World's churches urged to ring bells against climate change

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The World Council of Churches on Thursday called on churches around the world to ring their bells 350 times during the Copenhagen climate change summit on December 13 as a call to action on global warming.

The leading council of Christian and Orthodox churches also invited places of worship for other faiths to join a symbolic "chain of chimes and prayers" stretching around the world from the international date line in the South Pacific.

"On that Sunday, midway through the UN summit, the WCC invites churches around the world to use their bells, drums, gongs or whatever their tradition offers to call people to prayer and action in the face of climate change," the council said in a statement.

"By sounding their bells or other instruments 350 times, participating churches will symbolise the 350 parts per million that mark the safe upper limit for CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere according to many scientists," it added.

The chimes are meant to start at 3.00 pm local time in each location.

The WCC brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches representing about 560 million Christians in 110 countries.

The Council of European Bishops Conferences, which gathers Roman Catholic bishops and archbishops, is also supporting the campaign, according to a letter released by the WCC.

The UN summit in the Danish capital on December 7 to 18 is meant to produce a new global treaty to broaden cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, but the negotiations are still riven by disagreements.

The WCC acknowledged that plans for a bell ringing campaign have stirred controversy.

"In some countries, the question has been raised whether churches have the right to use their bells for what may be considered to be a political campaign," said Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on climate change.

"Those who support the campaign see the care of creation and of people's lives and livelihoods threatened by climate change more as an ethical and spiritual issue that, of course, has political implications, not in a partisan sense but referring to the common good," he explained.

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