Restoring Hope Through Climate Justice: Statement of the Irish Inter–Church Committee
Meeting on 24th September 2020, the members of the Irish Inter–Church Committee noted that this was a time when many member churches are reflecting on themes of climate justice in the context of Harvest and the Season of Creation.
The theme chosen for the Season of Creation this year is ‘Cultivating Hope’. This has particular resonance at a time when Covid–19 has produced a heightened sense of vulnerability, locally and globally. One way in which we can cultivate hope is by working to ensure that this increased awareness of our interconnectedness and interdependence strengthens our commitment to the work of climate justice.
Around the world communities are suffering the combined impact of Covid–19 and climate breakdown, as wildfires and floods destroy homes and livelihoods, and farmers are deprived of their harvest. We recognise the preciousness of creation that God called good and lament the damage we see. Christian discipleship involves addressing injustice and working for the good of all, especially the poor: “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). Therefore the injustice that those most affected by climate change have contributed least to it calls us to respond, and to work for the protection of our common home.
We find hope in God’s continuing love for all that he has created, which is shown in his promise to restore all things. Theologian Walter Brueggemann writes that: “Genuine hope is not blind optimism. It is hope with open eyes, which sees the suffering and yet believes in the future.”
The seeds of hope can be found in an honest acknowledgement that we have the power to alleviate this suffering through better and fairer choices in our consumption and exploitation of the fruits of creation.
In addition to the choices we can make at personal level to live a more sustainable lifestyle, we are also called hold our political leaders to account for the policy choices made on our behalf. In particular, we encourage greater ambition in government commitments to reduce carbon emissions so that their implementation will achieve the targets necessary under the COP21 Paris accords. Furthermore, given the societal injustices that have resulted from overconsumption, it is essential that the transition required does not disproportionately impact those who are already disadvantaged.
Churches have an important contribution to make to the wider public debate by articulating a vision for a just transition to a more sustainable way of living, grounded in Gospel values and Christian social ethics. We encourage all in our member churches to engage in these conversations and play an active part in shaping that vision.
- The Season of Creation runs from the 1st September to the 4th October and this year the theme is “Cultivating Hope”. It encourages churches to consider how, through worship, prayer and action, they can live out of the hope that comes from our faith in the promises of God.
- Eco–Congregation Ireland provides resources to support churches in their engagement with the Season of Creation and are hosting a webinar: ‘Planetary Emergency: How to Have Hope’ on 3rd October.
- Last year the IICC adopted a series of Affirmations on Climate Justice and Care of Creation (irishchurches.org/climate) and we are encouraged at the many creative ways that churches are applying these to their congregational life, adapting their own practices and how they manage their buildings and resources to diminish their impact on the environment.