What is climate change?

Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in the world’s weather patterns or average temperature. We've seen the impacts of climate change for many years, through more frequent storms, droughts and floods, all of which are having a devastating effect on the communities we work with. To secure a better life for people today and future generations, 195 nations signed a crucial climate agreement in 2015 to limit the rise in temperature to no more than two degrees, and ideally less than 1.5 degrees. Without this, the consequences would be disastrous.

A rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees might not sound serious, but climate change is already impacting people living in poverty. And climate change could push more than 100 million people back into poverty by 2030 if we don’t do something about it. This would undo years and years’ worth of progress in tackling poverty. Climate change is one of the greatest injustices of our time because the people least responsible for it are often the most vulnerable to its impacts, especially people living in poverty.

‘We do not get enough rain in time. It is coming late and the last three years there was almost no rain. Then, last year, rain came later and caused an unbearable flood.’

Sunil Raphael Boiragi, Salvation Army, Bangladesh

What is a solution?

Investing in clean energy, such as solar, would cut the harmful effects of polluting fossil fuels and climate change and help beat poverty by providing electricity.

One in seven of our neighbours around the world does not have any electricity. They are forced to use kerosene lamps, candles and firewood, which are unreliable, potentially dangerous and a risk to people’s health (causing breathing difficulties). We need to turn this situation around.

Clean renewable energy helps beat poverty. Electricity means children can study in the evening, women can walk safely at night, and nurses can store medicines in fridges.

Shanti works as a tailor in Tawal village,

See our report on Pioneering Power for more stories about how communities around the world are benefiting from clean energy.

Why does Tearfund work on climate change and clean energy?

God created the world and all that is in it (Psalm 24:1). Throughout scripture we are reminded that God created the world for his purposes and we have a responsibility to take care of it. Jesus challenged the people, systems and structures that created injustice in his day. Our faith is a response to the good news of the gospel and it demands a response in the way we live. This includes challenging the systems and issues that keep people trapped in poverty, including climate change.

Loving our neighbours: ‘Love does no harm to its neighbour’ (Romans 13:10). We need to recognise our connection with poor people, who are the ones suffering the most from climate change. We should demonstrate our love and concern by taking action personally and politically to tackle the problem.

Acting justly: ‘And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8). It’s an injustice that the poorest communities are hardest hit by climate change when they’ve contributed the least to the problem. We must campaign for justice in a changing climate.