We’re daring to hope that 2021 may prove to be a turning point in tackling the climate crisis. We’d love you, your small group and your church to join us in prayer and action to see breakthrough on this issue. Here’s how you can be praying with us this year:
Pray for people living in poverty
The impacts of the climate crisis are accelerating with each passing year. The last five years were the hottest ever recorded. 2020 alone saw a catalogue of record-breaking extreme weather events, from catastrophic storms in Central America to severe floods in Bangladesh and prolonged drought in many parts of Africa.
At Tearfund, we see the tragic consequences of these events for the people and communities we work with every day.
This is an issue of justice: people in the poorest communities of the world did the least to cause climate change, but are by far the worst affected. And it’s undoing much of the progress we have made over the past 50 years in tackling poverty.
Without urgent action we could soon see more than 100 million more people struggling to get water, four times as many tropical cyclones and 12 million more people experiencing flooding in coastal areas.
Sadly, for many people around the world, the changing weather patterns and damaged harvests are affecting their everyday life. When you pray for a breakthrough on the climate crisis, and for action to be taken, you’re standing with these people.
People like Alaya, her husband Bazwell and their young children who live in Malawi. Alaya’s family are reliant on the crops they grow, but changing weather patterns are putting their lives at risk.
Sometimes there’s too much rain, which causes deadly floods and destroys crops. At other times the rains don’t come and the crops dry up. Harvest after harvest is failing, and for 11 months of the year Alaya’s family are hungry.
Tearfund is working alongside people like Alaya and Bazwell and training them in new farming techniques to help them adapt to the changing climate. But, without world leaders taking action to tackle emissions and other causes of climate change, things are only going to get worse for them.
Pray for action to be taken by world leaders
This year the UK government has a crucial role to play as it hosts both the G7 summit in June and UN climate talks in Glasgow in November. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to help set the planet on a better course and create a fairer world for people in poverty.
Encouragingly, we’re seeing a growing political commitment to seizing this opportunity. In recent months, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has launched a ‘green industrial revolution’, as well as announcing that the UK will become the first major economy to end direct public funding for oil and gas projects overseas.
We’ve seen major progress in other countries too: China has committed to becoming net-zero by 2060 and Japan by 2050, while the US is set to re-enter the Paris Agreement in the next few days. In addition, President Joe Biden has announced plans for the US to end international financing of fossil fuel projects with public money.
But, if we’re to see real change for people in poverty, we now need to close the gap between commitment and action – and this will be a key focus of Tearfund’s campaigning work this year.
Pray for even more churches to pray and act on this issue
One of the first things that God calls humans to do is to care for creation (Genesis 2:15). As the church, we can love our neighbours and protect creation by raising our voices and our prayers to call for change to help people like Alaya.
Every church that declares or recognises the climate emergency will shine a spotlight on the crisis and send a message to world leaders that they need to take immediate action.
We’re seeing a growing number of Christians and churches answering God’s call to love their neighbours and care for creation by speaking up, living differently and praying about the climate crisis.
Churches like St George’s Leeds, whose Church Council recently voted unanimously to recognise the climate emergency and now regularly highlights the issue in prayers and sermons.
‘I’ve been involved with justice for a number of years but climate change wasn’t high up on my agenda,’ shares Catherine De Souza, a pastor at City Church Cardiff. ‘What kicked me into action was recognising that I have a role, we have a role, the church has a role to play in this and we can do something about it.’
This is a call that each of us needs to answer if we are to see everyone, and all of creation, flourishing as God intends.
Spend a few moments praying for each of these three points: for people around the world affected by the climate crisis, for greater action to be taken by world leaders, and for the church to speak up more on this issue.