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Christians take part in anti-polluters protests

30 September 2022

MICHAEL PRESTON

Campaigners gather at St John’s, Waterloo

Campaigners gather at St John’s, Waterloo

HUNDREDS of Christians were among those around the country taking part in vigils and rallies calling on polluters — both fossil-fuel companies and wealthy nations — to pay up for the loss and damage being wrought on communities worldwide because of the climate crisis.

Events were held from Truro to the Isle of Man on Loss and Damage Action Day (Thursday of last week). In London, about 100 people joined a walk of witness from St John’s, Waterloo, to Parliament Square. Throughout the day, prayers were offered for those in Pakistan dealing with devastating floods that have left one third of the country underwater.

The director of the network Faith for the Climate, Shannon Shah, said: “Loss and damage is a human story. People are suffering deeply from the impacts of climate change — right now. Those most impacted are the ones least responsible. As people of faith, we see this as a deep moral injustice that requires a holistic, interconnected solution which can be found in the teachings of our many faith traditions.

“The campaigners say that the only fair response is for the wealthiest countries, who have got rich through fossil-fuel use, and fossil-fuel companies, which are the worst climate polluters, to pay reparations to communities in Pakistan and elsewhere who are experiencing the severest impacts of the climate crisis.”

They point out that communities who are bearing the brunt of climate-related disasters have done the least to cause them. Pakistan is dealing with catastrophic floods which are killing more than 1300 people and caused more than $10 billion of damage. Its climate minister, Sherry Rehman, recently said that the country has contributed less than one per cent of global carbon emissions.

The London walk of witness paused outside Shell headquarters for a silent vigil, led by the Quakers. Supporters of a variety of groups and local churches took part, including St John’s, Waterloo, Global Justice Now, Faith for the Climate, and Christian Climate Action, among others.

One of the speakers at Parliament Square was the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who called on fossil-fuel companies to “step up and pay out” to those facing the worst of the climate crisis. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg talked about a lack of action as a “betrayal of our sisters and brothers, made easier by the fact we can sometimes fail to see them and truly take them into our hearts”.

Reflecting on the day, the Christian Aid campaigner Jess Hall said: “Seeing people of all faiths come together gives me hope. We believe in a better story for everyone, which is why we believe polluters must pay. We long for a restored world where everyone lives life in all its fullness.”

Read an article by the Bishop of Reading on Loss and Damage Action Day

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