Campaigns Round up: 2022
With advent upon us a I find myself looking forward in anticipation to Christmas, whilst simultaneously reflecting back on the year.
Whilst this year has brought challenges and suffering, it’s a year when I am yet again reminded of the importance of persistence in pushing for change and the importance of holding onto hope.
Casting my mind back to the end of the UN climate talks in Glasgow in 2021 our then CEO, Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, said:
“People of faith have united with activists from the Global South, feminists, youth and indigenous people to demand climate justice. Our movement has never been stronger and this must be the legacy from Glasgow to keep hope alive.”
So, where have we kept hope alive in 2022?
Talking (and acting) for climate justice
We’ve seen hundreds of people in churches across the UK take part in Talking climate justice events that have stirred people’s anger at the injustice of the climate crisis, fuelled their hope that together we can make a difference, and inspired people to act.
From Belfast to Braunton and Llanfairfechan to Leeds, churches have gathered and shared their insights, their ideas and their dreams for a better world.
From lobbying their MPs to church divestment from fossil fossil fuels, church communities have been hatching plans for action.
It’s in this commitment to act, multiplied in churches throughout the UK that I find hope.
“[Discussing climate justice as a church] brings hope that if we act together, then God can and will bless our actions for climate justice.”
- Rev Mike Coates, All Saints Church, Liverpool
Art as activism
In schools and communities across the UK we’ve seen hundreds of children, young people, and their families joining together to explore the injustice at the heart of the climate crisis and respond through art.
Their creativity has been used to start conversations in the community and even to engage local politicians.
The artworks – known as Letters for Creation - have joined artworks from the frontlines of the climate crisis and been exhibited at major events. Whether at the Lambeth Conference, Greenbelt festival or the recent UN climate talks (COP27) the voices of young people and those most affected are seen and heard.
Raising the profile of loss and damage
For the best part of three decades communities from climate vulnerable countries have been demanding compensation for the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis. This year has been a game-changer in that fight!
Since the turn of the year we’ve seen the issue gain traction – with over 26,000 people signing Christian Aid’s petition and church leaders speaking out on the topic.
“Climate change is a real and present catastrophe for the poorest and most vulnerable right now, which communities who have contributed least to the environmental disaster are facing. There is a moral call on wealthy nations to properly pay for climate-related loss and damage.” – Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans
The devastating flooding in Pakistan and Nigeria, cyclones in Malawi and famine in East Africa have brought the realities of the climate crisis into a sharper focus than ever before.
But only over the past six months have the British media and politicians begun talking explicitly about loss and damage in the way those campaigning for action from the global South have been doing so for decades.
Together we’ve contributed to that shift.
Victory at COP27
As we built towards the UN climate talks in Egypt – COP27, the issue of compensation for loss and damage gathered momentum, leading to a huge campaign win.
On September 22nd hundreds of Christians joined vigils and rallies – from Truro to the Isle of Man - calling on polluters to pay up for the loss and damage.
In London we co-organised a walk of witness, pausing outside Shell’s headquarters for a silent vigil. At least a hundred people from all faiths and none marched together, culminating with songs and speeches on Parliament Square.
Then in October we partnered with renowned climate activist, Vanessa Nakate to raise the issue further through our Hack the Agenda digital campaign.
Vanessa Nakate has campaigned tirelessly for climate justice and has helped raised the issue of loss and damage on the international stage. Continually calling out rich countries over their refusal to provide financial support for those most impacted by the climate crisis.
During COP27 itself, climate vulnerable countries and civil society pushed their long-standing demands for a new fund to be created to pay for loss and damage. And they won!
Their demands for were amplified by thousands of people, who marched in solidarity during the global day of action on November 12th. And then, on the last day of the conference, finally an agreement was made to establish a fund for loss and damage.
As Joab Okanda, our Pan-African Policy Advisor, said
“This is a victory for climate vulnerable countries and civil society who have been demanding this outcome for 30 years.”
And in Joab’s conclusion I find hope.
I find the hope to keep going, to agitate, to take action.
At the heart of hope is that things can change, and things do change, because people stood up, made themselves heard and challenged those in power.