Over the past six decades, with your support, we have come alongside millions of people as they’ve transformed their communities and lifted themselves out of poverty. But now we are beginning to see that progress being undone as the impacts of the climate crisis worsen. Droughts are getting more severe, storms are becoming more powerful and earth’s life-support systems are being stretched to breaking point.
Without urgent action we could soon see 100 million more people struggling to get water, four times as many tropical cyclones and 12 million more people experiencing flooding in coastal areas.
Tearfund has been warning of the dangers of climate change for three decades. Now, at the start of a key year for political negotiations on climate change, we believe it is time for us to sound the alarm louder than ever before. So, we’re declaring an emergency again – and this time we’re asking your church to join us.
In November, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for critical talks on how to tackle the climate emergency. Previous conferences have so often failed to meet the level of ambition needed to avert the crisis. But if we speak up together then we can see the change we desperately need.
To equip you, we’ve launched a new Climate Emergency Toolkit full of resources to help your church to either ‘recognise’ or ‘declare’ the emergency and make a plan of how to respond together.
How we must respond as followers of Jesus
In the Bible, Esther speaks up against injustice even though it’s costly. Her example should challenge us about how we respond to the emergency we face today, an emergency that’s hitting the poorest the hardest.
When Esther hears of a plot that threatens the lives of God’s people, she first asks Mordecai to gather people together to pray and fast. And then she courageously approaches the king and asks him to act – even though she knows that it is against the law and she could lose her life.
2020 was one the hottest years ever recorded. The world was 1.2°C warmer than the pre-industrial average and it was a record-breaking year for many reasons (see end of this blog).
As followers of the God of justice, the creator, sustainer and redeemer of all things, we must sound the alarm, and do so from a foundation of prayer and commitment to Jesus.
How Tearfund is responding to the emergency
At Tearfund, we remain committed to seeing an end to extreme poverty. This is the mission we believe God has called us to. But now it’s clear: we simply can’t achieve this goal unless we tackle the climate crisis.
As climate change disrupts weather patterns and destroys harvests, we are working with churches and our partners to help communities adapt. Through providing sustainable agricultural training, supporting renewable-energy projects and much more, we are working hard to support those already impacted by the climate emergency. As storms and wildfires become more powerful, we are investing in disaster-preparedness training and equipping local churches to be ready to respond and support their communities when disaster strikes. And we continue to campaign, calling on those in power, in governments and companies, to act at the speed and scale required.
We are also aware that, as a global organisation working in more than 50 countries, we have a responsibility for our own carbon footprint. At Tearfund we have two internal working groups to critique and explore how we can more fully ‘walk the talk’, both in our UK and global operations. As a result, we have revised our environmental policy both to strengthen our targets and to measure our impact more thoroughly, so those targets can be raised even further in future.
Our commitments include:
- measuring and reporting our emissions, and expanding this internationally
- sourcing 100 per cent renewable energy for all our offices internationally wherever this is possible and economically viable
- reducing and moving to a total ban on single-use items across the whole organisation, in line with our procurement policy
- not investing in or dealing with companies or organisations whose activities significantly conflict with our own environmental policy
- maintaining strict criteria to minimise our flights wherever possible and emissions targets for all transportation. We will offset all air travel
- seeking to reduce our emissions as much as we possibly can and work towards absolute zero as technology and cost allow
We know there is always more to do, and in 2021 we will continue to look at how we can improve as well as supporting churches to take action, through the Toolkit, new bible study resources, and more.
How you can play your part
Each church and Christian organisation that ‘declares’ or ‘recognises’ the emergency shines a spotlight on it. They are underlining its seriousness and the need for world leaders to agree to significant progress during the UN climate talks in November.
Today, we are declaring a climate emergency. Could tomorrow be your church’s turn?