Rosie Venner, our Programme Manager for Money Makes Change, writes about the links between individual action and global responses to the climate crisis.
Over the past month, the climate crisis has been the thread through many of ECCR’s events. We joined with YCCN, Operation Noah and Shared Interest to talk about climate finance in Newcastle during Good Money Week, ran a webinar on ethical church purchasing at ACAT’s conference and took part in Ethical Consumer Week with a workshop on the role of faith communities in closing the climate gap.
Environmental issues will rightly dominate the news headlines in the coming weeks. In the upcoming COP26 climate talks we have a vital, common goal – to take global action on the climate crisis.
The commitments we’ll be looking for from global leaders include more money from rich countries to ensure the world’s most vulnerable communities can adapt, and funds to help address loss and damage caused by the climate crisis. We also need to see detailed plans and progress on reduction of national carbon emissions.
Faith leaders, in the Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26, have called for an urgent response from those in power:
We look to governments to work together and with others to create a positive vision for 2050 where addressing climate change is not just an opportunity to stop burning fossil fuels, but also: to achieve cleaner air and water; to reduce food wastage; to ensure a just and equitable sharing of the earth’s resources; and to protect the habitats we share with all other life on whose health we also depend.
The declaration also calls on people of faith to commit to:
transformational change in our own lives and in the lives of our communities through individual and collective action.
There are steps that all of us can take and, just as at the global level, economic inequality and unjust use of resources means that some of us can and should do a lot more than others. An Oxfam report released during the 2015 UN climate talks in Paris showed that the world’s richest 10% produce around half of all carbon emissions.
In Matthew 7:12, Jesus said: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” This golden rule or ethic, found at the heart of all the world’s religions, calls on Christians to take seriously the need to love our neighbour in all that we do. This includes our use of money. Yes, we need to hold those in power to account but we also need to pay close attention to our own actions and how we live out our calling to love our neighbours and care for creation.
While we should always challenge the green-washing rhetoric that sometimes comes from big companies that the best way to tackle climate change is to take simple actions in our own lives (while companies carry on as normal), there is still a role for individual action. We need big change from governments and businesses and transformational change in our individual lifestyles. Climate Outreach have written persuasively about how lifestyle change and system change are two sides of the same coin.
The actions we take help build support for bigger, systemic change. If we switch to a greener bank and campaign for a more sustainable banking system, if we choose a greener pension and ask our pension providers to go net zero, we start to shape a new normal and make it easier for others to take action, including our politicians.
Want to take action?