A HIGHWORTH churchgoer is one step closer to his goal of getting the Methodist Church to declare a climate emergency.

John Ranford, who last month joined the Extinction Rebellion protests in the capital, took the climate emergency motion to the regional Methodist synod last weekend – where it was passed unanimously.

Now, it will go to the church’s national Conference in the summer.

John, who was born to Christian missionaries and spent his early years on a Pacific island already hit by rising sea levels, said: “Theologically speaking, God made the planet. He didn’t make it for us to destroy. If you make something you don’t make it so man can come along and destroy it.”

His motion calls on congregations to regularly pray about climate issues, urges ministers to preach about the threat and “implores all church members to urgently address their personal impacts in terms of carbon dioxide emissions”.

John praised the work churches had already been doing to cut energy use and address climate change. But he said they needed to do more.

“It’s time to press the emergency button,” John said. “We’ve been doing all these things. We know what we should do, but we’re not paying enough attention to it.”

The Highworth man grew up in Tuvalu, a remote Pacific island where he lived with his missionary parents. He said the island had been hit hard by climate change and sea level rises: “People are migrating.”

A spokeswoman for the Methodist Church said: “We welcome Mr Ranford’s efforts to highlight the urgency of the calls for action on climate change. We are all increasingly aware of the impact climate change is already having around the world, and the reducing time we have to make changes in order to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

The church had already urged the government to set a target to hit net zero emissions nationwide well before 2050, she added.

Climate emergency motions have become increasingly mainstream over the past year, with the tactic used by Extinction Rebellion campaigners nationwide.

In Wiltshire, councillors backed a motion to declare a climate emergency in February. A month earlier, Swindon councillors stepped short of a climate emergency – instead supporting a motion calling on the council to do more to halt climate change.

MPs themselves supported a motion on May 1 to declare a climate and environmental emergency. The motion asked ministers to publish plans of how the government will restore the natural environment and deliver a “zero waste economy”.