Representatives of the Jewish movement Liberal Judaism this week joined forces with international development agency Christian Aid to press for a climate change bill that will help protect poor and vulnerable communities around the world.
A delegation petitioned MP Hilary Benn, secretary of state for the environment and rural affairs, for the bill that is going through Parliament to include a commitment to cut 80 per cent of carbon emissions by 2050.
Delegates, including representatives from Liberal Judaism Social Action and the Liberal Jewish youth movement LJY-Netzer, were led by Rabbi Danny Rich, Liberal Judaism’s chief executive.
Liberal Judaism, the third largest strand of Judaism in the UK with more than 30 congregations and 10,000 members across the country, adopted the campaign after talks with Christian Aid, which has accused the government of ‘eviscerating’ the proposed legislation.
It is the second time Liberal Judaism has supported Christian Aid’s stand on climate change. In 2007 they joined Christian Aid’s cut the carbon march – the longest protest march in British history, which started in Northern Ireland and ended in London.
Dr Nigel Varndell, Christian Aid’s inter-community initiatives manager, said: ‘Liberal Judaism came to us to discuss the possibility of aligning themselves with our campaign work over the bill.
‘An 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions is crucial if global warming is to be held below 2oC – the point beyond which it is feared that climate change will become irreversible.
‘Poor and vulnerable communities around the world are already bearing the brunt of extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. A commitment in the bill to 80 per cent cuts will send a clear signal to the rest of the international community about what should be done.’
Christian Aid is concerned that the government appears to be losing its nerve over the legislation.
Earlier this month Phil Woolas MP, minister of state for the environment, announced that an amendment Christian Aid had campaigned for that would have made it mandatory for publicly listed companies in Britain to declare their annual carbon emissions was to be dropped.
The government also removed an undertaking to ensure that UK emissions of greenhouse gases do not exceed the level necessary to limit global temperature rises to not more than 2oC above pre industrial levels.
Another disappointment is the failure of the bill to ensure that at least 70 per cent of its targets had to be met through emission cuts within the UK, rather than by purchasing carbon off-sets from poorer countries.
‘At present the proposed target in cuts is 60 per cent. With the bill at present going through the committee stage in the House of Commons, we want that upped to 80 per cent,’ said Dr Varndell.
Rabbi Rich said: ‘The Psalmist says, ‘The earth is the Eternal God’s and all that is within it.’ And as such, all faith groups have a duty to act to safeguard the environment, and to bring their collective voices to the powers that be in Westminster to urge them to do the same. Liberal Judaism is delighted to be working alongside Christian Aid in this campaign.’
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Notes to editors:
Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in more than 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.