The climate crisis, which has been creeping up on us for years, is a reflection and also a cause, of deep injustice in our world. This crisis arises from the abuse of God’s creation, and our broken relationship with our neighbours worldwide and especially the poor and those in less developed parts of the world who are already suffering most from its consequences.
Climate change and other forms of environmental degradation are caused by over-consumption, primarily in the developed world, and so any solution has to be underpinned by reduced consumption. Consumption is something for which we are all responsible. Everything we buy has a carbon footprint, everything we use has a carbon footprint and everything we consume has a carbon footprint. The earth doesn’t belong to any of us, each of us lives on it for a while and during that time, we’ve a duty to be good stewards of what we inherited.
Since the root of the problem is that the population of the developed world vastly over-consume the resources of the world, that means us. The only real solution is a reduction in consumption for each of us individually and for us collectively. How we do that depends very much on our individual circumstances and it’s for that reason that prayer and reflection must lie at the heart of our approach.
This problem isn’t simply about Carbon Budgets or Environmental Degradation, this problem is about Justice. Those most affected by these matters are the poor, the disadvantaged, those who live in the Third World and less developed nations. We should therefore refer to this matter as Climate Justice, which helps us to think of it not only in scientific/technological terms. We need to reflect on how our decisions affect others in our society and our brothers and sisters around the world and also how they will affect our children and grandchildren.
During the UN General Assembly’s High-level Meeting on the Protection of the Global Climate for Present and Future Generations back in March 2019, Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland spoke about Climate Justice.
“Climate justice insists on a shift from a discourse on greenhouse gases and melting ice caps into a civil rights movement with the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts at its heart,” … “Now, thanks to the recent marches, strikes and protests by hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren, we have begun to understand the intergenerational injustice of climate change,”Mary Robinson 2019
The Young Christian Climate Network are staging a relay from the G7 meeting in St Ives to Glasgow to coincide with the start of COP26 at the end of October, when heads of state, climate experts and negotiators meet to discuss action to address the climate emergency. It’s clear that this group of young Christians care deeply about Climate Justice and the care of creation and they want to see systematic change on a global and a local scale. After all it’s the world that they and our children and grandchildren will have to live in for rather longer than most of us. The least we can do is to pray for them on their pilgrimage – may God bless them.