Role of faith-based groups in climate justice

Forest Fire in Red Pine Forests. [Getty Images]

Belief in and reverence to a supreme being determines how humans live, where they go, what they do and eat, who they interact with and what they confess.

Different people believe in so many supreme beings that sometimes there is unspoken competition on which one is the true God. Others believe in no god, and it is fine.

More divisions exist within major religions, yet their faithful coexist harmoniously, face same problems, share natural resources and suffer equally when the same are destroyed or denied.

All, or at least 99 per cent of religions, abhor killing, adultery, stealing among other "ills". They uniformly, while still insisting that they are diverse, instead encourage "moral uprightness", and advocate virtues such as honesty, humility, kindness, loving the neighbour as you love yourself, and many more.

The division in ideologies is nothing bigger than the fact that we are all human faced with same opportunities and challenges daily. If anything, we are already divided along racial, gender, academic, tribal, economic and several other lines that, as much as we may want to make them bold, remain so dotted, simply because no man (or woman) is an island.

A few organisations have acknowledged the unity in diversity as an effective means to tackling societal problems and ills.

The problems include climate injustices that most countries south of the Equator, suffer simply because they lack financial muscle to stop the rich ones from messing the environment in the name of industrial development.

The faith based organisations, be they Christians, Budhists, Moslems, Jews, Hindus, you name them, are joined at the hip by their common visions that can be simplified to having a morally upright and peaceful community. Even the Atheists, who believe in no god, do not preach hatred, disrespect or recklessness.

Brought together, this is a powerful voice that can help in pushing key global agenda as captured in the 17 UN backed Sustainable Development Goals that touch on poverty, hunger, health, education, gender, water, energy, urbanisation, climate justice, marine life, peace and justice, partnership, among others. The goals, as per the 2015 Paris Agreement, are meant to be met by end of this decade, yet scientists insist we must act greener.

These faith-based voices can join in the powerful chorus to remind nations of their responsibility to keep their nationals safe by shunning investment in fossil fuel projects.

This coming week, representatives of at least 350 churches from across the globe converge in Karlsruhe, Germany for World Council of Churches events themed "Christ's love moves the world to reconciliation and unity."

Among other things, this meeting should make clearer its advocacy for climate justice, even as nations prepare for the November COP27 to be held in Egypt.

The church and other religious organisations should amplify calls for immediate end to construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure and deforestation.

Climate funds must reach the downtrodden nations still buying the fallacy that there is return on investment for nations that allow big firms to extract oil and gas from their lands.

In Africa, for instance, that is a curse in a gift pack labelled "rapid economic growth." Even scientists are leaving labs to come remind us of the ills we are doing.

With more push from faith-based organisations, nations can choose to rapidly and justly transit to renewable energy. The voice is in our places of worship. It can be done.

The writer is Interim Communications Manager, GreenFaith