WCC advocates for climate justice at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

Kennedy, Grape and MacDonald during a WCC panel at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Photo: Canadian Council of Churches

“We must lift the veil on our beguilement with consumerist culture and materialistic values”, said Bishop Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada and president of the World Council of Churches (WCC) for North America, as he addressed a panel promoted by the WCC at the 2018 sessions of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, held in Toronto, Canada, 1-7 November.

“We believe the spiritual roots of climate change point to a need for this conversion, to repent from individual and collective patterns of consumption that put the creation and life at risk. There is still time to change but we must now hurry”, he added.

Members of the WCC’s Working Group on Climate Change gathered in Toronto to offer perspectives on climate justice. The group held three sessions throughout the event, including the panel “The Future of Life in the Arctic”, in which MacDonald was one of the speakers.

Rev. Henrik Grape, coordinator of the working group, described how political leaders, scientists and authorities are increasingly looking to faith communities for moral courage and ethical models of including all in the creation of solutions.

Grape’s remark was echoed by Joy Kennedy, from the United Church of Canada: “It is only by acting together on the inside of the talks, with our faith communities at home, and outside in the streets that momentum can build to pressure governments, corporations and societies to speed up action to confront climate change”, she said.

At the panel “Making Peace with Earth: An Economy of Life for All – Now!”, which focused on the links between the economy and questions of inequity and climate injustice, Rev. Philip Peacock, executive secretary for justice and witness at the World Communion of Reformed Churches, said that “to make peace in the marketplace and peace with Earth it is essential to shift global and national economies to be carbon restrained, resilient, sustainable and just – in a hurry”, he said.

The WCC and partners in the Inter-Faith Liaison Committee to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regularly contribute a faith perspective to the negotiations and meetings of the Conference of the Parties. Identifying climate change as a moral, ethical and spiritual challenge, the panel “Engaging the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement” described what faith communities can do towards implementing the Paris Accord and towards making the shift to a sustainable climate future.

World Council of Churches, oikoumene.org