Photo Credit: Egan Millard, Episcopal News Service
[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Bishops and Archbishops from across the Anglican Communion gave their support to the Global Climate Strike protest, inspired by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, which involved millions of young people across the world last week.
In Minneapolis, in the United States, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church interrupted its meeting for a moment of solidarity with the strikers. About 100 bishops gathered outside their hotel to pray and sing, having released a statement in support of the strikes the day before. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said: “We are bishops of The Episcopal Church. But we are not here today as leaders. We’re here as followers. We’re here to follow the youth mobilisation on climate change. We’re here to follow and support what they are doing to stand in solidarity with them. This is God’s world, and we must care for it and take care of it and heal it and love it, just as God loves it.”
In South Africa, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba was invited to address the young protestors in Cape Town. He said the human race had failed to look after the earth entrusted to us by God. “I visited Mozambique a few weeks ago and saw for myself the tears of families who had lost their homes and livelihoods through massive flooding,” he told the protestors. “The city of Beira will go down in history as the first major city to be completely devastated by Climate Change. The warming seas supercharged the Cyclone and dumped enormous quantities of rain in a few short days, creating an inland sea. People sat on their roofs for days waiting to be rescued."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, signalled his support via social media with messages of solidarity. Writing on Twitter he said: “It’s inspiring to see young people so passionate about protecting God’s creation and calling our attention to the #ClimateEmergency. Thank you for showing us where our priorities should be.”
The wave of youth-led protests against political inaction on the climate crisis drew hundreds of thousands to the streets of cities around the world and was scheduled just three days before the UN Climate Summit in New York this week.
The Summit brought world leaders together with the aim of agreeing on concrete, realistic plans to enhance their country’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.
Speaking in a video about the summit, Archbishop Justin Welby said climate change was the greatest challenge that we and future generations face. He said: “I’m constantly inspired and encouraged to hear of the passionate, creative and committed ways individuals and churches are living out their faith and responding to this call the action, working to address the causes of climate change and help reduce its affect.” He said he believed the partnership between religious institutions and science could make a profound difference working together and was a powerful route to substantial change.