Open letter to Leeds electoral candidates from Leeds Christian Community for 2024 election

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Rev’d Jon Swales has put together an open letter about climate breakdown. it is currently gathering signatures from Leeds Christian community.Letter below

Dear Electoral Candidates of Leeds,

Re: Urgent Call to Electoral Candidates in the face of Climate Breakdown

As representatives of the Christian community in Leeds, we write to you with urgency and concern about the escalating climate crisis.

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The signs of climate change are unmistakable: extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and biodiversity loss. These are not abstract concepts; they are tangible threats affecting the lives of our global neighbours and posing imminent dangers and an existential threat to present and future citizens of Leeds.

Our current position, moving beyond 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and on a trajectory to exceed 2.7 degrees by the century's end, paints a bleak picture of mass migration, starvation, and societal collapse.

It is tempting to believe that such catastrophes may only impact less fortunate parts of the world, but the reality is starkly different. Leeds, despite its resources and infrastructure, is not immune to the ravages of climate change. As temperatures rise, we face the grim prospect of infrastructure collapse, leading to shortages in essential services like food, transportation, healthcare, and education. The words of the UN Secretary-General echo loudly: "We are on the highway to climate hell, with our foot on the accelerator."

This dystopian future, with its potential collapse of Leeds' infrastructure, is not a distant scenario but a looming threat that could manifest within the lifetimes of the children and youth of our city. Consider the projections of 1.2 billion climate refugees by 2050, or the looming spectre of global breadbasket failure, triggering food insecurity, economic collapse, and social unrest. The repercussions of inaction are dire, and we stand at a pivotal moment where courageous and decisive action is imperative.

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It is no longer sufficient to say we must act now to avoid catastrophic global warming, for we are already in a catastrophe. Temperatures will continue to rise even if we stop all fossil fuel emissions. The question now is how we can act to avert the worst of what may be and adapt with both compassion & courage to what lies ahead?

Grounded in our Christian faith and as an outworking of our faith in Jesus, we recognise our moral obligation to steward the Earth and advocate for the welfare of all its inhabitants, both locally and globally. We are called to love our neighbours and safeguard the dignity of every human being, reflecting the divine image in which they are created. It is with this conviction that we implore you, as a candidate for public office, to prioritise climate action.

We urge you to speak truthfully about the level of emergency we are facing. We do not need hopium or distraction but rather political leaders who articulate reality in a culture of denial. We need hope-filled realists, not those who peddle empty promises and platitudes. Truth matters.

We urge you to recognise that unrestrained capitalism and consumerism, whilst offering short term economic gain, are forces which restrain the ethical imagination to act in accordance with reality as it really is. Political advocacy for the climate in Leeds cannot be reduced to one issue amongst many but should be seen as one of the greatest threats to our shared economic and social life. We need to act like we are in an emergency. Ethics matters.

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We also urge you to recognize that mainstream media and politics have, up till now, failed to awaken society to the truth of our emergency. We urge you to challenge those who prioritise financial gain and political self-interest and instead align your policies and principles with the boldness and compassion that this emergency necessitates. Love matters.

Moreover, we call upon you to advocate for international collaboration on climate action. Climate change knows no borders, and addressing this crisis requires unified efforts from all nations. As a leader on the global stage, the United Kingdom must assume its responsibility and lead by example, fostering cooperation to combat climate change. The world's most vulnerable matter. We are asking you to speak out. Courage matters.

We stand prepared to collaborate with you to advocate and advance climate action in Leeds and beyond. Together, we may be able to forge a future that is more just, sustainable, and resilient for all. We can, if we act now and mobilise a generation, to face the challenges of climate breakdown with courage and compassion to avert the worst of what may be and adapt in love to whatever befalls.

We equally stand ready to challenge and speak truth to political leaders and governments which willingly and knowingly plunge us further into the storm of climate breakdown. Justice matters.

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Thank you for considering our urgent plea. We eagerly await your response.

Blessed are the Peacemakers,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for Justice.

Yours sincerely,

If you are a Leeds resident looking to add your name to the list of signatures click here

Rev. Jon Swales, MBE, (Priest, Diocese of Leeds) LS16, Major Micheal & Nicola Barker (Salvation Army) LS2, Rev. Alison Battye (Priest, Diocese of Leeds) LS16, Pastor Chris Frost (Gateway Church) LS11, Rev. Lesley Greenwood Haigh, Rev Heston Groenewald (All Hallows Leeds) LS6, Rev Angela Hannafin LS17, Rev. Mark Harlow (Vicar of St Paul’s, Ireland Wood) LS16, Rev. Hannah Jones LS14, Rev. Lottie Jones LS17, Rev. Julia Wilkins (Rector of Bramley, St Peter’s Church) LS13, Dave Paterson Chair of Christians in Politics (Leeds) LS4, Rev Emily Tidball LS27, Steven Craven(Lay Minister, St Peter’s Church) LS13, Nikki Haldane Bevington LS6, Johnny Bolton LS13, Katie Boyes LS5, Alice Brencher LS5, Angela Clark LS15, Tom Curtis LS4, John Davy LS8, Lesley Davy LS8, Simon Dowling LS18 , Beth Edwards, Dr Bethan Fiveash LS13, Jack Flowers LS6, Laura Flowers LS6 , Alan Gibson LS7, Ian Harden LS6, Liz Harden LS6, Richard Mayers LS21, Laura Palmer LS6, Ann Roberts LS8, Stuart Roberts LS8, Laura Schubert LS8, Stephen Scales LS17, Sarah Swales, (Christian Climate Action Leeds, LS16), Rick Thomas LS13, David Wallace LS8, Ruth Thomas LS28

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