Easter Action On Climate Change

Man standing with eyes closed & hands held in prayer at dawn

Image: Vinoth Chandar | Flickr CC BY 2.0

Around the world, people are having an extra long weekend for Easter.  Western Christians are going to church on Good Friday.  More of them will do so on Easter Sunday.  And in a few weeks Orthodox Christians will do the same.

On Good Friday, some church congregations will use a litany, a series of prayers asking for specific things.

The Great Litany in A Prayer Book For Australia contains several prayers that people all around the world are praying in one form or another – whether or not they are Christian, whether or not they even have a faith.

These prayers are becoming particularly poignant as political and business leaders pursue agendas that increase harm to other people and reduce fairness and care for people who are poor and vulnerable. We see this in things like:

  • increasing war and violence
  • hardening of attitudes towards refugees
  • widening gaps between the privileged and the less privileged, between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’ between ‘us’ and ‘them’

These prayers are becoming increasingly relevant as we start to feel the increasing effects of climate change and yet there are still people who, for whatever reason, take actions to make climate change and its impacts even worse. These actions are things like:

  • continuing to look for and mine fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas
  • promoting the eating of food like beef, lamb and dairy products
  • dragging their feet on taking action to combat climate change – or even denying the existence of climate change – despite clear evidence that urgent action is needed to have any chance of maintaining a safe climate
  • pursuing a ‘divide and conquer’, ‘everyone for themselves’ agenda

That’s why prayers like these resonate with what so many people are hoping and praying:

From all evil and mischief;
from pride, vanity and hypocrisy;
from envy, hatred and malice;
and from all evil intent,
… deliver us.

From sloth, worldiness and love of money;
from hardness of heart
and contempt of your word and your laws,
… deliver us.

From sins of body and mind;
from deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil,
… deliver us.

From famine and disaster;
from violence, murder and dying unprepared,
… deliver us.

Guide the leaders of the nations
into the ways of peace and justice.
Hear us…

Endue the members of our parliaments
and all who govern us
with wisdom and understanding.
Hear us…

Bless those who administer the law,
that they may uphold justice, honesty and truth.
Hear us…

Give us the will to use the resources of the earth
…for the good of all.
Hear us…

Remember the ancient peoples of this land
and forgive the sins of ignorance and neglect done against them.
Hear us…

Give us true repentance;
forgive us our sins of negligence and ignorance
and our deliberate sins;
…have mercy on us.[1]

Yet hoping and praying only gets us so far.

As an old saying goes, ‘God helps those who help themselves’.

We need to take action. All of us need to take action.

And one of the actions we can take is leading our leaders.  After all, politicians like nothing more than doing something that is popular.  (And they are supposed to do the will of the people, even though some of them need reminding, particularly these days.)

People of faith express their faith through their actions.

One very easy action that people of faith can take is to sign the Interfaith Climate Change Statement (2016). In doing so, signers will be joining people all over the world urging governments to promptly sign and ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change so that it can come into force as soon as possible (because we need urgent action on climate change).

The Statement also serves to renew the strong commitment of the faith community to remain active in defining the moral responsibility to care for the Earth and encourages faith communities to reduce emissions and to divest and reinvest in renewables.

Six Key Points within the Interfaith Climate Change Statement:

  1. Urge governments to rapidly sign, ratify and implement the Paris Agreement, and to increase pledges to reduce emissions in line with keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels
  2. Insist on rapid emissions reduction and peaking by 2020, in order to keep the 1.5oC [overall warming] goal within reach
  3. Strongly advocate for greater flows of finance, especially for adaptation and loss and damage
  4. Urge the swift phase out of all fossil fuel subsidies and a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050
  5. Encourage faith communities to reduce emissions in their homes, workplaces and centres of worship and to support and stand in solidarity with communities already impacted by climate change
  6. Call for fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment in renewables, including within our own communities

We all know that there is strength and influence in numbers – so ask all the people of faith you know to sign the Interfaith Climate Change Statement.

Eminent faith leaders will hand the Statement to the President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark, on 18 April 2016 at an official event in New York.  Given the urgency of the need to take strong action on climate change, let’s get as many signatures as we can on the let’s get as many signatures as we can on the Interfaith Climate Change Statement before then.

[i] The Anglican Church of Australia, 1995, A Prayer Book For Australia, Shorter edition, Broughton Books, pp. 188-191.