Representatives of faith communities from across Birmingham spoke out yesterday about the threat of climate change.

The Multi-faith Declaration on Climate Change [1], which will form an appendix to the City Council's Climate Change Strategy [2], was the outcome of a conference organised by Birmingham Friends of the Earth, Birmingham Sustainable Energy Partnership and the Environment Agency.

The aim of the conference was to identify responses to the threats posed by climate change from the perspective of Birmingham's diverse faith communities.

Delegates representing Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Pagans, Buddhist, Humanist and Quaker groups in the city attended the conference, which was hosted in the Council House and launched by Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of the Council. Delegates heard from a variety of expert speakers representing faith-based organisations and local environment groups [3], and spent the day discussing the problems and solutions to climate change in Birmingham.

Attendees also focussed on future action that they themselves will take both personally and in their communities. As a result of the conference, an exhibition on faith-based responses to the threat of climate change will be launched on the 19th July and will be touring Birmingham later in the summer [4].

Cllr Paul Tilsley said, "We are committed to involving all sectors of the community in tackling climate change and welcome the involvement of all faiths. Dealing with climate change is a moral as well as environmental and economic issue. We are committed to changing the way we do things as a Council we also need our citizens to change their behaviour too. This conference has been the first step towards making this happen."

Maud Grainger, Birmingham Friends of the Earth, said, "Today's multi-faith conference on climate change illustrates the support in Birmingham from faith communities as well as environmental groups. We will build on this momentum to develop Birmingham as a leading city on climate change"

Jo Rathbone, EcoCongregations [5], said, "An opportunity to get justice onto the climate change agenda, which is the moral dimension the faiths can bring to this issue"

Nick King from The Environment Agency " Most scientists agree that our climate is changing and that human activity – burning fossil fuels – is the cause. We all need to reduce our carbon emissions to protect our planet. I'm really pleased that faith groups in the city have come together to find out what they can do to tackle climate change "

Jeanette Burrows from Birmingham Community Empowerment Network said " The event emphasised the importance of people coming together to influence the decisions that affect their lives. Climate Change being the most significant today."

Elaine Gilligan, Friends of the Earth said " Tackling dangerous climate change needs people from all walks of life taking action. Todays multi-faith conference has been a fantastic start in bringing people together, environment and faith groups to address this urgent issue"

For more information about the conference and the faith and climate change project, contact Birmingham Friends of the Earth www.birminghamfoe.org.uk, or 0121 632 6909.

Editor's Notes

[1] Full text of the draft Declaration will be available from www.birminghamfoe.org.uk.

[2] Birmingham Strategic Partnership has decided to develop a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan for Birmingham. The Strategy commits us to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2010. The strategy will set out how we will achieve this target, and how the City will adapt to cope with the impact of climate change. The strategy is currently under development by a partnership group involving organisations of all sectors who are committed to the Strategy. For more information: http://www.bhamsp.org.uk/html/ClimateChange.php

[3] Speakers were: Keith Budden (Head of Sustainability, Birmingham Strategic Partnership), Nick King, (Regional Strategy Manager – Midlands, Environment Agency), Elaine Gilligan (Head of Activism, Friends of the Earth), Jo Rathbone (Eco-congregations) and Hajj Fazlun Khalid (Director, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences).

[4] A full write up of the day will be posted on http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk/bmfc/Home.HTM. For more information on any of the projects mentioned above, please contact Maud Grainger at Birmingham Friends of the Earth on 0121 632 6909 or info@birminghamfoe.org.uk.

[5] Eco-Congregation developed from a partnership between the Government funded environmental charity ENCAMS (which runs the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign and the Going for Green brand) and the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. It aims to encourage churches to consider environmental issues within a Christian context and enable local churches to make positive contributions in their life and mission. More information: http://www.ecocongregation.org/