WHEN the Church acts, injustice and suffering can be overcome. Some of the biggest victories for the common good have been won when Christians get active. Whether that be the Evangelical William Wilberforce, helping to end the transatlantic slave trade; the Baptist Dr Martin Luther King bringing civil rights to African Americans; or the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, helping to end the scars of apartheid.
The climate crisis is the world’s next great battle against injustice. Those least responsible are already suffering at its hands. But, unlike other, more localised dangers, in time this one will affect us all.
The need for the Church to join the fight has been recognised. The Environment Agency conducted a survey of Britain’s leading environmentalists, asking them what needed to be done to save the planet. Second on the list was for people of faith to become engaged on the issue of climate change.
So here are five things that we can do to help restore God’s creation and roll back the injustice of climate change.
Prayer is powerful, and has sustained Christians in the face of daunting challenges for 2000 years. It binds us with our brothers and sisters who are suffering now from a changing climate. It also convinces those of us in the UK of our own good fortune in living in a country rich enough to adapt to the current level of global warming.
Not only can we ask God to help those suffering, we can also ask him to change the hearts of those who refuse to act.
2. Use your democratic voice
In the UK, we have representative government. There is a reason that the website where you can find details of your local MP’s actions is called TheyWorkForYou.com. MPs hold surgeries most Fridays in their constituencies, and their offices read and reply to letters. They rely on us to keep their jobs when the next election rolls around; so, when constituents take the time to visit or write, they take it seriously.
The Christian charity Hope For The Future equips you with everything you need to contact your MP and raise the issue of climate change. Check them out online at www.hftf.org.uk.
3. Join a campaign
“Don’t just get angry, get organised” is a useful maxim here. Concern about climate change is growing, and if we channel that energy then we can bring about great change. Less than one per cent of the American public got involved in the civil-rights movement, and yet their actions transformed the entire country.
Here are two campaigns that need your support: Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign works to get the Church to disinvest from fossil-fuel companies to stop it profiting from the suffering caused by climate change. This helps the Church to retain its integrity while also stripping the powerful fossil-fuel giants of the social licence that having church investment brings.
The other is Christian Aid’s Big Shift campaign, which is targeting UK banks, such as HSBC, that fund the expansion of new coal-power stations. Coal-burning poses the single biggest risk to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Visit the websites www.operationnoah.org and www.christianaid.org.uk/bigshift for details.
4. Meat-free Mondays
The level of consumption enjoyed by the wealthy parts of the globe is simply not sustainable. Europeans consume about five times as much in natural resources as Africans. Our consumption of energy, and the food that we eat, has a direct impact on climate change.
There are simple acts that we can do to reduce our bloated consumption habits and be better stewards of creation’s resources. This could be reducing the amount of meat that you eat. The methane emissions from cattle, not to mention forest clearing for grazing, are significant contributors to climate change.
Or it could be switching your home, or church, to a 100-per-cent-renewable energy tariff. Often, it actually works out cheaper. Or it could be cycling or walking rather than driving. It’s striking how many of these small acts have secondary benefits beyond being green.
5. Tell someone
Once you’ve performed some of these acts, the best thing you can do is to tell someone about it, and invite them to join you. It is often easier and more enjoyable to do things together.
It is also important that people talk about climate change. It is such a big and imposing problem, it can seem impossible to tackle and easier to ignore. Just having the conversation is an important step.
If we all did one of these things, and invited someone else to join us, and they did one, and invited someone else, then we would build a powerful movement in no time.
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, has described the climate crisis as the greatest moral challenge of our day. What better time for Christians to step up and show the world how to take care of God’s gift of creation?
Joe Ware is a journalist and writer for Christian Aid.