Budapest Call for Climate Justice
World Council of Churches
12 November 2010
AGAPE Consultation: Linking poverty, wealth and ecology
Used by permission of the World Council of Churches.
Addressing Poverty, Wealth and Ecology
delegates of churches from 32 European countries and participants from
churches from all over the world met in Budapest from 8 – 12 November
2010 for the consultation "Poverty, Wealth and Ecology in Europe". The
consultation was part of a broad ecumenical process initiated by the
General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre in
visiting local communities, we have been faced with the impacts of the
economic crisis in Hungary. We have learned about the exclusion of Roma
and the difficulties of migrants. We have discussed widespread poverty
in the rich continent of Europe, worsened by the present financial
collapse. We are concerned by growing injustice, social polarization and
sharpening regional disparities of Europe. We note the broad social and
economic gap between old and new member states of the European Union.
recognize that great sections of Eastern Europe and many in the Western
parts in the present situation are confronted with the suffering of
people living under abject poverty, and that this is therefore a
priority of the churches concerned. We acknowledge that we are part of
societies which are obsessed by the ideology of growth and consumerism.
We demand that people should be in the centre of economic policies.
have criticized the primacy of economy over people and creation as a
whole. We recognize the relational character of life in the 'community
of creation' and the special God-given responsibility of human beings in
this community. We recognize the fundamental interdependence between
human societies and the rest of creation, and their ultimate dependence
on God the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sustainer. Therefore, we as the
people of God are called to participate in the work of God in this
world, extending God's love and care to all human and non-human members
of the 'community of creation'.
recognize that unsustainable methods of wealth creation and the
adherence to unlimited growth impoverish communities and harm creation
as a whole. We have learned how challenges of injustice and climate
change are interlinked. We have stressed that social and climate justice
the light of these insights, which we identify as signs of a profound
spiritual crisis, we, the delegates of European churches released the
Budapest Call for Climate Justice – addressing poverty, wealth and
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Call for Climate Justice
I. The Great Challenge calls for the Great Transition
world is confronted with urgent challenges. The global impacts of
climate change are the greatest threat to the future of our planet. The
concurrence of climate change, limitation of fossil fuels, climate
change induced migration, food crisis, water crisis, energy crisis,
biodiversity crisis and the 2008-2009 financial and economic crisis,
deepening the debt crises affecting individuals and states, might be
indicators that the whole system of production, consumption, profit
maximization, poverty and ecological destruction prevailing in
industrialized countries runs into a deep and open-ended transformation
crisis. The concurrence of these crises calls for urgent action.
handle these challenges, extensive and radical changes are needed.
These changes will have to be implemented locally, regionally,
nationally and globally. Climate justice should be the guiding principle
for these changes. Climate justice should be realized between people,
countries and generations, human and non humans and with the Earth
itself. Climate justice requires social justice. Climate justice
includes the implementation of the right to development, particularly in
weaker economies. Climate justice requires the development of renewable
energy and economies of sufficiency inspired by an ethic of
self-limitation. Climate justice is a condition for the eradication of
poverty and the eradication of poverty is a condition for climate
justice. Climate justice demands the primacy of democratic politics over
economics and the embedding of market economies in social and cultural
contexts (further developing the Social Market Economy). Therefore
holistic answers to the challenges are required – from the individual
person, from the economy, from states and internationally. The time for
fragmented and technocratic solutions is over. We need a Great
the delegates of the Budapest consultation on "Poverty, Wealth and
Ecology in Europe" call upon the Conference of European Churches (CEC)
and its organs and member churches to address the European governments
and parliaments, both inside and outside the European Union (EU), as
well as the institutions of the EU on the following urgent issues:
justice, and therefore both social and ecological values, should be a
central goal of policy-making. In industrialized countries economic
growth should no longer be seen as an aim in itself.
countries and the EU should politically and financially support green
growth in developing countries in order to allow for the development of
- Tax systems must be reformed in order to be at
the service of just, participatory and sustainable societies and
communities, as well as to promote justice on the global scale.
- Financial transaction tax must be implemented, if necessary starting unilaterally in the EU.
- Prices on goods and services should reflect true social and ecological costs and benefits.
- "Green Investment Banks" helping to finance green investments should be promoted.
power stations and nuclear power stations should be replaced by
renewable energy as soon as possible, richer European countries should
support poorer ones in so doing.
- A redistribution of wealth and income as a key element of environmentally sustainable societies is necessary.
redistribution of wealth and sharing of technology between rich
countries and poor countries affected by climate change are crucial
elements of climate justice and have to go along with additional support
for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- The EU should
commit itself to more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction
targets regardless of policies of other large economies.
market sphere needs to be informed and limited by the public sphere and
the real "core economy" – namely our ability to care, teach, learn,
empathize and live in solidarity.
- Democracy should be
strengthened so that long term perspectives shape political decisions
and people affected by decisions have a say. Economies based on
renewable energy entail the development of new employment opportunities.
This also requires education that enables people to participate and
contribute in this emerging society.
- People living in
poverty and social exclusion, including marginalized migrants, shall
participate in the definition, design and implementation of all measures
which affect them according to the principle "Nothing about us without
us is for us".
Great Transition will not be easy. But it is possible. We can take
first steps. We have the technologies, we have the knowledge, we have
the resources required. We only need the will to do what we should do.
II. God's promises encourage us to start
The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains,
the world, and those who dwell in it.
addressing poverty, wealth and ecology, we should build on the Church's
mission in society and act in harmony with creation. We are
committed to carry out this work with other people of faith and together
with all who share this aspiration. Working towards the spiritual and
moral renewal of society, Christians are meant to be the salt of the
earth, the light of the world (Mt 5,13-14). They are sent to bring
peace, understanding, and hence social justice, since all creation
belongs to God.
Jesus says: "What you did to one of the least of these, who belong to me, you did for me" (Matthew 25,40) and he asks us: "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets."(Matthew 7,12)
should be the fundamental motive and measure of the relationship of
Christians to solving the issues of injustice and poverty.
beings and the entire creation live with the consequences of sin.
Created in the image of God, as human beings we are called to reflect
the liberty and generosity of God. Our salvation also is the restoration
of a broken relationship with this whole created order. Through the
death and power of the resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome the
powers of death and has become our hope. Therefore the Church is called
to be a sign of hope to this world. The way of recovery lies in
repentance and "synergeia" with Jesus Christ concerning the renewal of
human society. The churches have to provide a witness of Christ's Truth
and to work on spiritual rebirth of the human being. Self restraint and
simplicity, ascesis, are essential in order to be conformed to the way
in their different contexts have common but differentiated
responsibilities. They need global ecumenical dialogue in order to
define these responsibilities and to strengthen each other in living it
communion within the global ecumenical movement helps churches to
discover the signs of hope. This we experienced through the promising
outcomes of the first stage of the direct dialogue of the Conference of
European Churches (CEC) and the Latin American Council of Churches
(CLAI) on threats and challenges of globalization.
global ecumenical movement helps churches to understand to what extent
their work and witness for climate justice is a matter of faith.
are encouraging examples of European churches already making many
efforts in order to contribute towards climate justice. But there is
still a long way to go.
we, the delegates of the Budapest consultation on "Poverty, Wealth and
Ecology in Europe", call upon European churches and on European
church-related and diaconal organizations to:
prepared to use their influence and positions to take a firm stand and
to take a risk where necessary when it comes to conflicts following
God's preferential option for the poor.
- make use of the WCC
statement on Eco-Justice and Ecological Debt in their approach to
governments and in their relationship with official institutions,
companies and church members.
- acknowledge the close link between
the fight against poverty and the struggle for climate justice in their
strategic and practical approaches.
- reflect on the impact of
their policies as well as the lifestyles of their members on both the
climate and on vulnerable and poor people
- contribute to the
necessary financial and personnel resources to the World Council of
Churches (WCC) so that it can take a lead in the global fight for
climate justice. This needs to be developed in close cooperation and
coordination of the WCC with Regional Ecumenical Organizations and in
Europe with CEC. Direct links between churches from different continents
and regional ecumenical organizations have to be strengthened and more
- to fully support the call of the General Council of
the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) 2010 in Grand Rapids,
"in co-operation with WCC and other ecumenical bodies, networks and
organizations to prepare a global ecumenical conference to propose the
framework and criteria for a new international financial and economic
architecture that is based on the principles of economic, social and
- be pioneers and examples on the way to
sufficiency by implementing practical programmes on reducing CO2
emissions, e.g. environmental certificates for parishes, increasing the
knowledge and solidarity as well as exemplifying different sets of
values and fulfillment as alternatives to consumerism and striving for
life according to the "principle of enough".
the delegates of the Budapest consultation on "Poverty, Wealth and
Ecology in Europe" call upon the World Council of Churches:
- to put climate justice and poverty eradication and the relationship between the two as a priority on the agenda of its 10th General Assembly in South Korea in 2013.
is true that there is a silly, cowardly kind of optimism, which we must
condemn. But the optimism that is the will for the future should never
be despised, even if it is proved wrong a hundred times.
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, 1945)
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,
plans of peace and not of suffering, to give you a future and a hope.
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