COP21: Swiss Churches appeal to Swiss Federal Council

Just before the start of the COP21 UN Climate Conference, the three national churches have issued a letter calling upon the Federal Council to take a courageous stand for climate protection. Climate is a crucial factor to secure the natural resources of today’s and future generations all over the world, according to the signatories, Bishop Markus Bücher, President of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, Gottfried Locher, President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, and Bishop Harald Rein of the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland. A delegation headed by Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard will represent Switzerland at the Climate Conference on November 30, 2015, in Paris.

The three national churches call upon Switzerland to show political courage and actively work towards an agreement in Paris. “The goal of the Paris conference must be for governments, especially rich nations like Switzerland, to make binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” the churches state in their letter.  They are convinced that only a binding commitment can reduce the impact of global warming that most of all affects people in developing countries. Those countries that are the largest contributors to climate change are called upon to acknowledge their responsibility for the environment.

The Swiss churches share this conviction expressed by the World Council of Churches.  Only through intensified cooperation within the international community, based on mutual trust, fairness, justice, forethought, intergenerational justice, and shared but differing responsibilities and abilities, can the threat of climate change be curbed.

Long-term commitment

In their letter, the three signatories explain their commitment to climate protection with the Christian duty to protect God’s creation. In his Encyclical “Laudato si,” published in June, Pope Francis underlines the responsibility of humankind and calls to mind the direct correlation of environmental protection and social justice. 

Climate change is a real threat for human beings because it robs them of an intact environment and thus of the only chance to live life a dignified life.  In their Ecumenical Campaign for Climate Justice last spring, the three relief organizations Fastenopfer (Lenten Offering), Brot für Alle (Bread for All) and Partner sein (Partnership) raised awareness for this fact.  In their letter, the three signatories reinforced their commitment with the Christian duty of protecting God’s creation. The national churches point out that the life style of people in Switzerland also puts considerable strain on the environment and on natural resources. For many decades, the churches have been committed to preserving a climate that enables future generations to live lives of dignity. Many parishes and vicarages are managed according to the principles of sustainable and ecological economics. In these efforts, they are supported by the church organization oeku Kirche und Umwelt (Church and Environment) that will celebrate its 30 year anniversary in 2016.