But an additional motivation for Christians is our love for our neighbour All of those people in parts of the world already affected by climate change are our neighbours: rainforest communities whose homes are destroyed as the trees are cut down; Pacific islanders threatened by rising sea levels; the people of Bangladesh whose annual monsoon season can now see as much as a third of the country under water; the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania who must migrate further to find grazing for their herds in an increasingly dry land.
Then there are our neighbours who have yet to be born, the future generations who will inherit the earth we are shaping. We are called to love them too.
Working to tackle the Climate Emergency is an important way of living out our Christian calling to love our neighbour, and also of reflecting God’s inclusive love by caring for creation as a whole. One way we can show this love is to pledge ourselves to take one or two specific actions to reduce our carbon footprint.
I wonder if by now you are fed up with hearing about the COP-26 Conference on Climate Change which will run from 1st – 12th November in Glasgow! It seems that every company, every organisation and every television programme is jumping on a bandwagon to show how “Green” they are.
Before you give up reading any further it’s worth putting the Climate Emergency in the context of our Christian faith.
The Church of England, like the rest of the Anglican Communion, believes there are five key principles, or “marks of mission” that should inspire our actions:
•To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
•To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
•To respond to human need by loving service
•To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
•To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
The last of those marks of mission is the one most obviously related to the Conference of Partners known as COP-26. But in reality you can’t isolate one aspect from another. And at the heart of our response to our world environment are the two great commandments affirmed by Jesus, to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
The environment is God’s gift to everyone. We have a responsibility towards each other to protect it. We cannot think of ourselves as isolated from other people, or indeed from the non-human creation.
•Our impact on the planet is reducing biodiversity, changing the climate, and polluting the earth.
•Around the world, climate change is affecting food security, creating social vulnerability, and disrupting peace and security.
And the good news is that almost every action we take will have a positive impact:
•Cutting down air pollution will improve health
•Saving energy saves money
•Eating less meat and more vegetables is good for us
•Buying Fairtrade means a better deal for farmers
Large or small, the actions we take come with big practical paybacks for everyone!
Another positive incentive for taking action is to think daily about what it means to act out of love for God and for others. The exercise on the left is a good way of doing that.
In addition, we must not forget the power of prayer. Here’s a prayer we can use this month:
Creator God, forgive us for the mess we have made of your planet, for our selfishness and desire to lord it over other people and other living things. Help us to make amends and to treat your beautiful world with respect and care. Amen.
With my prayers and very best wishes
If we in Morton are not yet being directly affected by the Climate Emergency, and the related Ecological Emergency, we will be very soon, unless we are prepared to make significant changes on both the individual and societal levels. A straightforward concern for our own futures ought to be enough to make us act.