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June 11, 2019

Climate Emergency!

Birmingham Faith Community leaders call on Birmingham City Council to Declare a Climate Emergency.

Update: the motion was passed unanimously!

Leaders from Birmingham’s faith communities are calling on Birmingham City Council to declare a Climate Emergency.   On Monday morning (10th June) Tarang Shelat, Footsteps steering group member and President of Hindu Council of Birmingham, presented Councillor Waseem Zaffar with a letter from Birmingham’s faith communities calling on Birmingham City Council to declare a climate emergency today (11th June).  40 leaders have put their names to the letter, which was has been initiated by Footsteps.  The letter highlights how each Birmingham faith community brings different wisdom, experience and resources to the climate crisis.

Tarang was accompanied by representatives from all the faith communities in Birmingham.  Very appropriately, the presentation took place in front of the Council’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 display depicting the need for action on climate change.  The display focuses on four key themes: air quality, water conservation, reducing waste and community involvement.

Tarang Shelat said:

“The faith communities completely support the City Council declaring a climate emergency and looked forward to working with the Council to achieve the changes needed.” 

Wassem Zaffar responded by saying

“The involvement of the faith communities is crucial and there would be a faith community representative on the climate emergency task force that the Council is setting up.”

Individual faith communities already have their environmental initiatives, including Eco Sikh, Eco Church and Eco Synagogue. In Birmingham Footsteps helps faith communities to achieve more by cooperating and speaking together. 

Kamran Shezad from the Bahu Trust said:

“It is vital at this time of political uncertainty and division that our faith communities unite to stand up for justice and protect all our futures from the threat of climate catastrophe. We want to see Birmingham City Council follow other councils around the country by declaring a climate emergency and putting in place measures to significantly reduce the city’s carbon footprint and ensuring a better future for us all.”

The letter comes in the wake of international protests by campaign group Extinction Rebellion and the School Strike for the Climate, which has seen increasing numbers of students and supporters protesting in Birmingham city centre since the first event in March this year.  A motion that would declare a ‘climate emergency’ and set targets for the city to become carbon neutral by 2030 is being debated by Birmingham City Council on Tuesday 11th June. In November 2018, Bristol and Manchester Councils both passed similar motions; since then, nearly 90 councils have joined them, but Birmingham has yet to do so.

Chris Martin, Footsteps secretary said:

“Knowing the scale of the challenge we face it would be easy for us to despair, but as people of faith we are working together to show that change is possible. We have seen churches divesting from fossil fuels, Mosques fitting solar panels, Gurdwaras reducing plastic and many people of faith making changes to their lifestyles and joining strikes and protests. By declaring a climate emergency the Council would be sending a clear message that Birmingham is ready to lead the way at this critical time.”

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