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Published on 10 May 2024

Scottish Faith Leaders Unite for Climate Action

Yesterday faith leaders, leading scientists, and members of civil society in Scotland gathered to collectively declare the strong moral and scientific imperative for renewed and urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.

Hosted by two young climate activists, Dylan Hamilton and Ellie Kirkland, this unprecedented gathering follows a recent and damning report from the Climate Change Committee and the subsequent decision by the Scottish Government to drop its legally binding 2030 emissions targets.

For too long Scotland, while setting world leading targets, has not delivered sufficient action on climate change and without urgent and sustained action this will have grave implications for our planet and communities across Scotland and the world who are already experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis. 

Time to Step Up and Act on Climate

Speaking on behalf of Scotland's faith communities, The Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland talked about the moral necessity for action.

She said that we can make the changes needed if we act with unity politically, in our communities and businesses.

She also said that the dropping of the 2030 emissions targets 'must be a wake-up call to us all. If we collectively fail to act there will be grave implications for the planet - our common home.'

She ended her speech calling for us all to remain hopeful saying 'the road is not easy, but our collective energy and prayers will be with all those working for a successful outcome. We commit to work together to encourage our own faith communities to participate through prayer and action to live more sustainably and to use our voices to call for action from those in positions of authority.'

Professor Stuart Hazeldean, the Co-Director of the Edinburgh Climate Institute at the University of Edinburgh spoke on behalf of the scientific community. 

Emphasising the primary duty of governments to protect their citizens, he focused on how the evidence of climate change because of fossil fuels has been clear for more than a century. He called on the Scottish Government to do more 'to bridge the gap between talking and doing'.

Mike Robinson is the Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland which represents more than 70 civil society organisations in Scotland working on the climate and nature crisis.

His speech reflected on the positive mood in Scotland in 2019 to tackle climate change when the 2030 target was set. He said:

'It is time to regain that focus. Politicians of every creed, businesses in every sector, public servants, communities, civic leaders in every part of Scotland, need to come together to solve this crisis. To see beyond their differences and to work openly and collaboratively to drive progress.'

This he argued was needed for a sustainable future for the people of Scotland and for those in other countries experiencing the worst effects of climate change.  

Read the full statements made here.

Christian Aid’s Analysis

As Scotland stands at a crossroads in its response to the climate crisis, this unprecedented step taken by the leaders of these communities to come together and urge people to acknowledge the risks of inaction and devise solutions is significant.

Together we can and must tackle the climate crisis for the sake of communities across Scotland and those around the world. Floods, heatwaves, droughts, and extreme weather events are a stark reminder of this in the countries where Christian Aid works, many have done little to cause climate change but continue to pay the repair bill for loss and damage.   

In South Omo Ethiopia we are working alongside communities who are experiencing a devastating cycle of severe drought and heavy rains. More than 79,000 people have been affected, many of whom have been displaced due to loss of homes and livestock, as well as damage to critical infrastructure.

Local organisations have determined what they need to address this loss and damage from climate change and have undertaken work such as repairs to damaged infrastructure like boreholes and running re-training and job creation projects. This work has been funded by the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund grant to Christian Aid, you can read more about it and hear from our Ethiopia Country Director Yitna Tekaligne.  

Christian Aid’s work in Ethiopia and elsewhere highlights that solving the climate crisis is fundamentally an urgent justice issue with many of those who have done little to cause climate change experiencing the worst effects of it, you can read more about this in our 2024 climate briefing.     

As the work in South Omo demonstrates, the Scottish Government’s funding for Loss and Damage is a vital lifeline for those experiencing the worst effects of climate change, but this must go hand in hand with serious action to deliver emissions reductions at home. 

Here at Christian Aid Scotland, we will continue to work with Scottish faith leaders and civil society, and advocate to the Scottish Government, UK Government and internationally for robust climate policy and action. Together we can make the changes needed to combat climate change.  

What Can You Do?

There is real power in collective action, it makes a difference for your MSPs to know that people in their constituency care about the nature and climate crisis and that they want the see businesses, community groups, churches and the Scottish Government doing more.

You could write to your local MSP to ask them stand up for bold climate action and you could send them a copy of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland manifesto of policies aimed at the Scottish Government.

You can use our February 2024 briefing and our new template letter as a basis for this.

Christian Aid will continue to work with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland over the coming weeks and months on actions that can be taken by individuals and churches to communicate with the Scottish Government on the need for rapid improvements to climate policies.  

Please do tell Lucy le Roux our Campaigns and Advocacy Coordinator if you do contact an MSP as this helps inform our advocacy work. You can also contact her if you would like to be kept informed about actions to take.  

Further Information

Here are the reactions of Christian Aid and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland to the Scottish Government's announcement of dropping the 2030 emissions target. 

If you want to learn more about the detail of the climate policy and political changes in Scotland in Spring 2024 then Stop Climate Chaos Scotland have created a very helpful overview

Scotland's Climate Campaign

Want to know more about Christian Aid Scotland's Climate Campaign? Get involved today!