Climate conference: Christian leaders want to get involved


The 2022 Climate Change Conference, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, concluded on November 20. The 196 Member States reached an agreement on the creation of a fund aimed at covering the heavy losses and damage suffered by developing countries confronted with the consequences of climate change. Many NGOs were present, including Christian organizations.

In 1983, a British couple, Peter and Miranda Harris, created a study center in Portugal with a view to supporting scientific research, involving individuals and communities by making them discover the importance of ecology.

The particularity of the project was due to the ethics of its founders, the former Anglican clergyman and his wife wishing carry a Christian vision of ecology. The center, called "A Rocha" ("the Rock" in Portuguese) was the first stone of an organization that has become international, present in 20 countries, which works in particular to support sustainable agriculture projects in order to mitigate the 'carbon footprint.

Alongside this field work, A Rocha tries to mobilize Christians, by publishing theological works and carrying out advocacy actions in the churches, underlines Jean-François Mouhot, the director of the French branch of the organization.

In collaboration with SEL, a Protestant association fighting against poverty in developing countries, A Rocha France proposed to the 2 member churches of the CNEF to pray for the climate on Sunday 700 October.

However, if the Christian concern for ecology is not recent, it is still confidential.

A Christian added value to the protection of the environment?

Present as an observer at COP27, as a representative of the World Evangelical Alliance, Matthias Boehning underlines that the faith groups, especially Christians, have become more involved than in previous conferences.

“I would like to mention the large digital presence of faith-based organizations and their many activities (panels, press conferences, thematic events, etc.) […] I have been going to United Nations world conferences for several years now, but I never experienced such a level and depth of faith-inspired content," says the head of the sustainability center in Bonn created by the Alliance.

According to him, it makes a difference that religious people express themselves, alongside technical and political solutions, because "the environmental crisis we are experiencing is first and foremost a moral and spiritual crisis at the level of individuals, with their attitudes and opinions."

Present at the Glasgow Conference in 2021 under the banner of Christian Climate Observers, Philip Summerton, a conservationist specializing in the restoration of coral reefs believes that the difference Christians can make is their belief that there is more to themselves and that they do not content themselves with declarations:

"We seek to recognize the selfishness of the human heart and its greed in order to help others see where [they] have an impact."

 An approach shared by Matthias Boehning for whom, in the face of the rout of the global model of life, "the gentle, but relentless starting point, as believers, is to reflect deeply, again and again, on the meaning of loving the Creator God […] and our neighbour".

According to him, this neighbor is also the one who suffers from bad weather in other countries.

Along with the presence of religious observers, about fifty Christians demonstrated during the Conference. The head of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa, Joe Bongay, pointed out to Catholic News Service the interest he sees in this form of interpellation :

"When you sing about it, when you clap about it, it reminds people of their moral obligations to care for what we all share, which is the common ground we all live in."

For Jean-François Mouhot, like all COPs, the last one does not go far enough, apart from the creation of the compensation fund. Nothing is done, he assures, to bend the curve of greenhouse gas emissions before 2025, because there is a reluctance to question the policies of perpetual economic growth.

Jean Sarpedon

Image credit: Shutterstock/ Rafapress

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Summary of news from October 3, 2023

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