Part of massive global demonstrations for urgent action on climate change, inspired by young climate activist Greta Thunberg in Sweden. In Brighton, UK, thousands of school students skipped school and demonstrated. 350.org calculated that around 1.4 million students took part globally.

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Care for creation and climate justice

Care for creation and justice are at the centre of WCC work on climate change. The Bible teaches the wholeness of creation and calls human beings to take care of the garden of Eden (Gen 2:15). The God of the Bible is a God of justice who protects, loves and cares for the most vulnerable among his creatures.

Care for creation and justice are at the centre of WCC work on climate change. The Bible teaches the wholeness of creation and calls human beings to take care of the garden of Eden (Gen 2:15). The God of the Bible is a God of justice who protects, loves and cares for the most vulnerable among his creatures.

The present world development model is threatening the lives and livelihoods of many, especially among the world's poorest people, and destroying biodiversity. The ecumenical vision is to overcome this model based on over-consumption and greed.

Since the 1970s, the WCC has helped develop the concept of sustainable communities. Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted in 1992, the WCC has been present at all UN climate change conferences.

Over the years, the WCC helped foster a movement for climate justice touching millions of people around the world.

It's time for climate justice. When creation is threatened, churches and Christians are called to speak out and act as an expression of their commitment to life, justice and love.

The Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 1.5°C warming indicates that we are well on our way to passing the relatively safe limit of 1.5°C warming and stresses that only with “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in the world economy, on a scale and at a rate without historical precedent, can we keep under this target. It estimates that the necessary transformations must take place within a rapidly disappearing window of opportunity, perhaps within as little as a decade, if we are to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Against this background the WCC relentlessly advocates for climate justice at the annual Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as in other fora. 

 

WCC Central Committee and Executive Committee statements on climate justice:

Statement on COP 24 and a Just Transition to a Sustainable Economy

Statement on the Amazon Under Threat

Statement on Climate Justice

Statement on the US Government’s Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Statement on COP 21

 

WCC statements on behalf of faith groups at the high-level segments of the UNFCCC COPs:

Climate Justice is at the Heart of Just Transitions

To Bonn and Beyond: Act Now with Justice and Peace

The Bond between Decision and Action

We have Hope and the Right to Hope

 

Other resources:

Interfaith Reflections on Just Transitions: Linking Climate and Economic Justice

WCC General Secretary Statement on the Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Final Message of the WCC Conference on Just Peace with the Earth

WCC General Secretary Advent Message on the Eve of COP 21

WCC 10thAssembly Minute on Climate Justice 

Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed 1 September as a day of prayer for creation for the Orthodox in 1989. In fact, the Orthodox church year starts on that day with a commemoration of how God created the world.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) was instrumental in making the special time a season, extending the celebration from 1 September until 4 October.

Following the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I and the WCC, Christians worldwide have embraced the season as part of their annual calendar. Pope Francis made the Roman Catholic Church’s warm welcoming of the season official in 2015.

In recent years, statements from religious leaders around the world have also encouraged the faithful to take time to care for creation during the month-long celebration.

The season starts 1 September, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends 4 October, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations.

Throughout the month-long celebration, the world’s 2.2 billion Christians come together to care for our common home.

Activities and resources to celebrate the Season of Creation are supported by an ecumenical steering committee and a coalition of partners from around the world.

Season of Creation website

The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Following up on a long history of engagement on climate justice in UN climate conferences, the participation of the WCC delegation at COP26, formed by members of the WCC Working Group on Climate Change, representatives of WCC member churches, and WCC staff members, is also an opportunity for WCC to express its concerns about the climate emergency, raising its prophetic voice and bringing to light good practices and strong testimonies from voices of the ecumenical fellowship. Equally important is the opportunity to add spiritual dimensions to the topic and to underline the need for both scientific and religious aspects in order to cope with climate change and promote climate justice. 

 

WCC documents and resources on climate change

WCC executive committee statement on the outcome of COP26
The executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed in a public statement “disappointment and dismay at the inadequate outcome of the COP 26 Climate Change Conference” in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

WCC executive committee Statement on the Climate Change Emergency - November 2019

Roadmap for Congregations, Communities and Churches for an Economy of Life and Ecological Justice
A 5-step programme to change the way we deal with the economy and our ecological surroundings.

Walk the Talk
A Toolkit to Accompany the "Roadmap for Congregations, Communities and Churches for an Economy of Life and Ecological Justice".

Cooler Earth – Higher Benefits Second Edition
Actions by those who care about children, climate and finance.

Climate Justice with and for Children and Youth in Churches
This toolkit provides resources for churches, church-run schools, and summer camps to support intergenerational climate and environmental justice and promote care for children by stopping further global warming. All churches are encouraged to promote education and action to address climate change, reduce CO2 emissions, and protect the environment in their activities for and with children and youth.

 

 

Key ecumenical and interfaith documents on COP26 and climate change

The Interfaith Talanoa Dialogue Call to COP26 - 11 November 2021
At the opening of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), more than 200 people from many faith traditions and different parts of the world gathered at the Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow, physically and virtually. We listened to each other’s stories and reflections on what climate change means from our faith perspectives; we prayed together; and we shared a meal. Using the Talanoa Dialogue methodology from the Pacific we discussed: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? And how do we get there?

Statement from the Faith-Based Organizations to COP26
To the High-Level Ministerial Segment of the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties – COP26 to the UNFCCC, Glasgow, United Kingdom 10 November 202.

Faith and Science: An Appeal for COP26
On 4 October 2021, faith leaders representing the world’s major religions joined scientists at the Vatican to call on the international community to raise their ambition and step up their climate action ahead of COP26. Almost 40 faith leaders signed a joint Appeal, which was presented by Pope Francis to COP26 President-Designate, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma, and the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Luigi Di Maio.

Call from young Christians to Governments gathered in the Pre COP 26 Milan, 30 September - 2 October
As young members of the Christian family in Italy, it is our hope that COP26 will be a crucial element in addressing the climate crisis. Together, we ask world leaders to take this opportunity of this session to define with determination and ambition measurable goals of climate justice for all.

Call from the Churches to Governments gathered in the Pre COP 26 Milan, 30 September - 2 October
Milan in September 2021 hosted the pre-conference of the parties in the framework of the UN Convention on Climate Change (pre-COP 26), 18 years after the COP 9 which took place in Milan in 2003.

Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26
Scottish and UK religious leaders have signed a declaration urging governments to take transformational climate action at the COP26 in November.

Joint statement, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop of Canterbury urge care for future of the planet
For the first time, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and Anglican Communion have jointly warned of the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on poverty, and the importance of global cooperation.

COP26 Statement from the Bishops of the Church of Sweden
Along with many others, we bishops are looking forward to COP26 with both hope and trepidation. The stakes are tremendously high.

God’s creation – our home
A message from the Bishops’ Conference of the Church of Norway about our Christian calling in the encounter with the climate crisis.

Declaration of the National Council of Churches in India on COP26
Declaration from National Council of Churches in India To the 26th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP26) Of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

An Interfaith Earth Day message in times of Covid 19 and Climate Emergency
Inter-faith group active at UNFCCC conferences response to the postponement of the COP26 - 22nd of April, Earth Day

WCC, WCRC, LWF, CWM letter to G20 finance ministers (July 2020)
The World Council of Churches (WCC), World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Council for World Mission (CWM), have followed with profound concern how the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic crisis have continued to destroy lives and livelihood around the world. To date this has resulted in more than half a million deaths, massive unemployment, increase of debts, poverty, and inequality in many parts of the world.

 

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COP26 faith group holding hands
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WCC photo gallery on COP26

Let's not lose sight of the reality of climate chaos.

Climate change isn't an abstract notion for the millions of people who have already suffered its effects through droughts, floods, hurricanes, wild fires, the failure of agriculture and the destruction of infrastructure.

Media discussions are tending to focus on peripheral details of the negotiations and negotiators and it is easy to forget what climate change is about for ordinary people around the world, particularly the poorest.

"These images remind us of the devastating impacts of climate change, and how dangerous it is for all of us if we don't act now. Let's not lose sight of the reality of climate chaos. We call on negotiators to agree on urgent and concrete actions to curb Greenhouse Gas emissions" said James Bhagwan, Gen. Sec. of the Pacific Conference of Churches.

All images are available for media use courtesy of the World Council of Churches. Please credit images as: Sean Hawkey/WCC

For comment or interviews at COP26 in Glasgow, please email marcelo.schneider@wcc-coe.org
World Council of Churches coverage of COP26 can be found at www.oikoumene.org/cop26

Click here to access high definition photos of the full exhibition (download password: WCC).
The photos are free for use only on publications related to COP26.