European church leaders urge 'just' Bali climate deal

London, England - European church leaders urged countries gathered for a major climate conference Monday to bolster their commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the sake of the world's "vulnerable communities."

In a joint letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the leader of the German Lutheran church, Wolfgang Huber, and the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden, Anders Wejryd, called for urgent measures to protect the planet.

"Drawing on our trust in God, creator of Heaven and Earth, and on a living faith in Christ, we as leaders of churches in Europe call upon our governments and the European Commission to strengthen their commitment to addressing the challenge of climate change," they said.

"The biblical creation narrative is not to be understood as an unlimited licence to exploit, but rather as a promise of blessing that humankind should and can live up to."

They said in the letter addressed to the leaders of their countries and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the more than 180 states represented at the Bali conference should commit to reducing collectively global emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050.

Delegates have gathered at the conference to craft a road map for talks leading to a new pact against global warming after the Kyoto treaty expires in 2012.

The church leaders said past climate negotiations were marked by "a legacy of broken promises and missed opportunities" which had widened the gulf between developed countries in the north and developing nations in the south.

"We believe ... that a new agreement will be successful only if it is perceived by all participating countries to be equitable and just," they said.

"Securing a just and equitable post-2012 Treaty depends on governments progressing beyond notions of justice that reflect their own national interests to one that provides for the global common good."

They proposed a scheme under which developed countries would reduce their collective emissions by between 30 percent and 40 percent by 2020 while rapidly industrialising countries should be encouraged to commit to reduce their energy intensity by 30 percent by 2020.

They noted that curbing pollution was just one aspect of ensuring sustainable development and international security.

"Substantially reducing global emissions of greenhouse gasses will not avoid the serious impacts of climate change already experienced by many of the world's most vulnerable communities" they said.

"Climate change is not just about addressing environmental degradation; it is also about fighting poverty and providing for human security."