“The world’s best climate experts have released the most comprehensive report on climate change ever made. The conclusions are sobering. Our climate is changing at a disastrous rate.
Our leaders need to hear a message of hope, to step outside politics as usual and realise that people around the world are praying for them to be bold and do what is right.”
~ Rev. Fletcher Harper, OurVoices
→ Business Spectator – 20 January 2014:
Anglican angst over climate change
“The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group is reviewing its policy on ethical investment related to climate change, with some church officials calling for disinvestment from such companies to highlight the need to move to a low-carbon economy.”
“The Church of England, mother church of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, holds total investments worth about 8 billion pounds ($US 13 billion) that are used to pay clergy pensions and fund the church’s work.”
“If science, or the political consequences are not persuasive, consider God’s warning in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 11:18): “I will destroy those who destroy the earth.” Surely evangelical leaders, more than most, ought to pay attention.”
~ Richard Cizik, president, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good and spokesperson, The Good Steward Campaign, in Washington Post on 28 June 2013
“I don’t think we can afford to wait to see if the worst case scenarios about climate change turn out to be true, this is a small step that we can take now towards a low carbon economy and therefore we should take it now before the climate situation gets really drastic.”
~ Reverend Dr Tim McKenzie, after the Wellington Diocese of the Anglican Church in New Zealand had voted to divest from fossil fuels
First of all: Take a stand and talk about it
One of the first thing your church, mosque, synagogue, temple or community could do, would be to take a stand on this issue of climate change, and then to make it public and visible to everyone.
Similar to how a group of Australian religious leaders have written and published an open letter about climate change:
“We urge all Australians to give this moral issue the attention it demands. Our world is a blessing, a gift, and a responsibility. We must act now is we are to protect this sacred trust.”
Like the Australian religious leaders have done it, you could unite with religious leaders and communities in your country from other religions, and make a similar declaration. Or… to begin with, you could simply announce a statement in your next newsletter to your own congregation. THAT would be a good start.
Below you will find just a little selection of inspirational stories and sites about why going green and thinking strategically about sustainability makes a lot of common sense not only for environmentalists, but also in a religious perspective.
Inspirational news and stories
→ BBC Sounds – 20 December 2020:
Are Catholics ignoring the Pope on climate change?
Guide: How to live Laudato Si’
Vatican publishes 227-page document on practical and integral ecology:
Safeguarding Creation is everyone’s responsibility
Several Vatican Dicasteries team up to release a document entitled “Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home: five years after Laudato Si’ ”, which offers a guide to all Christians on how to maintain a healthy relationship with Creation.
The text was written prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it highlights the main message of Laudato Sí: Everything is connected; each particular crisis forms part of a single, complex socio-environmental crisis that requires a true ecological conversion.
→ Continue reading on www.vaticannews.va
Feature article series: ‘Our Common Home’
The progressive US Catholic news service, the National Catholic Reporter, has launched a feature article series, entitled “Our Common Home”:
“Our Common Home” is a special NCR reporting series that through people, places and issues explores the role of faith and religion in responding to climate change, which the pope has called a matter of moral urgency and “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
Find the series here:
Church of England backs school striking students
Blessed: The Church of England has made an announcement backing the British students who are striking for climate action on 15 March 2019.
Catholic bishops call for climate action
Something new is happening in the Catholic church. Catholic church leaders have released a powerful statement urging government leaders to take “ambitious and urgent” action against climate change.
The call from the heads of six continental bishops’ conferences is very clear:
“We call for ambitious and immediate action to be taken in order to tackle and overcome the devastating effects of the climate crisis. These actions need to be taken by the international community at all levels: by persons, communities, cities, regions, nations.”
“We need a deep and durable shift towards sustainable lifestyles and bold political choices that could back those efforts to address overconsumption and drastically cut ecological footprints at individual and community levels.”
~ 2018 joint statement on climate justice by Bishops’ Conferences
The unusual statement was released on 26 October 2018 and was signed by the bishops with the support of GCCM, CIDSE, and Caritas Internationalis.
As part of the ‘Season of Creation’ in September, 19 new institutions made a commitment to divest from dirty fossil fuels. Among these were Caritas India, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and the Archdioceses of Palermo and Vercelli and Suva, Fiji, who made a joint announcement at a Global Climate Action Summit in California.
Here’s a moving op-ed by Archbishop Peter Chong on his decision to divest:
→ National Catholic Reporter – 24 September 2018:
Vatican must keep up its clear, inspiring leadership in climate crisis
“Climate change is the tip of the iceberg of a failing system and solving it in conjunction with other crises requires political courage and efforts that can no longer wait.”
Report: How we can limit rise in global temperatures
CIDSE – an international family of Catholic social justice organisations working together with others in an “International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity” – has published a report that explores how we can limit rise in global temperatures through “a deep and rapid shift in our food and energy systems, supported by structural lifestyle changes.”
CIDSE’s arguments and vision for a new paradigm are based on values such as integral ecology, justice, and good governance, as also defined by Catholic Social Teaching and in the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si’.
→ CIDSE – 19 September 2018:
The Climate Urgency: Setting Sail for a New Paradigm
“The Christian Climate Action group will be holding a non-violent protest in front of the Houses of Parliament in London on October 31 to demand that the Government declare a state of emergency on climate change.”
→ Christian Today – 18 October 2018:
‘We are crucifying God’s earth’ – Christians look for tougher action on climate change
• UK churches join together to fight climate change
• Many churches have already divested from funds holding fossil fuels
• Christians insist they must help protect ‘God’s creation’
→ Financial Times – 3 August 2018:
UK churches divest from fossil fuel companies
“Christians say they have moral duty to help protect the earth from climate change”
→ The Guardian – 13 July 2018:
Climate change poses threat to UK’s historic churches, trust warns
“Strong winds, more frequent storms and arrival of termites to put towers and spires at risk.”
“We are facing a climate emergency: The time has come for civil resistance
On 21 November 2017, a multi-faith group of six peaceful protestors lead by Thea Ormerod blocked work on the rail line from Abbot Point to the Galilee Basin to protest Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine. The protestors are all members of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a multi-faith organisation that works with diverse faith communities to tackle global warming.
→ More info with interview and photos on www.climatesafety.info/thesustainablehour196
“The world is now in a climate emergency, and this requires a response which is purely ethically informed and courageous, rather than cautious and self-protective. To refrain from doing all we can to oppose Adani and other fossil fuel extraction companies is to hold back from full solidarity with the Wangan and Jagalingou, with coming generations and with all those currently suffering because of climate disruption.
Some believe this to be extreme. In our view, it is being truly conservative to act according to our traditional values with the goal of conserving this sacred earth. We believe that in our context today, it is part of our mission as people of faith to include civil resistance in the suite of options we offer faith communities as they respond to the climate challenge.
Some other parts of the environment movement are also moving in this direction. What ARRCC hopes to add is the legitimation which comes from our historical connections with long religious traditions, our beliefs and values which are grounded in scriptures and spiritual practices.”
~ Thea Omerod, president of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
→ ABC – 30 November 2017:
We Are Facing a Climate Emergency: The Time Has Come for Civil Resistance
Thea Ormerod has signed the Climate Emergency Declaration petition, as have these other prominent religious figures:
Prof Nihal Agar, AM
Dr Patrick McInerney
Dr Peter Catt
Fr. Rod Bower
→ The Melbourne Anglican – 12 April 2017:
Christians learn the art of non-violent protest
“Ecumenical workshop focuses on changing “flawed” responses to violence.”
Australia: Open letter to Minister Frydenberg
“As leaders in our diverse faith traditions, we feel compelled to challenge those responsible for Australia’s current climate and energy policies. In particular, we declare the proposal to provide public money to fund mining infrastructure in the Galilee Basin to be morally wrong. (…)
Given the climate emergency that the world now faces, it is morally irresponsible for Australia to allow the building of any new coal mines, coal-fired power stations or other fossil fuel infrastructure. It is furthermore incorrect to promote ‘clean coal’; no coal is clean…”
Ms Cecilia Mitra, President, Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils
Sr Elizabeth Delaney, SGS, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in Australia
Sr Ruth Durick, OSU, President, Catholic Religious Australia, Provincial of the Ursuline Sisters
Mr Stuart McMillan, President, Uniting Church in Australia
Ms Jo Jordan, Presiding Clerk, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Environmental Adviser, Rabbinical Council of Progressive Rabbis
Ven. Dharmachari Ayryadharma, Sydney Buddhist Centre
Ms Jacqui Remond, Director, Catholic Earthcare Australia
Rev. Dr Denis Edwards, Professor, Australian Catholic University
Prof. Neil Ormerod, Professor, Australian Catholic University
Right Rev. Prof. Stephen Pickard, Executive Director, Australia Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University
→ See more on www.abc.net.au
→ Vox – 19 April 2017:
The religious case for caring about climate change
Talk about values, not just data: how this minister wants to inspire people to take action on protecting the environment.
Call to Catholics:
This climate crisis is “environmental holocaust”
“Climate change is real,” the archbishop of Yangon told the 132 participants in a strongly worded keynote speech that outlined ‘ecological sins’ and the need for ‘ecological conversion’. Pope Francis “is raising the great cry against this impending disaster,” Myanmar’s Cardinal Bo said. Calling the current climate crisis “environmental holocaust” and citing Laudato Si, the cardinal called for the need for global ecological conversion.
→ National Catholic Reporter – 27 February 2017:
Myanmar’s Cardinal Bo calls for ‘green theology of liberation’
Call to Christians:
“Speak boldly for stronger action on climate change”
“I find hope hard. I’m witnessing the decline of the Great Barrier Reef from my Facebook feed as our elected representatives promote the construction of one of the largest coal mines in the world to be built right next to it (Adani’s Carmichael coal mine). Even at a time when breaking heat records has become normal, fossil fuel companies are still given billions in subsidies to further pollute the earth.
So what on earth does Christian hope look like amidst all of this?
Part of it is about speaking up in a bold way – in a way that will actually cost us something. The Government’s climate review is coming up and it’s a big opportunity for Christians to speak boldly for stronger action on climate change. Sign up as a petitioner here and let’s speak boldly for stronger action on climate change.”
~ Jody Lightfoot, Common Grace
→ Catholic News Agency – 27 October 2016:
Kids in a time of climate change – what’s a Catholic to do?
“Across all faiths, we share a moral obligation to not harm others, to be fair and to care for the vulnerable. Climate change is already having global impacts, disproportionately affecting poor and marginalized communities and we grieve for their loss and suffering. How we turn the corner to harness the worst impacts of climate change depends on the work we do in the next ten, five, even two years. Each and every one of us must act on the reality of the climate crisis, so that the damage we inflict upon our sacred Earth ceases and the ecosystems on which all life depends can heal.”
~ Excerpt from statement by religious, spiritual and faith-based leaders for the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement during the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties, COP22
Individual lay people or other community leaders can sign onto the agreement calling for a collective and rapid shift away from fossil fuels and funding of such and toward an equitable, just transition to renewable energy – at www.interfaithstatement2016.org
→ Global Catholic Climate Movement:
Catholic Cardinals, Dalai Lama, other faith leaders say societies’ continued use of fossil fuels and other extractive industries is ethically untenable – letter will be delivered at COP-22
Marie Venner from the Global Catholic Climate Movement wrote in a newsletter in June 2018:
“What can we do to faithfully respond to Laudato Si’ (LS 165 calls us to transition off fossil fuels without delay) and the climate crisis, truly taking responsibility for our brothers and sisters and how we can “act as we,” (using our ability, leverage, strength) as Catholics?
Taking responsibility as Christians for turning the climate crisis around in time, for example, we can:
• Press all electricity providers to transition to renewables much faster than they are planning (coal phased out in next 5-10 years and gas by 2035). Insist on this as a moral course of action. Small numbers of people pressing/showing up can make a huge difference. Need success stories or help? Just ask!
• Establish a preference for electric vehicles and (adequate infrastructure for bicycling and walking) starting now or at least by 2020. We must stop investing in anything fossil fuel dependent. Also, it turns out that emissions from gas and diesel vehicles are killing many more than we thought and taking 9-11 years off the average life (much more for those on the front lines), even in the US and Europe. Buses are a good thing to start electrifying now. Shared mobility is also the future. This is a part of the strategy: electrify everything.
• Help everyone lacking electricity around the world to get clean renewable energy (likely solar plus batteries as the standard). As the church, we can take this on and get there in a relatively short period of time (by 2025? 2030?)
We also take action to ensure no new fossil fuel infrastructure, investments, mining and efficiency and plans by all entities (cities, churches) to get all the way to make all renewable energy, in an economy and world where all can thrive.
We can do this!”
In the Spirit,
Civil disobedience in Newcastle, Australia
“A large percentage of us were clearly over 50 and had never done anything like this before.
One of them, Lis, aged 70, wrote ‘I had some concerns about participating in the action and risking arrest, however the absolute urgency of addressing climate change overrode everything else. I have two beautiful grandchildren, and my conscience demands that I do everything I can to bequeath them a healthy environment.’
~ Janet, 67, who wrote ‘Future generations won’t forgive us if we neglect to act.’ ”
→ Canberra and Goulburn Anglican Community – 2 June 2016:
Pamela Phillips: The price of conscience
Aligned with the COP21 Paris Agreement on climate change of December 2015 and the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 C, the Eco-Parish guide outlines concrete steps for a community to take climate action. The work of parishes from over a dozen countries is showcased throughout its pages, setting the context of climate change policy and the urgency of taking action to stand in solidarity with communities already impacted by climate change.
The principal author of the guide was Dr. Gail Kendall, an MIT trained engineer with decades of experience in climate work across the globe.
→ Download the 25-page document: www.catholicclimatemovement.global/eco-parish
Attempting to marry religion and science
“Ramanathan recently embarked on a highly unusual journey to court religious leaders from around the globe in an effort to reach audiences apathetic or dismissive of concerns linked to a warming planet. To galvanize the public, his campaign ventures into the ambiguous space between hard facts and personal advocacy — all while attempting to marry the unlikely bedfellows of religion and science.”
→ The San Diego Union Tribune – 24 February 2016:
Eminent climate change scientist courts religion
Researcher Veerabhadran Ramanathan attempts to galvanize global action on climate change
The Pope and Cardinal Turkson are bringing clarity to the discussion of where to focus and what to do, as Catholics.
In beginning of February 2016, Cardinal Turkson told bishops that “huge action is needed” and that they and we all have a duty, a moral obligation, even a commandment to take on the charge.
The Cardinal urged bishops to absorb ‘Laudato Si’, make it their own, and “share it effectively with all our people,” to “listen as an employer and an investor,” and “prepare to enter into the dialogue needed with the public and private sectors to help bring about the huge action needed to address the world’s environmental issues.”
He reminded them that “all human beings and all of nature are affected by the crises of climate change, misuse of natural resources, waste and pollution” – that everything is interconnected – and everyone must act responsibly to save our world, with attention to the truth and solidarity.
Meanwhile Pope Francis has followed up on his Encyclical from last year, now he enters a more modern way of communicating – in the ‘Land of YouTube’ – repeating his call to humanity to consider a new way of living:
The Pope Video 2: ‘Care for Creation’
If at least the 1.2 billion Catholiques on the planet would actually listen to their own leader and follow his wise advice, (including those Catholique parliamentarians in Australia), we would being to see things improve so much faster than is currently the case.
“The Pope Video is an initiative by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network to disseminate the monthly intentions of the Holy Father concerning the challenges facing humanity. The Global Catholic Climate Movement is a proud partner of this initiative.”
→ See more at: catholicclimatemovement.global
Dalai Lama calls for urgent action on climate change
The Dalai Lama is the latest faith leader to call for urgent action on climate change to ensure “environmental health and sustainability of the entire world.” His Holiness cited dangerous glacial melt in his homeland, the Tibetan Plateau, which has the most ice Arctic and Antarctic and has experienced three times more warming than the global average in the past 50 years. The rapidly melting ice and permafrost pose dangers to the local water supply and could release millions of tons of CO2 if melting continues.
Launch of Muslim Climate Declaration This is huge! The Islamic Climate Declaration launched today. Read it here: http://bit.ly/1WBlJvA #Muslims4ClimateCredit: Islamic Relief Worldwide Posted by OurVoices on Tuesday, 18 August 2015
Message to 1.6 billion Muslims
“We call upon corporations, finance, and the business sector to –
• Shoulder the consequences of their profit-making activities, and take a visibly more active role in reducing their carbon footprint and other forms of impact upon the natural environment;
• In order to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities, commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible and shift investments into renewable energy;
• Change from the current business model which is based on an unsustainable escalating economy, and to adopt a circular economy that is wholly sustainable;
• Pay more heed to social and ecological responsibilities, particularly to the extent that they extract and utilize scarce resources;
• Assist in the divestment from the fossil fuel driven economy and the scaling up of renewable energy and other ecological alternatives.”
“We are driven to conclude from these warnings that there are serious flaws in the way we have used natural resources – the sources of life on Earth. An urgent and radical reappraisal is called for.”
“We recognize the corruption (fasād) that humans have caused on the Earth due to our relentless pursuit of economic growth and consumption. Its consequences have been global climate change, which is our present concern, in addition to contamination and befoulment of the atmosphere, land, inland water systems, and seas; Soil erosion, deforestation and desertification; Damage to human health, including a host of modern-day diseases.”
“Islamic leaders from across 20 countries have today launched a bold Climate Change Declaration urging the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to make climate change a priority issue.
Much as Pope Francis declared action on climate change essential to the Catholic faith, the Islamic Climate Change Declaration offers a clear message to mosques and madrassas worldwide that they have a religious and moral duty to tackle the problem.”
→ The Tree – 18 August 2015:
Islamic leaders join global call for a fossil fuel phase-out
Support Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s call for 100% renewables by 2050
Sign Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott:
“Respond urgently to climate change by setting a renewable energy target of 100% by 2050”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu started this petition in the end of July. Three weeks later it had been signed by 223,000 supporters.
Desmond Tutu wrote in his letter to Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, and Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon:
“Climate change is one of the greatest moral challenges of our time. It threatens the health of our planet and people; especially the poorest and most vulnerable. It threatens our children’s future and everything we hold dear. It is time for all of us to wake up and take action together — in our local communities, nationally and globally, as well as in our daily lives.
As citizens motivated by faith and other moral traditions, we recognize that there is a grave obligation to act on climate change.
We call on you as leaders to respond urgently to the threats of climate change and set a renewable energy target of 100% by 2050. We need bold action like this to keep global temperature rise below the unacceptably dangerous tipping point of two degrees, to phase out carbon pollution to zero, and to invest resources in sustainable development pathways to build a more flourishing, inclusive and balanced world.
We pledge to do our own part by embracing the moral responsibility to care for our world and for each other and by seeking to live better and more sustainable lives in greater joy and harmony.
Let us act now, boldly and together, to build a better life for all!”
→ Sign the letter on www.change.org
Pope Francis: “We are at the limits of suicide”
The pope was asked if the U.N. climate summit in Paris would mark a turnaround in the fight against global warming. “I am not sure, but I can say to you ‘now or never’,” he told a group of reporters aboard the papal plane, en route home from Africa, according to Reuters. “Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the limits. If I may use a strong word I would say that we are at the limits of suicide.”
Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Pope Francis has declared 1st of September as the first annual ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’
“As Christians we wish to offer our contribution towards overcoming the ecological crisis which humanity is living through,” Pope Francis wrote.
The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will take place four weeks before a similarly themed event, organised in the US by The Moral Mobilization.
→ Read more on: www.religionnews.com
Suggestion: Participate with the use of SILENCE as the theme, the “brand”. Creating awareness of what that silence means. In other words: Organise short but powerful special events in big cities which celebrate silence and our connection with the planet, each other and all life around us. Which more specifically in most instances would mean: one minute of silence, followed by the interfaith prayer which Pope Francis published in his encyclical.
To fully understand the depth and scope of this suggestion, you will need to listen to what (Anglican) Rev Peter Martin explained in this one hour podcast: www.climatesafety.info/thesustainablehour84
“Great moral opportunity of our time”
“We see overcoming the climate challenge as one of the great moral opportunities of our time, a chance to fulfill the Great Commandments to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves,” the letter read. “It is God’s love that calls all of us to take on this challenge. That is why we write to offer our support and encouragement for your efforts to overcome the climate challenge.”
More than 180 evangelical Christian leaders in the US signed a letter backing President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, the latest effort in a growing faith-based environmental movement to curb the effects of climate change.
Signatories included pastors, teachers, and evangelical thinkers, such as National Latino Evangelical Coalition president Rev. Gabriel Salguero, bestselling Christian author Rev. Brian McLaren, and prominent evangelical theologian Dr. David Gushee. The letter also cited several professors affiliated with conservative Christian schools such as Wheaton College, Calvin College, North Point University, and Oral Roberts University.
→ ClimateProgress – 31 July 2015:
More Than 180 Evangelical Leaders Endorse Obama’s Carbon Reduction Plan
By Jack Jenkins
Muslim scholars: climate change poses dire threat
Human beings could cause the ending of life on the planet, says a group of Islamic scholars − and countries round the world, particularly the rich ones, must face up to their responsibilities. Climate change, they say, is induced by human beings: “As we are woven into the fabric of the natural world, its gifts are for us to savour – but we have abused these gifts to the extent that climate change is upon us.”
The views of the scholars – some of the strongest yet expressed on climate from within the Muslim community – are contained in a draft declaration on climate change to be launched officially at a major Islamic symposium in Istanbul in mid-August.
Allah, says the declaration, created the world in mizan (balance), but through fasad (corruption), human beings have caused climate change, together with a range of negative effects on the environment that include deforestation, the destruction of biodiversity, and pollution of the oceans and of water systems.
→ Climate News Network – 15 July 2015:
Muslim scholars say climate change poses dire threat
→ The Age – 14 July 2015:
Church of England leaders call on worshippers to fast for climate change
“The Church of England has pledged to fast for climate change action and pray for the Paris talks to succeed, urging the world’s 70 million Anglicans to take up the global warming fight.” By Nicole Hasham
→ The Age – 12 July 2015:
The moral imperative of climate action
“We pray that the moral call from the General Synod and other faith voices serves as inspiration to all of us, but especially to our leaders, who have the power to enact real, universal change. With this power comes a moral responsibility to do what is right for the future of this earth and mankind.”
By Archbishop Dr Philip Freier, the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of Australia, and Archbishop Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba, Archbishop of Anglican Church of South Africa and the Primate of Southern Africa.
Pope sends strong message to world leaders
On Thursday 18 June 2015, the Vatican released the Pope’s much-anticipated encyclical on climate change and the environment, entitled ‘Laudato Si’, or ‘Praised Be’. In the 183 page letter, the Pope flatly rejects traditional conservative and Christian justifications for exploiting the planet.
Robert Massie, Episcopal priest, and long-time activist and expert on climate finance said:
“In an action both simple and bold, Pope Francis will pierce humanity’s blindness to the realities of modern life. At a vital moment in world history, he is calling on us to halt our wanton destruction of people and planet and move decisively to a global economy that is just, compassionate, and sustainable.”
Things you can do right now to help amplify the Pope’s message
1) Urge your own faith leaders to join the call for climate action
2) Urge your local diocese, church, or community group to divest from fossil fuels.
→ Read more on gofossilfree.org
Quotes from Pope Francis’ encyclical
Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility. #LaudatoSi
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 19, 2015
“When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears.”
“Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.”
“There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”
“There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”
“The principle of the maximisation of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy.”
→ Global Catholic Climate Movement: Catholic Climate Petition
→ Forecast the Facts: Stand with the Pope on Climate!
Declaration and fast
On 1 July 2015, six French faith leaders will meet with French President François Hollande, along with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and future President of COP21 Laurent Fabius, the Minister of the Environment Ségolène Royal, the Minister of Interior Bernard Caseneuve, and the Special Envoy of the President for the Protection of the Planet, Nicolas Hulot. They will give Mr Hollande an interfaith declaration calling for climate justice.
LWF announces decision not to invest in fossil fuels
On 23 June 2015, the Lutheran World Federation‘s governing Council voted to stop investing in fossil fuels.
→ Calgary Herald, Canada – 5 May 2015:
Oh God, Christian churches embrace climate science
Article by Stephen Ewart
→ Capital New York, New York, USA [for subscribers only]:
Lutheran synod votes to divest from fossil fuels
Article by David Giambusso
Church calls university to divest
Reverand Fred Small speaks at Harvard Heat Week Faith Day
Consider for a moment: what would it take for many more religious leaders to begin speaking up like Rev Fred Small? Is it that hard?
Earth Day with faith
“Earth Day Network recognizes that faith leaders have been a driving force behind the most important and successful social movements. We encourage all people of faith across the globe to join us on Earth Day in April 205 as we show the world that it’s our turn to lead.”
Wake-up call for 1.2 billion Catholics
Pope Francis is expected to deliver an encyclical letter — the most important form of teaching by a Catholic pontiff — in June 2015, that will urge the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to consider the risks of climate change.
“Since taking the helm of the church in 2013, Pope Francis has stated repeatedly that Christians have a moral obligation to lower carbon emissions. He has spoken frankly about how global warming hits poor, marginalized communities hardest. And he’s announced his intentions to issue, as early as June, a teaching document known as an encyclical which is set to merge the science and theology of climate change. He’s done these things in spite of angry rhetoric from conservative-leaning Catholics.”
→ Grist – 24 April 2015:
Pope Francis forces the issue on climate change
→ US News – 22 April 2015:
The Moral Issue of Our Time
“Pope Francis’ climate change encyclical will be a hugely important step for the church.”
On April 28, 2015, the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, SDSN, and Religions for Peace organised a symposium at the Vatican entitled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity.”
More than 100 leaders across academia, business, policy, and various religions attended this high-level event. Pope Francis met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before the Secretary-General gave the opening address at the summit.
» The Potsdam Institute – April 29: “A moral imperative” – Schellnhuber speaks at Vatican climate meeting
» The United Nations Meetings Coverages and Press Releases – 28 April 2015: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks
» The United Nations News Center – 28 April: At Vatican meeting, UN chief and Pope Francis discuss climate change, Mediterranean migration
» The Guardian – 28 April: Vatican official calls for moral awakening on global warming
» The New York Times – 28 April: Scientists and Religious Leaders Discuss Climate Change at Vatican
» The Washington Post – 28 April: 2015 may be the ‘last effective opportunity’ to safely limit warming, says Vatican conference statement
» BBC – 28 April: Vatican presses politicians on climate change
» Reuters – 28 April: Vatican and U.N. team up on climate change against skeptics
» USA Today – 28 April: Vatican, U.N. join forces against climate change
» Financial Times – 28 April: Pope to weigh in on climate change action
» The Economist – 28 April: A green wearing white?
» Bloomberg – 27 April: Pope summonss scientists to shape climate change debate
“Climate change is the most pressing moral issue in our world”
Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nick Holtam
Church of England blacklists coal and tar sands investments
The Church announced on Thursday that it would sell £12 million of its holdings in thermal coal and tar sands companies, two of the most polluting fossil fuels. Companies that focus on coal mining, such as Peabody in the US, will now be excluded.
→ Financial Times:
Introducing: ‘Spiritual Ambassadors’
On 20 April 2015, OurVoices welcomed three new ‘Spiritual Ambassadors’ in their newsletter. Tessa & the OurVoices team wrote:
“Throughout history, spiritual leaders have led the way towards a more peaceful, just world. Today, faith leaders around the world are stepping up the fight for climate justice.
• As Theological Advisor on Environmental Issues for the 300 million member Eastern Orthodox communion, Fr. John Chryssavgis advises Patriarch Bartholomew, the “Green Patriarch,” on climate and environmental concerns.
• With 250,000 deaths occurring each year from health impacts of climate change, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi combats chronic hunger and malnutrition as director of Buddhist Global Relief.
• In the UK, Canon Giles Goddard of St John’s Church, Waterloo brought a passing motion to the Church of England’s governing body demanding the church’s finances are “aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities.”
These leaders are speaking out on climate change, urging their followers and our politicians to act. They deserve celebrating!
Click here for the stories of our Ambassadors in action, and to read the prayers or devotions they’ve shared with us.
Do you know a climate hero we should be celebrating? Please share their story with us, whether it’s your sister, uncle, Imam, rabbi, minister or priest, we’d love to hear their story.
Yours in faith,
Tessa & the OurVoices team”
“Climate change is a moral challenge threatening the rights of the world’s poorest people and those who deny it are not using God’s gift of knowledge.”
Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop
→ The Guardian – 25 March 2015:
Climate denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal church
→ The Guardian – 25 March 2015:
Climate denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal church
Climate change is a moral challenge threatening the rights of the world’s poorest people and those who deny it are not using God’s gift of knowledge, says presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
“Combating climate change is a moral obligation.”
Ben Lowe, Evangelical Environmental Network, national organiser and spokesperson for the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, author of ‘Green Revolution’ (2009) and ‘Doing Good Without Giving Up’ (2014)
Grist interviewed Ben Lowe recently about what he’s learned in the green evangelical movement:
→ Grist – 26 December 2014:
Pro-life equals pro-planet for this green evangelical leader
→ The Guardian – 28 December 2014:
Pope Francis’s edict on climate change will anger deniers and US churches
Pontiff hopes to inspire action at next year’s UN meeting in Paris in December after visits to Philippines and New York
Catholic bishops from every continent call for ‘an end to the fossil fuel era’
A group of Catholic bishops have called on the world’s governments to end fossil fuel use, citing climate change’s threat to the global poor as the lodestar of their concern.
According to the BBC, the statement is the first time senior officials in the Church from every continent have issued such a call.
In the United Kingdom, former archbishop Rowan Williams has blamed Western lifestyle for “pushing environment towards crisis”:
“Stewards, but not masters”
“Nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters. We need to love and respect nature, but “instead we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating, exploiting; we do not ‘preserve’ the earth, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a freely-given gift to look after.” [Francis, General Audience, 5 June 2013]. Respect for the environment, however, means more than not destroying it; it also means using it for good purposes.”
~ Pope Francis to members of the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, on 25 November 2014
Gods and faith versus Coal in name of climate change
Religious leaders in Australia are taking on coal with polite letters and coal blockades and say they’re in it for the long haul in the name of climate change
→ Article in The Guardian by Graham Readfearn on 6 December 2014:
Faith leaders call out G20 leaders for failure to act on climate change
In November 2014, Australian faith leaders from across the religious spectrum issued a joint call for G20 leaders to act on climate change, end fossil fuel subsidies and rapidly transition to a low carbon economy. Clergy and leaders from Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Indigenous communities held a press conference in a Brisbane church close to where G20 leaders were meeting in Australia.
→ Open letter: www.arrcc.org.au
“We of the Pacific are centred on Jesus Christ and we acknowledge that the earth is gifted by God. That’s why we stand here today, that’s why we prepare to launch into the Pacific. To say the earth is created by God and we are to care and to love what God has given us.”
~ Father Joe Savesi, Catholic Priest
“Father Joe Savesi prayed for the warriors and blessed the canoes, believing that their action would raise awareness of how the excessive burning of fossil fuel is destroying their homes and way of life.
Pacific Islander Warriors from 12 nations are using their canoes to paddle out in the harbour of the world’s largest coal port – Newcastle – to stop coal exports for a day.
For decades, Pacific Islanders have negotiated with Australia and the international community, calling for a rapid move towards a clean energy economy. However, these talks have come to little. Common Grace stands in prayer with our Pacific Island neighbours, as they put their faith into action.”
Religious groups discuss climate change in North Carolina
The first-ever North Carolina Religious Conference on Climate Change is taking place in Raleigh. Spearheaded by the North Carolina Religious Coalition on Creation Care, this gathering will highlight the large contingent of religious leaders and scientists that advocate for climate action.
→ Read more: www.eventjoy.com
Anglican Diocese of Canberra: Divestment action
“The Diocese accepts that it is both ethical and responsible to divest from fossil fuel stocks. The concerns of the Church about the social justice issues of climate change, due to fossil fuel consumption, will also be communicated to other relevant companies in the Diocesan portfolio.
“The urgently needed shift away from fossil fuels will not occur without intense, sustained public pressure. Our local action is part of an accelerating global movement that is underpinning expressions of concern about climate change with divestment action.”
Dr Beth Heyde, Chair of the Public Affairs Commission of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia
The Anglican Diocese of Canberra has announced that they have also, like the Anglican Diocese of Perth, decided to divest from the coal, oil and gas companies responsible for dangerous climate change.
→ Read more: www.350.org.au
Bishop of Salisbury signs climate change petition
“For Christians, the Earth is God’s creation and we are charged with caring for it as good stewards. Our failure to take care with our carbon emissions leave the world’s poorest as the most vulnerable.
Rich countries contribute disproportionately to the problem – the UK has 0.9 per cent of the world population but contributes 1.5 per cent of world CO2 emissions, which means our ratio of emissions to people is greater than China’s.
We need to see Britain and other rich countries taking leadership and showing responsibility.”
→ Wiltshire Times – 6 October 2014:
Bishop of Salisbury signs climate change petition
→ The Huffington Post – 3 October 2014:
Connecting the Dots…
“I’ve been at it again – connecting the dots between faith and climate change. Some who have followed my posts may call it an obsession. This time, though, the events triggering my thoughts and feelings were unprecedented. And, as the clock ticks, the reasons for acting on climate change are becoming more urgent and obvious, and the religious community is increasingly stepping up to the challenge.” Article by Peter Adriance
→ The Age – 15 September 2014:
Climate activism’s new frontier is targeting fossil fuel investors
Interview with Uniting Church’s president, Reverend Professor Andrew Dutney
By Michael Green
Call for putting ethics first
“The World Council of Churches, a fellowship of over 300 churches representing some 590 million people in 150 countries, decided to phase out its holdings in fossil fuels and encouraged its members to do the same. The Quakers in the United Kingdom, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the United Church of Christ in the United States, and many more regional and local churches have also joined the divestment movement. The Church of Sweden was among the first to rid itself of oil and coal investments.”
→ Inter Press Service – 21 August 2014:
Churches at the Frontline of Climate Action
Article by Melanie Mattauch
“Recently, I delivered the names of more than 60,000 Floridians to Governor Scott asking him to lead the state of Florida to address climate change, but at the moment, his only answer is silence. Silence is not golden is when you have a request from more than 60,000 constituents asking you to take action on climate change.”
→ EcoWatch – 19 August 2014:
Silence Is Not Golden in the Face of Greatest Moral Challenge of Our Time
By Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
Evangelical petition about climate change
The 21-year-old American Evangelical Environment Network, which describes itself as “a ministry that educates, inspires and mobilizes Christians in their effort to care for God’s creation, to be faithful stewards of God’s provision and to advocate for actions and policies that honor God and protect the environment,” is delivering petitions with more than 60,000 signatures to Florida Governor Rick Scott, asking him to lead on climate change, which is already impacting the state in a multitude of ways. The text of the petition said:
“As Christians, we believe that God’s grace empowers us to honestly confront the challenges we face and change for the better. We are failing to keep our air and water clean for our children, contributing to a changing climate that most hurts the world’s poor and putting Floridians at risk as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise. To meet these challenges, we need leaders who understand our duty to God’s creation and future generations. That’s why we are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to create a plan to reduce carbon pollution and confront the impacts of a changing climate.”
→ EcoWatch – 15 August 2014:
Evangelicals Pressure Florida Governor on Climate Change
Article by Anastasia Pantsios
“This is a moment for great leadership. This is a moment for our country to stand up. This is our moment.”
The Rev. Lennox Yearwood punched his fist in the air as he rhythmically boomed into the microphone. But his audience was not a church. It was the Environmental Protection Agency.
→ New York Times – 30 July 2014:
Religious Conservatives Embrace Pollution Fight
Article by Theodore Schleifer
→ Boston Globe, Massachusetts, USA – 24 July 2014:
What would Jesus do (about climate change)?
Gordon College science professor Dorothy Boorse wants evangelical Christians to connect practicing their faith with caring for the environment.
“The committee discussed the ethical investment criteria, and considered that the list of sectors in which the World Council of Churches does not invest should be extended to include fossil fuels.”
Quote from report of the World Council of Churches’ financy policy committee, published on the final day of the council’s central committee meeting in Geneva.
→ The Guardian – 11 July 2014:
World Council of Churches pulls fossil fuel investments
Campaigners hail ‘major victory’ as council representing half a billion Christians says it will stop investing in fossil fuels
→ Huffington Post – 11 July 2014:
World Council Of Churches Divests From Fossil Fuels
The World Council of Churches, which represents over 500 million Christians in more than 110 countries and includes religious leaders from around the world, has decided to divest from fossil fuels.
→ Anglican Communion News Service – 3 July 2014:
Stop denigrating climate change science, Anglican Church tells Abbott Government
The Abbott Government is not interested in the inconvenient truths of climate change, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia heard today, and passed a motion urging the Government to “to respect and act upon relevant independent evidence-based scientific advice as a core basis for making decisions” in regard to climate change.
Communities of faith to be more vocal
We must ensure “that communities of faith are more vocal about what IS a theological and moral issue,” said Mark Oakley, Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, in his introduction to a meeting which brought together the United Nations, churches, investors, security experts and environmentalists under the dome of St. Paul’s to highlight the importance of collective action on climate change.
Climate Change: Building the Will for Action – Christiana Figueres at St Paul’s Cathedral
Published on youtube.com on 9 May 2014.
The meeting was chaired by Bishop James Jones, former Bishop of Liverpool and BBC Radio 4 presenter, and was organised by St Paul’s Institute in partnership with CCLA, the Church Investors Group and Shrinking the Footprint – the Church of England’s national environment campaign.
→ ClimateProgress – 20 May 2014:
Evangelical Group: Climate Change Is A ‘Pro-Life’ Issue
A group of Evangelical Christians are calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to create a plan to mitigate and adapt to climate change, hoping that their message will resonate with Scott’s staunch Christian values.
→ ClimateProgress – 21 May 2014:
Pope Francis Makes Biblical Case For Addressing Climate Change: ‘If We Destroy Creation, Creation Will Destroy Us’
Pope Francis made the religious case for tackling climate change, calling on his fellow Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change.
→ The Raw Story – 21 May 2014:
Christians plead with Gov. Rick Scott to deal with the realities of climate change
A Christian environmental group is asking Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to form a coordinated response to the threat of climate change and to consider the environment as a “pro-life” issue. By David Ferguson
Desmond Tutu: “It is a responsibility that begins with God”
“We don’t have much time. This week in Berlin, scientists and public representatives have been weighing up radical options for curbing emissions contained in the third report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The bottom line is that we have 15 years to take the necessary steps. The horse may not have bolted, but it’s well on its way through the stable door.
Who can stop it? Well, we can, you and I. And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so. It is a responsibility that begins with God commanding the first human inhabitants of the garden of Eden “to till it and keep it”. To keep it; not to abuse it, not to destroy it. (…)
The General Synod of the Church of England voted overwhelmingly to review its investment policy in respect of fossil fuel companies, with one bishop referring to climate change as ‘the great demon of our day’. Already some colleges and pension funds have declared they want their investments to be congruent with their beliefs.
It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. To serve as custodians of creation is not an empty title; it requires that we act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands.
~ Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Archbishop, in The Guardian on 11 April 2014:
We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet
“We must stop climate change. And we can, if we use the tactics that worked in South Africa against the worst carbon emitters”
Pope works on encyclical on climate change
Pope Francis is preparing to call for the Catholic church to step up measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions, in a move that could help rally wider action to tackle climate change ahead of a planned international agreement next year.
Christiana Figueres, head of the UN’s climate change secretariat, told an audience at St Paul’s Cathedral this week that the Pope had started work on a new encyclical on the environment and climate change. A papal encyclical is essentially a letter to bishops of the world, that sets out the Vatican’s views on a particular issue, indicating that the topic has become a top priority for Catholic leaders.
The UN climate change chief said a letter from the Pope could send a strong signal about the moral imperative to reduce carbon emissions.
→ Business Green – 9 May 2014:
Pope prepares climate change encyclical
By Jessica Shankleman
Vatican conference on sustainability
A Vatican conference has brought together academics and experts from across the globe to address sustainability issues related to both people and the planet.
The conference ‘Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature, Our Responsibility’ is a joint venture of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Participants include scientists and experts from 14 countries and a range of backgrounds: microbiology, law, labor, economics, philosophy, business and astronomy.
→ May 2014: www.ncronline.org
In his film ‘Noah’, Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky explores issues of faith and environmentalism. As the threat of climate change becomes more apparent, faith advocates are providing a crucial moral voice to call for responsible stewardship of the planet and its creatures. They are joining forces with environmental allies at the local, state, and national levels to bring about personal and policy changes that respond to climate change.
→ Streamed live on youtube.com on 23 April 2014
The National Energy Efficiency Network in Australia is enabling faith-based organisations to save energy together: “NEEN is a national initiative to promote open learning and collaboration amongst faith-based and not-for-profit community organisations to achieve energy savings and a positive energy future.”
“Christian values demand we take action. Climate change disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable — the very people Christians are called to care for and love.”
Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University
→ Huffington Post – 5 April 2014:
Climate Change Threats To ‘The Least Of These’ Compel Evangelical Christians To Act
Article by Lynne Peeples
Photo uploaded by 350.org on Facebook.
→ Sydney Morning Herald – 12 March 2014:
Faith and science combine as religious leaders join fight for Maules Creek
Op-ed by Thea Ormerod, president of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
Religious leaders arrested at Maules Creek
In Australia, religious leaders were arrested at Maules Creek on 12 March 2014 for blocking access to a mine site.
“Religious leaders – four Uniting Church Ministers, two Priests, one Catholic and one Buddhist, and a number of lay people – made the long trip to Maules Creek in northwest New South Wales to hold a prayer vigil at the gates to Whitehaven Coal’s mine construction site. They’ve added their voices to those of the traditional owners of the land – the Gomeroi people – who believe their sacred sites in the Leard Forest are being destroyed, to call for the mine to be stopped.
Following the vigil, some of the religious leaders joined locals and supporters to block the entrance to the mine site, turning away trucks and heavy equipment. Several of those religious leaders were then arrested and detained by Police.
One of those people was Thea Ormerod, head of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change and grandmother of six. Thea has written an amazing op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald. In that she said:
“You may ask how such a group could endorse anything so radical, but this is a well-worn path for people of faith… The movement to wind down coal-mining in Australia may be counter-cultural but it is the truly conservative one. Its aim is to keep the Earth’s ecosystems more or less intact for those who suffer the impact of climate change in developing countries, for our own young people here and for future generations. Not a radical position at all.”
Today’s events acknowledge that every legitimate avenue to stop the open-cut coal mine near Maules Creek has failed. Even though not one of the 212 submissions from the community supported the mine, the mine has been approved. And with climate policy being slashed by the Government, there comes a time where we have to make personal sacrifices to protect our future. That time has come.”
Excerpt of an e-mail from the350.org Australia team – which added that they would now be heading to Maules Creek to join the Leard blockade protest
2014-event in Melbourne, Australia, organised by the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne.
→ Read more on: www.melbourneanglican.org.au
→ The Guardian – 13 February 2014:
Church of England vows to fight ‘great demon’ of climate change
General Synod says it is willing to disinvest from companies that do not live up to its theological, moral and social priorities
→ Take Part – 14 November 2013:
Holy Environmentalism! Religious Leaders Stand Up for Mother Nature
Pope Francis and other spiritual leaders are breaking green. By Andri Antoniades
→ Grist – 13 November 2013:
Divine intervention? Pope opposes fracking
The worldwide leader of the Catholic Church, none other than the motherfracking pope himself, has come out in opposition to the worldwide scourge of hydraulic fracturing. Pope Francis has been posing for photographs while holding anti-fracking T-shirts. By John Upton
“Reverend Fred Small is a BIG force in the religious environmental community. The senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts shares his views on climate activism, the Koch Brothers and some of the spiritual questions raised by the reality of what we’re doing to our life support systems.”
→ Listen to the radio interview with Fred Small
→ On The Green Front – 6 November 2013:
Reverend Fred Small: Religious Witness for the Earth
→ Utne – 23 October 2013:
Accepting the Reality of Climate Change
A faith-based response to the reality of climate change. Could churches, synagogues, and mosques help us work through our grief so we can embrace the radical changes that must be made? By Katherine M. Preston, Sojourners November/December 2013
→ Climate Central – 9 October 2013:
Experts Debate Moral, Religious Case for Climate Action
What would Jesus do about CO2? By Bobby Magill
The Australian leadership of the Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and Christian religions call on Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott to act on climate change.
Published on youtube.com on 25 August 2013
‘On faith and fracking’
Faith leaders from across New York State talk about our role as guardians of the Creation, our responsibility to each other, and our obligation to future generations. Published on Vimeo in April 2013.
→ ABC News – 1 August 2013:
Unitarian Church divests from fossil fuels
A second Australian religious organisation has chosen to divest its funds from fossil fuel companies because of concerns about climate change.
The Melbourne Unitarian Church has become the second Australian religious organisation to announce it will no longer invest in fossil fuel companies.
» Sage Journals – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists May/June 2013 vol. 69:
Katharine Hayhoe: Preaching climate to the unconverted
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian and makes no secret of that. In this interview, she describes how both her scientific expertise and her faith inform her efforts to explain climate change to the general public and especially to climate skeptics. To her it means talking about the commandment to love one’s neighbors.
→ Utne – March 2013:
Eating Together: Churches Build Green Communities
Read the stories of inspiring church communities addressing climate catastrophe by eating sustainable food. By Mallory McDuff
→ Deutche Welle:
Faith and climate protection
A collection of 10 articles about the topic
→ Deutche Welle – 2 April 2013:
Preaching to save the climate
From climate sins to the climate apocalypse, the dialogue surrounding climate change is taking on religious undertones. Now preachers and religious leaders are trying to turn their followers into climate believers.
→ Climate Central – 29 March 2012:
For Katharine Hayhoe, Climate Change Not a Leap of Faith
In 2009, Hayhoe and her husband, Andrew Farley, published a book titled A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. By Michael D. Lemonick
→ Eco-Justice Ministries:
Greening Your Church: Getting Started & Doing the Basics
“Eco-Justice Ministries sees deeper levels of engagement in what we refer to as leadership and transformational churches. At these points, it is very important for churches to think theologically, and to stress that churches should be doing more than other community groups.”
→ Eco-Justice Ministries:
Greening Your Church: Leadership & Action
“Environmental awareness and action are affirmed as important, ongoing themes in the life of the church, and are reflected in a wide array of church programs. A leadership church works within social and political structures to express its eco-justice commitments.”
Australian Church takes a stand for renewable energy
Australian Church divest it’s investment funds from the fossil fuel industry
In Australia, the Uniting Church of New South Wales and ACT has made the pledge to ‘divest’ — dump it’s stocks and investment in fossil fuel copanies, and to direct them into renewable energy instead. This made headlines in Australia.
In an article posted on 350.org, Justin Whelan, Mission Development Manager at Paddington Uniting Church, explained why the Church Synod made this decision — and how it became a decision that was made by consensus.
“There is an etiquette in the church that we don’t clap resolutions when they pass, but this time excitement got the better of too many people. A wave of applause broke out. Was it only in this moment that people realised the significance of what we had done? Or was this the bursting dam, a community waiting a long time for a little nudge to help them be the radical, prophetic people they want to be?”, he wrote.
Read the full article here:
→ Justin Whelan, Uniting Earthweb Group – 30 April 2013:
How Divestment Happens: The Inside Story from the Uniting Church of NSW & ACT
→ You can read more about the church’s divestment decision here.
→ Assembly.uca.org.au – 29 August 2014:
Assembly to divest from fossil fuels
The Uniting Church in Australia Assembly has resolved to divest from investments in corporations engaged in the extraction of fossil fuels.
Bill McKibben’s Sermon at The Riverside Church on Job 38: 1-11 and Matthew 19: 16-22 from Sunday 28 April 2013
→ Sunshine Coast Daily – 25 November 2009:
Church turns to sky for light
Uniting Church parishioners are calling “let there be light” after installing a 4.2kw solar power system to ease money woes. By Roxanne Mccarty-O’Kane
Initiatives and organisations
→ Fransiscan Sisters:
The Interfaith ClimateTracker
Christian Climate Action
Christian Climate Action is a movement of Christians, concerned about climate change. They take non-violent direct action to encourage justice and sustainability.
Living the change
“Reducing the impact of our consumption is a spiritual challenge. By Living the Change, we engage this struggle with joy as part of our response to climate change.”
Catholic and Christian organisations
Twitter handles and Facebook pages
Check this list on twitter.com/EarthBeatNCR
CIDSE – together for global justice – an international alliance of 17 Catholic development agencies working together for global justice
Catholic Climate Covenant
Our Voices (inter-faith)
Pope for Planet
Act Alliance (ecumenical)
Global Catholic Climate Movement
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
@CRSnews / @CatholicRelief
Development and Peace
@CAFOD / @CAFODwire
Center of Concern
Entraide et Fraternite
The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) is a multi-faith organisation that works with diverse faith communities to tackle global warming.
→ See www.facebook.com/ARRCC
“We are facing a climate emergency: The time has come for civil resistance”
~ Thea Omerod, president of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
Green Church in Denmark
‘Gronkirke.dk’ means ‘GreenChurch.dk’. It is a Danish website on church, the environment and climate change. Gronkirke.dk offers inspiration for working with climate and the environment in a church setting – in church services and in practical management of the church buildings and activities.
Make your church a ‘green church’: List of 48 points
Inspired by churches all over Europe, a rising numer of Danish congregations are taking up the challenge to become ‘green churches’. To become a green church, churches must work with the checklist, committing to 25 of 48 measures, including at least two within six categories.
→ See the checklist: 48 points to become a green church (PDF)
The Church Climate Change Relay
Churches and organisations, particularly in the western world, have a responsibility to combat climate change in the world. The Church Climate Change Relay is a campaign to assist churches in focusing on climate change and its consequences for the poorest peoples of the world. The Climate Change Relay is co-ordinated by the National Church Council of Denmark’s Climate Change Working Group. This group is made up of representatives from a wide range of churches and church organisations in Denmark.
→ Read more about the Church Climate Change Relay
The initiative for Gronkirke.dk is taken by a the National Council of Churches in Denmark. A Working Group on Climate and Environment coordinates the activities of Gronkirke.dk
→ Find more information on the home page: www.gronkirke.dk
Uniting Church: “Get your town to vote to be CSG free”
If you would like to see some real leadership in a religious community, take a look at what they have produced in the Uniting Church. Here is an Australian church that not only takes a clear stand for everyone to see, but also invests special efforts into advising it members on how to respond to the invasive and toxic gas mining industry.
The Uniting Church is the third largest Christian denomination in Australia. It has around 2,800 congregations, 51 presbyteries and seven synods. Uniting Church members number 300,000 while 1.3 million Australians claim an association.
In this pamphlet, Uniting Church explains its stand on unconventional gas mining – also known as ‘fracking’ or ‘Coal Seam Gas’. The following is an excerpt of the pamphlet’s text:
“Uniting Earth Ministry:
Coal Seam Gas – What is it? Why does the church care? How can you respond?
UNITING CHURCH RESPONSES
What does the Assembly say about the environment?
The Uniting Church has a longstanding commitment to the environment, both because social justice and environmental sustainability are linked and because the environment has intrinsic value.
The church believes that God, as the Creator of the universe, calls humanity into a relationship of mutuality and interdependence with the creation. God’s will for the earth is renewal and reconciliation, not destruction by human beings.
The church is particularly concerned about human-induced climate change, regarding it as a serious threat to the future and integrity of life on earth. The church is especially worried about the impacts on vulnerable communities such as those in the Pacific. Over the last decade, the Assembly has responded to Pacific churches’ requests that churches throughout the world act in solidarity to reduce the causes of climate change.
In 2006, the church adopted the statement “For the Sake of the Planet and all its People”, which lays out the church’s position on climate change and fossil fuels: “The scientific evidence on global warming and its potentially disastrous impacts is now indisputable. Also beyond dispute is that the burning of fossil fuels and subsequent creation of greenhouse gas emissions… is seriously exacerbating the problems we face.” The Assembly therefore called upon church members to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and to advocate for government to implement policies to reduce Australia’s dependence on fossil fuels.
The 2009 statement “An Economy of Life” concerned inter-linked crises confronting human and ecological wellbeing. The statement named these crises (including climate change, militarism, the energy crisis, the food crisis, and the global financial crisis) as deeply rooted in our social, political, and economic systems. The Assembly called upon all parts of the church to participate in “a vision of flourishing, abundant life, of peace and reconciliation, justice and transformation, love and inclusion for all creation,” and upon governments to develop policies and structures that support human and ecological flourishing.
→ See these statements and others at:
NSW/ACT Synod position
The Synod of NSW/ACT has also expressed its environmental concern over the decades. The Synod has adopted various resolutions, including several about renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change and fossil fuels. In 2008, the Synod stated that “a commitment to ecological sustainability is an essential part of the church’s discipleship” and committed itself to “integrating ‘creation care’ into all aspects of its worship, witness and service”.
The Synod passed two important resolutions in 2013 in relation to the fossil fuel industry. The first was that the Synod “call on the NSW Government to amend the NSW Strategic Regional Land Use Plan so that it identifies and protects from coal mining and Coal Seam Gas exploration and mining:
(a) areas which should be kept strictly for sustainable agriculture and food production;
(b) irreplaceable water resources including underground aquifers; and
(c) high conservation value areas including forests and wilderness areas.”
The second resolution noted that:
• the vast majority of fossil fuels will need to remain untouched to avoid the worst excesses of climate change;
• Australian governments and the international community are not adequately addressing the threat of climate change; and
• the rapid expansion of fossil fuel mining in Australia “is directly threatening agricultural land, human health and biodiversity”.
The Synod therefore resolved to stop investing in fossil fuel corporations and move instead to investing in renewable energy stocks.
What can we do about it?
• Be fully informed about the church’s position, the effect of fossil fuel extraction on the environment, CSG processes and dangers, and the local issues in your area
• Inform your faith community, your town and the surrounding farming communities
• Make submissions to the government
• Write letters to politicians and newspapers
• Join or start a group such as “Lock the Gate”
• Attend public protests
• Get your town to vote to be “CSG free”
→ Visit www.unitingearthweb.org.au/csg for links to useful organisations for information and support (e.g. Lock the Gate, Our Land Our Water Our Future, ARRCC).”
→ Uniting Church home page: www.uca.org.au
Before ourvoices.net was launched, there was no one single place where everyone of any faith or spiritual belief could express their willingness to hope and pray for world leaders to courageously reach a meaningful climate agreement. There are already many excellent environmental initiatives run by and for people of faith. ourvoices.net supports this work and is here to amplify their message by providing one single petition for all to sign.
It has the potential for millions of signatures. This will help our leaders to find a way through all the difficulties to prevent the most dangerous effects of climate change.
ourvoices.net gives you one simple, powerful way to make a difference in this climate crisis.
Please sign the petition – and encourage everyone you know to sign it, too.
ourvoices.net is a not-for-profit project run under the auspices of The Conservation Foundation.
Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
“ARRCC is a multi-faith, member-based organisation of people from around Australia who are committed to taking action on climate change. We bring together representatives from all the major faith traditions to work together in addressing climate change.
We recognise that climate change is not only a scientific, environmental, economic and political issue – it is also a profoundly moral and spiritual one: the Earth’s ecosystems are intrinsically precious and beautiful and deserve protection; the wellbeing of human beings is dependent on ecological flourishing; and it is the vulnerable people of the world who are most impacted by climate change.
We believe that as people dedicated to the common good, inspired by our beliefs and energized by our spirituality, people of all faiths can and should be at the forefront of creating a safe climate. While celebrating the uniqueness of our different traditions, we stand together in working for an ecologically and socially sustainable future.
ARRCC hopes to see religious communities of all kinds, and all across Australia, to actively reflect religious values in their lifestyle choices.”
→ Home page: www.arrcc.org.au
IN DANISH LANGUAGE
→ DR P1 – 11 June 2013:
Religiøse ledere bør gå forrest i kampen for klimaet (‘Religious leaders ought to go first in the fight for the climate’) – a half an hour radio programme on the public service channel P1, available online
“The Federal Government talks up nuclear and coal while killing off the renewable energy sector. The New South Wales State Government, while promising to curb Coal Seam Gas expansion, now looks set to break that commitment.
All short term greed and no vision.
We are being left behind as the rest of the world moves rapidly into an environmental paradigm. Our nation deserves better. We deserve better. Our children, grandchildren and their children deserve better.
Write to your politicians letting them know you will NOT vote for them unless they are prepared to act with a deep and reverent ‘environmental consciousness’.”
Fr Rod, Anglican Parish of Gosford
Useful books and tips
Climate Church, Climate World
Book by Jim Antal: ‘Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change’ – Rowman Publishing, February 2018
Learn about the benefits of preaching on climate change and educating yourself about the issues this catastrophe presents.
“ ‘Climate Church, Climate World’ argues that climate change is the greatest moral challenge humanity has ever faced. Hunger, refugees, poverty, inequality, deadly viruses, war — climate change multiplies all forms of global social injustice.
Environmental leader Reverend Jim Antal presents a compelling case that it’s time for the church to meet this moral challenge, just as the church addressed previous moral challenges. Antal calls for the church to embrace a new vocation so that future generations might live in harmony with God’s creation.
After describing how we have created the dangers our planet now faces, Antal urges the church to embrace a new vocation, one focused on collective salvation and an expanded understanding of the Golden Rule (Golden Rule 2.0). He suggests ways people of faith can reorient what they prize through new approaches to worship, preaching, witnessing and other spiritual practices that honor creation and cultivate hope.”
→ Buy the book or read more about it on Amazon.com
Preaching on climate change: Why it matters
“ ‘Climate Church, Climate World’ by Jim Antal is a guide for people of all faiths to find value and gain insight by focusing on how the church and people of the church can address the climate change crisis. Antal invites communities of faiths together to bear witness and acknowledge that God’s creation is suffering and in jeopardy. Viewing the climate crisis as a theological emergency brings together these groups and gives them a common goal to initiate an intervention.”
→ The magazine Utne published this excerpt from Chapter 6: ‘Worship as a Pathway to Freedom’
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, by Jonathan Safran Foer (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2019, 288 pages, $25.00)
Some people reject the fact, overwhelmingly supported by scientists, that our planet is warming because of human activity. But do those of us who accept the reality of human-caused climate change truly believe it? In We Are the Weather, Jonathan Safran Foer [explains that] the task of saving the planet will involve a great reckoning with ourselves – a reckoning Foer illustrates by relating his Jewish grandmother’s experience of the Holocaust, taking great personal risks to flee Poland before it was too late to do so. Now we have turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are similarly catastrophic. Only collective action will save our home and way of life. And it all starts with what we eat – and don’t eat – for breakfast.
Caring for Creation: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis, edited by Alice Stamwitz (Franciscan Media 2016, 192 pages, $22.99)
Since his inaugural Mass in March 2013, Pope Francis has frequently reminded a global audience that care for creation is among his highest priorities. The writings, homilies, prayers, talks, and even tweets of Pope Francis in this book gather his most important and inspiring words about our shared responsibility to protect, nurture, and care for “our common home.” The planet is in peril, the pope is telling us, along with the well being of the poor who depend on the earth’s natural resources. Still, his message is always ultimately one of hope. In Caring for Creation, Pope Francis’s words reveal that he believes we can move towards a new kind of conversion – a higher level of consciousness, action, and advocacy that will spark “a bold cultural revolution.”
See also: Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home, by Pope Francis, with an Introduction by Naomi Oreskes (Melville House 2015, 192 pages, $20.00 paperback)
Down to Earth: Christian Hope and Climate Change, by Richard A. Floyd (Wipf and Stock 2015, 144 pages, $17.00 paperback)
Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril, edited by Lisa E. Dahill and Jim B. Martin-Schramm (Cascade Books 2016, 306 pages, $36.00 paperback)
Hope in the Age of Climate Change: Creation Care this Side of the Resurrection, by Chris Doran (Cascade Books 2017, 258 pages, $31.00)
Love in a Time of Climate Change: Honoring Creation, Establishing Justice, by Sharon Delgado (Fortress Press 2017, 226 pages, $29.00 paperback)
The Spirit of Hope: Theology for a World in Peril, by Jurgen Moltman (Westminster/John Knox Press 2019, 232 pages, $30.00 paperback)
Green Congregation Guides
Many guides to greening congregations have been developed by a diversity of religious traditions and denominations. Many of these programs are applicable to any congregation. The following list was compiled by Interfaith Power & Light
– National Interfaith Power & Light
– Cool Congregations is a program to help congregations reduce their individual carbon footprint. There are start-up kits, carbon footprint calculators, and a Cool Congregations Challenge (with prizes!).
Becoming Carbon Positive: a manual for places of worship
– Climate Buddies
– Members of green teams in congregations worked together to produce a greening manual for congregations. The manual is envisioned as a document that will continue to evolve as area congregations work together to reduce emissions.
Green Faith Guide
– District of Columbia Energy Office
– This guide was designed to assist in the development of an environmental outreach and education program targeting faith-based communities in DC; to help religious organizations better plan and implement building construction expansion, renovation, equipment replacement, maintenance and operation to reduce energy use and save money.
The Green Sanctuary Manual
– Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) and the Unitarian Universalist Association
– The manual provides specific projects and activities that congregations can undertake that lead to recognition as a Green Sanctuary.
Responsible Purchasing Guide for Faith Communities
– Responsible Purchasing Network
– RPN members can download for free. Non- RPN members can access free excerpts.
– The guide provides key steps congregations can take, outlines ways to undertake each action, and calculates the positive impact of those actions.
Greening your Synagogue Packet
– Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network
– This guide provides resources to provide resources to local synagogues, their lay and professional leadership, to enhance the knowledge and appreciation of Jewish environmental issues.
Greenfaith Certification Program
– Greenfaith: Interfaith Partners for the Environment
– Resources in the area of worship, religious education and spiritual practices.
Putting Energy into Stewardship
– Energy Star
– This guide is designed to educate the faith community in taking advantage of the benefits of energy efficiency.
Downloadable Tip Sheets
– Blessed Earth
– These extremely practical tips set you up for stewardship success in all areas of life.
50 Ways to Help Save the Earth by Rebecca Barnes Davis
– Westminster John Knox Press
– Purchase for $14.99
– This guide outlines fifty ways in which you, your congregation, and your local community can help fight global warming and enjoy participation in a vital part of Christian discipleship.
Greening Guides – Room by room guide and Whole Conservation guide
– Union for Reform Judaism
– These guides offer conservation suggestions you can start using today in your home or in your congregation. One offers suggestions on a room-by-room basis; the other offers suggestions based on the conservation category.
Green Congregation Program
– Web of Creation
– This list of resources gives helpful tips in all areas of energy conservation at your congregation.
Just Living Series
– National Council of Churches of Christ
– This series includes guides on green living, sustaining waters, and other topics of greening your congregation.
Earth Care Congregations: A Guide to Greening Presbyterian Churches
– Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
– This series outlines and provides resources for a specific number of actions toward caring for God’s earth in four categories: worship, education, facilities, and outreach.
Animal Protection Ministries: A Guide for Churches
– The Humane Society of the United States
– Registration is needed for download
– Find ideas for activities for church groups. Learn from churches and pastors involved in animal-related activities on why animals are appropriate for theological consideration and their experiences in implementing these exciting ministries.
– A guide to Greening Sikh places of worship through landscaping, water conservation, food and waste reduction, and improving the indoor environment.
Creation Wise Guides
– Georgia Interfaith Power and Light
– A series of guides that include everything you need to know about pursuing Creation Wise certification, includes guides on water, sustainable purchasing, waste reduction, and energy efficiency.
GSS Health and Sustainability Guide: Greening Daily Operation for Faith Communities
– Greening Sacred Spaces
– This is an extensive guide that comes from Canada and covers all the details of greening the interior and exterior of your sacred space.
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