Ash Wednesday start for global campaign of prayer and action on climate change

Christians push governments around the world to keep pledges to fight climate change made in Paris in December 2015

The Church of England's Bishop Nicholas Holtam says as followers of Jesus, we already know we need to love our neighbours and care for creation. "Lent is a good time to remember the spiritual and physical limits of consumerism."

February 26 2017Australian Christians have joined an international campaign of prayer and action to beat climate change, Renew Our World, starting on Ash Wednesday, 1 March.

TEAR Australia is among the agencies behind the campaign, which aims to push governments to keep their promises made in the Parish Climate Agreement of December 2015, in which 195 countries adopted the first legally binding global climate deal to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming, and to move to zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The Renew Our World campaign calls for significant progress to be made on the Paris Climate Agreement, with a focus on:

  • Setting targets to make the transition to zero emissions to get back on track to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees; 
  • Investing in locally administered clean energy to reach everyone, especially those in poverty; and 
  • Supporting more sustainable agriculture that doesn’t result in huge emissions and helps communities at risk from to drought and floods.

Other partners in the campaign are Tearfund, Micah Global, Micah Zambia, EU-CORD and Peace and Hope International (Paz y Esperanza).

TEAR Australia says on its website that God’s intention for this world was that no one would hunger, thirst or live in oppression and that the world God created was more than enough to sustain all creation.  

“We believe we need to shift our thinking, our behavior and our policies to build a restorative economy – an economy based on biblical principles that is just and sustainable. In our prayers, and through our actions, together we are shaping a world that reflects God’s love for all creation so that all people in every nation can enjoy fullness of life. Right now, we are tackling the critical issue of climate change as it not only harms the environment, but our poorest brothers and sisters.”

TEAR Australia was formed in July 1971 as an arm of the Australian Evangelical Alliance after its then President, Anglican biblical scholar the Revd Dr Leon Morris, was inspired to establish a dedicated emergency relief fund. At an AEA board meeting that month, Dr Morris, then Principal of Ridley College in Parkville, put $10 from his own pocket on the table and The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund was born.

The Revd Andrew Bowerman, Co-Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance, said: “The Renew Our World campaign will work alongside the Anglican Communion’s global goal to see resilient communities flourishing in harmony with creation across the globe. We are deeply committed to serving with others in the Communion and beyond to enable this to become a reality.”

Recently, Archbishop Albert Chama, Primate of the Province of Central Africa and Chair of the Anglican Alliance, pleaded with his fellow Central Africa leaders to take the lead on environmental issues and make the province green and clean.

Archbishop Chama emphasised the importance of the environment in the everyday lives of humans and animals and he asked church members to take care of the trees and do the same in their respective homes.

Bishop Nicholas Holtam of Salisbury, the Church of England’s lead bishop on climate change, said: “This is our generation’s choice. We can beat hunger and poverty and to do that we need to beat climate change.

“Previous generations didn’t know about climate change; for later generations it will be too late. This is our generation’s challenge. We need to rise to it. As followers of Jesus we already know we need to love our neighbours and care for creation. Lent is a good time to remember the spiritual and physical limits of consumerism.”

Tearfund’s Director of Advocacy, Mr Paul Cook, said the Renew Our World campaign would put pressure on governments around the world to deliver on promises made in the Paris Agreement.

“Part of that agreement is to see energy renewed with clean power, agriculture transformed using climate-friendly techniques and food renewed by taking action on waste,” Mr Cook said.

Micah Global’s International Director, Ms Sheryl Haw, said it would take a concerted effort to enable the world to recover from climate change.

“As we each do our part and encourage others to do theirs, holding our governments to account to keep commitments made, we shall see change.”

The World Evangelical Alliance's Creation Care Director, Dr Chris Elisara, said: “In today’s world, where the interrelated and chronic problems of poverty and environmental degradation affect billions of people’s lives, the Church needs some biblically sound and effective practical responses to offer its members. That’s why the WEA, and in particular its Creation Care Task Force, is supporting the Renew or World Campaign.”