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As Season of Creation closes, climate work is just beginning

As Season of Creation closes, climate work is just beginning

A young participant of the Climate Strike March, New York, 20 September 2019. Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

02 October 2019

As the Season of Creation gets ready to close on 4 October, the World Council of Churches (WCC) global fellowship has new inspiration and determination to carry climate justice work forward.

During the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City at the end of September, the goal was to advance climate action for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the mean global temperature from rising by more than 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels.

Climate marches and renewed dialogue across the world represented the biggest global mobilization for climate justice yet, clearly with young people at the forefront. In a sermon at Marble Collegiate Church, in New York, just before the summit, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said that the young people were expressing their profound care for God's creation.

During the climate summit, churches worldwide – from Colombia to Canada, India to Scotland -  reclaimed and strengthened their roles in sustaining the momentum to demand from world leaders deep-seated change - including economic transformation - to tackle the climate emergency.

In a joint statement, the WCC joined the ACT Alliance and the Lutheran World Federation as they all strengthened their collective call for climate justice and immediate action.

“As we focus on the interconnectedness of God’s creation, our churches are urging governments worldwide to take stronger measures and present concrete plans to address climate change – now,” the statement reads.

In addition to practical action, churches continued to deepen reflection, including self-scrutiny, of what needs to change in our spirituality.

Arch. Mark MacDonald, WCC president for North America, observed that the core of the climate crisis lies in how our societies are beguiled by the drive for continuous economic gain and the lure of money at the expense of our neighbours and all creation. “There can be no sustainable future where we ignore the cries from the margins – Indigenous Peoples and the impoverished,” he added.

Rev. Dr Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, president of Brot für die Welt, asked: “What are the parts of our spirituality that belong to the market economy? We need to do a critical self-examination in renewing our spiritual roots.”

Another critical outcome of the Climate Action Summit was a shift in language from “climate change” to “climate emergency.”

Dr Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, urged people to consider climate change as an emergency, not a slow-moving misfortune. “This is no longer God-given impacts on people; this is human-caused,” he said. “It is not right. An emergency means the house is on fire; it means we need to deal with it right now.”

"WCC joins global climate strike with throngs of young people" - WCC news release 21 September 2019

“Do you love me?” It’s a question about global warming - WCC new release 22 September 2019

"As Climate Summit begins, churches call for action now!" - WCC news release 23 September 2019

"Climate emergency: faith-based groups pledge to amplify prophetic voice" - WCC news release 25 September 2019

‘The house is on fire’: faith leaders, government reps share candid dialogue - WCC news release 25 September 2019

Learn more about the WCC work in Care for Creation and Climate Justice