How churches are taking action on climate change
Those most affected by climate change are those who have done the least to cause it and have the least resources to combat it. Many economically wealthy countries are still reluctant to bear any responsibility for climate change, neither reducing carbon emissions sufficiently nor supporting low-income countries in the battle against climate disasters. The Christian idea of justice is rooted in the command that we love our neighbour. Climate justice, then, is not only about the distribution of environmental implications associated with climate change, but also the relationship between us and our global neighbours. With a serious lack of action being pursued by politicians, churches are stepping up to take action.
An example of low-income countries experiencing the worst effects of climate change is Malawi. The effects are currently observable in the increasing occurrence of floods and droughts within the nation which are consequently posing a serious threat for food security. The church is working hard to mitigate the effects of climate change, engage members and promote creativity in combating the issue. The church has taken a proactive role in the care for creation – for example, one successful effort has been targeting youths to take action in the fight against climate change. By ensuring youth engagement in climate change related matters, the church is ensuring they grow up in a social setting that promotes the norms and values that safeguard the environment. The church in Malawi is further promoting youth engagement by running secondary and tertiary environmental education campaigns in learning institutions to ensure young people are involved in environmental activism early in life. The church is also actively engaging with extended members of the community to ensure they own the care for creation narrative while undertaking action to conserve the environment.
Conservation work currently being pursued and promoted by the parish reflects the care for creation narrative. Tree planting exercises are currently underway in Malawi to forestall the effects of climate change. There are running campaigns within the parish that aim to sensitise and mobilise the community in caring for the environment. These include the one tree one baptism campaign which comprises parents caring for a tree after baptising their child; one tree holy matrimony which involves a couple planting a tree during their wedding; and the one couple one tree campaign which involves a young couple caring for a tree throughout their relationship.
Various Christian Aid partners including the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and Anglican Province of Central Africa have demonstrated that eco-theology is a strong means to engage with the public and take action in the fight against climate change. The values and actions promoted by the church provide fertile ground to encourage the care for creation narrative, public protection of the environment and climate change mitigation measures. The work being undertaken in Malawi provides a few examples of how churches are taking action – there is real ground and opportunity to make a difference both via similar paths and alternatives.
- UNFCCC, 2006. ‘Malawi’s national adaptation programmes of action’ Ministry of Mines, Natural Resources and Environment.
- FAO, 2015. ‘Improving food security and nutrition in Malawi’ Ministry of Food and Agriculture.