Church bells ring in G8 protest

Edinburgh, Scotland - Churches across Scotland are to sound a wake-up call to the leaders of the G8 countries at the Gleneagles summit.

The Kirk is demanding action over climate change from the world's most powerful leaders - a key theme of Britain's G8 presidency.

To highlight their case, churches will ring their bells at the same time on the Thursday of the summit.

They say the message will be in anger at wealthy nations which have failed to act over global warming.

Delegates at the Church of Scotland's annual General Assembly meeting in Edinburgh backed a motion which encourages churches to ring their bells on Thursday, 7 July.

The time - 1345 - has been chosen specially to represent the fact that 13% of the world's population produces 45% of its greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan had been suggested to the church by environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Moving the idea, the Rev Dr Robin Hill, of Lothian Presbytery, said it would be "wonderful" if congregations were able to show their support for the need to find solutions to the world's energy problems.

He said: "I'd like to suggest that we, as a Church of Scotland, encourage those congregations with bells to ring them at an appropriate point in that way to show that we are aware of the issues at play here and that we are encouraging folk to take a stance."

Dr Donald Bruce, director of the church's society, religion and technology project, said the bell ringing would in part be a way of "repenting" for the damage "we, as a country" have done.

He said: "About 13% of the world's population produces 45% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, and inflicts this on the poor countries of the world who are least able to respond."

The calls came after the convenor of the Kirk's committee on ecumenical relations earlier called for the G8 leaders to act to help the world's poor when they meet in Gleneagles, Perthshire.

The Rev Erik Cramb said: "George Bush and Tony Blair are leaders who regularly proclaim that power is of God.

"Let us say to them, as this local part of the world church, if that is so, and we believe it is, then power should be used to serve the purposes of God, prominent among which are surely that the hungry are fed and the oppressed set free."

The G8 summit will take place from 6 to 8 July.