruments 350 times at 3 p.m. local time in solidarity with the service in Copenhagen.

The number 350 represents the particles per million that is the acceptable level of carbon dioxide emission, according to the UN.

Delegations from 192 countries in Copenhagen had the task of trying to agree what should follow the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, a UN-brokered agreement aimed at limiting emissions of greenhouse gases that lead to climate change. The protocol expires at the end of 2012.

Lister Cheung, an environmentalist from Hong Kong, spoke to young people in a YMCA delegation at nearby University of Malmo about the importance of the UN gathering, called the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15). …

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