We know that millions of the world’s poorest people are feeling the impact of climate change right now. They are suffering first and worst from the consequences, and yet they are least to blame.
If we don’t tackle climate change, experts predict far more droughts, floods and extreme weather than we have ever known.
To name just a few of the consequences, we can expect:
- Smaller harvests and more hunger
- Diminished fish stocks and coral reefs as oceans become too acidic
- National and regional insecurity bringing risk of conflict
- Increased extreme weather events.
But millions of us hold a vision of a better future: a future free from poverty and climate change.
We’re called to join in with the transformation of the world that God is bringing, so that all God’s people can be released to have life in all its fullness.
We are called to leave behind the old ways, throwing off the old habits that hurt other people, and to nurture new habits of life that will make a real difference. Climate change is the biggest threat to the global justice we’ve been praying for and working for.
What have we done so far?
In more than 50 countries where we work we have supported, and continue to support, local organisations to adapt to changing weather patterns and implement better ways of dealing with climate change. You can read about some of these projects in our stories section.
Alongside this, since 2007, we have campaigned hard for governments to take the action needed to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees C, to prevent more severe effects from climate change in the future. Here is a reminder of the key milestones in our campaign so far:
Christian Aid started campaigning on climate change – responding to growing evidence from our partners that climate change was challenging their ability to tackle poverty on the ground.
Christian Aid supporters helped persuade the UK parliament to pass the Climate Change Act – the world’s first national law containing legally binding targets on reducing carbon emissions.
Christian Aid supporters helped to stop the building of a second coal power station at Kingsnorth, Kent. This was also the year when we ‘counted down’ to Copenhagen and supported ‘The Wave’ climate march in London, with thousands of people calling on world leaders to agree a fair and ambitious deal at the UN climate talks in Denmark. We all felt huge disappointment when the Copenhagen conference failed to deliver the deal we had been pushing for.
Acknowledging that the first step in tackling a problem is to understand its extent, we stepped up our call to companies to come clean about their own carbon emissions and persuaded the UK government to make this mandatory, in order to start changing business practices. And in 2012 we won!
At the talks we also campaigned, but failed to save, the ‘Kyoto protocol’ – a vital protocol that ensures national climate targets are legally binding. Here in the UK alongside Tearfund and CAFOD we continued to encourage churches to be at the heart of the climate movement. During the Conservative Party conference in in Manchester, thousands of churchgoers joined a powerful candlelit vigil to `bear witness’ to the devastating impact of climate change on the world’s poorest communities and to call on David Cameron to keep his promise of making his government `the greenest ever’.
After years of campaigning, we finally persuaded the World Bank to stop funding coal power stations in middle income countries.
In September, 'people’s climate marches' took place across the globe as the UN met for a special climate change summit in New York. These were the biggest climate marches the world had ever seen. In October, during the ‘Hunger for Justice’ weekend, churches began reigniting the climate campaign in the UK by lobbying their MPs to put climate at the heart of their party manifestos ahead of the 2015 general election.
Thousands of Christian Aid supporters took part in ‘Speak Up’, the biggest ever lobby of parliament on climate justice. More than 330 MPs heard our calls for action on climate change. In the same week, the Pope brought renewed spiritual depth and moral integrity to the climate debate with the Papal Encyclical on ‘care for our common home’. And in the last few months of 2015, we saw great strides as the UK announced it would phase out the burning of coal in UK power stations by 2025, in response to campaigns from Christian Aid and others. Then in November, on the eve of the UN climate talks in Paris, the UK’s biggest ever climate march took place in London as part of a weekend of climate marches across the world. This public pressure contributed to the signing of an historic deal by world leaders at the UN climate talks in Paris – a deal which has the potential to be a new dawn for action on climate change and for the planet as a whole.
What needs to happen now?
The commitments made at the UN climate talks are meaningless without increased ambition and real action! We now need to make sure that the vast majority of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) are kept in the ground if we are to keep global warming well below 2 degrees C.
Fossil fuels are hurting people and destroying our world for future generations. So why are we still investing money in them?
At the moment the UK government, powerful institutions and even our pension funds have money tied up in the exploration and extraction of yet more dirty fossil fuels that will only make climate change worse. Now we need to put our money where our prayers are, and make the big shift from dirty fossil fuels into clean energy for a better future for everyone.