Presbyterian Church in Canada Climate Action

Church statements on climate change:

“Climate change poses a significant threat to people and to the earth’s ecosystem. Christian teachings proclaim that creation is a gift from God, and that to thrive, human beings are called to honour God as Creator. Climate change will have a devastating impact on vulnerable regions such as the Arctic, the Island States in the Pacific and countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The citizens of these regions contribute least to climate change but face the harshest impacts of climate change. God’s covenant promise of compassionate love to Noah after the great flood encompassed all of creation, throughout time: “I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you…” (Genesis 9:11–12). As caretakers of God’s creation, made in the image of God, we must consider the impact of climate change on earth’s ecosystems, all people, and of the generations yet to come” (Statement on the “Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change” from the Update on Climate change in the 2015 General Synod Acts and Proceedings, pg. 391).

“To limit the increase in the globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature to two degrees Celsius and based on the earth’s sustainable capacity to absorb carbon emissions, each person should have a personal annual cap of 2 tonnes of CO2" (Calculation of the General Assembly’s carbon footprint from the 2015 General Synod Acts and Proceedings).

Climate Action:

  • 2015: General Assembly recommended that Presbyterians write to and meet with their MPs before COP21 in December 2015, to express support for the development of an “internationally negotiated and binding agreement that sets reductions targets in greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the increase in the globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature to two degrees Celsius.” They also compelled the Moderator of the 141st Assembly to write to the Minister of the Environment.
  • 2014: Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the Pension Plan, signed the 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change (signed by 347 investors representing USD $24 trillion in assets): “we call on governments to develop an ambitious global agreement on climate change by the end of 2015. This would give investors the confidence to support and accelerate the investments in low carbon technologies, in energy efficiency, and in climate change adaptation.”
  • 2012: The Moderator of the General Assembly wrote to the Government of Canada to encourage the continued development of policies that promote more responsible stewardship of resources of the earth, and asking the Government to maintain or increase funding of scientific projects that help Canadians understand the realities of climate change. The moderator also wrote to 49 companies that responded to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s survey.
  • 2010: The General Assembly invited congregations to
    • Form study groups to learn about climate change, and consider personal and congregational steps that could be taken to reduce carbon emissions
    • Host community forums on climate change
  • 2010: Moderator of the General Assembly wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to express disappointment about the lack of progress Canada had made toward the Kyoto goals, and asking the Government to support an internationally negotiated binding agreement that builds on the Kyoto Protocol at the next international climate negotiations. The moderator also wrote the Minister of International Cooperation about CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency)’s policies on climate change financing, and to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) about ensuring transparency and openness in its climate change reports.
  • 2010: The General Assembly mandated that commissioners and resource people coming to the General Assembly should record their air and automobile mileage in order to get baseline data on the General Assembly’s carbon footprint. They decided that criteria for evaluating potential venues for the meeting will include questions about energy efficiency and environmental programs of the sites. The GA’s carbon footprint is calculated annually as one way of highlighting the environmental impact of the church’s activities.
  • 2009: Groups and courts of the church were invited to hold at least one “100 mile meal” annually.
  • 2008: The Presbyterian Church in Canada signed on to the Carbon Disclosure Project (a not-for-profit investor coalition that asks corporations to assess and disclose the potential climate impact of their operations).
  • 2007: The General Assembly asked congregations to do an energy audit of their buildings, and to implement energy conservation measures.
  • 2003: The General Assembly asked congregations to advocate to local and provincial governments about taking positive steps to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol GHG emissions reduction targets.
  • 1992: The General Assembly asked the Government of Canada to re-examine its foreign policy with a view to reversing any of its policies that contributed to continued environmental degradation in countries in the global South.
  • 1991: The General Assembly asked that its boards and agencies support networks that were addressing climate change, and urged the Government of Canada to participate in international climate negotiations.
  • 1990: General Assembly adopted a statement on the environment (“Caretakers or Careless Takers”), and endorsed the Tokyo Declaration of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Congregations were encouraged to promote the stewardship of creation in conjunction with local and national environmental groups, and to urge their members to become involved in such groups, to study environmental issues, to promote and advocate sound environmental policies and practices.  Sessions were asked to urge members to examine their own life-styles in terms of consumption of resources and generation of waste.

Interfaith Statements:

Resources Available:

  • Creation Care, stewardship, and climate change resources (e.g. Sunday Earth Day celebration) available on the national church website
  • Presbyterian World Service and Development  has climate change advocacy and educational resources and news on website
  • Ecumenical sermons, small group studies, songs, prayers, and opportunities for action at cpj.ca/climate

Please note: CPJ has compiled this resource using publicly available information to help people of faith join the action already being taken by their national church. It is not meant as a comprehensive history, but if we’ve missed something important please let us know by emailing climate@cpj.ca.

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