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The fight against climate change can be won by religious communities
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The fight against climate change can be won by religious communities

People in religious dress process down a street


The threat of climate change signals a “code red for humanity”, and we are running out of time to transition away from carbon and prevent catastrophic planetary warming. Our best chance is to convince existing institutions with financial, social and political power to lead drastic change. Faith communities – to which 4 billion people worldwide belong, with an economic value of over £900 billion (£676 billion) in the US alone – might be the force we need.

Climate change was the main topic of discussion when US President John Biden met Pope Francis in October 29. of their discussion. Later that day, the pope spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day strand on the Today programme to demand “radical decisions” from world leaders on climate. He warned that the interlinking crises of the pandemic and climate change have created “a perfect storm” about to cause havoc to human civilisation.

Before the COP26A UN climate conference was held at Glasgow. 40 religious leaders met at the Vatican to make a unique plea for the resolution of the climate crisis.

If one nation sinks, we all sink”, said Rajwant Singh, a Sikh leader from Washington D.C. And the Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, an institution usually not known for its progressive politics, called on young Muslims “to be ready to fight against any action that damages the environment”.

People in religious dress process down a street
Many religious leaders protested against climate inaction at COP26.
Tobias Muller, Author provided

Many faith leaders are well aware that climate action has become a sacred obligation. The ever-increasing number of books on climate change ecotheologiesIt is evident that many religions have made climate action a priority. The research that we’ve done suggests that, by leveraging their massive influence, these groups can help the world take significant steps towards averting climate catastrophe.

Take action

Recent climate protestsI have witnessed priests, rabbis, and imams join interfaith organizations within radical climate movements like Extinction Rebellion (XR). (XR). Martin Luther KingDuring his leadership of US civil rights movement, he was detained 29 times.

People hold banners on the street
Multifaith groups working to combat climate change are growing.
Takver/Flickr, CC BY-SA

The lack of action by politicians is a problem for young people of faith. After a 1,200 mile pilgrimage from Cornwall, young Christian climate activists arrived in Glasgow to attend COP26. They called on churches along their journey to take more action on climate change. A member of XR Pilgrims, a multifaith group, explained that “we have a spiritual duty of care to those who are less fortunate than us”.

One of the most prominent young climate activists, 24-year-old Vanessa Nakate, describes herself as a “born again Christian and climate activist” in that order. She describes her activism as being informed by her faith, especially the biblical commandto take care of the Earth. She demanded that leaders establish a coordinating committee to care for the Earth in the wake of COP26. compensation fundFor the devastation that the climate crisis is already causing in Africa.

Bridging the gap

These grassroots climate actions are already paying off. Representatives from more than 2,000 faith communities around the world announced that on October 26, they would divest £3.1 billion of investments in fossil fuels – the largest ever faith-driven divestment movement.

Tobias was conducting research on how faith communities mobilize for climate action in 2020. He witnessed how non-Muslim and Muslim members of XR from Kenya and Gambia formed an unusual alliance to stop the creation of a highly destructive environment. luxury tourist resortNairobi National Park

More faith groups should follow these steps and develop ambitious plans for tackling the climate crisis. This could start with making houses of worship sustainable models.

The entrance to a mosque building
The Cambridge Central Mosque has been designed to reduce its ecological impact.

The following is an example: Cambridge Central Mosque. Claiming to be Europe’s first fully eco-friendly mosque, its carbon footprint is nearly zero thanks to its heat pumpsLED lights, rainwater toilet flushes, and LED lights. Another Lutheran church is Hessen-Nassau in Germany. It aims at covering all of the available roof space for its more than 2,000 churches. solar panelsto generate its own electricity.

Scientists could play a critical role in this transition, according to us. Tobias wrote recently in a essay NatureWe can convince even the most skeptical people by encouraging dialogue between scientists, faith groups, and religious leaders. conservative mindsThe reality of climate crisis.

The future

These steps are not sufficient. The pope suggested to BBC listeners that religious groups should acknowledge the fact that we are all human beings. profit-oriented economyThis is making our planet uninhabitable.

Globally, faith communities make up an industry that is more important than most national economies. They can help to shift the balance and prevent the destruction of all that is sacred on Earth by speaking truthfully about the planet’s condition and exerting uncompromising financial, political, and social pressure on governments and corporations. These communities have the resources, the resilience, and above all, the moral responsibility to do this.

In light des multiple times they have failedReligions can be rehabilitated to lead the fight for justice and human dignity. Let me rephrase: famous sloganThere are no religions found on a dead planet.


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