Christian Action on Climate Change

25th February 2014 - by Ellen Teague

Columbans support \'The Wave\' climate march in December 2009.
Columbans support 'The Wave' climate march in December 2009.
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St. John’s Church in London’s Waterloo hosted an afternoon meeting on 24 February to explore: ‘Where is the voice of the churches on climate change?’

Chaired by retired Anglican Bishop Peter Price, this meeting brought together a number of Christian organisations working on the issue of climate change in order to build up a faith movement which could play a significant role in tackling its worst impacts. Fr Peter Hughes and Ellen Teague of Columban JPIC were there.

After various organisations shared their plans for 2014, the groups agreed to work together to develop clear asks from politicians, spotlight Church investments regarding energy, develop a mass movement along the lines of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, organise an ecumenical Day of Prayer regarding climate change, and challenge the media for giving a platform to climate sceptics despite the lack of a scientific basis for their views.

In addition to joint initiatives, CAFOD will be launching a three year campaign in September 2014, focussing on climate and sustainable energy access. There will be living sustainably/ lifestyle asks, and work to encourage the Catholic community to demonstrate deep concern about climate change and its impacts. The Livesimply Parish Award will continue to be promoted.

Columban JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) was recently involved in the production of an educational DVD and Resource Booklet ‘Conflict and Climate Change’ and a two-minute trailer can be viewed on the internet at http://www.columbans.co.uk/news/dvd-conflict-and-climate-change/.
Young environmental and peace activists show what they are doing to build a more sustainable and peaceful world. The Columbans have also been involved in producing ‘Between the Flood and the Rainbow’, a study programme linking Climate Change with Catholic Social Teaching.

Christian Aid is launching a new campaign in June 2014, focusing on linking local supporter actions to the global movement to tackle climate change. In October 2014 they will run a weekend of prayer and action on climate change, which will seek to engage MPs across the UK. Tearfund is encouraging its supporters to contact their MPs to ask them to tackle climate change, and linking flooding disasters in the global south with those parts of England which are enduring severe flooding.

The ‘Joy in Enough’ campaign of Christian Ecology Link will be launched at a major conference in Birmingham on 29 March – http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/joy. Its ecocell programme encourages sustainable living and a reduction of the ecological footprint, supported by ecocell groups. In early 2015, there will be a public ecocell workshop on Energy : http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/ecocell/ecocell-2

The ‘Bright Now’ campaign of Operation Noah calls on churches to disinvest from fossil fuels and support the development of clean alternatives to fossil fuels through their investment policies .
http://www.operationnoah.org/bright_now. In autumn 2013 Operation Noah took part in the Fossil Free UK Tour with Bill McKibben of 350.org that visited Edinburgh, Birmingham and London. The events had a strong Christian voice regarding the role of the Church on disinvestment, which was well received by the general public.

The Church of England representatives at the meeting highlighted the positioning of Environmental Officers in nearly all Anglican dioceses who can promote such initiatives as Eco-congregation and Eco-Schools, as well as the ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ project. They also care for around 10,000 churchyards which host a rich biodiversity.

Other organisations involved in the meeting included Christian Concern for One World, the Environmental Issues Network, and representatives of the Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed churches. All underlined their belief that climate change is happening and that the churches must be involved in responding to it.