Kirk moderator criticises Rishi Sunak’s decision to roll back climate commitments

Rishi SunakRishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak
The Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton said the climate crisis is a ‘global catastrophe’

Rishi Sunak's decision to roll back key climate commitments has been criticised by the moderator of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly.

The Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton said the climate crisis is a "global catastrophe".

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She told The Scotsman: "I was disappointed in decisions to roll back on automobiles, on fossil fuel exploration. I don't think now is the time to shy away from big decisions – I think now is the time to grasp them.

"This is a global catastrophe, and to pretend that it’s not, or to – we don’t have time. We don’t have time. I think that’s the stark reality. It’s the first time in human history that we’ve known what we’re doing, that we’ve known how it’s happening, that all the science is saying this is what we need to do. Well, we just need to get on with it and do it.”

Ms Foster-Fulton took a sabbatical from her role as the head of Christian Aid to take on the 12-month moderator position in May.

Elsewhere, she suggested Scottish ministers should boost the pay of social care workers further, as she warned the sector is "bleeding out of the sides".

Mr Sunak previously weakened a host of pledges designed to help the UK reach net zero in 2050.

In a Downing Street speech in September, the Prime Minister pushed back a ban on new petrol and diesel cars, watered down plans to phase out gas boilers by 2035 and scrapped policies forcing landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of homes.

He has also pushed ahead with granting new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

Ms Foster-Fulton said the Scottish Government is “ahead” of UK ministers on climate issues.

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"What I have experienced, working with Christian Aid, is that our global neighbours are suffering right now because of what we have done and are doing,” she said. “And I don’t mean that in a guilt way, I mean that in the true sense of repentance – turn around, do this differently. We have to.”

She said the climate crisis drives migration and conflict. “We can’t pretend that this is just happening in a vacuum,” she said. “It’s happening because of the fact that we are one tiny, fragile, interrelated planet. So how do we address that? As one tiny, fragile, interrelated planet.”

Ms Foster-Fulton said there is a “huge opportunity” in the UK and Scotland to maximise renewables. The Church of Scotland is aiming to be a net zero organisation by 2030.

Elsewhere, the moderator said the Kirk had been pushing for “fair pay for social care”. She added: “There's been a commitment to pay at least £12 an hour. The timeline has been set. But by the time it's going to be implemented we'll be behind again.”

She said the level of training and expertise required for jobs in social care is “extraordinary”, adding: “I couldn't do it. I honestly could not do it.”



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