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WCC Central Committee to bolster churches’ initiatives for climate justice

WCC Central Committee to bolster churches’ initiatives for climate justice

Plenary on climate change at the WCC Central Committee meeting.

03 July 2014

In a session on 4 July in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee focused on one of the world’s most threatening challenges – climate change.

Listening to perspectives on how human rights, economy, food, water, displacements of population and security issues are deeply linked to the impact of climate change, the Central Committee, a chief governing body of the WCC, renewed its commitment to encourage initiatives for climate justice carried out by the churches and other faith-based organizations.

Issues related to climate change were addressed as part of a “pilgrimage of justice and peace” – the theme of the WCC Central Committee meeting. The theme is based on a call from the WCC 10th Assembly which was held in Busan, Republic of Korea in 2013.

At the session, many effects of climate change, distributed unequally throughout the world, were brought to the gathering’s attention by Daniel Murphy of the Environmental Justice Foundation based in UK. “It is the least developed countries in the global South that are the first and the worst effected,” he said.

“Within any and all countries, it is the existing marginalized and poverty stricken communities whose rights are most threatened by climate change, in a host of different ways.”

Murphy spoke about the increasing number of climate-induced displacements, as well as how conflicts are fuelled due to the impact of climate change. He gave the example of Syria, where the draught between 2006 and 2010 was a driving factor behind mass migration to the cities, resulting in social and economic pressures exploding national crisis further into political instability.

WCC Central Committee member Archbishop Serafim Kykkotis of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa shared reflections on climate change from the Orthodox Church’s perspective. “The Orthodox Church calls us to live more simply,” he said.

“Humanity’s reckless consumption of earth’s resources threatens us with irreversible climate change. Burning more fuel than we need, we contribute to droughts or floods thousands of miles away.”

Kykkotis spoke about a call from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in which the patriarch denounced ecological abuse as “sin against God”. He said that “to restore the planet we need a spiritual worldview which cultivates frugality and simplicity, humility and respect.”

“We must constantly be aware of the impact of our actions on creation. We must care for creation. Otherwise, we do not really care about anything at all,” Kykkotis added.

Kirsten Auken of the DanChurchAid agency in Denmark highlighted the important role of faith-based actors as climate leaders in pushing political leaders to make responsible decisions.

“Addressing climate change requires transformation. It starts with the human beings, people. As churches and faith-based organizations, we speak with the people,” she said.

Auken explained that DanChurchAid works through the ACT Alliance on issues of climate change. She described interfaith initiatives for climate justice, carried out by the churches and ecumenical organizations. She also introduced the WCC initiative for an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change which is scheduled to take place ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit on 23 September in New York City.

WCC’s work on climate justice and care for creation

More about the WCC Central Committee

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