These questions were addressed at the workshop “Advocacy and political aspects of churches’ engagement with climate change”, held this September 6 in the framework of the World Council of Churches' (WCC) 11th assembly in Karlsruhe.
Kess Niewerth, moderator of the Conference of European Churches working group on dialogue with European institutions said politicians in Europe are open and ready to listen the voices of the churches.
Niewerth, the Vice President of the Netherlands Council of Churches, referred to the European Green Deal as a positive development. In 2021, the European Union made climate neutrality legally binding in the European Union. The Green Deal is the roadmap for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050.
Yet the “leaving no one behind in the transition to climate neutrality” demands that most vulnerable members of society, as well as regions and territories that are in the need of special consideration, be involved in decision-making, he said.
On the other hand, the Green Deal is based upon the idea of growth, whereas the Christian perspective points at a different path: an economy which provides sufficiently for all and negates the idea of greed, he underscored.
Joy Kennedy, moderator of the WCC Working Group on Climate Change, said that politicians do not want to hear scientific claims from church people but arguments helping them to understand that the issue of climate change is not simply a political, social, economic or environmental, but a profound moral issue of who we believe we are, and how we act in relation to the planet, our home.
“In partnership with indigenous people we are called upon to create a new narrative of what it means being human in this world, in cooperation with people of other faiths and civil society”, she said.
“What is at stake is global survival and continuing with the same economic systems is not an option. Churches have significant assets, and it is time to put our money where our mouth is. We should divest from portfolios involved in fossil fuel industry and any other responsible for the climate crisis,” said Kennedy.
Milena Solo, from the Methodist Church in Argentina, reminded participants that countries in the North and South face different realities when addressing climate change.
COP 25 ended amid serious North-South differences as developed countries did not want to discuss where the financing would come to help developing countries in their implementation of climate actions, she expressed.
She also referred to the increasing mobilization of youth finding their voice in demanding more climate action from decision-makers around the world, and how it has a positive impact on Argentinian youth too.
James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, said there are strong reasons why churches must engage in the struggle for climate justice.
“Climate change makes the vulnerable more vulnerable. If we care for the poor, we must care for the climate. People from the Pacific hardly have a voice in climate summits. For every climate activist from the Pacific at the Glasgow summit, there were half a dozen lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry. Yet Jesus came to bring fullness of life to everyone, also to our people in the Pacific,” he said.
He continued, “Economics is not the answer. The GDP is not the right indicator, as it veils the existence of huge social problems. Indicators should be the quality of life for everyone and for the environment. We need a major social and cultural shift.”
“As we read in Psalm 24, the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. Today the Lord is claiming it back and calling churches to be prophetical in caring for God’s creation, » he said.