Moving Past Climate Inaction

It has been a full year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Many of us have spent extended periods in lockdown, under stay-at-home orders, and facing curfews. Not only has the pandemic had alarming impacts on the physical health of far too many, our response too, has created mental strain spurred by economic uncertainty and the burden of extended isolation.

In the midst of this tremendous challenge a large network of Canadian churches and faith-based organizations came together (virtually, of course) to establish For the Love of Creation – a faith-based climate justice initiative. We did so in the face of a global crisis for which there is no vaccine: climate change.

More and more, we are aware of the interconnectedness of multiple crises and the need for comprehensive, coordinated, and multi-faceted solutions.

Late in 2020, the federal government announced, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy,” Canada’s new climate plan. It includes a commitment to gradually increase the carbon price so that it reaches $170 per tonne of carbon pollution in 2030 (something CPJ has been advocating for over a number of years). They introduced climate accountability legislation that offers a starting point, but needs significant strengthening to be truly effective. Important legislation relating to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was also introduced, highlighting the importance of the Declaration to reconciliation and the connection between climate impacts and Indigenous rights. Both of these bills look likely to pass into law this spring.

Still, the world is not on track to hold global temperatures to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, as committed to in the Paris Agreement. And Canada, which continues to have among the highest per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is not doing enough to bring emissions down. Furthermore, Canada has failed to announce any new funds to support climate change adaptation and mitigation measures for communities in the Global South, who, along with those in the Far North, face the greatest burden of climate change.

The huge number of people who marched in the 2019 Climate Strikes is just one indicator of the deep concern and cry for change felt across the churches and society in Canada. Weighed down with this concern, people are often lost with what to do next? What can I do as one person? One family? One faith community? Uncertainty about what to do can lead to despair, isolation, silence, and inaction.

This inaction indicates approval of the status quo for those in government trying to discern the will of the people in the face of the climate emergency. A potentially fatal consequence.

Now, For the Love of Creation is providing a way for people of faith to channel their concern and take action in an effective and focused way towards climate justice.

In February 2021, For the Love of Creation launched its faith-in-action campaign. It is modelled on CPJ’s Give it up for the Earth!, which ran every year during Lent from 2017 to 2020. The For the Love of Creation campaign will run until October 4, 2021. It will also include a public witness event on April 22, Earth Day.

Across Canada, individuals will commit to taking action to reduce their GHG emissions, engage in acts of solidarity with justice-seeking communities, and write to federal Cabinet Ministers to call on the Government of Canada to:

  • Increase our national GHG emissions reduction target and invest in a just transition to a fair, inclusive, green economy;
  • Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including, but not limited to, the right of free, prior and informed consent; and
  • Commit equal support for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in the Global South.

The campaign has all the elements needed for an easy roll out across the country. Online materials are ready to use in a single faith community or as part of a local ecumenical collaboration. For the Love of Creation’s complementary tools for faithful climate conversations and theological reflection offer opportunities for dialogue and relationship building. All building a stronger base for change, in concert with timely, informed, strategic Ottawa-facing advocacy.

God has gifted churches and faith communities across the land with conviction, talent, and relationships of solidarity. We’re not in this alone and we don’t have to feel stuck. Let’s pull together, speak up, and take action for climate justice!

Join For the Love of Creation’s faith-in-action campaign!

Authors

  • Lori Neale serves as network coordinator for The United Church of Canada General Council Office.

  • Karri Munn-Venn is CPJ's senior policy analyst.

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