Our Christian Aid DIY Climate Justice Tour Event on 29th October was inspired by the fact that all great movements (like the abolition of slavery or universal adult suffrage) started with conversations, leading to action.
Our starting point is that everyone on this wonderful planet is loved equally by God and so it is intolerable that the poorest, who have done least to cause climate change, are suffering most from its consequences.
After prayer for the care of Creation, we asked one another: ‘When was the last time you had a conversation with someone about the climate crisis – and did you then do something more??’ Yes, we need to talk more about what we can do!
We took a quick overview of the climate emergency and focused on the situation in Zimbabwe, where people in poverty are heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture and temperature rises have resulted in unpredictable rainfall and longer-lasting droughts. Worst affected and suffering most, of course, are black women who are living in poverty, which is totally unjust.
We then divided into two groups of about a dozen (facilitated by our minister, Marcus Hargis, and the Northern Synod Green Apostle, Trevor Jamison) and tackled three big questions set by Christian Aid:
1. When have you been part of, or seen hopeful climate action?
2. Your ideas for how we can tackle poverty and speak up for climate justice?
3. How does your faith motivate you to act for climate justice?
Our ideas for action to tackle poverty and speak up for climate justice can be grouped into two main categories:
• Things we can do to ensure that poor communities get the massive help and money required: (1) to repair the loss and damage caused by ever more severe and more frequent chaotic weather and (2) to adapt to a future of changed climate. The underlying principle should be that the polluter pays.
• What we must do to demand drastic and urgent action by government and industry permanently to slash greenhouse gas emissions, and what we can do personally. Limiting global warming (if possible to 1.5 degC) will obviously do less damage to poor countries, as well as to ourselves.
After a well-earned Fairtrade cup of tea and biscuit in the Hall, the many imaginative responses were presented and aggregated with Marcus’ help.
People were given three ‘dots’ to vote for the three things that we ought to tackle first. The agreed three top scoring actions are noted below. They will be taken to a Church Meeting as soon as convenient for further consideration and implementation.
We then returned to the Sanctuary where Trevor closed our conference with a commissioning prayer and we went home singing: ‘You Shall Go Out With Joy.’
These are the three actions that gained most ‘dots of support’ as the ‘first steps’:
11 dots: Political action and campaigning, engaging government [and big corporations?] at all levels (e.g. for environmental action and the real living wage).
8 dots: Solar panels on roofs [and other locations?] and buying renewable energy.
7 dots: Support Christian Aid. [Be aware of URC Commitment for Life resources.]
Fundamental is the faith that motivates us to act. The four ‘top’ points here were:
• Love [for others] rather than fear [for ourselves] – love casts out fear.
• The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.
• The importance of our (global) neighbour and future generations (see Jesus’ teachings).
• Reduce climate anxiety – but just do it! [ Action is a good way of reducing anxiety.]
The event was planned and run by members of Waddington Street URC Eco church group and Christian Aid group: Revd John Durell, Fred Robinson, Helen Cockburn and Charles Jolly. We are grateful to all the concerned, thoughtful and enthusiastic people who turned up to talk, listen and plan, including friends from other Christian Aid churches. Also for the unstinted support of our Minister, Revd Marcus Hargis, and of the Northern Synod Green Apostle, Revd Dr Trevor Jamison. Not least, thank you to the unsung heroes who provided equipment, set up the rooms, served refreshments & cleared up.