In a lecture at Southwark Cathedral, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, outlined the Christian response to the looming environmental crisis.

Dr Williams said the local actions of an individual may not solve the global problems overnight, but they would put that person on the path to reconnecting with the natural world around us and recognising our place in it.

“Our response to the crisis needs to be in the most basic sense, a reality check, a re﷓acquaintance with the facts of our interdependence within the material world and a rediscovery of our responsibility for it,” he said.

“When we believe in transformation at the local and personal level, we are laying the surest foundations for change at the national and international level.”

He urged political leaders to make ‘bold decisions’ at the Copenhagen summit in December and encouraged the taking of effective collaborative local action to reduce carbon emissions and to maintain pressure on local governments and businesses to do the same.

He also called for small actions that mark a break with destructive patterns of consumption and waste and help “to make us more aware of the diversity of life around us”.

Not everyone is comfortable with religious leaders wading into the environmental debate, however.

A spokesperson for the British Humanist Association told edie it was important to distinguish between scientific evidence on issues such as climate change and the meaning given to this evidence by religious groups.

It is vital, she said, to ensure that issues such as climate change continue to be seen as matters of fact rather than of faith.

She cautioned against muddying the waters by mixing religious rhetoric with commentary on scientific and political developments in this field.

“I think all of us, whether religious or non-religious, should be concerned about the environment,” she said.

“When any public figure is involved in this debate it’s really important that they are saying the correct things based on the scientific evidence that is available.”

Sam Bond

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