Its Time to Act
What is Climate Justice?
Climate justice is where care for the earth, care for the poor, and social justice meet. Climate change unfairly harms people who are poor and people who have been colonized, yet the people who are least responsible suffer the greatest consequences of climate change. The climate emergency is connected to other systems of abuse of power, usually originating in the global North.
Only changes in laws and policies, in finance, and by industries can create climate justice. Only when these changes are created by social movements will the root causes of climate change be addressed at the necessary scale and depth.
What does Christianity teach about the Earth and climate?
God looked at what he had created. All of it was very good! Evening came, then morning—that was the sixth day.
The Lord God put the human creature in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it.
All creatures on earth, you obey God’s commands, so come praise the Lord! Sea monsters and the deep sea, fire and hail, snow and frost, and every stormy wind, come praise the Lord! All mountains and hills, fruit trees and cedars, every wild and tame animal, all reptiles and birds, come praise the Lord!
Jesus went off to a mountain to pray, and he spent the whole night there. The next morning he called his disciples together and chose twelve of them to be his apostles.
Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up on a mountain to pray. While he was praying, his face changed, and his clothes became shining white.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
(Matthew 26: 26-28)
- Christianity teaches us to be against sin in government and economy.
- It also says that followers of Jesus must help create a world where people and the earth thrive together as evidence of God’s grace (Revelation 22). We respond to God’s grace.
- God says that we cannot worship the false idols of financial wealth (Exodus 32) or political power.
- Jesus taught, healed, and loved the people who were marginalized by the powers of his day.
- Jesus’ ministry made it clear that God is on the side of those who suffer and those who are marginalized by the powers of the world.
Together, these Christian teachings call for climate justice.
- God loved the world into being.
- Jesus modeled a radical ministry that challenged unjust power and supported grassroots communities.
- The Holy Spirit gives us courage to faithfully challenge the most powerful systems. This has to happen when they do not reflect God’s beloved community.
It’s Time to Act
When Jesus told His disciples to follow him, He meant in each and every way. He created a movement of faith.
A commitment to Christianity requires that we help in building a social movement for climate justice. This movement has the moral power to change the systems behind the crisis. We rise up to hold fossil fuel and extractive corporations, financial institutions, and governments accountable for the climate emergency. Guided by the Spirit, we work boldly and faithfully, for a healthy and resilient planet.
The Bible says our bodies are the temple of God (1 Cor. 16:9). But, fossil fuel industries pollute our bodies by harming the soil, the water, and the air we breathe. This is contrary to the calling to keep the temple clean!
The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37). Governments, corporations and financial institutions must act in love for all. That is why we must insist upon
- an immediate end to new oil, coal, and gas projects,
- a phaseout of existing fossil fuel projects, and
- deep investment in a rapid and just transition to a clean energy future.
To do less is to break faith with our neighbors, our children, and our God.
Throughout the Bible, Christians are called to take care of creation and not have dominion over it. We’re called to care for those who are marginalized and work for a more just world. These are just a few of the texts that remind us of that teaching.
God saw all that God had made, and behold, it was very good.
The earth mourns and fades, the world languishes and fades; both heaven and earth languish. The earth is polluted because of its inhabitants, who have transgressed laws, violated statutes, and broken the ancient covenant.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it, the world, and all who live in it; for God founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’