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Comment: Creation has called 999 — the Church needs to answer

by
30 September 2020

The Climate Coalition launches a declaration today calling for a greener future. We should all heed its call, says Ruth Valerio

PA

Cyclists carry advertising boards calling for a green recovery, as part of the Climate Coalition’s virtual lobby of Parliament, in June

Cyclists carry advertising boards calling for a green recovery, as part of the Climate Coalition’s virtual lobby of Parliament, in June

WHAT do the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Krish Kandiah, Annie Lennox, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream all have in common? They’re all really chilled, I hear you say? Not quite — but they do all want to keep our world cooler.

Today, the Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest group dedicated to action on climate change, has launched a declaration which urges the Prime Minister to lead the UK towards a healthier, greener, fairer future as we tackle the coronavirus.

High-profile signatories come from across society and include Ellie Goulding, David Gyasi, Liam Gallagher, Gillian Burke, businesses such as Tesco and Selfridges, and Christian leaders such as Pete Greig and the Revd John and Anne Coles. NGOs signed up include Tearfund, Islamic Relief, and the Women’s Institute, as well as community groups, MPs, and more.

Members of the public are being urged to join this rallying call to show the strength of support for action on climate change. The Climate Coalition aims to get one million signatures before the UN climate talks in Glasgow in November 2021.

 

I HAVE been working on climate change for 25 years and find myself increasingly shocked at the depth of the crisis that we are in.

I recently watched Sir David Attenborough’s new documentary, Extinction: The facts. Like millions of others who watched it, I felt anger and grief over the damage that we continue to do to the wider creation, and the extreme and unfair impacts on those living in poverty. And, today, a UN biodiversity summit is highlighting again just how badly we have done at looking after this, our common home.

Nevertheless, while I grieve, I still have hope for the future. I believe that God can do more than we can possibly ask or imagine, and that we are called to work with him in seeking to restore our broken relationship with the natural world. In terms of the climate crisis, we must do all we can, because every fraction of a degree of warming matters.

Scripture shows that God, people, and the natural world are deeply interconnected. If one aspect of those relationships is broken, then everything will feel the impact. This is exactly what we see in the world today.

But, as followers of Jesus, we are called to be part of restoring these relationships. As we partner with the One through whom all things were made, we must help restore his creation, anticipating the day when all things will be reconciled to God through Jesus.

 

THIS is also part of showing love for our global neighbours.

Our team in Ethiopia recently met a courageous woman, Orbisa, who lives in a region where it used to rain for up to four months a year, but where rain now only falls in August. Every night, she walks for hours to collect water from a lake for her family, but she says: “The water I collect is not sufficient, I am only able to collect less than half of what my family needs each day.”

I can’t begin to imagine what that must be like. As global temperatures rise, rains are becoming less reliable, and droughts, floods, and storms are becoming more frequent and extreme.

Proverbs 31.9 says: “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Christians are called to stand up for justice, calling on those in positions of power to make decisions that protect the most vulnerable people and the earth we all rely on.

Tearfund is working with local partners to set up solar-powered wells and dig boreholes that will provide clean water closer to communities such as Orbisa’s, and there is a clear way for all of us to respond.

We can keep standing together in prayer and action to see a breakthrough. We can call on the UK Government to commit to leading the world in taking ambitious action on climate change, and pray that they will be moved to consider the poorest in the decisions they make about building back after coronavirus.

 

THE Climate Coalition’s declaration calls on the Prime Minister to lead the world by ensuring that our recovery gets us on track to net-zero emissions, and to:

  • leave no one behind by increasing support to those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change at home and abroad;
  • unleash a clean-energy revolution that boosts jobs across the UK, making our transport, power, and housing fit for the future;
  • protect, restore, and expand our green and wild spaces — allowing nature to thrive, taking carbon from the air, and boosting the nation’s health.

 

Please join me and many others and add your name alongside Dr Kandiah, Liam Gallagher, and Ben and Jerry’s, here.

 

Dr Ruth Valerio is director of global advocacy and influencing at Tearfund.

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